Altuvita makes bold claims for the weather-resistant qualities of its Elements Case, but in testing it seemed a long way from 'stormproof'.
- Pros: Lightweight, hard case; reasonably practical
- Cons: Lets in water if fully exposed to the weather; only one size; quite expensive
If you were planning a polar expedition and the camping shop Saturday boy offered you a choice between a tent that was 'waterproof' and one that was 'stormproof', which would you choose? I think most of us would go for the latter, with its promise to keep tempests at bay. At Altuvita, though, it would consider 'waterproof' naturally superior.
That's what I found when I questioned the company about why the Altuvita Elements Case let in water when I tried to recreate the photograph on its website, as you would if you were testing its product for review.
The picture shows the case lying on some wooden decking, with little puddles of what we must take to be rainwater pooling on the surface. The picture is accompanied by the banner headline, 'Resisting the Elements' and under that, the copy claims, 'Shielding your essentials from everything nature can throw at it. We've stress-tested in wind, rain, sleet, snow, heat, cold, mud and sweat. Through all this the ELEMENTS CASE delivered.'
In place of the wooden decking I used the coal bunker outside the kitchen door, but otherwise my recreation was painstakingly accurate. I left the case out in an August downpour – a torrential one, for sure, but hardly the King Lear-like conditions suggested by the website. Luckily for me I filled the case with tissue paper and not my phone and cash because when I brought it back inside the contents were wet. Very wet. Wet enough to squeeze out.
I emailed Altuvita with my findings, expecting to hear that perhaps my test sample was faulty in some way and offering a replacement. Instead, I was told, 'We like to advertise as a 'stormproof' product instead of waterproof. The case was tested riding through a storm to make sure it was bulletproof and passed with flying colours. We have not received any complaints from customers about the stormproof quality of our case, despite the majority of our customers being from countries where rainfall is frequent. Thus there is evidence that the cases's (sic) stormproof quality is good enough to protect phone, keys and cards.'
Terms such as 'stormproof' or 'waterproof' have no legal definition, though some industry standards exist such as in the International Standard IEC60529 which UK company Aquapac uses as the basis of its ratings system. Aquapac rates 'Stormproof' as level 6 protection ('Powerful water jets...projected through a 12.5mm nozzle') whilst 'Rainproof' is a mere level 1 ('vertically falling water drops'), a test which the Altuvita Elements case failed to pass.
There are rules about claims for products being 'honest, legal, decent and truthful', which in my view Altuvita needs to take a look at. Given its fairly casual response to my inquiry, I can't really see any way to rate its product as anything above a 'fail' in this respect.
Beyond that, the case looks and performs reasonably well, though I found it hard to love what is essentially a rectangle of black plastic. It is built with a waterproof zip which seemed rather redundant given water appears to get in pretty well everywhere else and was rather stiff to operate, though the chunky zip-pull helps. It does look tidy when closed.
Inside, the case divides into two compartments. On the right, the phone holder has mesh pockets top and bottom to hold your device in place. My iPhone SE was too small to use these. The case only comes in one size so measure before you buy. On the left, there are three pockets for cards and a longer one that will take notes, but anything bigger than a fiver has to be folded. There's nowhere for coins. If you use it for keys, as Altuvita suggests, keep your phone screen facing down.
The plain exterior means it's hard to know whether you are holding the case the right way up. Once or twice I opened it upside-down and my cards fell out. The rigid casing does offer good protection for your phone if you drop it.
In a back pocket it did a decent job of keeping sweat and condensation at bay – a minimum requirement I would have thought. In heavy rain I would have a jacket over the top of my jersey anyway, so yes, the Elements case is weatherproof – if you keep it inside something else that is weatherproof. The one size, necessarily large to accommodate bigger phones, may stick up above the top of smaller pockets.
Overall, though, this was quite a disappointing piece of kit to review. My personal favourite protective wallet has given me years of good service. It came from beerbabe.co.uk, who makes them from recycled inner tubes. They come in custom sizes to fit your phone and cost half as much.
A hard case that will protect your phone if you drop it but doesn't come anywhere near Altuvita's 'stormproof' billing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Altuvita Elements Case
Size tested: 150mm x 70mm
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This phone case and wallet is aimed at outdoorsy people looking to protect their phones, cards and cash from the elements.
Altuvita says: "Made from lightweight all-weather materials, and ergonomically designed to fit in jersey pockets, it's designed to carry your essentials yet small enough for you not to notice. Plus, with its robust weatherproof bound seams and zip, the Elements Case ensures your kit stays dry even when you don't.... We've stress-tested in wind, rain, sleet, snow, heat, cold, mud and sweat.
"Through all this the ELEMENTS CASE delivered."
These are bold claims, and in testing the case fell short.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
According to Altuvita: "We've studied every detail inside and out to make sure everything's just right.
"Details such as a zip that's easy to use even when wearing full-winter gloves. A smart storm-proof casing so it's strong yet as light and as comfortable as possible. We've considered every stitch, every seam and every point.
"Unzip to the inside, and you have three handy card slots, tabs keeping your phone secure yet fully useable and neat stowaway areas for keys and coins to keep them from damaging your phone screen.
"There's a place for everything, and everything has its place."
Fine but not outstanding; essentially two shallow trays bound together by the waterproof zip and covered in a vinyl-like material that is used to make the simply stitched hinge. Inside the card slots are single-stitched pockets. The internal seams could have been tidier.
Ok in normal use – that is, in a pocket or bag. Don't try to recreate the website image of the case covered in water unless you want wet contents. The case only comes in one size so whether it's a good choice for you depends on the size of your phone. The card pockets weren't all that secure and the contents can fall out if you open it upside down.
After a summer's use the case still looks like new.
Less than its slightly bulky sizing suggests.
If you've bought this thinking "stormproof" means it can be left out in a storm you will consider this poor value. As a general riding wallet, it is on the dearer side but on the other hand there aren't that many with hard cases to choose from.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
If Altuvista was more realistic in its claims I might have given this a better review – it does a decent job of keeping sweat and condensation off your phone. It will "ensure your kit stays dry even when you don't", but only if it's inside something else such as a bag or jacket. It was too big for my iPhone SE and only comes in one size so may not suit you at all.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The hard case offers good protection for your mobile device.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not particularly "stormproof", whatever this means. Only comes in one size. Quite expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Altuvita is right that it identified a gap in the market – most other "weatherproof" cases for phones tend to be soft so offer good weather resistance but perhaps less drop protection. Aquapac offers a range of waterproof phone cases from £16 but they aren't hard cases and they aren't also wallets. The Ortlieb Safe-It is similar, starting at £24 and coming in various sizes for different devices. Lifeventure's RFiD Phone Wallet seems to offer many of the features of the Altuvita Elements, with similar "weather-resistant" properties, at a mere £12.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? It was fine in general use.
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
This was an "OK" product, inferior to one I already use in some ways; adequate in most. In my view, the hyperbole in the marketing spiel borders on misrepresentation and for that reason it gets marked down.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking