Tips for carrying your phone on a boat

Here's some advice if you'll be bringing your smartphone on the water this summer.

It’s summer, and that means it’s time to emerge from hibernation (if you haven’t already) and bask in the radiant beams of the summer sun. It’s time to grab your bathing suit, lather on the sunscreen, inflate the inflatables that have survived another harsh winter in your garage, and enjoy everything the next three months have to offer.

If you’re like me, you’ll be partaking in many activities aboard some sort of life preservation craft floating atop a body of water. Whether that’s out on a boat, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or even a jet ski, there’s no better way to spend a summer afternoon than out on the water.

Of course, while participating in such activities, one might want to snap a quick picture or record a brief video for sharing on social media later. This would involve bringing your phone with on your adventure which, at first, sounds like a terrible idea.

Let me be the first to say it’s not really such a bad idea. If you’re careful enough and are smart about how you bring your phone with you, you’ll be just fine.

“But Max, what’s a smart way to bring your phone with you on a boat?”

I’m glad you asked!

Below, I’ve got some tips on bringing your phone with you while out on the water. (These tips can also apply to those who simply want to bring their phone to the beach or a lake, by the way.)

Get a waterproof case

This one seems fairly obvious, but it should be the first thing you do before heading out in a water craft this summer.

There are thousands of different cases that offer water protection and extra security for your phone. I’m a big fan of Catalyst’s Total Protection line for the iPhone which come with full 360-degree protection, support for complete submersion at up to 33 feet, and a latch for attaching a wrist strap in case you’re scared of dropping it. They tend to run pretty high at around $80-$100 depending on the case, but they can prove to be worth it if, say, you drop your phone in the bay at low tide.

I also recommend picking up a waterproof pouch. You’ve probably seen these at checkout lines of sporting goods stores or on sale at Amazon. They run about $10-$20 depending on the quality you get (here’s the one I have), but they’re all pretty good no matter where you go. I had one for years I paid just $5 for at Five Below, for instance.

You slide your phone inside and seal the top off, then – voila – your phone is ready for the water. More often than not, these pouches provide enough protection for an all-day outing on the water, so you might be able to forget about the separate case purchase if you’re a little extra careful. I like to use a pouch while I’m kayaking, for example, since I can hang it on my neck. Other pouches offer long-enough straps that can be adjusted to act like a purse or sling, so you have some versatility.

If you wanna go a little extreme, consider picking up a dry bag. They can be had for around $20, like this one from Earth Pak.

And before you ask, no, I’m not a fan of the Ziplock bag approach to waterproofing your phone. I get that it’s essentially the same thing as a dedicated waterproof pouch, but you may as well use the thing that advertises it’s waterproof.

Watch the temperature

Before you go out on the water in the summer, you probably think about how hot it’ll get and whether you’ll need to pack supplies to cool down. While no extra supplies are necessary, you should also be thinking about this for your phone.

If you’re not careful, you might forget that you left your phone on the captain’s chair of your uncle’s boat, sitting in the hot sun, while you go fishing for a half hour. That’s enough for the phone to prompt you that it’s too hot and you need to cool it down. Any longer, and it could shut off so as not to overheat and run into technical problems.

If you think your phone might overheat during the day, try to remember to keep it stored in a shady spot on whatever craft you’re on. For personal crafts like kayaks, water boards, and even jet skis, I recommend keeping it in a backpack or under some sort of cover-up. If you’re on a boat, either find a shady spot to place it in or keep in a bag.

Try not to drop it

Yes, I’m aware that you know not to drop your phone. But seriously, let’s not try to paddleboard and record an Instagram Story – that’s a recipe for disaster.

However, if you know you’re clumsy and you want to exhaust all the protections you can, you might consider tying some marine rope to your waterproof case or pouch. That way, if you drop your phone, you’ll be able to pull it back onto your craft and you won’t have to go diving for it later.

All of these tips seem fairly obvious and straightforward, and that’s because they are. It’s incredibly easy nowadays to take your phone with you on your next kayaking trip, fishing excursion, or jet ski session. Remembering these steps is the most important part since it can mean the difference between having your phone fully functional when you get home and panicking in the middle of the water, praying that you haven’t lost your phone forever.