The 10 Best Rugged External Hard Drives For Adventure

Photo: LaCie

For those who live to document the great unknown, the journey to capture a subject at the farthest reaches of the earth is a tried-and-true endeavor. Days, months, and years of preparation have inevitably led to a single moment in time — a moment that you’ve dreamt of immortalizing for all the world to see. But, if you’re a creator who’s shared (or even dabbled) in this pursuit, you’ve likely come to the disheartening realization that, no matter how much time and effort you’ve put in to realize your vision, it can fall to the wayside — especially when you’re forced to rely on a faulty piece of gear.

One of the most important aspects of a creator’s workflow is the security and storage of content — something that’s easily overlooked by amateur photographers, videographers, and artists who have yet to lose everything they’ve worked so hard for, to a corrupted hard drive. The importance of this item is only exacerbated when you’re outdoors, facing hardships that aren’t present in a temperate, air-conditioned studio, or the mild climate near the heart of your favorite city. In the wild, inhibitors like wind, rain, snow, dust, drops, and bodies of water are your adversaries — and they come at an alarming pace. To be prepared, you’ll need a ruggedized hard drive that won’t let you down in the face of adversity. Below, we’ve outlined the industry’s best hard drives for outdoor use — so pack up your gear and get ready to dive into the tumultuous waters of rugged memory.

Adata DashDrive HD710 Military-Spec

Adata’s DashDrive HD710 Military-Spec hard drive is as rugged as they come, boasting approved water- and shock-proof construction that won’t let you down when the going gets tough. Each example has been put through the paces by the company’s quality control team, ensuring the drive’s adherence to stringent IEC 529 IPX7 testing, and even a Military MIL-STD-810G 516.5 drop test. This 1TB example features USB 3.0 technology, a wrap-around USB cable that won’t get in your way, and a durable design orientation that will keep your data safe and sound while on the job site.

Rating: IPX7
Capacity: 1-4TB

Purchase: $50+

Transcend StoreJet 25M3

Transcend’s StoreJet 25M3 is an attractive little memory bank that can stand up to all of the adversarial situations you put it through. This ruggedized external hard drive boasts above-average shock resistance, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 interface, and a high data transfer speed that’s as reliable as they come. Each drive meets or exceeds a US military drop-test standards — meaning that no matter where you go, your content is going to be in the right hands.

Rating: MIL-STD-810G 516.6
Capacity: 500GB-2TB

Purchase: $55+

Silicon Power Armor A80

Silicon’s Power Armor A80 couldn’t have a more implicative name, bringing established shock resistance (via a high-quality silica gel housing), a drop rating of three meters, and refined data transfer attributes to the table for those who need a dependable device while on the road. Before each drive is released, it must undergo a strict US military MIL-STD-810F transit drop test, ensuring its rugged nature. Thanks to the company’s extensive testing, you won’t have to worry about corrupted, lost, or irretrievable data should your drive hit the ground — a welcome relief for creators who thrive in a transit-oriented atmosphere.

Rating: IPX7, MIL-STD-810F 516.5
Capacity: 500GB-2TB

Purchase: $70+

Buffalo MiniStation Extreme NFC

Buffalo’s Ministation Extreme NFC is yet another portable hard drive that redefines what it means to be a “rugged” memory bank. Not only does this device bring a unique wrap-around USB cable and secure hardware encryption to the table for creators, but it also comes with a bespoke smartcard that will allow them to access their content without the need for a complicated password. The MiniStation boasts a military-spec shock protection system that absorbs and transfers shock away from the hard disk, keeping your internal memory safe from the harsh realities of the world. The fact that it has n IPX3 standard water resistance & IP5X standard dust resistance doesn’t hurt, either.

