The best phone cases for the outdoors will add far greater protection to your device than any ordinary and everyday phone cover.
Dropping your smartphone on hard ground when taking part in outdoor pursuits can cause a lot of damage.
It isn’t just drops and impacts that using a heavy-duty phone case is useful for. They can also protect against water damage, high or low-temperature changes as well as giving your phone a stylish look too.
We’re going to show you the best phone cases for the outdoors that will help to protect your device. We’ll also go into the things you need to think about before you buy one. First of all, let’s look at the different types of outdoor phone cases you can get.
Different features of Outdoor Phone Cases
Outdoor phone cases come with different features. These are some of the main features that you’ll find.
Waterproof Outdoor Phone Cases
Some phone cases for the outdoors come with waterproof functionality.
This is particularly useful if you are taking part in water sports like kayaking. Even if you have a rugged phone case for outdoor use, if you drop it in the water chances are your phone is going to be damaged. However, with a waterproof outdoor phone case, it should have a decent level of water protection.
Most waterproof phone cases aren’t going to keep your phone safe if it is submerged in 20m of water. However, the majority will offer good protection for up to five or six feet.
Phone cases with built-in screen protector
Most of us will have a basic screen protector on our smartphone. They are generally fine if we drop our smartphone at home. However, they won’t usually offer much protection if it is dropped in really hard ground at speed if you are trail running for example.
Some phone cases that have been specifically designed for outdoors will have a built-in screen protector.
This will offer better protection than many ordinary screen protectors. It won’t be 100% guaranteed to shield your screen but it should do a very good job of protecting against impacts and drops.
Outdoor phone cases with different protective layers
Many outdoor phone cases will come with several layers of protection.
While a standard phone case will usually be one part that simply slips onto your smartphone, an outdoor case will often have several layers. This can include front, back, and inside layers made from durable materials.
Multi-layer outdoor phone cases will usually come with between two and five layers of protection.
Essentially it is bulking up your smartphone. Even if it suffers a nasty fall onto a hard surface, the several layers of protection will absorb the impact and help to prevent damage.
The major differences between a normal phone case and one designed for outdoor activities
There are several differences between a run of the mill phone case and one that has been made for a range of outdoor pursuits.
A standard phone case will generally be made of one layer that is usually gel or silicone. For everyday use this can be OK however for outdoor use it won’t offer very much protection. Outdoor phone cases will be made from much sturdier material.
Outdoor phone cases will also have several layers too. This helps it to absorb impacts much better and offer more complete protection from hard and rocky surfaces.
Another difference is in their waterproof capability. Not many normal phone cases will be waterproof. Some outdoor phone cases will provide protection against water whether that is rain or being submerged for a brief period of time.
Advantages of Outdoor Phone Cases
- They provide more protection – Phone cases that have been designed for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and climbing will offer more protection for your smartphone. They will be constructed with durability and maximum protection in mind. This means drops and the impact of shocks is greatly reduced.
- They have better grip – Most outdoor phone cases will have a superior grip to an ordinary phone case. This helps prevent you from dropping your phone for example if your hands are weight or in cold temperature environments.
- They are often waterproof – A big advantage of having an outdoor phone case is that many of them are actually waterproof. Normal everyday phone cases usually don’t provide this protection. Phone cases designed for outdoor activities will provide water protection up to a few feet which can be a lifesaver for your smartphone.
The Disadvantages of Outdoor Phone Cases
They are usually heavier and bulkier – One of the drawbacks of using a phone case outdoors is that it will be heavier than a normal phone case. They will be bulkier and take up more room in your pocket or bag too. This is due to the extra protection that these cases offer. While this is fine for outdoor activities, it can be very cumbersome for everyday use and you might find yourself constantly changing the case on your phone.
Things to look out for when buying an outdoor phone case
Instead of going and buying a new outdoor phone case right away, there are things you need to think about first.
This is one of the main things to consider when buying a phone case for the outdoors – how much durability is it going to offer you?
This links in with the material that the outdoor phone case has been made from and how durable it is. You will likely drop your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits so you need it to ensure that the level of protection will last. Regardless if you are buying a new phone case, footwear, or even a backpack, it needs to last and retain as much protection and original condition for as long as possible.
Having a waterproof phone case can mean the difference between your phone surviving an outdoor activity and wishing you had taken out insurance because it got wet.
This doesn’t just relate to dropping your phone in water. Even though many waterproof phone cases will protect your phone against being submerged for a short period of time, they will also help with excess rain. Smartphones can become damaged when hit with heavy rainfall or even when they land in the snow when skiing.
When buying a phone case, don’t just think about waterproofing if you are diving or actually going to be on the water. Rain and snow can damage your device as well.
Easy to use
This doesn’t really relate to the installation of the case – that is generally quite straightforward – but rather, how easy is your phone to use once it is on?
Some outdoorsy phone cases when fitted can make your smartphone a lot harder to use.
This could be because the screen sensitivity is vastly reduced. It could also be that the side buttons or using the camera is very difficult as well. Protecting your smartphone against the elements and drops is all well and good, but it needs to be able to function too.
