Flying with Gear
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Old 01-19-2007   #1
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Default Re: Flying with Gear

The Pelican 1510 (1514 is the model with the padded dividers, but you can just buy the dividers seperately; the 1510 is easier to find locally if you want to play with it first) is the largest case that can be carried on legally. I'm pretty sure it'll fit in the overhead of a standard size jetliner (basically, Boeing 737/767 and larger). I don't think it conforms with all international restrictions. See the last paragraph for regional jet stuff.

I'm pretty sure you can get your 400mm f/2.8 in there along with some more lenses, but not sure how many bodies you can fit in. The way mine is set-up, I can fit two D2H bodies (slightly smaller than a 1D), a 17-35 f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, 70-200mm f/2.8, teleconverter and some miscellaneous accesories while leaving room for a 300mm f/2.8 Nikkor (keep in mind the Nikon supertelephotos are physically longer than the Canon ones, so your 400 might fit) lens. I've seen photos on SportsShooter (search their board for Pelican case stuff) of the 1510 taking mutliple 1D bodies, the 400mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 plus other lenses and stuff all stuffed in; I believe this was due to the creative stacking of smaller items and lenses.

The case itself is damned tough; I've subjected it to all sorts of random abuse and no harm's come to it or the gear inside. I bought the 1510 locally at Fry's and used the pick-and-pluck foam initially, but it's nearly impossible to reconfigure the foam once you've finished pluck with any semblance of efficiency, so I ordered the velcro inserts and now use the padded dividers instead. For maximum gear protection, use the pick-and-pluck foam. If you want to move stuff around inside though, forget it. Personally, I use the padded dividers- which are thinner- and live with the reduced protection. If I have something that needs extra protection, I'll simply add it to the item and then place it back in the case. Not a bad trade-off for the added flexibility. I've heard of several people having their lens hoods broken when they checked the case in.

The Pelican brand locks that are advertised inside the box work like a charm. I don't have the perosnalized nameplate, but I do also have the large silica gel insert.

Now, for issues. First, a big tough case might scream "valuables", so if you're worried about theft you should cover the Pelican case in something else like a duffel bag, but then you'd lose the ability to use the wheels. Second,

Also, I've been flying regional jets recently, so the Pelican case has been no good for that (I'd have to gate check it); instead, I've been using the ThinkTank Glass Taxi (holds one supertelephoto up to 500mm, 300mm with body, or 70-200 with body/bodies and lenses) and Artificial Intelligence 15 (laptop) bags to get my gear and laptop into the regional jets seperately. One of the bags goes under the seat, and the other into the overhead compartment. Both can fit under the seat in a pinch if needed. When I get my 400mm, I'll be switching to one of the ThinkTank Airport backpacks that'll hold the 400mm. Another advantage of using the backpacks is that you're going to be much less likely to be required to weigh your carry-ons.

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Old 01-19-2007   #2
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Default Re: Flying with Gear

Honestly, I haven't checked mine in yet. Due to the unforseen circumstance of flying regional jets most frequently (LA to San Jose/vice versa) I haven't really done as much air travel with the Pelican as I would like. Currently, I use it mostly for carting things around on the ground when I have access to a car the whole time; flying means the backpack comes out.

I probably wouldn't travel with any gear that won't fit in the ThinkTank Airport Acceleration now, which is the largest bag for regional planes. Easier that way, IMHO.


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