Nomad Active Rugged Case review: Water-resistant leather

If you love a leather case, but don't want to have to worry about getting it wet, Nomad's Active Rugged Case is a case to consider. The case is wrapped in hydrophobic leather, so it won't sustain damage if it gets wet. The sleek case offers six-foot drop protection, yet it won't weigh your iPhone down.

The Good

  • Water-resistant leather
  • Slim profile
  • Six-foot drop protection
  • Wireless charging compatible
  • Lanyard attachement points

The Bad

  • Not as luxurious-feeling as other leathers
  • Pricey


Nomad Active Rugged Case for iPhone: Features

Nomad Active Rugged Case for iPhone

Nomad's Active Rugged Case is a new offering, exclusively for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. While this case does not lend your iPhone (which already has a IP68 water resistance rating) any additional waterproofing, it is wrapped in a hydrophobic leather. This means that unlike most leathers, this special leather is water-resistant so the case itself won't sustain damage if it gets wet. Nomad sources this leather from a German tannery called Heinen, which has been tanning leather since 1891. Heinen leather is infused with natural lipids that should never wear out, unline topical leather sprays. This gives it a different look and feel. While Nomad's other cases, wrapped in Horween leather, develop a significant patina with use, the Heinen leather of the Active Rugged Case resists scuffs and develops only a slight patina.

For the weekend adventurer that also wants a smart, professional-looking case for the office, the Nomad Active Rugged Case fits the bill on both counts.

The case is on the slimmer side, but it's still substantive enough. to offer real drop protection. It has a TPU bumper around the edges, a polycarbonate body, and the leather on top. Inside the case is lined is a soft microfiber. This adds up to six-foot drop protection. The entire case is smooth and comfortable in the hand, there aren't bumps or unsightly seams where one material ends and another begins. The texture of the TPU bumper is smooth, but not terribly slippery.

There is just enough of a lip around the screen and the camera for protection when you set the phone down. Right-sized cutouts for the camera, mute switch, Lightning port, and speakers ensure easy access. TPU button covers over the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons aren't fancy but they work. At the bottom of the phone, there are two lanyard attachment points. No lanyard is included, but you can attach one, either wristlet or necklace style if desired. Wireless charging works just fine with my iPhone in the Nomad Active Rugged Case.

You won't find any branding on the outside of the case, only NOMAD tastefully engraved into the microfiber interior. Choose from two colors: Black and Mocha.

Unique qualities

Nomad Active Rugged Case for iPhone: What I like

Usual,ly when you're looking for a case that won't get damaged or stained if you sweat on it, get caught in the rain, or go skiing, you're looking for a case made from plastic. But Nomad has come up with an option for leather fans. The Nomad. Active Rugged Case lets you go on your outdoor adventures (or sweaty gym session) without worrying about case damage. I don't think I've seen any other hydrophobic leather iPhone cases on the market.

I like that the case is fairly slim and allows wireless charging but still offers six-foot drop protection. The dual lanyard attachment points are another nice touch.

nomad active rugged case iPhone 11 Pro

Less luxurious aesthetic

Nomad Active Rugged Case for iPhone: What I don't like

I was showing a friend this case and her first comment was, "This is leather?" It just doesn't have that luxurious leather look and feel you'd expect. It's somehow less ... leathery. It's definitely a trade-off, if you want that water resistance, you're giving up a little in the aesthetics department.

Adventurer case

Nomad Active Rugged Case for iPhone: Bottom line

For the weekend adventurer that also wants a smart, professional-looking case for the office, the Nomad Active Rugged Case fits the bill on both counts. Since it's wrapped in hydrophobic leather, you don't have to worry about the case sustaining water damage. With its TPU and polycarbonate shell, you get six-foot drop protection. The intererior is thoughtfully lined in microfiber so as to prevent scratches on the iPhone's glass back. The phone is still fully functional within the case, including wireless charging. Dual attachement points on both bottom corners mean you can affix a wristlet or necklace-style lanyard (not included) if you wish.

The case is sharp-looking and office-appropriate, it looks right in even the most formal settings. However, the specially treated Heinen leather used on this case doesn't have quite the elegant, supple aesthetic that other premium leathers have. The trade-off will be well worth it for your peace of mind.

See at Nomad

Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.