Donkey Label design products for cyclists. They’ve noticed that keeping your mobile phone safe on a bike ride can be a pain in the ass*, so they designed the Pack Animal. You’ve probably noticed that there are a couple of products like this on the market at the moment, some of which have had some not-so-good press, and some which seem to do their job well.
(*I’m getting the donkey puns out the way in the first paragraph, ok?)
I was drawn to this particular case for it’s appearance – it’s rather nice looking, which is a lot to ask from a piece of plastic. This adds up, as Donkey Label claim to “feel a responsibility to improve the aesthetic of cycling”. A quick look at their other products makes me think they’re doing things right in that department. But looks aren’t everything (thankfully), so how does it perform?
The case I tested has enough space for an iPhone or similar sized device. It would still fit if you had a hard case on your phone, as there is a little extra room. It fitted fine in every pocket of 3 different jerseys.
The outside pocket, featuring a nifty little shield cut-out, has enough room for a couple of cards and some cash. The downside of the cut-out means that whatever you keep in the outside pocket is not protected from the elements – if it chucks it down with rain, or you get very sweaty, you’re going to end up with a soggy £5 note. Your cards will be fine of course, so maybe we just need to keep our cash somewhere else; it is a phone case, not a wallet, I suppose. The upside of the cut-out is that you can push your cards out of the wallet easily, whilst still keeping them snugly packed away, with no danger of them falling out.
Once closed, the seal on the case shuts securely and tightly. It can be a bit fiddly to open, but I found a knack after using it for a while.
I like the fact that the seal is on a shorter side – portrait rather than landscape, if you will. It feels sturdier than other cases I’ve tried (which have split) for this fact. The plastic feels stronger too – it is noticeably thicker than the case I had which broke after a few uses.
The clear side of the case allows you to use your phone through the plastic. I tested this out, and it does work – I made a call whilst the phone was sealed inside the case. It’s not quite as responsive as when you’re using your phone normally, but it does work surprisingly well. Perfect if you need to call your mum to rescue you when it rains.
Speaking of rain, there wasn’t any of any of the rides I’ve taken the case on so far. But I needed to test how waterproof it really is, so I did my own home testing. It involved paper, water soluble felt tip pens, and a sink full of water. After a lot of splashing/dunking/dipping/holding seal under a running tap I can conclude that the Pack Animal is waterproof.
£6.50 might seem like quite a bit to spend on a little bit of plastic. But not if it does it’s job. On the rides I’ve taken it on so far, it certainly has – and rather well.
What if it breaks after a few months of use though?
Turns out there’s no need to worry about that. In Donkey Label’s own words:
This is designed for spring, fall and summer use. Winter use (extreme cold ) can involve some brittleness. Good news is [the pack animal] has a 100% guarantee, so if it breaks we will send you a new one.
The Pack Animal is available in range of colours if you want to try and match it to your bike, or your jersey, or your socks. You can also get it in other sizes.
This product ships for free to anywhere in the world. Which is nice.
In conclusion: a simple but well designed little product, which serves it’s purpose very well.
What I like most about it
The fact it protects my phone effectively and that I can get a new one for free if it breaks.
What I like least about it
Nothing really. Sometimes it was a little tricky to open, but I’d rather that than it open when it isn’t meant to.
Protecting your phone from sweat and rain damage in your jersey pocket.
Price: £6.50 (with a free replacement if something happens to it)
Size: Medium (9cm x 15cm), which is suitable for an iPhone or similar sized phone
Colour: Blue and clear