www.lifeproof.com, 1.1 ounces
You’ve spent a veritable fortune on your new iPhone—only to have it ruined while you answer a call (or text or while taking photos) a snow or rainstorm. We’ve tried a dozen cases for iPhones and most seemed too bulky or provided insufficient protection, until we found the Lifeproof case, which delighted our testers with its sleek design. At only 13.3 mm wide, it’s barely larger than the phone itself. The snap-on, O-ring case has a slick plastic exterior that doesn’t catch on everything when you’re trying to slip it in and out of your pocket. But best of all, the case is 100-percent dirt-, water-, and snow-proof. The case is guaranteed to not leak in up to 6.5 feet of water, a fact that was corroborated by one tester who went for an impromptu swim in the Rio Grande after a hot hike in Big Bend National Park. The phone was completely submerged, with no leaks whatsoever. The case is also guaranteed to protect the phone for short drops on hard surfaces—nice if you have kids with no sense of value; Lifeproof guarantees the case will protect the phone for drops up to six feet—we can attest that the phone and case can fall out of a car onto hard pavement and survive. The touchscreen sensitivity is excellent, with no loss of function or distortion. Included in the package is a headphone adaptor that allows you to use waterproof buds for swimming, snow sports, or running in the rain. Our testers’ only complaint? Plugging the charger in is difficult, and it’s easy to lose the water-sealing screw that covers the cord jack. Boaters should invest in the Lifeproof Life Jacket ($40), a bright orange rubber case that holds the phone firmly and floats to the surface if dropped in the water.
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www.lifeproof.com, 1.1 ounces
patagonia.com, 2.9 ounces
Every parent’s nightmare—their adolescent daughter insists on trading her serviceable one-piece for a daring bikini. The trouble is, most bikinis are built more for St. Tropez beauty queens than growing girls. Thankfully, Patagonia’s got you (and your loved ones) covered. Everything they make has a purpose. While the Patagonia Girls’ Two-Piece counts as a bikini, it’s designed for sports. Whether your daughter is playing beach volleyball, surfing, or snorkeling, the suit is built to stay in place without awkward slipping, hiking, or sagging. Made of durable nylon and spandex, the suit is stretchy without being overly clingy. The fixed shoulder straps are wide, keeping the top in place during active movement. The front overlaps for modesty, and the shorts offer excellent coverage on the sides and lower bottom. While we can’t help with drama, mood swings, or power struggles, when they wear this suit, chances are your daughter will applaud your cool taste. At least until they leave the blanket behind to play soccer in the sand, paddle a kayak or stand-up board, or get closer to hanging ten off the next break. .
When most tech wizards are still reading the directions on their latest wrist-top computer, with the Ironman Sleek 150, you’ll be half way through your workout. Generally training watches are about as intuitive as quantum physics—so complicated that the average runner never figures out all the bells and whistles. But this one from Timex comes with a slim plastic pocket guide that encapsulates the English instructions in less than three brief pages, far less than the standard Webster’s-sized manual required by most training watches. The watch boasts a chronograph, alarm, and timer that are easy to customize to your workout programs. Beeps tell you if you are behind pace, on schedule, or moving too fast. What makes this watch fun is the ability to tap the screen (called…TapScreen technology) to get information and to start and stop the timers. The big digital readout can be easily seen without squinting through sweat (a huge boon)—and the numbers stay lit for a few seconds after you push the button, which makes it easier to read when you’re on the move. The watch is waterproof to 100 meters, which makes it good for triathletes who are training in their local pool or lake. The only bummer? The high-pitched beeps are difficult to hear, especially in a busy indoor pool.
There’s more to sunburn than the red skin and blisters, which makes testing sunscreen a challenge. Over the years, we’ve developed a fairly good protocol. Dividing our exposed epidermis into two equal sections, we apply a “control” sunscreen—one we’ve used for several seasons—to half the skin. On the other side, we slather on “potion X,” a process that sometimes leaves us looking like overzealous sports fans: one side pale, the other bright pink from lesser products. This time, we compared Elemental Herbs Sunstick with several drug store brands, and fortunately for our testers, no skin was hurt in the process. Elemental employs a potent zinc-oxide base (sans the ghostly white pallor) and is anchored by all-organic products like avocado, coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, tapioca, and sesame seeds—and yes, the ingredients reads like a start of a heavenly lunch. Better still, it is coral-safe, and fairly water and sweat resistant (we applied it every hour to be safe). The clincher: The Sunstick’s handy, no fuss applicator. Shaped like a super-sized lip balm, the Sunstick is easy to store in a pocket, pack, or purse, with no danger of a loose lid, goop mess, or even getting any under your finger nails.