How To Protect Electronics At The Beach

Electronics don’t mix well with the beach; sand, sun, and water all conspire to cause damage that isn’t covered by most warranties. By taking a few basic precautions, you can safeguard your gadgets from the elements.

    Cover Your Ports: Sand can wreak havoc on exposed ports. Tape shut any ports you don’t need.
    Fear The Sun: Protecting against the sun’s harmful rays is as easy as tossing your iPod into a beach bag or under a blanket.
    Buy A Case: Bringing electronics near the water is asking for trouble, but if you must, buy a waterproof case; save the DIY effort for another project.

If the elements do manage to breach your defenses, send them on their way with a can of compressed air.

Protecting Your Electronic Devices at the Beach [KABC]
(Photo: dan taylor)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Leah says:

    For a really protective case, get a pelican or otter box. My older brother is a Marine that’s seen two tours of duty in Iraq, and his 2g ipod is still going strong thanks to his pelican box.

  2. JohnMc says:

    Aaaah the Pelican is nice. But I don’t think I can justify the cost of a case equal to that of the electronics inside. I have an alternate ‘plugger’ type of suggestion — bags. Yes. Like a gallon double seal ZipLock baggie. For UV protection of the plastic shells, I just cut and fold a piece of construction paper to fit inside. Cuts out 80% of the light. Downside — no impact protection as with the use of a Pelican case. But it does keep out the dirt and moisture.

    Minor enhancement. Put some pie shell weights in a bag. Put your older cheap digital camera inside. Instant water tight case. Down to at least 30′ in my last trip. Just pick a newer bag with no scratches, hazing and dare I say it — leaks. Works pretty good.

  3. LipstickLibrarian says:

    “Sand can wreak havoc on exposed ports.”

    No kidding.

  4. banned says:

    Maybe you should leave your electronics at home when you go to the beach.

  5. kingoman says:

    Is it too obvious to leave them in the environment they were designed for… HOME?!

    I love people who want to get away from it all but want to take it all with them.

    I’m not that much of a beach person, but when I do go, it’s the sound of the crashing waves I like, not the tunes I can listen to at home.

    I’m a hiker and there’s nothing worse than coming upon some dude deafening himself with Metallica such that it’s even ruining *my* enjoyment of the sounds of nature (although I do enjoy it when he jumps 3 feet when I pass him because he didn’t hear me coming!).

  6. Scuba Steve says:

    Some people need cell phones. Don’t fight it, accept it.

  7. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @Scuba Steve: I’m afraid there’s no getting away from the phone for some of us, yes. But, people could always leave the iPod, Blackberry, and portable DVD player home. After all, the whole point of the beach is to experience a different environment, not bringing your usual one with you.

    Oh, and don’t slather your iPod with SPF50…makes a big mess and all and it may void the warranty.

  8. homerjay says:

    I use my ipod in the hot tub. I just stick it in a ziplock bag and blow a bunch of air in the bag. That way, if it falls in the water, it floats.

  9. snowferret says:

    Oh heres a good tip.
    Don’t take your friggin laptop to the beach.
    It’s just gonna get stolen or broken.
    You’re at the beach….
    Go for a swim.

  10. Televiper says:


    I’d say for most the Blackberry is even harder to get away from. They’re electronic leashes. My work place has a policy that states you don’t turn them off.

    I agree though, just leave the things at home. The beach has to be the most conceivably inappropriate place to bring an iPod or PDA.

  11. AcidReign says:

        I only take my Timex watch to the beach. By my calculations, it’s logged 78 days at the beach in its lifetime, with another week scheduled this September! I can’t wait!!!!

        I’ve been HIGHLY frustrated with camcorders and cameras at the beach over the years. First, the little LCDs are USELESS in the sun. Then, the things often get condensation on the lenses. Taking movies means roaring noise in the sound, even with wind filters.

        These days, I have to plan my photography/movie sessions at the beach. First, the camera needs to be set out on the deck (in the shade) for an hour or so prior to use, to acclimate it to the heat and humidity. Bring the camera from AC to 95 degrees, and it WILL fog up. Then, carry the camera out, take the shots, then take the thing back in the condo and IMMEDIATELY upload the pictures to the laptop. Unless you’re out of space, leave a copy of stuff both on the camera AND the laptop, for safekeeping.

        I got my best ever beach pix, oddly, in 2005, as Hurricane Rita was going by south of Ft. Walton. Yeah, it was risky to take my Nikon out in 40 MPH winds and stinging sand, but I got some up-close shots of 20-foot waves, 3 water-spouts out at sea [all coming out of the same cloud at the same time!)], and the nastiest angry sky ever!

  12. shiznannigan says:

    Waterproof/Dustproof camera. Best electronic investment I’ve ever made. The looks you get using it with bbq-sauce-covered hands… then washing it off… are priceless.

  13. Alan Thomas says:

    I cannot lavish enough praise on the 5G iPod otter box I bought for my wife a few years ago. For some reason, electronics hate her. She goes through a pair of headphones every month or so, and has gone through multiple MP3 players and walkmen. I’d have gotten her the case even if we didn’t have a beach vacation planned.

    It’s not just beach conditions–it’s exercise too. Jogging on the beach is sorta the worst conditions.

    The otter box not only seals off the iPod–while giving great access to the wheel, but also protects the headphone jack from stress, since all that stress is now on the otter box jack, not the iPod jack. (And the otter box jack has lasted.)

    FWIW, I agree that, for a simple day at the beach, who needs an iPod. But for a 1-2 week vacation at a beachfront condo, it becomes more useful (especially if exercising).

  14. Rusted says:

    @rocnrule: Agree on that. Don’t people go to the beach to get away from it all?

  15. DTWD says:

    I’d just bring my cheap MP3 player with me to the beach if I was going to soak up the cancer.

  16. synergy says:

    People taking a gaggle of technology with them when they’re outdoors drives me bonkers. Enjoy the sun and silence alone for pete’s sake. :-|

  17. @synergy: Why do you care?

  18. slea says:

    Sand can mess up other things, like bikes too! I rode my bike to the beach (I live in Chicago) last week, and got sand in my shift-pod. (The actual shifting mechanism on the handlebars.) Then, I tried to take it apart and clean it, and ended up having to have the shift-pod replaced. The bike mechanic told me in the future, do not take it apart, but just have at it with compressed air and bike lubricant.