Turn your iPhone into a GoPro! That’s what I thought when I took the Hitcase Pro out of the packaging and put my iPhone 4s in it. There are a lot of iPhone cases to choose from out there for outdoor adventure – waterproof, dust proof, shock proof coverings that make your phone indestructable. But the Hitcase Pro is the first I’ve come across that is dedicated to being used for POV adventure documentation. I’ve taken the Hitcase Pro out backcountry skiing a bunch of times, and found it to be a brilliant way to transform your phone into a versatile video and still camera.
So iPhones already shoot stills and video… But the Hitcase Pro make them better. Features include:
- Waterproof up to 30 feet.
- ShockSeal™ and ShockPad™ dual protection system.
- Clear Lexan cover allows full touchscreen use for SMS, email, apps and games.
- Machined stainless steel power and volume buttons provide tactile feedback even through gloves.
- Railslide Mount System mounts are compatible with all GoPro HERO mounts.
The Hitcase Pro is clearly a quality product that is well thought out and executed. It’s a burly case, and makes the phone feel massive in hand. The inside is filled with a waveform rubber seal that protects the phone and absorbs vibration. There’s also a ring of silicone around the rim. The screen is covered by a Lexan film that does a good job of protecting, but doesn’t inhibit user functions… much. I found that while texting I had to hit the screen harder to get it to respond, but that’s to be expected with a case this rugged. The phone is super easy to get into the case. You simply set it inside, and close the hinged case around it. Three locking doors around the edges seal the phone in.
Using the phone as… well… a phone is not such a good thing with the Hitcase on. Since it’s so waterproof, sounds coming from the speaker are very muffled, and people on the other end of the line think you’re talking from far away. The top of the case is not comfortable against the ear at all, so I chose to never use the phone when it’s inside the Hitcase because it’s that unpleasant.
As a camera buff, I love to take pictures when backcountry ski touring in the Wasatch. I always keep my iPhone in my pants pocket so I can easily pull it out and take a shot of my buddies skiing. After putting my phone in the Hitcase, I was worried it would be too bulky to carry in a pocket, but it still felt thin enough to not be a problem – it kind of turns the iPhone into the size of an older model cell phone. The only issue is the wide angle lens that sticks out a bit, and I could feel it pressing against my leg, but it wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t skin laps up a mountain with it in my pocket.
The wide angle lens is nice, but I had hoped it would make photos even wider. I took two shots of my friend Mike taking pictures of me – one photo with the Hitcase Pro on, and the other without. There is a noticable difference when you look at the edges of the frame, but I don’t think it quite compares to the example found on the Hitcase website. Also, I noticed that you can see the edges of the lens in the photo as the wide angle leaves a circular border around the pic that I had to edit out in post-production.
Video wise, the Hitcase Pro shines. The mounts included with the kit are compatible with GoPro mounts, and I used it with my Chesty for some POV skiing footage. The Railslide Mount System locks the phone and case firmly in place so there’s no worries of it falling off, leading to a frantic search for a missing phone in the powder (or the bottom of a lake.) I did have a problem getting the Railslide off the Hitcase when finished with a shoot. In fact, it was impossible to remove! About 1/2 an hour of muscling, it finally yielded results, but it was ridiculous how hard I had to work at it. The second time I tried to remove it was easier (but no means easy) so I guess it needs to be broken in some.
To see how well the Hitcase Pro works as a POV, GoPro style camera, I made this video of myself backcountry skiing Tom’s Hill:
Utah Outside on Vimeo.
For my final test with the phone, I filled up the bathub and dropped my Hitcase-protected phone into the drink. Leaving it submerged for around 7 minutes (or however long it took for me to get a good picture) I decided it was enough time to see how waterproof it really is. I am pleased to say that not a drop of water got through and my phone was completely dry. I would be confident taking my phone kite surfing, swimming or even snorkeling based on this test.
Good Hitcase Pro: Really is waterproof, protects your iPhone against everything (probably even Armaggeddon,) turns your phone into a wide-angle and POV video camera, phone goes in and out easily.
Bad Hitcase Pro: Actual phone functions suffer inside the case, Railslide mount is very hard to remove, wide angle lens leaves a round border around photos, it’s an expensive $130.
Final Word: Overall, I’d say the Hitcase Pro is an awesome iPhone case for outdoor adventure or photographers looking for an alternative and/or compliment to shooting with a GoPro.
For more about the Hitcase and Hitcase Pro, visit www.hitcase.com