Other suggestions: [Beverages] [Cameras] [Maps]
The field is no place for equipment that needs to be coddled; anything that is not at least moderately proof against rain, dust, and drops is going to quickly become dead weight. One option is to spend vast sums of money on ultra-tough things, be it cameras, mobile phones or even PDAs (although that assumes that we can find a use for them).
I do have a major soft spot for the JCB Toughphone (sold outside the UK as the Sonim XP1) pictured above because it is not just tough, it is ridiculously tough (I know someone with one of these whose ‘tests’ have included drop kicking it into the ocean):
Of course, even if your mobile does survive your fall into a deep ravine, that doesn’t magically get you a network signal when you’re trapped there. More pertinently, you pay a rather steep premium for this toughened kit. Fortunately for those with more sense than money, there is also the cheaper option of getting field clothing for the phones and cameras you already have. These pouches (the best places to look for such things seems to be sailing and diving sites) will keep the rain and dust off your precious electronics, and allegedly you can still use the phone or camera they’re protecting (I’m more willing to believe the former than the latter, but have yet to see either in action):
They do not offer much extra protection against drops, however, which requires a slightly more durable enclosure. These are available for cameras (e.g. Olympus, Canon), although since they seem more aimed at facilitating underwater photography it’s possible that they don’t actually provide much shock protection. I haven’t found anything equivalent for mobiles, but if you want to take your Ipod into the field with you, it seems you’re in luck. Although personally, I’m not a great fan of people who, when confronted with the planet in all its glory, see the need to dull their senses with a pair of earphones.