If you spend a lot of time in the great outdoors, you’re already well acquainted with the importance of waterproofing and shock-proofing all of your gear. Cell phones, GPS systems, tablets, anything with a battery needs to be protected. And while major phone manufacturers have done a good job at making their phones sturdier in recent years, even everyday use requires a decent phone case.
So, what do you do if you’re taking your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy out on the trail? You look for a tough, durable case that can stand up to some abuse.
We’re here to help you out. Here are the most rugged smartphone cases money can buy, both for Apple and for Android.
If you’re looking for serious drop protection, the Catalyst is hard to beat. It offers 9.9 feet of drop protection, with a minimalist design that shows off your phone’s design as much as possible. The back is transparent, leaving the Apple logo clearly visible, while the shock protection comes from the thick, rubberized bezel that runs around the circumference of the phone.
You may be familiar with Catalyst for their waterproof cases. And while they still manufacture a waterproof case, it’s not really necessary, since the current iPhone is ip68-rated against dust and moisture as is. This case offers better drop resistance, which is a more significant concern when you’re out on the trail.
Of course, when it comes to drop protection, many manufacturers are bringing their A-game. This is true for Speck, whose CandyShell Grip is engineered to withstand a drop of 13 feet. We can’t think of a reason you’d need more drop protection than that. But Speck has also done a good job of making it hard to drop their CandyShell Grip to begin with. The back and sides feature rubberized ribbing for a secure grip.
Another thing we liked about this case is its high-visibility design. The white case with black ribbing provides a lot of contrast against most backgrounds, so you should be able to easily find your iPhone 11 if you’ve dropped it.
OtterBox was the first manufacturer to release truly reliable, durable phone cases. And while the market has since been flooded with multiple competitors, OtterBox is still one of the best in the business. Their Defender Series has a screenless design, but with a thick bezel around the edges for drop protection. The back of the case is thick and sturdy, and can withstand a drop of 9.9 feet, making it one of the most rugged smartphone cases on the market.
Now, we were looking primarily for durable, tough cases when we came up with this list, and we weren’t overly concerned about extra features. But since the OtterBox is already so reliable, it’s worth mentioning that the belt clip on the back doubles as a stand. This is convenient for everyday use, not just on the trail.
The OtterBox Symmetry Series is a bit slimmer than their Defender Series, with a smooth back that has no grooves and no belt clip. It’s available in eight total colors, everything from classic black to gold to a transparent version that shows off your Galaxy S10’s profile. Like the Defender Series, it’s rated to withstand a 9.9-foot drop, so your phone will be well protected.
The front portion of the case may not look like much, but it’s surprisingly protective. It has a thick, raised bezel that’s heavy enough to absorb any impacts, but rounded and smooth all the way around for comfort. On the inside of the case, there’s a hexagonal-patterned padding that adds additional cushion while still maintaining a clean profile.
Spigen’s Tough Armor has one of the most understated designs of any rugged Galaxy S10 case on the market. It’s constructed entirely from plastic, but the back panel has a faux aluminum finish that’s an attractive touch, while still supplying a solid 9.9 feet of drop resistance. The case is available in five different colors, so it’s up to you how flashy you want your phone case to be.
The screen is protected by a raised bezel, although it’s fairly shallow, which keeps the case’s profile as slim as possible. The back of the Tough Armor also features a flip-out kickstand, which is useful for watching movies or chatting with your relatives on Facetime.
We’re closing out our list with another Speck case, and the Presidio Grip has the same ribbed, rubber design as the CandyShell Grip we already looked at. This Galaxy S10 case is virtually impossible to drop, thanks to the ribbed pattern, putting it among the most rugged smartphone cases available. And like every other case we’ve listed, it offers 9.9 feet of drop resistance.
The Presidio Grip features soft-touch buttons that are easy to operate, which is convenient in chilly weather when you’ve got gloved hands. The case is available in four colors, and while three of them are just different shades of gray, the white and black version really stands out.