Of all the pieces of new gear I tried on the Snowbank Lake hike, one, surprisingly, shone above them all - and it was the piece of gear I least expected would impress me.
For my 40th birthday, one of my friends bought me the Haglöfs Watatait phone case. I didn't really think I'd ever use the Watatait (did you see that? They spelled "water tight" in a clever way to make it sound more exciting than it actually is). I normally just slip my iPhone in a ziploc bag and stuff it in a pocket, but the lack of true waterproofing often concerns me whenever I ford a river or get caught in a storm. Not wanting to waste a present, I thought I'd give it a go and get some peace of mind at the same time.
I slipped my new iPhone 4 inside. The wallet is sealed by a thick, double, ziploc-style fastener. For additional watataitness, the top folds over twice, securing with velcro. It certainly gives an impression of being totally waterproof. But there's only one way to find out...
Success! The phone remains bone dry.
But half way along the trail I discovered another feature that made this product my "gear of the trip" - you can still use the phone while it's in the case. The plastic used on the face of the wallet is conductive, so the touchscreen of the iPhone still works perfectly, even while safely in the pouch (but not, incidentally, while underwater). Brilliant!
Haglöfs also claim that the case floats, which is a great design concept; however, mine didn't. Maybe it's because the iPhone 4 is quite heavy.
Of course, many would argue that the last thing they want to do in the outdoors is use their phone, so a usable case is redundant. However, the iPhone has a lot of apps that I like to use in camp and on the trail; cameras, GPS, knot-tying reminders, astronomy software etc (and I'll be looking at those in an upcoming post). For those purposes it serves as a valuable multi-purpose tool, and one which I want to protect from accidents.
At only 22 grams (without strap), it's light enough not to worry about, and with the peace of mind that comes with waterproofing and the clever design that allows you to use the phone in situ, it's a no-brainer. I'll be taking it on every trip with me from now on.