E3 is just around the corner and only a few short months after that it will be time for PAX West. And let’s not forgot the other events like Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, Blizzcon the other PAXen, and the countless EVE Online related events. One of my greatest fears when I travel great distances to these events is boredom, so in addition to the items I carry to cover my journalism responsibilities, I have a good collection of books, power banks and other electronic items like my iPad, 3DS and Vita. And from the amount of people I see waiting in line for a major exhibit or at a Bit Brigade and Returners concert with their eyes glued to their handheld devices I can confidently assume I am not in the minority. These expensive toys are no good if they break, and between air travel and navigating a crammed convention center filled with tens of thousands of people can put stuff in harm’s way. Hardcore Gamer recently had the opportunity to evaluate some items for transporting and protecting some of these items, which would be the Altitude Backpack by Solo and Urban Armor Gear (UAG) cases.
Looking at the Altitude Backpack first, the features include a fully padded 17.3″ laptop compartment, and internal iPad/tablet pocket, front zippered organizer section, side pockets, aviator inspired hardware, military grade velcro, padded back and backpack straps and it’s made of lightweight parachute nylon. It is black with yellow interior, and it is designed to transport a lot of stuff and keep it organized. Starting from the part that will be against the wearer’s back, there is a large compartment where inside is the padded laptop compartment with a smaller pouch for accessories, and on the opposite side there is another mesh pouch. Then there is another large compartment with two small pouches inside. On the back there is even more storage with two additional small zippered compartments and a medium sized pouch tucked behind them, lift up the top zippered pouch to access it. The two compartments can be clasped together to make them more secure. The bottom one includes some small pouches that would be ideal for a basic calculator, smaller cellphone, and some pens and pencils, and the top one is ideal for sunglasses. One side has some small pouches that probably won’t be able to carry anything much bigger than pens and keys but could be handy for some small trinkets, the other side has a mesh pocket that is perfect for a 20 oz. water bottle, though much larger ones won’t fit. The materials and construction of this appear to be high quality, and it would be difficult to find a better backpack without going into a more expensive price bracket. The only improvements I would recommend are a larger mesh pocket to accommodate larger bottles and some extra padding for the two small compartments on the back.
The particular case being discussed is the Monarch Series iPhone 7 Case, which is a lightweight handcrafted case that features five layers of protection which include an armor frame, top grain leather, polycarbonate shear plate, alloy metal hardware, and impact resistant rubber. If you clicked the link for the case, you’d see that it is on the higher end of the price range for a cellphone case, but this also is a higher end cellphone case in regards to quality. This particular case is black and comes in four highlight color options, platinum, crimson, graphite and midnight, and it is a very nice looking cover, though aesthetic quality is somewhat based on personal opinion. Where this case truly shines is in its functional purpose, which is to protect the electronic equipment within from damage. The UAG case meets 2X Military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6), which is dropping it from a height of four feet 52 times and having it suffer no damage. UAG is confident enough in the case’s ability to protect the phone it includes a ten year warranty, though I doubt most people are going to go a decade without replacing their phone. Compared to phone cases I have had in the past, this one does feel the sturdiest, so people who want a phone case that offers a high level of protection to their phone this brand is one worth looking into. This is the only case I have personal experience with, but UAG does have similar cases for different iPhone models, iPads, Macbooks, Samsung phones, Microsoft Surface and Surface Book, and LG, Huawei, and Google/Motorola products.
The UAG website discusses the military grade testing they put their protective phone cases and examining the case in person looks like this is a high quality protective case. This sounds good, but I am not one to recommend a product based solely on claims of durability from people who would profit from it. This meant I needed to conduct my own tests and the vehicle test is a good starting point. I drive approximately a thousand miles every week and I am an
excellent terrible driver. At a minimum I go 15 mph over the speed limit, tend to weave in and out of lanes and generally avoid common sense guidelines for safety. While doing this I am usually operating a laptop, GPS unit, iPod and two iPhones. As one would imagine these electronics occasionally become airborne in my vehicle and crash into some hard surfaces. And by occasionally I mean daily. So far I have avoided getting into any major crashes but the phone and the UAG case show no signs of damage despite the fact I have been handling them with zero care.
Being flung about the car is not the most intense durability test out there but it is one of the real world conditions phones face that can be damaging to them. I was involved in one physical altercation that ended up going to ground (don’t worry, I was victorious) and the phone and case continued to remain unharmed. By this point this result should be expected, but everything remained unscathed during some horseplay with some friends where my phone involuntarily left my pocket at some point and enjoyed a rapid descent to the concrete floor of the garage. By now I am confident in saying that UAG phone cases provide real protection against damage in most every day scenarios where the phone is subject to abuse. I was considering doing some more extreme tests but since I am not getting compensated for any of this I decided not to risk having to purchase a new phone. This extreme level of testing included things like driving a car over the phone, multiple hits with a sledgehammer and testing to see how well it protects a phone against a .40 cal hollow point. For liability reasons these are not tests I recommend anyone do, but should anyone try these methods of their own volition, please share your results in the comments section.
The Altitude Backpack is a great accessory for someone who wants to travel with many items but also wants to keep them in a rather compact space. The smart design of this allows someone to pack fairly heavily but maintain organization and keep everything in a small space, not to mention high quality materials and protective padding for the laptop pocket. I packed my iPad, laptop, spiral notebook, the books Soul on Fire and The Gun Seller, my handheld consoles, a bunch of chargers and power banks, a hoodie and hygiene items and everything fit fine. This is one of the top backpacks I’ve seen that did not have a three digit price tag. The UAG iPhone case is great and I would recommend it for anyone who needs a phone cover that offers protection. I travel a lot and engage in a lot of physical activities, and as a result my phone gets roughed up. I can say that the UAG case has fared better than other protective cases I have had in the past.