Using a smartphone in the cold mountain environment presents some unique challenges, especially for ski patrollers that may not be inside for 10 hours in the day.
First stash your phone close to your body so it stays warm, this will allow the battery to function normally. Cold batteries do not work well. If you don’t have a case, put it away from your base layer, sweat and moisture don’t play well with electronics.
Put a case on it – preferable a bright coloured one that is easy to see if you drop it in the snow. We recommend red.
Consider spending a few more dollars to get a waterproof shock proof case, protect your investment. Dropping it in the snow can keep it functioning while you track it using the Find your phone feature your turned on before.
Get a pair of liners or gloves with silver thread, or capacitance so you can use your device with gloves on. There are also more hardwearing vinyl gloves used by miners that work well too.
There are also some devices built with these environments in mind, so may be a better choice, and they don’t cost the earth either!
Check out the Aspera range of Android smartphones, rated to IP67 (waterproof to 1m for 30 mins & Dustproof) that can withstand plenty of knocks, and are well protected against the harsh conditions that a ski patroller can throw at them. The Aspera R3D sports a 3.5″ display, Android 4.2, and memory capacity to 32GB. It’s 1800mAh battery should give about 1.5 days charge with average use. It also has a very pocket friendly retail price of around AUD$220 / USD $200.
There are plenty more options out there (the Aspera being our choice), check out Phone Arena’s wrap up of rugged smart phones.
Doing some research on cases is a must, they range from $4 for a slim plastic slip to $80 for a full waterproof set up. This could be a wise investment given the initial price of the device, and the pain of getting it repaired if you have to ship it away, or take it back to the store.
OtterBox have consistently provided smartphone users with peace of mind, with their range of Defender Cases (Amazon.com) protecting against drops, knocks and dust for less than 10% of the price of the new iPhone5. Looking at waterproof options you could go for the LifeProof Fre Series (Black or hot Purple colour) this one on Amazon.com for the iPhone 6.
Hopping on to Android, the TRAK Armor case (Amazon.com) for the Galaxy Note provides shock and shatterproof protection with a great grippy case to help keep it in your hands. The Ballistic Tough Jacket (Amazon.com) protects your Samsung Galaxy S5 for under $40 with 6ft drop impact protection and rugged corners to protect that valuable device.
You would know by now that there are plenty of gloves on the market with the ability to use a smartphone (e.g. via capacitance in silver thread). However we have struggled to find a glove suitable for the harsh wear a ski patroller will put them through.
The best we have come up with is the MaxiCut coated glove (Amazon.com). These provide protection outside a regular glove, make great springtime wear, and fit under a full winter glove like a liner would. Hardwearing they are good enough to work with ropes and somehow you can use a smartphone without removing them.
Now if only Youngstown would add this to our favourite winter glove…
A simple way to fix the glove problem is to grab a stylus for only a few dollars, or a pen and stylus combo like the somewhat awesome Smith & Wesson Tactical pen and Stylus. This way you always have a pen handy, and if you cant take of the gloves, you can still use your phone at the same time.
If you have a favourite way of protecting your device, or one that is built to purpose, let us know in the comments below.