Kayaking Phones

-- Last Updated: Oct-27-11 9:32 PM EST --

I am thinking of upgrading the cellphone soon. Looking at the Casio lines of water proof phones. I want a phone that is water proof/resistant. I am not a fan of dry cases. I currently have a Motorola Quantico, that has served me well for two years. Many dunkings in various types of water. No hiccups with the phone. Main issues are with carrier.

Casio has a smartphone called the Commando any one tried one. http://www.casiogzone.com/commando/

How is their G Zone line of clam shell phones?

Any others out there? Most likely going to Verizon.

If I carry a phone while paddling I turn
it off. It’s for emergencies only! Besides, many river run through valleys and there’s no signal anyway, plus I leave a traveling itinerary with a friend or family member.

Really, life does exist outside of your ‘ear bud’ and life won’t cease if it’s not on.

IMO, so many folks think others can’t go through life unless they are yakking to them.

Last week our neighbors had a doctors appointment and some gal pulls out her phone, starts calling her utility companies about her bills that were in arrears. Never bothered to lower her voice, gave very personal info, for everyone in the waiting room to overhear. One may be using the phone, but please people, we all don’t need to have to listen to your personal conversations or problems.

My phone lives in PFD pocket.

– Last Updated: Oct-28-11 11:04 AM EST –

I am not much of a talker. Do not really chit chat much even off the water. But,I lead others from time to time.I like to have a cellphone with me for when stuff happens or may happen. Most our main paddling areas have a cell signal. Our wilderness areas are not really that remote.

I am not looking for the evils of a cell phone, but it is a piece of safety equipment. I am curious about the Casios. Never had one. I read a few reviews on Cnet, but they tend to be from city slickers. Not those that paddle. I just want feed back on the phones.

Spare the preaching (nm)

Casio Commando
I have the Casio Commando with Verizon and love it. I’m an Android fan, but didn’t want to drop a bunch of money on smartphone and then destroy it at work (I’m an educator at a wetlands nature preserve).

The phone usually stays in a cargo pocket while I lead tours and so far has survived being splashed on a daily basis, being fully submerged multiple times (staying in the cargo pocket while I’m waist deep in water), and dropped often.

If I know I’ll be doing wet exits or practicing rolls I put the phone in a dry bag since I don’t want to tempt fate, but I don’t worry about it getting dunked by accident.

If you go the smartphone route, make sure you’re actually going to appreciate all the features since data plans are pretty pricey. The cost is worth it to me for the gps features, electronic compass, being able to check my email, etc.

My BIL has one.
He is a duckhunter and uses a Casio water proof phone(forget the exact model). He hasn’t had any issues with it being in his pocket in all kinds of weather. The main reason he has it is IF he does get swamped, or falls in, he has the means to call for help.

As for my self, I tend to put it in a drybag, or just leave it in the car.

Verizon Casio - GzoneRock is great
I had the Boulder, still have one. I also have the GZoneRock which is a great phone by Verizon. You can buy them new from eBay and then dial 228 number to Verizon and get it set up. This one, like the Casio Android version has a temperature gauge and other cool stuff for outdoor types.

I had my Gzone in water for over an hour last fall, not on purpose. Phone is great.

Being single and having health issues, I have three Verizon cell phones. Cheaper than having a home phone. I swear by the GZone. Had misplaced my Boulder, I think my cats thought it was a play toy. Bought another GZone from Ebay.

My original GZone has been in much water. I’ve had it since they first came out. My first one still works but one hot day at the pool the screen steamed up after being in the sun too long and then in the cold pool. I leave one at home and carry one.

I always carry a GZone with me. Very reliable in all weather.

My Motorolla Droid X is another story, I probably should have replaced it with the Commando but I ordered the Razor instead. I may be sorry. A phone should last a full two years or more but the Droid X didn’t last 13 months. I’m convinced it is a software issue but Verizon says it is a software issue they can’t fix.

Leave it in the car .

Range of Cellphone

– Last Updated: Oct-28-11 4:10 PM EST –

What happens when you are 10 miles out ?


Sitting in the cockpit of the boat
about 5 feet above the water, smooth water.
You can only reach 2.6 nautical miles to the horizon.

Better off with a VHF device with large external antennae.
When you’re on VHF channel 16 calling for help,
other boaters in the area can hear you also.

Cell phone - one person - that's it !!!!


And yet no-one asked you which is better phone or VHF.

And, are you quite sure with your assumptions? A mobile pocket can sometimes be carried on the belt, assume the height of 3feet, which using the horizon formula gives ~2m range. So, can you guess what you are missing?

Hint - you can see tall object further out than 3 miles.

Best of Luck

– Last Updated: Oct-28-11 6:14 PM EST –

I'll stick with my VHF and leave the cell in the car

In October of 2006, the Coast Guard asked all cell phone service providers in states other than Alaska to remove the *CG feature as a method of requesting emergency assistance. All of the cell phone service providers in Alaska have the *CG feature available and routed to a single Coast Guard emergency line ensuring that calls are not missed and cannot be misdirected. The Coast Guard urged all boaters to use VHF-FM radio as their primary means of making distress calls and that if a cell phone is their only means of communication, the call should be directed to the nearest 911 operator.

