Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gear Closet: Catalyst Apple Watch Waterproof Case

I have a confession to make. I absolutely love my Apple Watch. In fact, I pretty much wear it every day. It isn't just a watch for me, but also a fitness tracker, communications device, and a way to keep tabs of my calendar. It also holds my boarding passes when going through the airport, discreetly displays text and alert messages, and controls my music and podcasts when I'm out on a run. In short, it has become an important part of my daily life. 

All of that said, there are times when I wish the Apple Watch were a bit more rugged. Sometimes I'll wear it on my outdoor adventures, and it seems a bit fragile for use in the backcountry. Especially if I'm doing anything that involves being out on the water. Don't get me wrong, the Watch can survive a dunking, but Apple falls short of actually declaring it water proof, and you're on your own if you go swimming with it. Which is why I was eager to try out the Apple Watch Case from Catalyst, a product that promises to add rugged protection to the smartwatch and even protect it from water.

The Apple Watch Case is certified to the IP68 standard, which means it will keep your watch waterproof down to 50 meters (165 ft). It has also been built to the MIL-SPEC 810G standard for protection against drops as well, giving your Apple Watch a suit of armor that protects it from the elements. Those two factors alone make it a worthwhile product for anyone who like to wear their smartwatch in the outdoors, as you'll definitely feel more confident when it is wrapped up in this protective shell. 

Installing the Apple Watch Case is surprisingly easy. There is one tiny screw to remove (Catalyst includes a proper screw driver in the packaging) to gain access to the interior of the case. Before doing so, you simply remove the current watch band that you have on the Apple Watch – a process that takes seconds – and then place the watch housing itself inside a thin rapper seal that provides an extra level of protection from moisture. Then, you place it into the case and reseal it using the same screw and screw driver. 

When it clicks into place, the housing is completely sealed tight, yet you lose no functionality. The watch face remains just as responsive to your touch as it was before and the device can continue to monitor your heart rate, provide haptic feedback, use the speaker and mic, and connect to its magnetic charger. Catalyst has even cleverly designed buttons and a digital crown to fit over the existing versions on the Watch itself, allowing full interaction with all its features. In fact, after installing the case on my Watch I almost forgot that I had made the change, as it felt just as natural interacting with it as before, and the case felt incredibly comfortable on my wrist at all time. 

Last week, while traveling in Quebec, I had the opportunity to truly put the Apple Watch Case to the test. Many of the activities took place on the water, so I spent my days stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and even whitewater rafting. Throughout all of those activities the case performed exactly as advertised, keeping my precious Apple Watch fully protected. I even jumped out of the raft and body surfed some rapids on my own, and my device came out completely unscathed. It was an impressive display to say the least, and it convinced me that the case would keep my watch fully protected just about anywhere. 

As mentioned, the case is quite comfortable to wear, and doesn't add a lot of bulk to Apple's sleek smartwatch. In fact, after my trip was over I debated as whether or not I should just leave it on permanently. In the end, I did remove it (also a simple affair) in part because I enjoy the versatility of being able to change up the look of the Apple Watch on a moment's notice. But, knowing that I have Catalyst's case at my disposal for future adventures makes me very happy.

The Catalyst Apple Watch case is available for the 42mm version only and costs $59.99. To me, it is a worth investment if you like to use your Apple Watch while traveling or exploring the outdoors. It definitely adds a great level of protection that isn't there out of the box, and will allow it to survive being immersed in water without any fears. 

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