I recently posted about using Ziploc Big Bags to keep my daughter’s laptop dry in her backpack. One reader asked if static discharges from the bag could be a problem – something I hadn’t thought about. About the same time I posted that item, Coghlan’s, a maker of outdoor gear, contacted The Gadgeteer to ask if we’d like to review one of their waterproof bags. I asked if I could give it a try, and I received a 4″ X 6″ Dry Pouch that is sized for the iPhone and similarly-sized gear. As it turns out, I was able to give it a real-life test when Rachel went to a football game on a drizzly night. I also gave it an in-home submersion test. Let’s see how it works.
All images can be clicked for a larger view.
Dry Pouches are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate gadgets from smartphones up to tablets. (They also have other types of waterproof bags.) The 4″ X 6″ Dry Pouch I received was designed for “holding your phone, wallet, camera, keys, and more,” according to the product insert. No details of construction materials are shown on Coghlan’s site, but the bag is made of clear plastic with what seems to be heat-sealed edges. The yellow plastic closure is heavy-duty, and there’s a circular opening near the top where you connect the included lanyard.
The pouch weighs 1.5 ounces empty and 1.8 ounces with the lanyard and carabiner added. The space between the heat seams measures about 3.6″ wide X 5.6″ long. You’ll also have to consider the thickness of your gadget when you are determining if it will fit in this pouch. The width of the yellow closure is about 3.8″ and about 1.3″ at the tallest. The overall length of the pouch and closure is about 7″.
Coghlan’s says the bag “hermetically seals out water with secure dual locking tabs.” Inside the closure, you see there are black structures on each side that apparently serve as the sealing mechanism. The black plastic is pretty rigid. The thin arms you see extending to each side of the larger center pieces (that are “riveted” to the yellow pieces) have not been attached to the clear plastic at all other than at the end tabs. The two “faucet handle” pieces protruding from the right yellow piece are part of the locking mechanism. They fit through the “keyholes” on the left yellow piece.
Here’s my daughter’s iPhone 4 in the Musubo Retro Case. This case adds a bit of thickness to the iPhone, but it still fits easily inside the Dry Pouch. The Musubo is raised a bit above the phone’s screen, so it lifts the plastic of the pouch up off the screen a bit. Perhaps the glass front and back would slide in the case more easily, but the plastic case it’s wearing doesn’t slide easily. There’s a lot of cling between the case and pouch that makes it hard to get it in the pouch and makes it hard to adjust its position once it’s in.
The locking mechanisms, seen from the back of the pouch, have been locked into position in this photo.
Here you see the front of the case. The big, black “apostrophes” are the front side of the locking mechanisms. You simply turn them toward the center of the pouch to lock them and toward the outside edges of the pouch to unlock. I just pushed until I met enough resistance I feared I’d break something if I continued.
Here’s my iPhone 5 in the Dry Pouch. My phone is wearing a clear Case-Mate RPET 100% Recycled back cover, and it was also “grabbed” by the pouch. The Case-Mate case is flatter on the front than the Musubo case, and it doesn’t stretch the clear plastic above the screen like the Musubo did with the iPhone 4. I tried removing the case from my phone, but the pouch was just about as clingy with the naked phone as with the cased phone.
Because the plastic was suspended a bit above her screen, Rachel said it was a bit difficult to use the touchscreen sometimes with her iPhone 4. I didn’t have any trouble using the iPhone 5′s screen – at least no more than you have with thick plastic screen protectors. My phone doesn’t have a screen protector on it, but Rachel’s does, which may have been part of the problem using her touchscreen.
Rachel’s iPhone 4 stayed perfectly dry during the football game. It drizzled a few times during the game, but it wasn’t torrential.
You can talk through the Dry Pouch, but you might be more comfortable using a Bluetooth headset with it – not wired earbuds, of course, which would break the seal.
But is it waterproof? I’m not going to risk any phones testing this case, but I did put a couple stacks of cotton cosmetic pads inside for my submersion test. I sealed up the Dry Pouch, and laid it in a bowl full of water.
The Dry Pouch did float. I could hold the pouch under water, but it popped back to the top the instant I released it. This is a great feature if you happen to drop your phone over the side of the pool or boat. Your phone will float, and the bright yellow band of color will help you find where it’s floating for easy retrieval.
I left the pouch floating for about 10 minutes. I pulled it out of the bowl and dried the outside thoroughly before opening the pouch.
It’s hard to see, but there was a bit a water between the two yellow pieces. If you enlarge the photo, you can see some water still beaded on parts of the inside of the yellow closure. The water on the desk pad in front of the open pouch poured out when I opened the seal. Because water does collect here, you’d be smart to tip the closure piece to allow the water to drain out and away from your device inside the pouch.
The cosmetic pads were kept dry by the Dry Pouch. If I had known to tip the opening to drain away the water and then dried it thoroughly before taking out the contents, a phone should have been kept dry inside.
You can actually read the back of the product insert shown in the second picture. It shows that you can use a camera inside the pouch, and they even show the flash being used. My Nikon D5100 won’t fit in the pouch, so I tested this claim with my iPhone’s camera.
The first photo was taken with the iPhone 5 locked into the Dry Pouch. No flash was used to take this picture. I reduced the size of the photo to fit the size used by The Gadgeteer, but I didn’t edit the photo in any other way. The photo is a bit out of focus, but it’s not too bad..
In this photo, I forced the iPhone’s camera to use a flash, and the results aren’t good. There is a tremendous amount of glare from the flash bouncing off the plastic of the Dry Pouch. You might be okay taking photos with ambient lighting, but you’ll be disappointed in photos taken using a flash.
I think the 4″ X 6″ Dry Pouch would easily protect your phone from rain, and it will even protect your phone should you drop it in the water. You just need to remember to dry off the outside and then carefully open and dry the inside of the yellow closure pieces to prevent water from running in on your phone after it’s rescued.