“All Pelican Products are backed by a legendary lifetime guarantee. Pelican guarantees all products against breakage and defects in workmanship. This guarantee does not cover shark bite, bear attack, or children under 5.”
When people ask me why I recommend Pelican cases for storing and transporting cameras, lighting equipment and other sorts of shock-sensitive tools and doodads safely, I tell them to read the warranty statement that comes with every Pelican shipping case. It’s short, to the point, legalese-free and ends with a reassuring chuckle. More importantly, even the most seasoned travelers will tell you Pelican cases really do hold up to the trials, tribulations and abuse of the meanest and crankiest baggage handlers.
There are two distinct lines of Pelican cases; Pelican cases (including the Storm series), which are injection molded and primarily designed for transporting photo gear and similar shock sensitive consumer products, and Pelican-Hardigg, which produces heavier duty roto-molded shipping cases designed to contain more sensitive items such as server racks, monitors and LCD monitors. Regardless of which line you choose, your gear is in a best-case scenario when it's encased in a Pelican.
Though primarily known as camera cases, Pelican Storm series cases (IP67, MIL C-4150J, Def Stan 81-41/STANAG 4280, and ATA 300 certified) are standard issue among numerous government, law enforcement and military agencies. Constructed of copolymer polypropylene, Pelican cases, which are available in a number of shapes and sizes, feature open-cell cores and solid-wall construction, which is both lighter and stronger than the solid core wall construction favored by Pelican’s competitors. The lid and lower case portions of Pelican cases feature waterproof tongue-and-groove design with polymer O-rings for added waterproofing protection.
If you’ve ever tried prying open a waterproof-sealed case after a plane ride you’ll truly appreciate the Automatic Pressure Equalization Valve built into every Pelican case. These equalization valves help neutralize the air-pressure differences between the inside of the case and the outside ambient air pressure after high-altitude flights. To keep dust and moisture from rushing into the case when equalizing the air pressure, a thin Gore-Tex hydrophobic membrane allows the passage of air while filtering unwanted dust and moisture.
Pelican cases are equally adept at protecting your gear from extreme temperatures and are rated to withstand a temperature range of -10°F upwards to 210°F (-23.3° to 98.9°C). To ensure safe and secure transit, Pelican cases feature two to six double-throw latches (depending on the model) and many also include stainless steel padlock protectors for additional security.
Also molded into each case assembly are graduated deflection ribs designed to channel the force of an accidental impact in a way that is less likely to shatter the case. Extruded ribs on either side of each latch assembly similarly protect the latches from shearing and impact damage. The heavy-duty 2-inch polyurethane wheels of Pelican’s rolling cases are protected in the same manner. The carrying handles on the larger Pelican cases, which fold away during transit, are coated with a soft rubber material to provide ergonomic comfort.
Most Pelican cases are available with Pick 'N' Pluck foam inserts which are pre-scored in half-inch increments in a vertical and horizontal grid pattern. To set up a new case, you arrange your gear evenly across the length and width of the case, leaving a minimum of one inch between each component.
Once you have everything arranged the way you want it, you simply outline each component with a marker or chalk, cut through the score marks closest to the outlines, pluck out the unwanted foam and you’re good to go.
When you configure the positions of your gear, make sure the heavier pieces occupy space near the bottom of the case when it's placed in its upright position. By keeping the center of gravity low, you will ensure safer transit of your gear and a longer lifespan of the foam insert.
All but the smallest Pelican cases are also available with interior inserts of padded dividers that can be arranged and secured in place according to your needs via hook-and-loop strips. If all you need is a bare-bones case, many Pelican cases can be ordered without foam or padded divider inserts. Additional foam inserts and padded divider kits are available separately.
Pelican cases are also available in colors other than standard-issue black. Depending on the model, Pelicans are available in a choice of Orange, Silver, Yellow, OD Green and Desert Tan. Custom colors can also be ordered for an additional fee.
The terms “tough” and “rugged” are easy enough to claim, but Pelican goes a step further to qualify these claims by backing them up with recognized standards. As an example, most of Pelican’s photo cases are NATO codified and tested to MIL C-4150J (Military Standard), IP-67 (Ingress Protection) and ATA (Air Transportation Association) standards, and Pelican cases are not uncommon in war zones where they often arrive via parachute from the cargo holds of aircraft.
The protective attributes of Pelican cases are also available to protect laptops, netbooks, eReaders and tablets. Pelican HardBack series cases are constructed from high-impact composite materials and feature Neoprene O-rings to keep moisture at bay. Pelican HardBack cases are also crush proof and feature Gore-Tex membranes that automatically equalize internal and external differences in air pressure while keeping the equipment inside safe and dry.
In addition to larger cargo and briefcase style hard cases, Pelican also manufactures a full line of smaller Pelican Micro cases, which are designed to protect smaller-sized gear with the
same level of protection as larger Pelican cases. Available in a choice of sizes, shapes, and colors (black, red, yellow and blue) and with a choice of matching color or clear lids, Pelican Micro cases are ideal for protecting light meters, colorimeters, smart phones and similar small devices. Pelican also manufactures a series of Memory Card cases designed in two configurations to protect your cards from the harsh realities of life on the road.
Photo applications aside, Pelican RF series rifle cases are quite popular among hunters and outdoor sportsmen, and Pelican Rolling Mobile Tool Chests are equally revered for their protective qualities for the same reasons photographers have long trusted the integrity of Pelican case construction and functionality.
And for those who are simply looking for crush proof, shock proof, and waterproof protection for their MP3 players, Pelican iPod cases are made of rugged polycarbonate materials with stainless-steel hardware, and feature internal lid organizers for storing earbuds and cables. The Pelican i1010 is available in a choice of seven colors and even offers an external headphone jack that enables you to enjoy your favorite tunes while trekking through snow, sleet or rain.
So, while some camera case manufacturers promise you the world, Pelican cases actively protect your gear from all of the surprises the real world invariably throws your way. If you’d like to know more about Pelican cases, please post your questions in the Comments section below.