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Pelican Air cases lighten your load for shooting, schlepping and shipping (pictures)

Known for its tough-as-nails camera cases, the company's new Air line promises the same durability at a 40 percent lighter weight.

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Lori Grunin
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1 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Pelican Air 1535

Pelican cases have long been the built-like-a-tank workhorses for hauling camera and video gear. Unfortunately, "tank-like" usually also means back-breaking. With its new Air line, Pelican has reengineered its cases -- though, oddly, not redesigned them -- to be up to 40 percent lighter.

As many manufacturers do when they're trying to make rigid structures lighter, Pelican honeycombed the body wherever possible. That can reduce mass without sacrificing durability. The company also switched the material from Polypropylene to a custom polymer, dubbed "HPX2", that helps absorb shock. To give you an idea of its strength, I stood on it without crushing it.

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2 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Ready to roll

The 1535 Air Wheeled Carry-On I got to try out is about 28 percent lighter than its older equivalent, the 1510 Protector. These models are the largest versions that will fit in an overhead bin. The approximate 8.7-pound (3.9 kg) weight makes a big difference for me compared to 12 pounds (5.4 kg) for the 1510 -- I can carry this one and lift it over my head -- and if you ship gear in volume, the savings will likely add up. It's more expensive, priced at $250 (around AU$325 or £175, converted), though the new padded divider system doesn't cost extra.

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3 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Trolley extension

To extend the trolley handle, you lift up a release and pull the handle out. I prefer being able to release and retract with a single hand, as that usually all I have available while going through security or boarding a plane. But that may just be me.

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4 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

New divider system

The new padded divider system is free, and is similar to the velcro-based dividers that most camera backpacks and bags use.

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5 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Yellow

I like that you can get the dividers in yellow. I'm not a great fan of the standard velcro, since it's hard to maneuver the dividers.

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6 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Purge!

One of the few minor design changes: Pelican moved the automatic purge valve (which balances air pressure) to the left of center.

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7 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Latches

It uses the same latches as many of the other Pelican cases.

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8 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Handle

It retains the sturdy handle that can lock in a position flush with the top of the case.

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9 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Minor design changes

There's now a card holder for identification.

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10 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Wheels

There's a hair more friction than I like on the recessed wheels, but it's not like they fight you.


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11 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Pelican AIR 1535

Pelican changed the rounded edges on the lid to something more akin to a conic section (a slight bevel).

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