As the video producer at Guns.com, Pelican was kind enough to send me their new Air 1535 camera case for a review. I’ve had it for four months now, and I’ve been able to pack it, customize it and take it on a few trips. I’ve gotten a good sense of its durability and strengths as well as its weaknesses.
First of all, Pelican is well-established company in the protective case business. Founded in 1976 in California, it is an American success story. They build cases for a number of uses, including firearms. Most of us know them for their high quality, high-impact polymer shell with foam interiors.
Before receiving the Air 1535, I had a Pelican 1510 case for three years. This is one of their older models and it is very solid and waterproof. I use it to store and transport a high-speed camera. The 1510 weighs 14 pounds empty, so it is heavy. It’s built like a tank. I swear it could stop a .22 round, although I have never tested it. The small hard wheels work fine after many miles and even though it has been kicked around and dropped, I feel confident that my gear is very well protected.
Compared the 1510, the new Air 1535 feels like a feather. It is slightly smaller in size and weighs 10 pounds, which is 40% less. But you can tell right away that it’s probably just as durable as the 1510. After four months of use, it shows almost no signs of wear.
The Air 1535 came with TrekPak inserts. These allow you to custom divide your case. It’s a pretty smart system. Pelican has a number of different division options that you can choose from when you order your case depending on what you want to use it for.
The case is waterproof and fits carry on bag limits, which is vital for me because I might have $15,000 of gear in it and I’m not putting it under the plane. Plus, I don’t have to pay for a checked bag. Being able to have my gear on wheels at trade shows or events is really nice because it saves my back from carrying my gear around all day.
The wheels are small but they do work. I can see them lasting many years. I’m 6 foot, so I do feel a bit tall rolling the case behind me. I tend to hunch over a bit when I wheel it so that I don’t actually lift it off the ground.
The case is small. It doesn’t have a ton of space. Prior to using the Air 1535 for my camera gear, I was using a Lowepro 200x. I really liked the Lowepro and used it for four years. The thing I really liked about the Lowepro was that it had more space but could still go overhead on airplanes. It has tons of pockets, something the Air 1535 does not have, and it’s got a front pocket for my laptop. It’s got a lock but I never used it. The wheels are bigger and according to Lowepro, they’re replaceable with any rollerblade wheel. But when one of the wheels broke on my Lowepro, I bought a rollerblade wheel at Walmart and tried to replace it, but couldn’t get it to stay on. It keeps coming unscrewed which is too bad.
So now that I have the Air 1535, I retired the Lowepro. It served me well but I like the hard plastic, waterproof protection of the Pelican. It is much smaller, but I now film with a Sony A7R2 so my gear is very compact and I like to travel light. If you have a bigger camera, the case would definitely be too small. I wish the Air 1535 had pockets, or at least a laptop pocket like their 1510 model has.
Pelican makes high quality, super durable, waterproof cases that outlast most other cases. I think they are fantastic, customer service is excellent and they are made in America. If you need a case for your camera or firearm, I highly recommend them. They offer lots of protection, look good and have wheels. At $315, the Pelican Air 1535 with TrekPac inserts will very likely be the last case I ever need to buy for my current camera setup. For firearms, I don’t see why that would be any different.