Protecting Your Cell Phone While Kayaking

Many new kayakers may question whether or not to take their phone on a trip. While a boating trip can provide a great chance to disconnect from life’s constant distractions and connect with nature, there are several good reasons for bringing a phone. For many, wanting to have a camera to capture some memories of your trip is the main motivation for having it with you. It can also come in handy in an emergency situation, although should not be solely relied upon since cell service may vary and the phone may not always be accessible. If you decide not to take your phone with you, your car is the likely place to store it making sure it is out of site to prevent break-ins, or even better in a locked glove box. If you do want to take it with, the following tips will help keep your phone dry while kayaking.

wet cell phone

In the Boat

For those that want to have it for occasional communication during the trip, and are not concerned with having it within arms reach several good options exist:

  • Water-tight kayak hatch – many Kayaks offer a water-tight hatch just for storing things that cannot get wet. These are a great place for your phone as well as food, wallets, electronic key fobs, or anything else you want protected. With these, it is important to make sure it is setup correctly and that you trust the water proof locking mechanism. You want to make sure that the hatch will remain sealed even in the case of a rollover. It may be difficult to access this from the water, and may even require assistance from another boater.
  • Dry box/bag – there are many outdoors equipment manufactures making specially designed dry boxes for this purpose. These usually mount inside the kayak, or can be placed in one of the non water tight storage areas. The size and features vary, but you will probably want one that floats. A tether is imperative if the box does not float, but may also be helpful with a floating box to prevent having to chase after it should you rollover. Depending on the type and where you store it, these can be easier to access than a rear hatch for example. A great example would be this bag, or box.
  • Do-it-yourself dry container – While purpose built dry boxes are ideal, you can also make on yourself. Some people have had success using powdered Gatorade containers, Rubbermade type totes, and even modified coffee cans.

Within arms reach

If you are wanting your phone for taking photos, using navigation, or keeping in constant contact with fellow boaters or land lovers, you will want your phone more accessible than the methods above can provide.

  • Boating phone pouch – These are designed for keeping your phone dry and near by. They vary in size to accommodate different models of phone, typically have a lanyard that can be word around your neck or tied off to your kayak somewhere, and usually have very good seals. Securing the lanyard or tether is important because most of these cases do not float – a dry phone won’t do you any good if sunk to the bottom of the lake or river. The clear plastic allows you to use the touchscreen through the pouch. Something to be wary of with these cases is overheating. Because of the water proof seal, it is difficult for air to reach the phone for cooling so it is recommended to not use the phone constantly, and close any background apps that may be causing the phone to work harder generating heat. While the touchscreen works through the plastic, it can be difficult to use and features such as a fingerprint scanner wont work – try turning off your lock before a trip to avoid struggling with passwords or unlock patterns on the water. There are many available such as this phone water proof pouch.
  • Zip-lock in secure pocket – this is one that I personally use. Place your phone in a zip-lock sandwich bag and seal it. Regular sandwich bags fit my phone perfectly. I then place the phone in a Velcro pocket in my swim suite. It is easy to take out and use through the plastic bag, it is secure and water proofed should I flip the kayak. The only thing with this method is you have to be careful not to drop the phone since it isn’t tethered. I typically only take my phone out in calm spots for picture taking or texting so this is an acceptable risk for me. I also found that the phone seems not to overheat as much.

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