I used to laugh at friends who bought the army-grade cases for their phones. "Dude, you're not in the army. What do you need that for?" I would think. Plus I felt they were hideous. But I was immediately humbled when I realized their necessity after taking a huge dive on a run a few months ago and completely shattering my phone.
My experience lead me to round up a few cases that are perfect for when you're ravaging the outdoors, headed to the gym, or simply for everyday use, whether your wilderness is the pavement of New York City, the coast of North Carolina, or the Colorado Rockies.
Durable: SYSTM from InCase (incase.com; $30-50)
Featuring Poron XRD for extreme impact protection, this case is praised for its minimal design but maximum protection. New designs available for iPhone 5 and 4S.
Functional: CandyShell Grip from Speck (speckproducts.com, $35)
This one's perfect for anyone with a slippery grip. Available for iPhone 5; styles available for iPhone 4 and 4S as well.
Chic/Convenient: SmartFlex Card from Speck (speckproducts.com; $35)
Use this when you just want to grab your phone, keys, and a credit card and head out on a run or the gym. Available for iPhone 5.
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Hardcore: SYSTM Chisel from InCase (incase.com; $35)
Even though it reminds us of the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters, we love the pink color, plus it also has Poron XRD for extreme impact protection. Available for the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Chic/Convenient: CandyShell for the Samsung Galaxy from Speck (speckproducts.com; $35)
The dual layer makes this drop-proof, while still remaining chic and stylish. Available for the Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Hardcore: nüüd Case from LifeProof (lifeproof.com; $100)
While a little pricey, this case (pictured) is waterproof and able to withstand the toughest of situations you may find yourself in with your iPad, like hiking, boating, next to the pool, or in the middle of your kitchen armed with cooking supplies and food. It's ready for anything.
Chic/Convenient: FitFolio from Speck (speckproducts.com, $40)
It covers the iPad completely and props it up perfectly for when you're reading on the treadmill. And it's pretty cute.
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Chic/Convenient: SmartShell NEON for MacBook from Speck (speckproducts.com; $50) and Hardcase Shell from InCase (incase.com, $50)
These cases have became a necessity for some members of the SHAPE digital team after Hurricane Sandy ravaged lower Manhattan, forcing us to become nomads with laptops. It's perfect for taking up a limited amount of space and still keeping your device knick-free. Plus the cool neon colors from Speck are perfect for spring. Available for MacBook.