The Case for Pelican

While waterproof dry bags are mostly our thing, we acknowledge that dry bags and hard protective cases share some common ground.  Both have a place in your pack, kayak, SUP, or kit bag.  Your choice depends on what your protecting, what you want to carry, and ultimately, whatever it is you like best.  That said, we decided to pay homage to the hard case kings.

Every industry has its standard.  Climbing has Alex Honnold.  The North Face and Patagonia dominate the outdoor clothing and gear world.  There are a few select others who have broken free from the pack in each outdoor niche.  It isn’t any different when it comes to protective cases.  When one thinks about how to protect a piece of gear from the elements, the Pelican Case stands above the rest.  Yet there are those that would rather protect their newest GoPro in a Ziplock bag.  Why?  It appears that cost and weight seem to turn people in another direction the most.  So, it isn’t that Pelican needs the advertisement, they do not.  However we wanted to make the case for Pelican because over the course of many years and many adventures, they’ve always held up.

The Cost

In the spirit of transparency, we would keep our toothbrush in a specifically designed Pelican Case if we could.  That said, the protective case industry standard does come at a cost.  Pelican makes expensive cases.  That’s the bottom line.  However, with that cost comes an inherent piece of mind that with the right perspective, can make your adventure all the more meaningful knowing that your gear is protected.

There is no hiding the high retail cost of any size Pelican Case.  But we have to throw that excuse out on the following logic.  If you spend a lot of money on the tools you need to capture or participate in whatever fuels you, why not melt the debit card on something that will protect your investment?

The Weight

Ultralight hikers are not packing their rucks full of Pelican or any other hard protective case.  Of course not.  In every other outdoor activity from kayaking to adventure photography or from beach trips to family car camping, adding a few extra pounds in guaranteed protection is a non-factor.  Pelican’s polypropylene body does add weight, even in the smaller cases, but the trade-off is simple.  Crush proof, debris/waterproof protection outweighs the added ounces or pounds.  In our opinion, the emphasis here should not be on how much Pelican Cases weigh, but on what the right case is for the right activity.  For the final word on weight, the company now offers a line of cases called Pelican Air which are 40% lighter.  Case closed.

Where to Start

If our effort to successfully mitigate the cost and weight of Pelican Cases, then let’s look at some options for protecting your gear.  If not, oh well, good luck with the Zip Lock bags.

Starting Small

Everything in today’s fast paced world of evolving technology has a tendency to get smaller.  Smaller cameras, smaller solar chargers, smaller GPS devices.  Okay, maybe smartphones are the rebels of the bunch.  Pelican micro and small cases are an excellent choice to house sensitive items during certain adventures.  Again, we aren’t talking about ultralight backpacking.  However, canoeing, scuba diving trips, standup paddle board excursions, or fishing trips where you want to maintain protection for your stuff, Pelican micro cases are a smart option.  The Pelican 1010 Micro Case up to the 1060 are solid, dependable, easy additions to your packing list to act as a waterproof smartphone case or general protection for small electronics and valuables.  The varying sizes and options for foam inserts provide great options for an array of devices.  The smaller sized micro cases also fit nicely in a pack and make gear organization easier to plan.

Protecting the Goods

Climbing the ladder a bit, Pelican’s 1120 all the way up to the 1400 will provide the absolute highest degree of protection for a range of slightly larger items.  You aren’t likely including these guys in a pack, however they fit easily in a kayak/canoe or other larger logistical load out.  When it comes to camera protection for that for other electronic devices, there is nothing better.  Yes, there are options that some would claim compete with Pelican at this size, however when it comes to durability and both waterproof and temperature ratings, nothing compares.

Kits and Transport

Beyond the normal size cases carried on a person or nearby in a pack, kayak or the like, Pelican offers excellent options in the medium and large range.  Cases such as the Pelican 1500 (medium) and others in the same class offer the same outstanding protection and can function as kits for medical purposes, emergency situations, or any other activity.  In the large category, the 1600 does the same while cases like the 1630 serve more of a basecamp or transport type of function.


Pelican Cases are known to be able to withstand the harshest conditions.  The body construction takes most of the credit for that reputation.  Perhaps what makes Pelican stand separate from its competitors are the various features and options available with every case.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Polypropylene latches with reinforced lock points
  • Polymer o-ring seal
  • Hydrophobic purge vents
  • Stainless steel hinge pins
  • Extreme minimum and maximum temperature ratings
  • Highest waterproof certification/rating

The features don’t stop at the exterior.  Inside, Pelican offers their customizable Pick N Pluck foam options along with customer designed inserts or no foam cases.  Going a step further in organization and protection, Pelican also offers its TrekPak Case Divider System which includes reusable modular dividers to fully customize your case to fit your needs.

Pelican also corners the market in speciality cases.  Larger special industry cases aside, their options for photography and tactical uses are unmatched.  Specific to the tactical rifle cases, others try and are definitely more affordable but with all the other features listed above, there is no substitute.

The Pelican Experience

Personally speaking, our team has witnessed Pelican’s unmatched protection in countless environments and circumstances all over the world.  From hitting Class V whitewater adventures to climbing Mt. Washington in winter or carrying medical supplies across the desert in West Africa, Pelican holds up.  There are a few other cases on the market that attempt to replicate what Pelican offers and some do enter the arena.  However, when you want absolute reliability and protection, Pelican wins.

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