Billy Brown tests just how rugged Dell ATG is

Dell Rugged ATG outside

My Dell rugged ATG withstood a snowstorm in the Andes Mountains. Credit: Billy Brown

As an adventure travel writer, I get paid to put gear to the test in some of the most remote and rugged places in the world. I’ve run through remote canyons in Jordan, stood face-to-face with grizzlies in Alaska, and went scuba diving with manta rays in Belize, and written about all of those trips out in the field. The laptop is my mobile office, but adventure travel is not an easy life for technology — which is probably why Dell sent me the rugged ATG for a trip to the Andes last month.

The beefy laptop sports an aluminum lid, steel hinges and a magnesium alloy frame, rubber covers on all the ports, and is reported to meet the Department of Defense’s MIL-STD-810G standards for withstanding shock, drops, temperature, and altitude. It also meets IPX-5 standards for water and dust resistance, meaning it can withstand a low-pressure stream of water from any angle. The edges of the laptop are protected by a textured plastic housing that resembles the spray-on liner in the back of a pickup truck. It makes sense because this thing’s as tough as an F-150. I really appreciated the anti-glare screen, which provides a clear view of what’s on the screen, even in direct sunlight. At six pounds, all this extra protection makes it a heavyweight, but man, it can take a punch.

My crew and I were heading out to Chile to test snowboarding gear for an upcoming winter gear guide, and I took the Dell rugged ATG along so I could get copy written, stay on top of social media, and stay in contact the family back home. Make no mistake, traveling with my crew is no picnic: The Dell rugged ATG spent 15 hours tossed around in an overstuffed backpack, then shared an undersized room at 10,000 feet above sea level with four athletes. It was knocked off of desks and bunk beds more times than I care to share. There were at least two falls where I thought it was done, but the aluminum chassis and steel hinges kept everything together. It even got kicked off of a coffee table without any consequences.

Dell Rugged ATG inside

Indoors at 10,000 feet, I made social media updates on the Dell rugged ATG. Credit: Billy Brown

That wasn’t all, though: I left it open out in the snow in the middle of a whiteout snowstorm, and it was still good to go when I brought it in and dried it off. Speaking of moisture, when I was working in our makeshift press room, I knocked an open bottle of whiskey onto the computer, spilling a good amount into to the keyboard. I righted the bottle and went back to work.

My demo came with 4 gigs of RAM, 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 processor, the Windows 7 Professional operating system, and I uploaded Microsoft’s Office suite – great for whipping up reviews, tracking down tech specs and keeping our social media fans updated while we were abroad.

The Dell rugged ATG started out as my travel computer, but since I’ve been home, I’ve been neglecting my usual workstation for this bad boy’s bigger screen and speedy performance. The fact that I can spill coffee on it is icing on the cake.


Billy Brown
Billy Brown — founder, editor, instigator — has a hard time standing still. An avid runner, climber and snowboarder, he participates in as many outdoor sports as he can, testing gear all the while. He’s written for Wired Magazine, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Outside Magazine and Backpacker as well as on websites like Gear Institute.
Billy Brown
Billy Brown
Tags: Business,BYOD,Government