Rating: IPX3
Capacity: 1-2TB

Purchase: $110+

Western Digital G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC

Western Digital is one of the premier names in the external storage space, and with years of experience at their backs, the G-Technology G-DRIVE ev ATC hard drive is sure to bring durable attributes to users everywhere. This rugged drive features a watertight compartment that’s abject to shock, dust, and external pressure, an all-terrain orientation that utilizes tethered USB cable shields, and a lightweight, stand-alone G-DRIVE hard drive that can be removed from its housing. This field-ready storage solution is perfect for creator’s who are looking to edit, backup and transfer while on the job, without having to worry about losing a bevy of content.

IP Rating: N/A
Capacity: 1TB

Purchase: $130+

Lacie Rugged Mini

Lacie’s hard drives are renowned for their durability, and the Rugged Mini is one of the primary contributors to the company’s storied lineage. This ultra-compact drive is a speedy memory bank that utilizes USB 3.0 for blazing fast content transfers and features a crush-, drop-, and water-resistance that’s on-par with the world’s greatest offerings. With Lacie’s trusted drives, you’ll never have to worry about losing important data to the elements, giving you peace-of-mind when it comes to hardcore jobs that would otherwise intimidate the conventional content creator.

Rating: N/A
Capacity: 1-4TB

Purchase: $160+

SanDisk Extreme Portable

SanDisk’s Extreme Portable hard drive is a ruggedized version of the company’s award-winning memory banks, bringing high-speed transfers, read speeds, and security to the forefront for creators who are always on the move. This water- and dust-resistant (IP55-rated) device has been tested to withstand nature’s harshest inhibitors, including 30 kPa water flow for up to three minutes. A shock-resistant (and vibration-resistant) solid state core helps to protect your priceless footage, while a minimalistic design orientation allows for quick storage, retrieval, and use.

Rating: IP55
Capacity: 250GB-2TB

Purchase: $170+

Sony PSZ-HCB Series Rugged

Sony is one of the world’s leading technology companies, and with that title comes the ability to create a ruggedized drive that’s among the best in the industry. The PSZ-HCB Series Rugged hard drive is a portable shuttle device that boasts high-capacity media storage, nimble write and read speeds, and a Thunderbolt interface for utilization with modern workflow peripherals. A durable silicone housing helps to protect your valuable content from shock and vibration, while an IP4X rating is present to give you peace-of-mind, should you find yourself in the midst of inclement weather.

Rating: N/A
Capacity: 1-2TB

Purchase: $180+

Lacie Rugged RAID

Lacie is once again gracing our list of ruggedized hard drives; this time, with the aptly named Rugged RAID. This durable companion has been built from the ground up to endure everything that you can throw its direction — from wind, water, heat, vibration, and drops (up to four feet), all the way to abrasions and external trauma. The RAID brings secure encryption and blazing fast read and write speeds to the consumer while focusing on the creation of a stand-alone environment where common inhibitors are no longer a nuisance. Pick your poison — whether you’re looking for Thunderbolt, USB-C, and USB 3.0 capability, the RAID won’t let you down when you need it most.

Rating: IP54
Capacity: 4TB

Purchase: $300+

ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD

The ioSafe Rugged Portable SSD is the most expensive option on our list, and for good reason — this military-grade storage unit was created by some of the best minds in the industry to endure the world’s most extreme environments. It’s used by some of the world’s premier photographers, videographers, and creators (whether they’re in the Arctic, the desert, or the ocean) to store their priceless footage. The ioSafe features a MIL-STD-810G 516.5 rating, courtesy of state-of-the-art suspension, immersion protection that’s rated for up to three days in freshwater or saltwater, at a depth of 30-feet, and a full-metal-jacket interior that’s been CNC-machined from a billet of solid aluminum to withstand 2,500-pounds of crushing force. Needless to say, the ioSafe is the most durable memory option on the market today.

Rating: MIL-STD-810G 516.5, MIL-STD-810G 505.4
Capacity: 500GB-1TB

Purchase: $1,200+

12 Best Camera Backpacks

Rugged hard drives are a key component of any creative’s workflow, but if you’re always on the go, you’ll need to invest in a physical storage system. Check out our guide on the best camera backpacks to ensure that everything arrives in one piece.