Finding an android phone that’s tough enough for camping, hiking and work ain’t easy

If you spend most of your time outdoors—whether for work or play—you probably already know that cell phones just aren’t built for it. Maybe you’ve lost a few already.

Crisp outside air might be good for you, but with rain, snow, dust, dirt and impact, it’s torture on the average smartphone.

Luckily, there are finally a bunch of awesome, nigh unbreakable Android smartphones that are perfect for outdoor adventures. They’re often waterproof, impact-resistant, and ruggedized for whatever nature throws at them.

So ditch the plastic baggie on your next camping trip or hiking outing. Here are our favourite rugged android phones. (We’ll be updating these reviews regularly.)

The Prerequisites

In assembling this list, we based our methodology on what you’d experience camping, hiking, or working outdoors. In particular, we wanted an Android phone that was:

  • Waterproof: Frankly, I’m not sure why all cell phones aren’t waterproof or water resistant. Most aren’t. We only looked at phones that can withstand some wet. (If you’re not sure how IP waterproofing codes work, here’s a helpful code list.)
  • Ruggedized: Aluminum bevels and glossy glass screens are beautiful, but they’re entirely impractical. We narrowed our search to phones with rugged bumpers and similar features.
  • Accessible: There are plenty of tough, durable phones, but few carry a modern operating system. We only considered unlocked smartphones running some version of Android OS.

1) Blackview BV9500: One of the best rugged outdoor Android phones around

Blackview BV9500 Rugged Android Phone

Blackview BV9500 – Check Price

The Blackview BV9500 is less of a phone and more of a tank. It’s one of the most reassuringly solid feeling cell phones I’ve held.

Things I like:

This is a wonderful smartphone for outdoor use because it has an enormous 10,000 mAh battery. It might be my top choice for camping and hiking trips, because you can go a long time without a recharge. And it’s GPS and GLONASS equipped.

It’s also quite the performer, with a potent octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

With 1.8M drop shock resistance and an IP68 water-and-dust-proof rating, it’s a fantastic, durable, modern smartphone for outdoor usage. If you tend to break phones, try this one.

Things I don’t:

Probably the only complaint is the weight. It’s heavy, not a brick, but there’s a noticeable heft. Honestly, there’s no getting around this one: a ruggedized housing and big battery means extra weight.

2) CAT S31: A heavy-duty, waterproof android smartphone for outdoors

CAT S31 Rugged Phone

CAT S31 Rugged Phone – Check Price

They may be meant for jobsites, but CAT smartphones are good for work or play. I’m fond of the S31 because it includes a rugged, waterproof construction, but it looks nice enough that you won’t be embarrassed to bring it out in the coffee shop.

Things I like:

It has a scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass screen, and it’s shock-proof for drops of up to 6 feet with a military-grade durability rating.

It comes with an enormous 4,000 mAh battery that’ll last more than a day with standard use.

And, of course, it’s waterproof up to 1.2 metres, or about 4 feet. You can even use it with wet hands or gloves. That combo of water resistance and affordable price make it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.

Things I don’t:

Frankly, the cameras aren’t anything special, particularly the front-facing one. But that’s not its primary function, so no big deal.

Performance is middle of the pack; reasonable, but not blazing fast. I’d also love it if the case was a bit more ruggedized.

3) BLU Tank: A good, cheap smartphone that’s durable and waterproof

Blu Tank Outdoor Smartphone

BLU Tank Xtreme 5.0 – Check Price

I’m a fan of BLU, and this phone is a great compromise for someone who wants a good, rugged, android phone on a reasonable budget. It’s not a flagship by any means, but it might work for you.

Things I like:

The price! It’s fantastically affordable. While military grade durability and massive processors are great, sometimes you just need a basic, tough smartphone that can withstand harsh outdoor conditions.

Aside from its rugged exterior, this heavy duty Android smartphone carries an IP65 water resistance rating, which should protect from dust and even heavy rain found in outdoor environments (though it’s not suited for total submersion.)

The 3,000 mAh battery is fairly impressive, too.

Things I don’t:

This is a base model with base model performance. You’ll probably want a microSD card to expand on the limited 8GB of internal storage. And I wish the bezel jutted out a bit more.

Still, if your cell phone needs are basic and you want it to endure rain, dust and shock, this might be a great, affordable, outdoor cell phone that works for you.

Beware buzzwords like indestructible, military grade, etc.

Any Android smartphone you find in this category will have some degree of resistance to shock, water, dust, heat, vibration and more.

But it pays to be careful. Recognize the difference between a real feature and a marketing gimmick. There is no such thing as an unbreakable, impervious phone; even if you saw someone drive over it with a tank on Youtube, be skeptical.

If you have questions regarding these picks or anything else, please leave a comment below and I’ll try to help!