How to count the wild on a smart phone in the rain

A simple and effective low-tech solution to a high-tech conundrum.

written Jun 2, 2018 • by jonsullivan • Category: Wild Counting

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Smart phones are great. All that amazing computing power and knowledge and communication at your finger tips!

Unless it’s raining. Then, touch screens are just awful. Trying to type on a touch screens when there’s even a hint of rain is stupidly frustrating.

I love the convenience and power of counting the wild with my iPhone. I also need to count the wild in all weather. For an embarrassingly long time, I stumbled through various suboptimal solutions for entering counts into my iPhone in the rain. I tried water proof cases but I still couldn’t use their screens when it was wet. I then switched to talking my observations onto a continuous recording on my iPhone so I didn’t need to enter anything with the screen. I still have a folder of these recordings waiting for me to find the time to process (I need to clip out each observation and sync their geotags with my GPS tracks).

Then, finally, the perfect solution struck me: the plastic bag! Seriously. That’s all I need. With a clear plastic bag, I can enter observations into my iPhone while I’m out in the rain. The trick is putting the phone in the bag when it’s still completely dry and maintaining a loose fit between the plastic bag and the phone’s screen. My wet finger presses into the wet plastic on the outside of the bag, but on the inside is a dry surface that touches the screen in the shape of my finger tip. Ta dah!

It’s not quite as functional as typing on the screen on a dry sunny day. The details on the screen can be a bit hard to make out through a wet plastic bag. When it’s raining I still typically abandon typing for talking. Now though, with my mighty plastic bag, I can reliably tap buttons on my screen to start and stop audio recordings to time stamp and geotag each of my observations.

If I’m going to be out for an extended period in the rain, I make sure that my dry iPhone is sitting loosely in my plastic bag, then I tighten up the bag so there’s plenty of air around the phone, then I tie the bag closed with a tight knot. I can be walking, running or biking for hours in the rain, even heavy rain, and I can be counting wild species the whole time. It works a treat!

You’re welcome. ;-)

counting nature in the rain
Continuing to count the wild in the rain by putting an iPhone in a plastic bag, then tapping the screen to record audio notes.
biking home in the rain
Counting the wild in the rain while biking, with my iPhone in a plastic bag to keep the screen dry.