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Rugged Gear and Technology

With summer in full swing, you might find yourself spending more and more time on the go. Then again, maybe you just work “in the field” – or are simply one of those clumsy types. Whatever the scenario, many of today’s devices are designed for those who require tougher tech. After all, buying the latest consumer electronics – be it laptops, smartphones and video cameras – can become an expensive hobby, so you might as well pick up products that offer added durability to protect your investment. Here’s a look at a few notable examples.

 

 

Olympus Stylus Tough-8000

Olympus Stylus Tough-8000

Olympus Stylus Tough-8000

($399.99; olympusamerica.com)

Called a “virtually indestructible” point-and-shoot digital camera, this Olympus model was built with the Great Outdoors in mind: It’s waterproof (as deep as 33 feet), shockproof (from 6.6 feet), freezeproof (to -10 degrees Celsius/14 degrees Fahrenheit); and crushproof (up to 220 pounds). Other handy extras on the 12 megapixel camera include dual image stabilization and “tap control” that lets you navigate around the camera’s features by simply tapping the top or sides.

Check out our Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 Review.

 

   ($399.95; panasonic.com)

Panasonic SDR-SW21

Panasonic SDR-SW21

Panasonic SDR-SW21 Camcorder

Capture your summer memories in clear video with a durable Flash memory-based camcorder. Accepting up to 32GB Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) cards, this pocket-sized orange video camera offers a “triple” threat against the elements – it’s waterproof, shockproof and dustproof – plus it offers many convenient features found in most camcorders today including 10x zoom with image stabilization, the ability to upload directly to YouTube and multi-angle LCD monitor for comfortable viewing. Alternately, as a more budget-friendly alternative, you can also consider the durable Kodak Zx1 ($149.95).

 

 ($399.99; laptops.toshiba.com)

Toshiba mini NB200

Toshiba mini NB200

Toshiba mini NB200 Series

On the surface, this compact mini notebook resembles any other “netbook” computer on the market: It offers a 10.1-inch LED-backlit LCD screen, near full-size QWETY keyboard, integrated webcam, three USB ports and wireless connections (including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth). But the 160GB hard drive offers a 3D accelerometer monitoring system that detects freefalls, shocks and vibrations to secure against the loss of valuable data. This Intel Atom-powered product isn’t one of those industrial laptops suitable for use on construction sites or anything, but it’s still way more durable than most options in the same category.

 

 ($19.95 to $49.95; otterbox.com)

OtterBox

OtterBox

OtterBox

Protect your smartphone, tablet, laptop or portable media player while out and about – the OtterBox line of custom-fitted protective wear can help shield all sorts of mobile electronics from harm. For example, the OtterBox for iPhone 3GS Defender Series provides three layers of protection: A clear membrane that covers the touchscreen; a hard polycarbonate skeleton that surrounds the smartphone; and a wrap-around silicone skin that absorbs bumps and shocks. The manufacturer’s BlackBerry solutions are worthy considerations, too.

 

  ($75.00; ruggedtech.com)

Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

Mighty Mouse

Rugged Technologies’ Mighty Mouse is a USB-based, 2-button Windows or Mac mouse (measuring 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches) that’s completed protected against liquid and dust by a latex-free molded silicone cover. The wired mouse can be used in varying temperatures, too, from freezing (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit) up to 70 degrees Celsius (up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit). If you do get dirt on it, it’s completely washable with common industrial cleaners including detergents, alcohol and bleach.

 

  ($159.99; lacie.com)

LaCie Rugged XL 1TB

LaCie Rugged XL 1TB

LaCie Rugged XL 1TB Hard Drive

A hard drive is good to find – and a durable one is even harder. While external drives might be a dime a dozen, the LaCie Rugged XL external SATA drive offers 1 terabyte of storage with a tough aluminum body with orange rubber sleeve, internal bumper and heat dissipation technology. Created by world-renowned designer Neil Poulton, this funky-looking USB 2.0 drive – which works with both Windows PCs and Macs – is super fast, too, with 3GB/second read speeds.

 

 ($599.99; sonimtech.com)

Sonim XP3

Sonim XP3

Sonim XP3 Quest Phone

As the “world’s toughest phone,” this black or yellow rubberized handset was engineered to be used in extreme environments, and for long periods of time. Backed by a 3-year unconditional guarantee, the water-submersible (IP-67 rated) and droppable product (from a height of six feet) can also withstand temperatures as low as -4 and as high as 131 degrees Fahrenheit. It also boasts an 18-hour talk-time battery (1500 hours on standby) and includes a 1.8-inch screen, GPS, LED flashlight and a 2-megapixel camera.

 

 ($599.99; garmin.com)

Garmin Oregon 550t

Garmin Oregon 550t

Garmin Oregon 550t GPS

For safety’s sake, those who enjoy camping, hiking or kayaking should consider bringing a reliable and durable off-road GPS solution. Preloaded with U.S. topological maps, this Garmin GPS unit features a highly-sensitive satellite receiver, barometric altimeter and three-axis electronic compass – all viewable on a rugged and sunlight-readable touchscreen display. As an added bonus, this unit includes a 3.2 megapixel digital camera and microSD card slot.

 

  ($144.95; swissarmy.com)

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissFlash 16GB

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissFlash 16GB

Victorinox Swiss Army SwissFlash 16GB

While many of us need some downtime in the Great Outdoors, it doesn’t mean you can’t do a little work if you have to – and then save it safely for when you return to the office. The SwissMemory USB Victorinox is a multi-tool Swiss Army Knife that also includes 16GB of Flash memory so you can plug the doohickey into your laptop to save your work files before using the blade to scale a fish or fix a tent. Also included is a blade, nail file, screwdriver, scissors, LED light, and more.

 

 ($79.99; etoncorp.com)

Eton FR500 SolarLink Radio

Eton FR500 SolarLink Radio

Eton FR500 SolarLink Radio

If your outdoor adventures take you off the “grid,” a durable device like the Eton FR500 SolarLink radio has you covered. The gizmo features a splash-resistant AM, FM and shortwave radio with NOAA weather info – powered by a solar panel, hand crank, batteries or AC plug (you choose) – and also includes a flashlight, emergency beacon and siren, and a charger to juice up your wireless phone in a pinch.