Gear Review: Klearkase for Kindle

Vince has written a bit about the Kindle and its invaluable place in a minimal traveler’s gear list. It’s light, small, well-engineered and easy to navigate. If you’re planning to do any reading on your trip, it’s the obvious choice. And even if you don’t read for pleasure, there are certain books—like dictionaries and travel guides—that almost everyone would be better off carrying.

So the bottom line to my preamble is: If you aren’t yet on the e-book bandwagon, and you’re planning on doing any serious traveling, you should make the switch. I love reading paper books and I was resistant for a while, but you can’t argue with the math on this one.

DSC01275 (1280x720)We picked the Kindle Keyboard 3G over other, newer models for one reason: The KK3G is the last version of the Kindle that will grandfather in free 3G internet use on Amazon’s “experimental” browser. The newer touch and PaperWhite 3G models only offer network access to Amazon content through their bookstore, and restrict internet browsing to wifi only. I’ll grant that the Kindle, with its small black-and-white screen, is no replacement for a real tablet computer. But there are plenty of places around the world that have very limited wifi access, even though the mobile networks are usually quite good. In these places, a Kindle can mean the difference between email access and radio silence for your family and friends back home. And it’s all for free, into perpetuity, without a contract.

Because none of the newer models will offer this outstanding feature, I’m not planning to upgrade my Kindle if I can help it. I want it to last as long as possible. But I don’t have a special pocket or place for the Kindle among my gear—I basically just throw it into my bag along with everything else. With my old neoprene sleeve, this meant that a lot of stress was transferred to the body of the Kindle itself. And so of course, this past December, the inevitable: I noticed hairline cracks beginning to form in the plastic around the keyboard. I contacted Amazon, and because I was within the one-year warranty period, they authorized a return. If the cracks had formed just a couple of weeks later, I would have been out of luck.

All of this sent me on a search for the best all-around travel case available, and I believe I’ve found it: the Klear Kase.
DSC01273 (1280x720)The Klear Kase is basically a rugged clear plastic shell that completely encases the device, with soft rubber panels that allow manipulation of the buttons and keyboard through the case. You never take it off, is the idea. It’s like plexiglass armor.

Complete enclosure of the device, along with rubber lining at the seams, makes it dustproof and water-resitant. While I wouldn’t recommend dunking the thing into the ocean, it boasts impressive protection from accidental splashes. And it’s really, really sturdy.

At $50, it’s pricey. It bulks up the size and weight of the thin Kindle considerably. But I now feel comfortable taking the Kindle to the beach or pulling it out on a hike when my hands are filthy. You could even read in the bath (ladies…). This all means that it gets used more, I read more, and I ultimately become a less-ignorant person. Isn’t that the reason we travel to begin with?

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