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15/04/2009 – The Pelican 1514 Case : A Bag You Can Check Under The Plane & Know Your Gear Is Safe In
Few travel cases can withstand the significant abuse of hard travel. The limitations of most bags and cases become more prevalent for photographers due to traveling with not only expensive equipment, but also fragile equipment.
As some airlines become more rigid in enforcing the carry-on allowance weight of cabin baggage, and reduce the “1 carry on & 1 personal item” policy to “1 carry on,” the need to find an extremely durable case for traveling with equipment is increasingly becoming an important topic among photographers.
While placing camera equipment in checked baggage is never ideal, and there are risks involved, there are instances when it cannot be avoided. There is the ‘vest trick’; carrying your gear out on your shoulders, which some European low cost carriers no longer allow; stuffing everything info a really small bag, which is a problem if your bag is randomly weighed at some international airports; and of course the situation of simply traveling to much equipment to fit into a standard carry-on bag.
The safety of cameras and lenses is at the forefront of every photographer’s mind when setting foot in an airport. I have experienced the panic of checking my cameras and lenses, primarily during the United Kingdom’s ban on carry-on baggage and subsequent 1 carry-on limit policy. There is a sinking feeling of checking a case loaded with three camera bodies and seven lenses, I have experienced it, but I have relied on singe case to protect my equipment each time it must be checked under a flight.
My durable, bangable, non-drownable, droppable, shipping case of choice for the past few years has been the Pelican 1514.
The Pelican 1514, a Pelican 1510 with padded inserts, is legal for carry-on with the vast majority of international airlines in terms of size. With the case’s 45-linear inch (114.3-linear centimeter) dimensions, recessed wheels and recessed handle, the Pelican 1514 conforms to every baggage template I have dropped it into (with the exception of one now defunct airline).
Many photographers seem to view the Pelican 1514 as a limiting case due to its rigid construction, when it reality the case can hold a substantial amount of equipment.
I first wrote about this case for traveling with camera gear back in early 2007 in this post:
8-February-2007 : A Case You Can Torture And Have Your Gear Be Just Fine (And It’s A Carry On!)
The above post was followed up in late 2007 with an entry about using the Pelican 1514 to pack portable lighting gear here:
27-November-2007: “I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks”
While my equipment set up changes for each shoot, switching between camera body types, lenses, and other gear needs, for the most part I can comfortably pack everything I need into a Pelican 1514.
Below is a photo of the current contents of my Pelican 1514
2 – Canon 1D series bodies
1 – Canon 16-35f2.8L
1 – Canon 70-200f2.8L
1 – Canon 24f1.4L
1 – Canon 24f3.5L TS-E
1 – Canon 50f1.4 USM (with hood affixed)
1 – Canon 85f1.2L
1 – Canon 580EX Speedlight
1 – Nikon SB-28dx Speedlight
2 – Pocket Wizard Set (1 sender/ 1 receiver)
4 – Canon 1D batteries (2 hidden under 70-200f2.8)
1 – Canon 1D battery charger (hidden under 70-200f2.8)
2 – PC Cords (not visible, taped under lid)
1 – Bogen 3007 mini-tripod with extension pole (not visible, taped under lid)
2 – Sets of AA rechargeable batteries (packed under flash units)
1 – Canon E-TTL Cord (wrapped around stack of lens hoods in the lower left of photo)
5 – Lens hoods (stacked under 14f2.8 in lower left of case in photo
1 – Mini-roll of gaffers tape (not pictured, sits on top of two lenses)
This Pelican 1514 set up has flown under multiple regional jets and turbo-prop and while the case gets some nicks and scraps, my contents always arrive in perfect working condition exactly as they were placed inside the case.
For a case that can be carried on, checked on, and take almost any abuse you can throw at it. The Pelican 1514 is the only choice on the market for versatility and durability.
Below is a photo of my Pelican 1514 packed up and a photo of the exterior of my scraped, scratched, nicked up Pelican 1514.