The best rugged and waterproof cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus include multiple layers of shock and drop protection — usually a rubber layer in addition to a harder shell. Next, great protective cases take special care around the edges and corners — and then include a raised bezel to help protect the screen. A few rugged cases are waterproof, but do not — and I can’t stress this enough — go swimming with your iPhone if you use a cheap case. Running in the rain? Sure. You’re risks of a minor leak are minimal. A wild margarita party? Sure. But playful submersion under water in a pool, river, or lake? No way. There’s only a few cases I’ll trust with that, and they are almost available.

Meanwhile, some tough and rugged iPhone 6 cases include built-in screen protectors. Choose these if you’re really rough on your gear and want the best protection. If not, you’ll probably prefer the look and feel of a separate screen protector (check out the 10 Best Screen Protectors) in addition to a rugged case to give you a blend of reasonable protection that lets your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus still feel like an iPhone.

The Best Tough and Rugged Cases for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

1. OtterBox Defender Series Case

The OtterBox Defender Series has long be a stalwart in rugged iPhone protection, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus versions have evolved into a robust protective case with three layers. The main body is a polycarbonate with rubberized edges and corners all around. The rubber is slightly grippy but not so much as to catch going into and out of pockets.

The built-in screen protector covers your entire screen, protecting the rounded edges of the iPhone 6 display. The home button is covered with a Touch ID-friendly membrane, and the headphone and Lightning ports are covered with rubber flaps.

The OtterBox Defender is available in a bunch of color combinations, including orange and camo for outdoor adventurers. Includes an optional belt clip.

Learn more about the Defender Series Case for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

2. Urban Armor Gear Case

The Urban Armor Gear Case wins the award for the coolest looking rugged case, featuring a exterior hard shell that’s reminiscent of the body of an assault vehicle with aggressive tires. The interior is a soft core, and the four corners get extra protection. It includes a screen protector, but it’s not built into the body of the case itself. It meets military drop-test standards (MIL STD 810G 516.6). The “Folio” version of this case has a flap that covers the entire screen, and the flap has a pocket that can hold three credit cards.

Learn more about the Urban Armor Gear Case for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

3. Urban Armor Gear Folio Case

The Urban Armor Gear Folio Case is similar to the company’s Gear Case with the exception of a folding flap that covers the entire screen. The flap has a pocket that can hold three credit cards, too. Uses four-corner extra rubber bumpers and includes a screen protector (not built-in).

Learn more about the Urban Armor Gear Folio Case for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

4. LifeProof frē Waterproof Case

The popular waterproof LifeProof frē case was a bonafide hit for the iPhone 5/5s, and a similar design is on the way for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. When? Soon. Very very soon. Meanwhile, what can you expect out of this waterproof case? A slim design with a built-in screen protector that will likely be submersible for up to 2 meters for an hour. It’s sealed from dirt and dust, plus it’s great for skiing or snowboarding, too. It’s shockproof construction might even protect your iPhone 6 from 2 meter drops. The official specs are not out yet, of course, but don’t be surprised to see those impressive numbers when they are.

If you’re considering the frē, check out Lifeproof frē Review: Super-Slim Waterproof Case for iPhone 5, 5s, 5c.

5. Lifeproof nüüd Waterproof Case

The LifeProof nüüd case is similar to the frē, except the nüüd does not include a built-in screen protector. The nüüd seals around the screen, letting you touch the actual Apple glass for the ultimate tactile experience. The nüüd will be available shortly following the appearance of the frē. (Soon.)

6. Griffin Survivor All-Terrain Case

The Griffin Survivor All-Terrain Case is designed to meet or exceed the specs published in US Department of Defense MIL-STD-810G, protecting your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus from drops up to 6.6 feet onto concrete. Sealed ports keep out windblown rain, sand, and dust. The All-Terrain’s four layers of protection include a foam-lined shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame covered by a serious ruggedly slab of shock-absorbing silicone. Includes a built-in screen protector, hinged plugs for the Lightning and headphone ports. Includes an optional heavy-duty belt or bag clip.

Learn more about the Survivor All-Terrain Case for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

7. Pelican ProGear Voyager Case

The Pelican ProGear Voyager features rubber inside of a polycarbonate shell. It includes a screen protector as well as a holster that works as a kickstand. It currently seems to be only available through AT&T.

Learn more about the Pelican ProGear Voyager for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

8. Speck MightyShell Case

The Speck Mighty Shell case should appear for sale soon. Speck’s cases typically offer excellent fit and finish (check out our CandyShell Grip Case review), and the MightyShell should be no exception. The MightyShell meets double the requirements of the MIL-STD-810G military-grade drop tested protection standards. It features three layers in a super-thin profile with a rubberized perimeter bumper. The inner walls of the case feature Speck’s “Radial Impact Geometry” to compress and absorb shock upon impact. There’s a sneak-peek trailer for it on YouTube that features an astronaut dropping his phone to Earth.

9. Ballistic Hard Core Case

The Ballistic AGF Hard Core Series uses five layers of protection, a built-in screen protector, and button and port covers. Features water-resistant mesh to cover the speakers, as well as a rotating holster and built-in video stand.

Learn more about the Ballistic Hard Core Case for iPhone 6.

10. Trident Kraken Case

The Trident Kraken Case features a built-in screen protector, silicone on the inside with a hardened polycarbonate exterior. Meets Military Standard MIL-STD-810F for vibration, dust, sand, rain, drops. Includes option belt-clip/holster.

Learn more about the Trident Kraken for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

11. Spigen Tough Armor Case

The Spigen Tough Armor case uses a soft TPU cover wrapped by a hard polycarbonate shell. The shell includes a kickstand.

Learn more about the Spigen Tough Armor Case for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus.

12. Incipio ATLAS ID Waterproof Case

I’m not sure when, exactly, Incipio will deliver an Incipio ATLAS ID case, but if you were a fan of this ultra rugged case for the iPhone 5/5s, it might be worth waiting for. The Incipio ATLAS ID’s call to fame is the built-in tempered glass screen protector. See also, Incipio ATLAS ID Waterproof Case for iPhone 5s Review.

(Of course, this roundup will be updated as soon as the ATLAS ID for iPhone 6 is available.)

If you’re looking for a slimmer case option that also includes some rugged protection features without the bulk of truly ruggedized cases, check out 23 Best iPhone 6 Cases.

About the author

Chris Maxcer

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I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.