Wednesday, July 31

Gear Review: Pelican Cases

The Steamer Trunk to last Forever!!

Look up bombproof in the dictionary and there should be a pen and ink drawing of a Pelican case. Built to take a beating, these are used for high end electronics protection, as well as holding anything that you want to survive the real life equivalent of a zombie apocalypse. At work, I was drooling over one the size of a steamer trunk in a colleagues’ office.  Price tag? Over $4000. Cost of item inside? North of $1M. When you want to make sure the item inside is protected from water, dust, and shock, you pay to get peace of mind.    

My rule of thumb is that 10% of the purchase price of a new camera will go toward a Pelican case to protect it.  My first case was purchased for a trip to the Bahamas on my honeymoon.  With the 1120 case, which cradled my first Olympus digital camera, I was able to paddle out through waves or backwater mangroves swamps and not worry about my camera not making it back in one piece. It has gone with me in the hunting blind; on the console of the Whaler, and on many adventures. When I lost the screw-in pressure equalization knob, the company sent me a replacement free of charge 13 years after purchase. Great products are backed by companies who understand the lifetime value of a customer. Pelican covers their cases with an unconditional lifetime warranty.  

All of the cases are of similar construction with a hard polycarbonate outer shell and an O-ring seal on the top lid. Dual latches secure the lid with padlock holes and there is a fold-in carry handle. The newer cases feature a pressure equalization valve allowing air flow, but water cannot penetrate into the case, as a Gore-Tex like membrane prevents larger water molecule entry.

To Be Passed On To Generations of Gear Collectors..

The case is lined with foam.  The lid has a fitted convoluted foam layer and the bottom has a flat open cell foam layer. The main body of the case is filled with pre-scored foam that allows you to pick out ~½” by ½” squares to get a custom fit for the three dimensions of the item. This “pick and pluck” foam holds up very well over years of use. In addition, you could replace the foam and customize it for a different item which you want to protect.  When ordering, I find it critical to know the right depth. You do not need to have a thick surrounding layer of foam, as once fitted in place, the item will not shift. Also, when you “size” up, you can have a case which can be unwieldy. A perimeter of 1” of foam should be more than sufficient.
The smaller cases work well for GPS, cell phones and other handheld electronics; the larger cases provide protection for cameras, binoculars, scopes. The hard rifle cases are the case of choice for military and tactical shooters. I use my smallest case to store cell phone, wallet and other items, when on the boat. It is also an excellent size to carry items for an emergency survival kit.  My 1120 case I use for my older Olympus, though it will be getting repurposed for my Reconnyx SC950 and my 1200 is the case du jour for my larger ultra zoom Lumix FZ200. I purchased my 1200 on sale for $50, and usually runs at ~$70. I use LowePro camera bags when I need moderate protection, but Pelican cases will ensure that your gear comes out of scrapes in better shape than you might.  Also, I suggest taping your business card under the lid foam.
While I expect a lot out of my gear, I also want to make sure it comes home operational. There are other excellent hard protection cases on the market, including Otter Boxes. After over a decade of hard use, my Pelican cases have taken everything I can throw at them.  With their bombproof construction and superlative customer service, I will stick with Pelican Products. Made in the USA.

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