The ebook readers that I have used are all somewhat flimsy. I am looking for a device I can take along when camping this summer, without having to fear too much for breaking it along the way. Not talking about dropping my backpack in a crevasse, but something that at least withstands the pressure in my crowded backpack. I can of course pack it at the side, but then it is more like to get busted when I bump the backpack into a tree.

Something like the a Panasonic Tough-pad, without the price and shortened battery life of a non e-ink display.

I have read What are my options for reading an ebook in the bathtub?, and waterproofing is one nice thing, but putting things in a zip-loc bag doesn't make the reader more robust. If I cannot find nothing I probably take an old Kindle, packed with the face against a matching piece of aluminum sheet and hope that suffices.

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    My first-gen Kindle, which I bought shortly after it was released, survived hundreds of miles on the Appalachian Trail in the hard case that came with it. It looks well-used now but still works great and I still use it. Good luck getting one, though. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 1:14
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    Is breaking the main concern? Do you want to be able to use it along the way as well? E.g. for maps ebooks.stackexchange.com/q/1125/192 ?
    – Regina T.
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 7:02
  • @ReginaT Rugged with laptops also means less prone to malfunction if it gets dirty or (slightly) wet. I don't want to have to worry about a micro USB connector getting clogged when reading and putting down the device on sand etc.
    – tjk
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 5:52
  • Why not put it in a box? I put my Kindle K3 inside a rigid pencil box for $1usd because I put it in my work bag that has all kinds of junk. See if you can find a rigid box to put yours in. My Sony PRS350 is even smaller. There are also several sizes of water rafting boxes in the camping section, but I've also used the sealable boxes with rubber gasket in the grocery section too.
    – Bulrush
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 13:26
  • Get a good rugged tablet case for a cheap ebook reader. No point in complicating things! Otterbox made rugged phone cases, maybe they're now making them for ebook readers? If you don't see any contact them, they're approachable and responsive and may be interested in designing for them Commented May 5, 2016 at 13:15

7 Answers 7


Take a look at the earl, it is an android device with a 6” Flexible, sunlight viewable, E-ink screen (1024x758) with front light. It also comes with a solar panel, so you might want to put it on the outside of your pack (as long as you don't go hiking in the UK).

It has not been released yet, but it should be available this summer (I certainly hope I have mine by then). Price starts at $299 if you pre-order (the crowd funding campaign is over).

Being Android based you should be able to install an ePub reader like the one from Graphilos Studio on it. At the bottom of the meetearl.com page it says ePub, MOBI and PDF are supported, but to me it is not clear if that software is pre-installed or isn't.

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    See related question on solar power for ereaders. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 16:35
  • Lol the earl turned out to be a scam
    – Dmiters
    Commented Jan 24, 2021 at 15:14

Sony seems to be developing an device based on the flexible e-ink Mobius display. I don't know when it will come out (has come out).

The review states:

This new eReader was recently announced by Sony and E-Ink. It looks pretty rugged – the new Mobius e-paper display technology is lightweight and shatterproof.

The extra large size (13.3"), compared to more common devices, seems not so appropriate for backpack packing.

  • I would not hold your breath for a new ereader from Sony. They have dropped their existing models and closed their ebook store. link Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:10
  • @mattrweaver Maybe in your county, but that seems not to be the case worldwide, I can still order the T3 from the Sony store today.
    – Anthon
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:15
  • That's interesting. The Sony Readers here disappeared overnight and the company then moved all of its US customers to Kobo. Can you still access the Sony Reader store? Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:17
  • @mattrweaver I checked before I wrote you back the first time, just to be sure: the T3 is €139 at sony.de (where I bought two T1). That the Ebook site went to Kobo, I know, I got the email, but since I could not buy anything after my Bank of America Visa card did not have a US address associated with it any more, that was of no concern to me.
    – Anthon
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:20

Buy an ereader based on the features and get a case for your lifestyle.

  • A case doesn't help me protect the device when I am using it only when in the backpack and for that I already suggested an alternative to a rugged device. But thanks for your comment.
    – tjk
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 5:55

For kindle devices, redpepper cases are very rugged and waterproof.

  • Welcome to SE-ebooks. I am sorry your first answer is downvoted. The question title was asking for a reader, though the explanations given shows tha a rugged case is probably the best answer to the poster's need. It is also sound engineering to separate issues (reading functionality and ruggedness). But the perception of site users is unpredictable.
    – babou
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 9:17

Indeed. I have a kindle fire (not the best for backpacking because of battery use) but with an m-edge case it's almost bulletproof. For backpacking you'll want to pay more attention to battery life than to construction - a case solves the protection problem.

  • Protection while stored is only half of the problem and I have a solution for that, as I indicated. Rugged means being less exposed to the dangers of dirt and water while reading as well.
    – tjk
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 5:58

Unfortunately the Earl "backcountry survival tablet" crowdfunded project seems to be dead and those who preordered are asking for refunds on their forums.

Since you'll probably want a waterproof device while you're out there, the only viable alternative right now seems to be the Kobo Aura H2o waterproof e-reader.

A thin tempered glass screen protector (such as the BROTECT AirGlass) and any Kobo SleepCover that closes like a book should make the device somehow shockproof as well.

As for solar charging i would recommend looking at the Anker PowerPort solar panel series. They come at reasonable prices and offer high quality panels.

Someone even managed to hack it to allow dual-booting a full working Android OS, instructions are available pretty much everywhere online.


I have a rugged android tablet T70. It has rubber covers over sockets etc and a bright screen. Good size and heft for reading which is what I mainly use it for although it does all the smartphone things too. I bought it from UK distrib called Kestronics, a good small company.

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