We’ve previously reviewed OtterBox’s waterproof iPod cases and found them to be ideal all-conditions cases that still allow you to use and control your iPod. However, OtterBox’s cases are waterproof only to 1 meter and hold only your iPod itself. If you’re looking for the absolute ultimate in iPod storage and protection, Pelican’s new i1030 may be the way to go. Unlike OtterBox’s offerings, you can’t use your iPod while it’s in the i1030 — the case is designed for transporting your player from place to play, not for shelter during use. However, the i1030 offers significantly more protection from water, dust, and crushing than even the impressive OtterBox products.
At 7.5″ by 3.9″ by 2.4″ the i1030 is large for an iPod case, but inside the nearly unbreakable polycarbonate shell — available in yellow or iPod-matching white — is more storage space than that found in a typical case. A thick layer of molded rubber provides a cradle for full-size and mini iPods that, in my testing, fits full-size iPods perfectly; the groove for iPod minis works fairly well, although some vigorous shaking or a hard bump will shake a mini loose — not that this will cause your mini to suffer any damage, given the rubber and padding inside. (Although you can place an iPod nano or shuffle in the i1030, it won’t be secured and will bounce around; again, this isn’t likely to result in damage, but it’s not an ideal fit.) This is one of the few cases I’d feel comfortable dropping onto concrete with my iPod inside.
At the base of the iPod cradle area is a rubber-lined compartment designed to hold your iPod’s dock connector cable. The lid of the case has an organizer with padded, elastic pockets for your iPod’s earbuds and Apple’s iPod AC adapter; the earbud pocket is also large enough to accommodate larger earbuds or canalphones instead. My only complaint about the organizer panel is that with larger earbuds, closing the case sometimes causes the earbuds to press against the Click Wheel of a full-size iPod — and thus turn it on if I didn’t use the iPod’s Hold switch.
When closed, a latch nearly as long as the case seals the i1030 shut; the case’s rubber interior acts as an o-ring to make the seal air- and watertight. The case even includes an automatic pressure/purge valve to equalize air pressure at high altitudes and to keep out water when submerged — the case is rated as waterproof to depths of 30 feet. The seal and construction also provide protection from extreme temperatures (-10 to 200 degrees F) and allow the case to float. (An included nylon strap with a double-latch velcro closure lets you clip the case to a belt or stationary object so that you won’t have to worry about a fall into water in the first place.)
The Pelican i1030 isn’t for everyone; it leaves your iPod inaccessible and is much bulkier than a typical case. But for those adventurers who need the ultimate in protection while transporting their iPod, I haven’t seen a tougher case. (Pelican even stands behind the case with an “unconditional” lifetime warranty — if it ever breaks, you’ll get a new one.) And the extra room for your iPod’s accessories is a welcome bonus.