5 Ways to Keep Your Phone Dry on the River

One of the big advantages of kayaking, canoeing, and boating in general is that you can reach all kinds of amazing places you’d never find on foot. You get to see the land from a different angle, soak up new views, and catch up close glimpses of aquatic wildlife.

Of course you want to snap a photo, and these days that means risking your precious and expensive smartphone to get your shot. There’s a better way to get photos, stay connected, and keep your phone out of the pond. In fact, there are five approaches you can take to keeping your electronics dry even when you’re afloat. 

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Drybag It

The simplest way to bring your phone or other important electronics and valuables is to put them in their own small dry bag that has a separate anchor to the watercraft from other gear. Your natural instinct might be to bury your phone deep in your big pack, but for easy access to your phone (both to use it and to check on it for peace of mind) you actually want to keep it separate.

Use a line and carabiners to rig your phone-sized dry bag directly to the boat. If you capsize or tip, your phone won’t float downstream or sink, and it should stay dry. There are even clear dry bags designed specifically for phones that let you text and navigate your phone’s features through the waterproof material.

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Pack Alternatives

Think about what you want to bring your phone for. If you want to take pictures, is it possible to bring along a GoPro, Rylo360, waterproof camera, or other water-safe device? If you want to stay connected to other vessels in your group, or to someone on the mainland, consider two-way radios, a satellite phone, or even a burner phone that doesn’t have two years worth of pictures and data saved on it.

A flare is always a good idea to have in case you need rescue, as is a compass. A product called ACR/Artex even has beacons specifically designed for marine environments. Whenever you head outside, and especially into the backcountry, it can be smart to have an analog backup in case your digital devices go belly up.

Purchase A Waterproof Case

Look especially for waterproof cases specifically designed for the outdoors, which will be a little hardier and have more features than cases designed for nothing more harrowing than your phone slipping into a pint of beer. Some are rated for depths of up to 30 feet. Others come with built-in lanyards that make it easy to attach your phone to your body or the boat. A little research should turn up the right phone case for your needs, depending on how rough of water you’re voyaging into and how much time you plan to spend on your device.

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Stash Your Phone In Your CreekKooler

The lid of every CreekKooler (even the cool custom ones!) is designed with a rubber seal and uses a quarter turn to close and form a watertight seal. We've also included a tether string to make sure the lid doesn't get separated and out of reach. To be extra super-duper safe, though, it’s still a good idea to drybag your phone before you pop it in the CreekKooler. Obviously, go this route only if your CreekKooler is going to be used to store dry goods, and not if it’s filled with ice and cans or bottles of liquids.

Leave Your Phone In the Car

Yeah, yeah, we kind of hate putting this one on there. Still, one of the most sure-fire methods to keeping your phone out of the lake is to keep it as far away from the lake as possible, locked in your nice, dry car. You’ll know where it is if you need it, and if you’re just out for a day trip around the lake or along the shore, it won’t be hard to get back to it for brief check-ins when you take a break.

If you’re going down river and don’t have a way back upstream, make sure you leave a phone in the vehicle at your take-out point just in case you run into trouble. If you follow these tips, there’s still a chance your phone might get wet. It’s what phones do, especially when you’re focused on the tug on your line or a gnarly rapid. With caution and preparation though, you can seriously reduce the chances of a dunking while staying connected and snapping some sweet shots to remember the expedition by.