The Velopac smartphone case is cheap, light and does what it's supposed to. Unfortunately, it doesn't do it for long.
Now that the phone that you have to have in your pocket costs as much as a bike, um, I mean some wheels, um, I mean a nice pair of cycling shoes, it pays to keep it safe and dry when out and about, especially cycling when it's frequently wet.
Made in the UK by Wildoo the VeloPac Smartphone Case is a semi-flexible PVC sleeve to protect your phone from the rigours of cycling and the weather. It's see-through on one side with a range of bicycle-themed designs to chose from on the other, just to let people know what you do for fun, and to boost your own self-worth.
The VeloPac isn't there just to shelter your device from the damp elements that can bother a cycle-jersey pocket but it's also designed as a useful barrier to the soggy ingress of sweat from the other side, which can be quite corrosive to expensive electronics. Depending on the size of your phone there's room to stuff other valuable things inside the VeloPac Case that you don't want to get damp as well; keys, money, credit card and wotnot. Okay, keys and loose coins really aren't so delicately susceptible to moisture but it keeps all those loose knickknacks in the one safe place.
The clear front panel lets you see your posh phone screen and the material it's made from allows you to do all your social touch screen activity without taking the phone out of the case, which is handy if you need to Twitter and then Facebook and then Instagram your ride just so everyone else knows how Epic you're being riding in the rain, or if you need to instantly see if you KOMed that Strava section.
You can also talk to someone, in real life, to explain why you're going to be late without taking your phone out of the VeloPac but it feels a bit awkward grappling to hold onto a phone inside a semi-rigid plastic bag. If you have an old fashioned phone with actual buttons on it then it can be tricky to punch them accurately through the plastic and you're better off to taking it out of the sleeve to use. But that means it might get wet, and everyone will see it and laugh.
A sturdy press seal closure strip runs along the length of the case which easy to use, even with gloves on, and it snaps firmly in place to keep moisture out.
It's a nice idea, but.
It's a bit big. In order to fit a small yet powerful computer inside it the case is quite wide. The VeloPac will fit round all smartphones up to a 5.5in screen, which, when you've added on the space needed for the closure strip makes it 4in across in old money, and over 7in tall. That extra width means that it won't fit in some cycling pockets without a bit of folding over, which leads to creases and bends in the plastic, and it's tall too, which makes it poke out the top of a pocket, lanky into the rain.
The plastic material of the VeloPac is quite shiny and slippery which means it can sometimes slowly work its way out of a pocket if you're riding with a lot of body movement, standing up out of the saddle, sprinting, getting low in the drops, the sort of thing cyclists do all ride, every ride. All of this motion seemed to be a very effective way of worming the VeloPac slowly up and out of a pocket, leading to the annoying practice of having to continually reach around during a ride to check that the case hadn't crept out of its pocket too far as a prelude to launching itself onto tarmac.
But most critically in compromising the waterproof shelter of your expensive phone is that the VeloPac will split (see test report), turning it into a not very Protective Smartphone Case. Repeated pullings and pushings of the closure strip, especially clumsily with winter gloves on, weakens the side seams. Combine that with the VeloPac's plastic turning a little brittle when it gets a bit cold and those side seams will tear next to the the seal at some point turning it into an expensive useless leaky piece of plastic with a cycling pattern on.
Would be a nice idea if it wasn't a bit big, and didn't want to slip out of your pocket and then split. You can buy at least 200 locking sandwich bags for £5.99.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Velopac Protective Smartphone Case
Size tested: up to 5.5'' screen
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?
VeloPac say their Protective Smartphone Case is for any active cyclist that carries a smart phone whilst cycling. A jersey back pocket is the natural place to put your phone but this leaves it vulnerable to sweat, rain and road spray damage and with smartphones costing up to £600 to replace one wet ride could prove very expensive. The simplest and cheapest solution is to put the phone is a freezer or food storage zip bag but these offer minimal protection.
That's all true, but the VeloPac case is fatally flawed.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Semi-rigid form factor fits a jersey or jacket rear pocket.
Keeps valuable together without floating around the pocket.
Protects contents against water and corrosive sweat damage
Helps to prevent pocket sag!
Velopac will hold a phone together with bank notes, a credit card, passport etc.
No more soggy bank notes at the café stop!
Fits all makes of Smartphone up to 5.5' screens including I-Phone, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia etc.
Clear front panel allows touch screen can be operated without removing the case.
Phone calls are possible without removal from the case which helps prevents the wind interference often experienced making outdoor calls in exposed conditions.
Soft PVC materials ensure quality & durability is maintained and prevents cracking in cold weather.
Vivid full colour digital printing in striking designs.
Manufactured in the UK by Wildoo.
It was okay for a bit, then it split.
It doesn't weigh much, it's just a posh plastic sleeve, but if you're worried about weight you won't be carrying a heavy phone in your pocket.
It wasn't uncomfortable per se, but it wanted to slide out of some pockets too easily, which made it irritating.
It's cheap compared to the price of the phone it's protecting, but it can't do that for long. Other cheap and even free plastic bags are available.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nothing really, it's an over-engineered plastic bag that broke.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The fact that it split, that's on top of it being a bit big for some pockets, and it's incessant attempts to slip out of others.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not really, no. It was equal parts a bit useful and quite annoying, then it broke.
Would you consider buying the product? No. While I appreciate the need to keep an expensive phone protected on a ride and the need for some people to use their phone all the time I'm not one that has to continually communicate whilst on a bike ride anyway so a phone hidden in a plastic bag is fine by me.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he’s not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he’s not doing either of those he’s pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he’s agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours doesn’t. He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.