Cell phone is not reliable
for emergency service. Consider carrying a PLB instead of - or in addition to - a cell phone for true emergency assistance.

Cell phone is not reliable
for emergency service. Consider carrying a PLB instead of - or in addition to - a cell phone for true emergency assistance.

For the past three years,
I have paddled with a Verizon Casio Boulder waterproof, impact resistant phone. It stays in my right PFD pocket, bungied to a loop inside, so it is readily available when I need it.

Ignore claims that paddling with a cell is useless. I have used mine to:

  • Call in an emergency situation
  • Take calls, when I need to be available
  • Call friends stuck on dry land to describe the beauty surrounding me
  • communicate between paddling groups
  • Inform family of changes in paddling schedule/plans and rendezvous coordination.

    Yes, there can be limited signals whitewater paddling in deep-enough valleys, but its useful when it works.

    Much as I have been tempted by the smart phones, I don’t want to give up my paddling-friendly phone.

Preach On!
Dear shirlann,

How in the hell did anyone do anything 25 years ago without 24/7/365 instant access?

Unless you are curing cancer or instantaneously donating your kidney upon receipt of a phone call your phone is unless once you leave pavement, or the confines of your vehicle, as far as I am concerned.

Life existed without cell towers, quite handsomely if I may say so. Get in your boat and go. Voicemail will get your missed calls, and you’ll have a better time.


Goobs - Old School and proud of it

Distance from shore ?
Please tell us how far from land you’ve used ““phone”” !

Didn’t mean to say don’t carry cell phon
I wasn’t clear. Cell phones are fine to carry and can be nice to have along in many situations. What I meant is that cell phones are not 100% reliable for true life and death emergency situations and I would not depend on them for that purpose. PLB’s are coming down in price and they are bombproof. Push the button and the helicopter shows up fast (depending only on how far away you are).

How far off the coast

– Last Updated: Oct-30-11 12:44 AM EST –

have I used the phone? One mile out in the Gulf.
I also now have a water-proof, floating, VHF radio which would be the first choice to use first in a marine emergency.
By the same token, the VHF is not for casual conversation in the sense a cell phone would be used.

Golden Shellback
I’ve a few friends who sent their phone for service and it seems pretty decent. Not IPX8 decent, but decent enough so that a phone attempted to keep dry was accidentally submerged and survived. I don’t know about the durability of the coating, however.

I’m suprised

– Last Updated: Oct-30-11 9:36 AM EST –

I was initially inclined not to chime in, because the OP isn't asking about whether to bring a cell phone, but I'm suprised by how many responses say "leave it at home/in the car" etc, and I worry that some paddlers might get the impression that it's not cool to carry a cell phone when you paddle.

Yes we survived without cell phones, GPS, gore-tex, composites, VHF, etc. before each of them were invented. But in my opinion it's irresponsible to not make use of any safety resources available to you, and a Cell phone is a safety resource. Yes they have shortcomings (as does all safety equipment), but they're part of a tool-box for dealing with an emergency, at least in my area, where payphones don't exist, and cell coverage is good.

Personally I always carry my phone (off, and usually in the day hatch) as well as a VHF and other signalling devices (flares, mirror, horn, etc). Not all emergencies require CG assistance, and VHF doesn't always work. I've used my cell phone to call someone on land when I'm on an island 10 miles from mainland. My VHF can't reach the base station to discuss weather, or some other non-life-and-death circumstance, but my cell phone works just fine. (Cell towers are hundreds of feet high, and the VHF antenna where I work is about 30 feet high.)

In the past I have left a float plan with my wife, and then found that I'll arrive 4 hours later than planned because of an unforeseen circumstance. I could (A) call my wife on the cell phone to tell her I'm fine, but arriving late; or (B) call the CG on 16, and tell them to expect a phone call in 2 hours from my terrified wife, at which point they can tell her I've delayed my arrival. Maybe the CG duty officer will even call my wife to advise her of the change, but frankly, that's not what the CG is there for.

I've also used the cell phone to update my float plan when I'm doing solo-overnight trips. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone, but to improve my safety margin, I prefer to update my emergency contact once a day when travelling solo. (If someone starts searching for me days after I've had a problem in 55 degree water, it's not that useful).

Or what if someone gets a little sick and I need to change my take-out point. I could hike a couple miles to the nearest house and ask to use their phone, or I could call from the water with my cell phone, and then have a car waiting at the take-out to transport us back to the put-in.

In my opinion you need a cell phone nearly as much as you need a VHF when you go ocean paddling. They're different tools, but both important. VHF is great for ship-to-ship communication, and emergency calls, but it's miserable for talking to folks on land, and making non-emergency arrangements.