Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

Submit your Photo
Hall of Fame

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I need a waterproof case for a DSLR with two lenses and some misc extras. I'm familiar with Pelican cases and might go that route. I need something that can be submersed in water and will float. Are there any good alternatives?

share|improve this question
Can you provide more details about what the use case is and what kind of waterproof you need? There are a variety of different levels of "water proof" ranging from "Rain probably won't be an issue, maybe" to "You can just about sit on the bottom of the ocean." – AJ Henderson Mar 5 '13 at 22:04
If you're looking for a similar function to pelican cases, but at a lower price point, Kincrome ( ) make considerably cheaper cases that function more or less the same – NULLZ Mar 5 '13 at 23:21
Why Pelican doesn't fit your needs might be good to explain. Price, design, environmental concern, you dislike Pelican birds, etc. – dpollitt Mar 6 '13 at 1:18
I'm mainly looking for a cheaper option that has roughly the same quality. – parap Mar 6 '13 at 1:47
If you need a hard case that is truly waterproof, I don't think you can beat Pelican. – Phil Mar 6 '13 at 17:23
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've used three options, and I trust them all.

  • The Pelican case. A hard case offers the best protection by far, though you need to be conscious of how old the gasket/seal is and replace it before it gets dried out.

  • A dry bag. Experience says that, if well cared for, you can get about 7-8 years of use out of a quality dry bag before it simply starts to dry out and crack. A benefit dry bags have over the Pelican case is that you can trap air in the bag, making it more buoyant. You'll want to have some padding for your gear, of course.

  • A heavy contractor-grade garbage bag. Yes, you read that right. Gear needs to be well-padded (such as in a camera bag) so it doesn't poke through on the inside, and you need to be conscious of what abrasion it might get on the outside. Gooseneck the garbage bag to make a good seal (twist the top tight, then fold it over and close tightly with a rope using something like a chain hitch). Pack a few extra bags, just in case...

The most important thing in choosing a waterproof case is that you know it works. Before putting your gear in the Pelican case or drybag, fill it with some tissues or toilet paper because they're super absorbent. Seal the box/bag, and put it in your bathtub and completely submerge it. Hold it under. Bounce it around. Make sure you try to work the water in. Leave it in there for a while -- maybe even an hour -- to see if any water can work its way in. Finally, pull the case/bag out, open it up, and verify that the toilet paper is still dry.

Presumably, you need a waterproof option because you're going to be in a boat. A tip: use a line to tie your case or bag to your boat. If you do capsize, you don't want to lose the gear because it floated away faster than you could get to it. With a length of rope, you can just pull your canoe (or whatever) to shore and know that you've got everything still attached.

share|improve this answer
You can keep the gaskets and seals from drying out by regularly applying silicone spray (not spray lube, just plain liquid silicone available at dive shops). I have decade-old seals that have been treated this way and are just as supple as they were when new. – Blrfl Mar 6 '13 at 12:40

Sealine offers a good line of Dry Bags

I've used these while camping to provide solid protection in my back pack.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.