Ninety bucks—that’s a pile of cash to drop on an iPhone case—but that’s exactly what I did when I upgraded to a 6s. I splurged and got the 64GB model iPhone, psyched to be able to load maps, pics from mountainproject.com, two GPS apps, and damn near anything else I could imagine.

Problem was, the $90 Lifeproof case added bulk to the phone, making it a total drag to take out of my pocket when riding, climbing, and skiing. Sure, I like the idea of a waterproof, burly case, but when I think about it—I’ve never broken an iPhone. Why shell $90 for a case I probably don’t need?

Lander's "Powell" case for the iPhone 6s--slim, grippy, and easy to use.

Lander’s “Powell” case for the iPhone 6s–slim, grippy, and easy to use.

Enter Lander (www.lander.com). A buddy of mine does PR for them and asked if I wanted to check out their “Powell” case which retails at $34.99, weighs less than the Lifeproof, and takes up way less space in the pocket. Would I regret it? Would I curse myself over the shattered remnants of my beautiful 6s? Time would tell.

Smaller, lighter ... and yes, a bit less protection. But worth it--I think so.

Smaller, lighter … and yes, a bit less protection. But worth it–I think so.

The Lander adds almost no bulk to the iPhone’s sleek dimensions, meaning zero hassle pulling it out of my pocket for a quick shot while belaying or answering a call. Given the iPhone 6’s exceptionally good camera, I’m usually leaving my heavier/better/bulkier Sony at home more and more, so I appreciate no handicap with the Lander case.

Another plus with the Lander is the size of the headphone jack/port. I realize the Lifeproof offers more protection, but you can’t plug many headphones into the port—meaning you have to carry around an adapter or just not use that set of ‘phones. Total chafe. The Lander jack/port accepts Skullcandy and iPhone headphones no problem. (Though I guess the iPhone 7 will be cordless?) Anyway, for iPhone 6 users it’s a plus.

Of note, Lander also makes flexy, durable iPhone cables. Given how many of the white cables I’ve had fray right at the connection, I’m hopeful a Lander model—the “Lightning”—might prove more durable. They’re also woven with some reflective material in the cord casing, making them perfect for using in the field—they also stand out in a stuff sack or in the top pocket of a pack.

Using a phone while skiing, riding, climbing, etc. means handling the phone while moving and/or with gloves. Lander’s Powell case sports raised ridges along its perimeter, which is made of kinda-grippy rubberized plastic. I have yet to drop the phone while handling it over the past six months, so the stuff works, but could it be a tiny bit tackier?

The Lander offers screen protection in the sense the case sits approximately 2mm off the phone’s body. Beyond that, however, you’re down to buying the clear, scratch-resistant plastic sheets for the screen. You’d have to drop your phone onto an uneven surface/object to damage the screen, but the same applies to the Lifeproof Nuud. To date (damn, I’m jinx’ing myself here) I haven’t cracked a screen.

Two days prior to writing this I finally cracked the case. No, not by dropping it, but my leaning against it while in my pocket (screen always towards the leg or butt!) on rock. I heard a “crack” and checked the phone when back on the ground and I’d put two-inch crack through the corrugated, hardened plastic on the back of the case. The phone, however, was bomber—not a scratch.

Cracked!

Cracked!

I’ve got the Lifeproof case listed on Craigslist at the moment and I gotta say, for less than half the price, the Lander seems a better option. Add in less weight and bulk, and it’s a no-brainer for me. If you’re around water, maybe a waterproof case makes sense, but having skied and climbed with the phone for months, it hasn’t been a problem for me.

The Lander preserves the iPhone’s minimalist design and offers enough protection for a careful user. Totally worth it. Love the thing.