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Q:

How can I protect my ccorder from the elements?

I'm looking into a ccorder for snowboarding and worry that the cold weather might freeze the electronics. Is it true that most ccorders can only tolerate a temperature of 32 degrees? Is there something I can use to insulate or protect it? Brandon Spearfish, South Dakota

VPC camcorder case     Photo: courtesy, EWA-marine

EWA-marine VPC camcorder case

VPC camcorder case

A:There are times when camcorders and cold weather don’t really mix. The problem is two-fold. First—and this isn’t solely an issue for camcorders—cold weather cuts the performance of batteries. So you get less run time than normal, and if it gets REALLY cold, the battery might simply shut down. So that’s one issue. The other is the cold weather can have a direct physical impact on the camcorder in several ways. The tape may actually shrink, distorting the recording. And it can cause moisture to condense and even freeze inside the camcorder, causing all sorts of problems with the electronics. That can be pretty serious.

Still, I think you’d generally be OK if you kept the camcorder protected as much as possible—zipped inside your jacket, for instance, then retrieved for a shot when you’ve established a position and set up what you want to tape. But riding with the camcorder out, using it when it’s snowing, or getting that great action shot when somebody blasts snow at the camera—well, nah. I wouldn’t do that. So, of course, that precludes all the fun stuff.

Your best solution is some sort of weatherproof case. I like the “soft" cases from EWA Marine (ewa-marine.com), which are made of reinforced polyethylene bonded to an optically correct viewing port that attaches to the lens. A waterproof bag, in other words. They’re available for most camcorders on the market, and, depending on the model, cost anywhere from $200 to $500. You also can take them snorkeling or scuba diving down to 33 feet.

Ikelite (ikelite.com) makes extremely reliable hard cases that are waterproof to 200 feet. But they’re pricey—around $600, typically.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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