Phone cases for the outdoors will normally cost a bit more than your average case. This is generally down to the fact that they offer more protection and have better technology.
Try to stay within your budget as much as you can. Although, it can be worth spending a little bit extra money if it is going to offer you more protection.
Think about what you can really afford. Is skimping a few dollars on a phone case that doesn’t offer as much protection worth it if your phone breaks? A new phone will cost much more than spending a few extra dollars on a better case to protect it.
If you think that phone cases for the outdoors are big bulky and boring items, you’d be wrong.
While the predominant focus is on protection, durability and providing better grip for your device, they can look stylish too. There has definitely been a shift towards style when it comes to outdoorsy phone cases. You can have a lot of protection for your device while also making it look good in the process.
My Top Recommendations For Outdoor Phone Cases
These are my top recommendations for outdoor phone cases that offer great protection as well as some other fantastic features.
|Best all-round outdoor phone case||Otterbox Defender Pro||Check the latest price here!|
|Best iPhone outdoor phone case||ZIZO Bolt Series Case for iPhone||Check the latest price here!|
|Best stylish outdoor phone case||Casetify Impact line||Check the latest price here!|
|Best waterproof phone case||Vansky Floatable Waterproof Phone Case||Check the latest price here!|
Best all-round outdoor phone case – Otterbox Defender Pro
It provides a high level of protection for your smartphone. This includes several layers of defense against drops and impacts. There is also something called OtterArmor Microbial Defense which is an antibacterial technology that protects it against common bacteria as well.
The phone case has a very comfortable grip. You’ll definitely notice the difference between having this case on and if you have a basic everyday case. Even in cold or hot conditions, the grip with the Otterbox Defender Pro is great.
Perhaps one of the best things about this outdoor activity phone case is that it is available for many different devices. This is why we have chosen it as our best all-rounder. You’ll find an Otterbox Defender Pro to fit many types of smartphones from iPhone to different Android devices.
It is a bit heavy but that’s a price you pay for a high level of protection and durability. It actually has a very understated but sleek design and to protect a variety of smartphone’s in the great outdoors, this is our go-to case.
If you need a new cover for your phone when taking part in outdoor pursuits like hiking, climbing, hunting, and kayaking this is the perfect option for you! A great balance of durability and price.
If you perhaps want a slightly cheaper all-around model then go for the Otterbox Defender.
This phone case is also available for a wide range of devices including iPhone and Android. It doesn’t feature the OtterArmor Microbial Defense although it still comes packed with features to protect your smartphone.
This includes several layers of protection in addition to having a good grip. You will still be able to hang onto your phone with this case on it in cold, wet and warm temperatures alike.
It does have a tendency to collect a lot of lint and dust due to the texture but this is a fairly minor complaint.
Overall the Otterbox Defender will come in a bit cheaper than the Otterbox Defender Pro and it is still very good as an all-round outdoors activity phone case.
Other Otterbox phone cases to consider:
- Otterbox Defender vs Defender Pro 
- Otterbox Defender vs Commuter: Which is Best?
- Otterbox Symmetry vs Defender – Which is Best for Your Phone?
- Spigen vs Otterbox Cases [2021 Comparison]
- Otterbox Symmetry vs Commuter – Protect Your Phone!
- Lifeproof vs Otterbox Cases 
- Otterbox vs Speck Cases: Which is Best for Your Phone?
- Best Otterbox Alternatives
- Otterbox Symmetry Review: Is It The Right Choice for You?
Best iPhone Outdoor Phone Case – ZIZO Bolt Series Case for iPhone
While you will find the Otterbox range available for iPhones, if you want an outdoor phone case made specifically for Apple products then the ZIZO Bolt Series is a great choice. It is available for a wide range of iPhone models.
This phone case comes with several layers of protection for your iPhone as well as an outer locking belt clip with a 360-degree rotatable swivel. The built-in kickstand is a really good addition as well and it allows you to have the phone hands-free in landscape.
Its tempered glass screen protector and military-grade drop certification make it ideal to protect your iPhone even against high falls and impacts. We actually really like the way that this iPhone outdoors phone case looks as well.
All in all, the best iPhone specific case you can buy and for a decent price too.
URBAN ARMOR GEAR iPhone Case
A second option for protecting your iPhone is the URBAN ARMOR GEAR iPhone case.
This is also available for a wide range of Apple devices. It comes with a whopping 5 layers of protection that will ensure your iPhone is well-cushioned against drops and impacts. This phone case also has a really good grip so regardless of the conditions, you shouldn’t lose control of this phone easily.
We found the responsiveness of the screen and buttons great as well when using this phone case from Urban Armor. The case comes in different color options – the Crimson is a particular favorite – and as an alternative to the ZIZO Bolt, it is hard to go wrong.
Best Stylish Outdoor Phone Case – Casetify Impact
For anyone that needs their phone case to have an element of stylishness behind it as well as protection, the Casetify Impact line is a good option.
