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  • By Ken Perrotte

Have gear, will travel: 3 top-tier cases

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Taking care of expensive firearms, optics, camera gear and other electronics while traveling is a priority for those who've invested time and money in such equipment. Whether you're flying, hauling gear in the bed of a truck, or operating in an environment that's cold and wet, quality protective cases can help ensure your valued equipment stays safe and functional.

Here's a look at some products that do just that.


Pelican has long been an industry leader in hard-shell, protective cases. New this year is a six-case product line they've dubbed "Air," designed to cut weight without sacrificing durability. The new cases weigh up to 40 percent less than other polymer cases. They're molded from a proprietary, lightweight resin and previously solid structural elements are now honeycombed.

Like other Pelican cases, they're engineered with an o-ring gasket to be waterproof. An automatic purge valve balances air pressure inside the case. Each case has rubber overmolded handles, stainless steel hasp protectors, standard double-throw latches and a handy business card holder.

The Pelican Air 1535 (pictured above) is the model designed specifically as a carry-on piece, with dimensions perfectly matching the maximum size allowed by most airlines – it'll fit in overhead compartments of all but the smallest regional jets. This case got a workout on multiple trips this year, including one frantic dash through the Vancouver airport: The stainless-steel bearing wheels and retractable extension handle were put to the test, and the near-indestructible case occasionally slammed into the sides of walls and moving conveyor belts.

With foam inserts, it weighs just under 10 pounds. You can get traditional inserts, where you pluck out the compartments to hold your gear, padded divider inserts or a new TrekPak system that uses pre-installed wall sections, divider panels, locking pins and a great little cutting tool that ensures safe, straight cuts. The dividers are made from corrugated plastic with dense foam on each side. It took me about 20 minutes to configure, cut TrekPak for the 1535 model comes with two perimeter pieces, two 15-inch dividers, two 20-inch dividers and 20 pins. It increases cost, but this TrekPak option was a superb choice.

Cost: Manufacturer's suggested price is $250, but can be found for $189 ($220 with foam). TrekPak kit sells for $127.

Guarantee: Pelican guarantees its injection-molded products for a lifetime against breakage or defects in workmanship. They're also guaranteed to be watertight to a depth of 3.3 feet for 30 minutes when properly closed with an undamaged o-ring in place.

You can fit more than your rifle into the SKB iSeries 5014 case

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