UAG Pathfinder Series Review: Ode to the Weekend Warriors

Jason Cockerham

Community Review Team Leader
Dec 9, 2010
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I know your type. You’re fearless. You’re restless. You’re a free spirit who refuses to be caged. The moment that clock hits 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon, you’re off, but your day has just begun. You’re not going home; not to dinner; not to the movies. Adventure is calling you. You’re headed out to the woods, the desert, the mountains…anywhere the sense of excitement can be found. You want to get away from the humdrum droll of everyday life and reach for something that makes you feel alive. Your out-of-office reply is on and you’re as far away from normal life as you can be and you won’t be back ‘till Monday morning.

I know you; you’re a Weekend Warrior.

This is your case. Meet the Urban Armor Gear Pathfinder Series.

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The Pathfinders series is designed to do 2 things: protect your phone, and make it easy to use while conquering the trail. These guys are not subtle about their protection. The moment you put this thing on your phone, you will see that UAG means business. It’s bulky. A little more bulky than I would have expected, honestly, but it’s definitely not outside the scope of reasonable. I do have to put a little caveat in here…for those of you who know me, you know that I like to live dangerously and use minimalistic cases on my phones, so I am a little biased here. Even though I am personally not a huge fan of bulky cases, I’m also willing to admit when something works, and UAG gets the job done. Even with all of it’s bulk and heft, the Pathfinder still entices me. Interestingly enough, the Pathfinder series is the lightest series of cases made by UAG which makes me really want to see the rest of their cases.

If I had to pick my favorite feature about the case, I’d have to say that I really kinda like the look - it’s snazzy. It sort of looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and even the fake bolts on the back add a cool element. It looks exactly like what it’s supposed to be, a tough, hard-as-nails case that is going to protect your phone from whatever you can throw at it - maybe not lightning bolts though…



The overall feel of this case is a bit interesting. The phone itself curves subtly to match the curvature of your hand, but the case is mostly flat on the back so it’s not quite as good feeling as the phone sans-case, but it doesn’t feel bad. It’s got a solid, strong handle to it that I really like. It definitely feels like it’s well made. One thing that UAG nailed is the material. Most TPU and rubber cases are “sticky” on the back which means they drag on your pockets as you take it out. The material for the Pathfinder series is smooth to the touch and has a great texture to it. It’s also not so slick that it’s going to drop out of your hand, so it’s a good balance. The 5T is extremely slippery on it’s own and this case really works to alleviate the concerns I had with dropping my phone. Disclaimer: I still wouldn’t leave the phone in your pocket while you’re out pedaling over the mountains. Put it in your backpack...or leave it in the car.

The fingerprint sensor cutout is incredibly well done meaning that the sensor is now a whole heck-uva-lot easier to use while in the case. When the 5T is naked, you need a map, a compass, and a trail guide sometimes trying to get correct finger placement on the first try…and the second, or third…Ok it’s really not that bad (and not nearly as bad as how some other manufacturers that rhyme with Ramsung did their FPS), but you get the point. However, with the Pathfinder, I don’t have that problem anymore. You could almost say that the case charters the course and steadies the wheel to get you right where you need to be every time, dead center on the FPS. Well-played, UAG.


The buttons are handled pretty well too. They have accentuated them nicely but they still could have done a bit more. If the buttons stuck out just a tad more, they’d be perfect. The pattern covering them is easily distinguishable but I would have liked for them to be bit more pronounced. The alert slider is a different story however (and also one of the the 5Ts greatest features). It is hard to make a button or mechanism in a case that will work with the alert slider so they just left a hole. It’s helpful and still allows the slider to be used, and actually works better than I expected. It’s not a perfect solution though. I wish they’d left a tad more room towards the front of the case where it meets the screen, but they also needed to have a lip on the front so I get it. The other downside of a hole is that it’s easier for water and the elements to make their way into the case.

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Full disclosure, I didn’t really take this case out and try it out in its element. I didn’t take it out on the trail or the water to test out its protectiveness. I didn’t purposefully drop it off the roof of my apartment complex. I also didn’t repeatedly throw it against the wall to see how long it took to crack my phone. I’m not getting paid enough (or at all) for that.

What I did do was use it on my phone every day since the moment I got it, which at the time of this writing is about two weeks. In that context, it has held up beautifully. The two layers of protection performed quite well during the times where I did accidentally drop it - whoops! The inner lining is an impact resistant layer and it’s covered by an “Armor Shell” which I would bet is just some harder rubber (don’t go there).

My phone also spends time in a variety of different places including my pocket, my cup holder, my backpack, my desktop, my nightstand, my counter, etc. and in all of those environments my phone came out looking like new thanks to this case. I never really worried about taking my phone anywhere or doing anything with it cuz I knew it was well protected. I even took it with me on a weekend trip with our youth group where it survived a paintball war, so I think we’re good.

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UAG does claim that this case is tested to the mil spec MIL STD 810G-516.6 test which, depending on who you talk to, may or may not be that impressive. There’s not really much else I can say here about this case other than it does what it says it will. It will protect your phone.

Your mileage will absolutely vary but if you do like to tear it up on the weekends, you’ll probably be fine.

The Verdict

I believe in this case, I believe in UAG, and I believe in you! Seriously though, this case was great for me. I enjoyed using it and it gave me a peace of mind that I don’t normally have with my phones - especially the slippery bar of soap that the 5T is. I really don’t like larger cases and I usually run with something minimal or just naked so “crackedscreenphobia” or #crackedscreenphobia ? - is always in the back of my mind. With the Pathfinder on, I had a blissful few weeks of not having to worry about if my phone would make it through the day.

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If the call of nature is one you can’t ignore, or you just happen to drop your phone more often than the average person, (if that’s true then maybe you could try putting it away a little more often) then you should get this case. For $40, you could do a lot worse. You can get it one of three colors: Black, Really Black, or Very Black. Check it out at their website.
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