You’ll mainly find these phone cases available for the iPhone. Not only does it look really sleek and the overall aesthetic is great, it is 6.6 foot drop test approved as well. This is perfect for outdoor activities where you might drop your iPhone onto hard ground.
Other features of this phone case include the fact it is very slim and lightweight. You would actually wonder how it offers a lot of protection but it does. You won’t feel this phone case weighing down your pocket or your backpack.
The grip is very good. If you are looking for a strong and durable outdoors phone case that will also make you look good, the Casetify Impact series is ideal.
ZIZO Static Series
A stylish phone case that is available for a wider range of smartphones is the ZIZO Static Series.
Really the comparison between this and the Casetify Impact is how you define style. The ZIZO Static is a little bit more ‘in your face’ and while that can be in keeping with many outdoor sports, it is really down to personal preference.
While this phone case looks really good, it also offers great protection too.
It is military-grade drop tested – the same as the ZIZO Bolt Series – and comes with Impact Dispersion Technology. The in-built kickstand is an addition we really like as well.
You’ll find this smartphone case in a variety of designs. If you are looking for wider compatibility with a stylish phone case, look no further.
Best Waterproof Outdoors Phone Case – Vansky Floatable Waterproof Phone Case
Something a little bit different than what you would normally think about as a waterproof case. The Vanksy Floatable Waterproof Phone Case is essentially a dry bag that you attach to yourself with an armband.
It offers protection in the water for your smartphone as it will simply float on the surface instead of disappearing down below. It is made from premium grade TPU and even if it does sink, its waterproof abilities work for up to 30 meters.
You can still access all your favorite apps or take pictures on your camera when your phone is in the case. Perfect for taking those difficult snaps underwater.
When you think about it, this is quite a simple design but one that is highly effective. This phone case will protect your smartphone in the water while still allowing it to function as it should. It is also very budget-friendly too. What more could you need?
Punkcase Waterproof Phone Case
As an actual ‘phone case’ in the traditional sense, the Punkcase Waterproof Phone Case is an alternative to the Vanksy.
It is available for several different models of smartphone. This includes iPhone and some Android devices.
The phone case can withstand up to 6.6 feet of water. This is ideal if you need quick protection against dropping it in water and it will also be secured against heavy rainfall as well.
You can still access all the buttons and ports on your device when this case is on. It is also easy to use your smartphone too. While it isn’t specifically designed for impacts and drops, the polycarbonate cover will allow it to withstand shocks pretty well.
The built-in screen protector will also help to keep your screen in top shape. It comes with light blue and purple color options if you want to mix up the aesthetic of your smartphone a bit.
If you are looking for a more traditional phone case that you can keep on during your outdoor adventures, the Punkcase range is ideal.
Frequently Ask Questions about Outdoors Phone Cases
If you are taking part in outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking or trailing running then, yes. An ordinary phone case isn’t going to offer a whole lot of protection if you drop your smartphone from a height onto hard ground. An outdoors phone case will provide much better security for your device.
Yes. Outdoors phone cases are designed so that you shouldn’t lose functionality with your smartphone. This includes charging, operating the touchscreen and also any side buttons that it might have. Some outdoors cases are better than others at achieving this but they will all allow you to still use your device.
No. Not every outdoors phone case is designed to protect your phone if it is submerged in water. While most will do a good job at protecting it against heavy rain, you should really get an actual waterproof case if you are taking part in water activities.
Some will. You should always check the instructions and product description before you make a purchase if you want to use wireless charging while the case is fitted.
Yes. Some outdoors phone cases are heavier than others. Certain models have been designed to be ultra-slim and lightweight so you won’t notice much difference. However, some heavy-duty outdoors phone cases will add noticeable weight and bulk to your smartphone.
Conclusion: How to find the best phone cases for the outdoors
Regardless of what outdoor adventures you are pursuing, having proper protection for your smartphone is invaluable.
Spending some money on a proper outdoor phone case can be the difference in your phone being safe or having to shell out a lot of money in repairs.
The best all-round outdoors phone case in our opinion is the Otterbox Defender Pro. It really does offer everything that you need to give your phone maximum protection. Not only is this about protection from drops and falls but it has anti-bacterial technology too. A really well-made outdoors phone case that is compatible with a variety of devices.
For iPhone users specifically, the ZIZO Bolt Series is a great choice to protect your Apple device. This phone case has several protective layers as well as an outer locking belt clip with a 360-degree rotatable swivel. The built-in kickstand really adds to how this case performs while it has a nice aesthetic to it as well.
For the style-conscious among you, we’d choose the Casetify Impact line of phone cases. It isn’t as bulky or heavy as other cases we’ve mentioned but it still offers great protection. This case has a chic design to it and its overall construction combines style with security.
Last but not least, if you need complete waterproof protection, opt for the Vansky Floatable Waterproof Phone Case. It might not be a ‘traditional’ phone case in that it is more of a floatable waterproof bag that holds your phone, it does offer great protection from water. Your smartphone is still fully functional with this case as well. If you regularly take part in water sports, this will keep your smartphone as secure as can be.
You might also be interested: