Pelican Air 1535 Rolling Hard Case with TrekPak Dividers Review
Pelican Air 1535 Rolling Case w/TrekPak Divider System
$315/£220 | www.pelican.com | Buy Now
For decades now, Pelican cases have been the go-to solution for anyone who needs maximum protection for their equipment. The company's website is filled with user stories about explosions, lion attacks, shifting pack ice and airplane crashes where the gear inside the case survived. Recently, Pelican introduced the Air series of cases designed to be up to 40% lighter than their standard cases, with the same promises of extreme durability.
Many working photographers will factor in things like maximum comfort and gear accessibility when choosing a bag. But when you travel thousands of miles every month and your gear puts the food on your table, getting everything there and home in one piece becomes more important than things like leather accents or ventilated shoulder straps. In and out of planes, taxis, luggage carts and TSA inspection checkpoints, whatever is carrying your cameras, lenses, and accessories has to do its job well or you won’t have your job much longer.
It's on those high standards that Pelican has built its reputation for being the ultimate in gear protection. I still remember being seeing promotional material showing a Pelican case being run over with a car and thinking that was pretty amazing. While I never had a case subjected to any of that sort of treatment, I did drop one off a chairlift back when I was doing snowboard filming. While I felt like an idiot, the miniDV camera inside survived just fine.
At the time of announcement, Pelican also said that the Air cases (along with a few others in the lineup) would have the option of coming with the TrekPak divider system instead of the standard pick 'n pluck foam or padded divider inserts. I recently had a chance to run the rolling airline carry-on sized Pelican Air 1535 with the TrekPak system through its paces.
- Exterior 55.8 x 35.5 x 22.8 cm (21.96" x 13.97" x 8.98")
- Interior 51.8 x 28.4 x 18.3 cm (20.39" x 11.20" x 7.21")
- Weight 3.9 kg (8.69 lbs) without foam/inserts
By way of comparison, the similarly sized Pelican 1510 weighs 5.4 kg (11.99 lbs) without foam. Pelican says that the weight savings in the Air series comes from a newly developed generation of their HPX resin as well as hollowing out or honeycombing areas (the latch clasps and the extending roller handle for example) that were previously solid.
Hard cases are big and clunky and something of a pain to use if you are used to soft bags and packs. They bang into things, aren’t particularly ergonomic, and are a hassle to schlep long distances. That said, one of the best compliments I can give the Air 1535 is that using it is just like the 1500 series cases I have used in the past, but much lighter. It loads, latches, and generally seems just as tough as every other standard Pelican case I have ever used.
I would encourage anyone looking to get a hard case of this size to be sure to choose one with the roller option. Your back will thank you as you try to make it across a busy airport for a connecting flight. Even with the weight savings of the Air line, these things are still heavy loaded up. The 1535 loaded with the gear shown in the article images checked in at a beefy 11.3 kg/25 lbs.
That said, there are a few minor frustrations that remain. For some reason, Pelican chose not to use the easy pushbutton latches from their Storm Case series. Pelican’s standard double-throw latches work well and have been proven over the years. However, they are also loud as heck (particularly when closing) and can be a bit difficult for some people to use because they require a bit of force to operate.
easily go off-roading'
Also worth noting is that the wheels on the 1535 do not protrude very far from the bottom of the case. This makes it easy to stack cases without them rolling around on each other, but it also means that there is not much ground clearance. You should not expect the 1535's wheels to easily go off-roading, rolling on ground much rougher than airport concourses will lead to some scraping and scratches.
Like most hard cases, the lid of the Air 1535 doesn’t open much past 90 degrees (straight up) and can easily flop shut when bumped or jostled. Just another reminder that these cases are for transport far more than for working out of.
One nice new feature is the card holder. It clips in and out easily with the lid open, but locks in once the lid is closed, and can be mounted on the side or end of the case. It can be used as a luggage tag when traveling or for an equipment list while on location or in storage.
TrekPak system dividers
If the Air 1535 is the steady performer who has hit the weight room in the off season and come back in better shape, then the TrekPak system may be the rookie superstar.
Both the pick ‘n pluck foam and padded divider systems have taken care of camera gear for decades. The pick ‘n pluck foam is extremely protective and customizable to exactly the size and shape of the gear you are carrying, and the padded divider sets allow you to change the layout of your case for different gear and still protect quite well. But the foam is also fairly tedious to cut out correctly and doesn’t offer a way to use the same case for different gear without buying a whole new set of foam. Dealing with velcro can also be a hassle, and the more you change it, the more it breaks down. The TrekPak system claims to improve on both by offering a completely customizable system that not only protects but is easily modified.
The TrekPak dividers are corrugated plastic sandwiched with 3mm/0.125" of dense foam on each side. This makes for a light yet protective divider in between each piece of gear. Setup was easy – I took the gear that I wanted to carry in the Air 1535 and laid it out in the case. Then I took a measurement for each divider and used the clever TrekPak cutter to trim the sections to fit. A U-shaped pin with a ribbon pull-tab holds the dividers together and allows for legitimately quick and easy repositioning.
All together, it took me around 30 minutes to get everything cut and laid out. And to be honest, a lot of that time was spent dithering about how I wanted to organize. I do admit to feeling somewhat uncomfortable making the cuts, as if perhaps I had made a decision that I was going to regret down the road. This is probably a point in favor of the padded dividers, if I’m being honest.
That said, you do get 80 inches of the TrekPak dividers (and 20 'U' pins) to set up your case. Extra divider sections are available and are not terribly expensive, ranging from $3.50 to $15 depending on size.
What’s the bottom line?
Hard cases are bulky, less comfortable to carry and heavier than soft-sided bags. But when you need a hard case, there is no soft case that can do the same job. If you are looking for an airline carry-on sized hard case, there is every reason to consider the Pelican Air 1535. Significantly lighter but just as tough as the original 1500 series cases, the Air 1535 will protect your gear while giving you a much better shot at avoiding airline overweight fees.
While the older style pick 'n pluck foam and padded divider systems certainly worked well enough, the TrekPak system is well ahead of the other options for anyone who thinks they might be carrying different gear regularly.
Overall, the 1535 with the TrekPak dividers would easily be my first choice if I were going to be doing a lot of traveling with my gear. These cases aren’t cheap, but neither is the gear they protect. I wholeheartedly trust the Air 1535 to get everything there and back in one piece; there’s not a lot more you can ask from a case like this.
What we like
- Lighter weight than previous Pelican cases, still tough-as-nails
- Conforms to carry-on sizing rules (check your specific airline)
- TrekPak is easy to customize while still light and sturdy
- Roller option is a back-saver
- Clever card holder
What we don’t like
- Still heavy compared to typical bags/packs
- Latches are loud and can be tough to use
Jun 9, 2017
Jun 26, 2017
Jun 25, 2017
Jun 19, 2017
|scrum break away by al booth|
from Sport competition
|Parking Deck by Olaf R|
from Your City - Parking Garage
|Communication Tech by alberto_b|
|With & without by OBellini|
from Empty - Full
The winners of the 10th annual iPhone Photography Awards have been announced, and they're striking.
If you were disappointed by reports that the Sony a9 struggles with adapted Canon glass, you might be able to take some comfort from Metabones' latest update.
Blackmagic Design has dropped the prices of its Video Assist external monitor/recorders for a limited time. Prices of the SD card-based recorders will be reduced in all markets, while supplies last.
Instagram has started testing a new feature called 'favorites' that enables users to share photos with only certain people. Only a small number of users have access to the feature at this time, though it may roll out to everyone in the future.
Lensbaby has announced the Velvet 85 F1.8 for interchangeable lens cameras. The lens is available in Canon, Nikon, Sony E, Sony A, Pentax K, Samsung NX, Fuji X and Micro 4/3 mounts.
It's the end of an era. Parent company Micron has announced that they are discontinuing the Lexar retail brand. This includes 'memory cards, USB flash drives, readers, and storage drives.'
Youthful trainspotter turned adult photographer, John Sanderson has traveled across the United States, documenting the country's railroads. But you won't find any trains in his pictures.
Sony's new CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated and offers an all-pixel global reset function which should drastically reduce rolling shutter effect when panning.
Shoulderpod has converted its offerings into a lego-like modular system by offering all individual parts of existing products separately, allowing users to build exactly the rig they need for a specific project or simply replace a damaged part.
Photographer Felix AAA has spent the past ten years touring the world with a variety of musicians, capturing behind the scenes shots and portraits. He talks about some of his favorite images on the FujiFilm Blog.
A roll of film discovered in an Argus C2 from an Oregon Goodwill turned out to contain some incredible images – and has been re-united with the original owner's family.
Nikon's 28mm F1.4E ED appears to roundly complete the company's updated lineup of fast, professional prime lenses. We've already seen some initial images from a Nikon ambassador, but we've worked through a gallery of our own, with a lens of our own over the past week. Take a look.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.