Review: Pelican Air 1607 Protector Case (with Padded Dividers)

You have to give my frugalness credit.  For a long time I carried multiple lights to job sites in whatever cheap cases they came with.  My 600W lights came with a chubby, suitcase-sized soft case that I shoved a couple speedlights into, and my 200W lights came with cute little baby purse-sized cases.  The 200W baby case is too small to leave the bare bulb attached, so I had to remove the bulb and reattach the fresnel head to fit them back in every time I used them.  I kept my 200W bare bulb reflectors in my car since they don't fit in the baby case, which of course meant I was more likely to just settle for the fresnel head.  If you read my post about the lighting I use, the fresnel heads of my 200W's are not nearly as soft and even for bounces, umbrellas, or direct flash as the bare bulb, but the bare bulb takes more time to setup if you're using the included case.  Not only did I feel like somebody carrying too many bags at the outlet mall as I walked from my car to each job site, but I wasn't using the ideal lighting configurations available with equipment I already owned!  Plus I was scared to set my cases down on snowy or wet pavement since they were basically just cloth and would soak up water.  No good!

I finally decided to set my frugalness aside and figure out what rolling case to purchase.  After all, it was for the sake of efficiency and excellence!

Pelican has been around for 40 years and always seems to get extremely good reviews, and I was pleased to see Pelican release a new line of cases called "Pelican Air."  They say it's 40% lighter than their previous similarly sized cases, and if I'm going to be lugging it around to all my jobs that is a welcome improvement!  They advertise their Air cases as being waterproof, durable, strong, and light.  Pelican tests their cases submerged in 1 meter of water for 20 minutes and makes sure they can withstand being dropped and having things dropped on them. 

I took a look at the Pelican Air 1535 Case initially and was trying to figure out if I could fit all my lighting in it.  The 1535 Pelican Air Protector Case is notably the maximum size for airline carryon bags, and has wheels and a pull handle.  Can I fit my typical lighting setup into a carryon bag?  No... but I did make a mental note of that because I may get that case someday for traveling with my camera, who knows.  The 1535 has 0.95 cubic feet of interior space and comes with the option of "Pick 'n' Pluck" foam (cheapest), Padded Dividers, or TrekPak dividers (most expensive).

The next case I looked at was the Pelican Air 1615.  This case is notably the maximum airline checkin size for suitcases, so if you plan on taking lots of equipment in checked luggage, this beauty should be able to withstand being thrown around onto luggage carts, belts, and airplanes!  It also has wheels and a pull handle.  This seemed like it would be a little bigger than I needed, and the depth of dividers is probably more than I wanted.  It also didn't have a high quantity of divided spaces (in the padded divider version), so fitting in smaller objects along with all my lights wouldn't be ideal.  The 1615 has 2.49 cubic feet of interior space also comes with the option of "Pick 'n' Pluck" foam, Padded Dividers, and TrekPak dividers.

The last case I looked at was the Pelican Air 1607, which seems to be a newer model than the previous two.  I say "seems to be newer" because as of the day I wrote this it is marked as "new" on Pelican's website and the other two are not.  What immediately struck me about this case is a top level with lots of little dividers that can be lifted out to reveal the slightly wider bottom level of padded dividers – 2 levels of dividers for a total of 21 divided compartments with the default arrangement!  The top level has a mesh that zips closed to hold in smaller items during travel.  It also has wheels and a pull handle, which I figured would come in handy.  With 2.24 cubic feet of interior space, it has more than twice the room of carryon size (like the 1535 case) but is slightly smaller than checked luggage size (like the 1615 case).  It comes with "Pick 'n' Pluck" foam, or Padded Dividers, but does not offer the TrekPak divider option.  Below are photos of the 1607 Air before I moved things around and loaded it up with my gear.

It turned out to be just what I needed!  With some rearranging of the many included dividers I was able to fit one 600W light and two of it's lithium batteries, a 7" reflector, two 200W lights with bare bulbs and reflectors attached, and two speedlights... all in just the bottom level.  In the top level I have lots of smaller items like transmitters, speedlight batteries, some umbrella adapters, chargers, and more.  The many included black velcro straps are useful for securing small items to compartment walls (like speedlight feet) and dividing small items within smaller compartments.  The height of both the top and bottom levels is around 4 inches, but as you can see some of my items (like the 7" diameter bowens mount reflector, which is about 5" tall) stick up above the divider walls.  Since everything inside is padding or foam, you have a bit of wiggle room, so the removable top level still sits properly and the case closes without issue.  There is a nice business card holder on the front, along with two spots for padlocks, and three heavy duty handles for lifting and carrying on the top, bottom, and side.  There are 4 latches that snap shut to close the case securely.  Overall the case feels very durable and tough, yet relatively light, and the wheels are quiet and smooth.

I have taken it to a few jobs already, and since it is currently winter here in Michigan, it's great to be able to stand it up in the snowy road without concern!  I think it may have been possible to fit all my lights (two 600W's, two 200W's, and two speedlights) in the case if I really tried, but I don't really want the case to be that heavy and I usually don't need to use two 600W's.  Having both 200W lights ready to go with their bare bulb & reflector attachments has been a huge benefit, and five lights is plenty for most jobs.  I can set the extra 600W case on top of the Pelican 1607 and roll it in if I need it, and at least I won't look as awkward as I did when carrying a bunch of small cases.  =)  Reducing the number of cases also makes packing and unpacking more efficient, which is great.

For the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 / Godox AD600 users out there I took a picture of the Pelican 1607 next to the Godox/Flashpoint case, so you can get an idea of the size difference.  The Pelican 1607 is only a few inches longer and is not quite twice as tall.

I couldn't find many reviews showing what kind of equipment people were fitting into this case, so hopefully this will be useful to somebody.  If you find the information on this page helpful, feel free to use the amazon links on this page if you're making a purchase and I'll get a small commission.  That will help keep useful reviews coming!