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Exped Seal Sleeve Waterproof Cases Review

Designed specifically to keep electronic gear clean and dry outdoors, Exped's new Seal Sleeve cases come in a range of sizes to fit anything from a small phone to a large tablet.

My iPhone hates rain, but the Seal Sleeve doesn't mind, 188 kb
My iPhone hates rain, but the Seal Sleeve doesn't mind
© Dan Bailey

  • 4" size (smart phones) £12.50
  • 5.5" size (larger phones) £13.50
  • 7" size (smaller tablets, kindles) £14.50
  • 10" size (larger tablets) £15.50

It's worth noting that the sleeves are sized with flat screen devices in mind, and as such may not be ideal for other differently-shaped items you might want to keep dry. Only the 10 inch model is large enough for a folded OS map, for instance, and its dimensions don't permit more than one folded side to be visible. It'd be a poor and expensive substitute for a bog standard clear map case! I only have a standard iPhone 6 and would rarely - if ever - take a tablet for a walk or to the crag, so this review focuses on the smallest case, the Seal Sleeve 4. It's not rocket science, so what I've said about that should hold good for the rest too.

The ziplock seal seems pretty robust, 230 kb
The ziplock seal seems pretty robust
© Dan Bailey

Closure is via a freezer bag-style ziplock seal. Easy to open, yet robust when closed (there seems little danger of accidental opening), the seal is 100% waterproof according to Exped. I've happily used my phone in rainy weather with the protection of one of these cases, and for keeping your electronics safe and dry during general outdoor use it's more than adequate. Sending messages or using electronic maps when it's raining? No problem. But the real test is full immersion, so a kitchen sink test was clearly required. This proved positive, and on the strength of that I would be confident to use the phone case for watersports such as sea kayaking, where a functioning phone in the event of an accidental spill could actually prove a lifeline.

The welded construction feels tough, and because the sleeve is UV resistant it shouldn't get discoloured or weakened in sunlight - Exped must be sure of that, since they offer a two-year guarantee.

You can easily scroll around a touchscreen through the TPU film, 226 kb
You can easily scroll around a touchscreen through the TPU film
© Dan Bailey

The transparent front face of the sleeve is a soft, flexible TPU film. You can use a touchscreen through it with ease, operate buttons, hear and be heard when making a phone call. Visibility through the plastic film is good in flat light, but in strong direct sunlight I do find the reflection a bit hard to see past - I guess when it's sunny you don't need to keep your phone in the case anyway.

It's selfie time..., 187 kb
It's selfie time...
© Dan Bailey

A see-through strip on the rear of the sleeve is positioned to allow a phone or tablet camera to function. I've experimented a fair bit with this, and I'm not convinced it's worth having, since the image quality is noticeably poorer - the focus quite misty, the colours and contrast more washed out. If it's a shot that matters, I'd always remove my phone from the sleeve. The one exception to this would be taking photos in wet conditions (but then I wouldn't expect great things from the results anyway!).

The Pentlands minus the case..., 161 kb
The Pentlands minus the case...
© Dan Bailey

...and seen through the Seal Sleeve, 143 kb
...and seen through the Seal Sleeve
© Dan Bailey

Tie-in points allow you to attach a lanyard (not supplied); I'd consider this pretty much essential for something like sea kayaking, where a fumble would send your phone to Davy Jones' Locker, but perhaps less so when walking or climbing, when I generally carry my phone about my person or in a rucksack pocket.

The verdict?

Well made and reliably waterproof, Exped's Seal Sleeves offer wet weather reassurance for outdoor smartphone users, and while few of us would go as far as carrying a tablet in the great outdoors the size range does allow for this too - one for travelling perhaps. I've used the 4 inch version on every crag and hill trip over the last couple of months, safe in the knowledge that if the heavens open or if I manage to fall in while crossing a stream then my phone, at least, will stay dry. The cases are also likely to appeal to water sports fans. For what amounts to a smart plastic ziplock bag, Seal Sleeves don't come cheap, and alternatives are available at lower budgets. But given the cost of replacing a drowned smartphone, would you prefer to trust some no-name case off Ebay, or rely on Exped's good reputation? I know which my money would be on. They look set to last, too.

Exped say:

Minimalist, 100% waterproof and transparent protector for electronics like smartphone and tablets, maps and books or other items that require protection from water and dust. Quick access through the TPU zip seal closure. Two anchor points ensure easy handling and attachment options. Large window made of high grade UV resistant and flexible TPU film allows full functionality of screens, buttons and speakers in all weather conditions. Four carefully dimensioned sizes cover all popular smartphone, e-reader and tablet sizes up to 10 inches.

For more info see exped.com

Seal Sleeve prod shot 2, 43 kb



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