I regularly explore underground in caves which can result in fairly harsh conditions. Humidity, water, mud, dust etc etc. As a result I have to take my gear in a pelican case most of the time and squeeze it through in front of me.

I was wondering if there were any suitable backpacks that were slightly more ergonomically shaped for this kind of high-wear endeavour? My pelican case is looking a tad beat up at the moment and I'm thinking about replacing it soon.

Also, are there any pelican (or similar brand/style) cases that are designed (or suit) single lenses/body only? I have a 50mm 1.4 Canon, 24-105mm Canon, 12-24mm Sigma, 70-200mm Canon and a 5DMkII body.

If anyone knows of any suitable cases that will snugly fit these individually I'd be very keen to know about it.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Which pelican case do you already have? A pelican hard case or a soft backpack? The hard cases are meant to get beat up more or less, so seeing some wear on those isn't a concern I would think. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which case do you have ? I think there are some pelican Micro Cases, not sure if its large enough for a DSLR \$\endgroup\$
    – GoodSp33d
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @2-Stroker Pelican micro cases aren't even close to big enough for DSLR. The 1120 is where the size starts to become big enough for a DSLR body. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 22:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've currently got the pelican 1500 case. I've dropped it several storeys onto sharp rocks, dragged it through broken glass, had it tangled in barbed wire, used it as a stepping stone to avoid getting my feet wet... All while my camera has been inside, its performed admirably but i'm worried that if it fails that i'll loose all my gear at once, hence the desire to pack each lens separately... \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 2:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just a FYI. I transferred some of my kit into a Pelican 1400 last weekend. Took it caving. And wouldn't you know it? It failed on me. Something got stuck in the 'o-ring' seal and i've now lost a 5DMkII, 50mm1.4 and 12-24mm sigma. :( \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Commented Jan 29, 2013 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


Stay with the pelicase. The fact that it's getting beat up is telling you something.

There are a bunch of different sizes. I use one that is roughly 12" x 10" x 4" for my canoe expeditions. I've done caving too, and that has to be the most camera hostile evironment short of underwater. Pelicases also can be bought in high visibility colours. Having a black or grey case in a cave can be a problem. If you do have a dark case, get some highly reflective stickers to put on it. Will save it getting kicked, may help you find it if you drop it.

However: Chuck the foam lining. If it ever gets wet or dirty it is impossible to dry or clean.

For my canoe use, I bought a small roll of that reflective heavy duty bubble wrap that DIY stores sell for insulating your water tank. Aluminum coated about 1/4" thick.

Using this, I lined my case, using double sided carpet tape to hold it in. Edges were sealed with duct tape. Secondary layers shaped into U's were taped in place to partition. spare data cards, lens cleaner etc, were dotted with velcro, and placed where they wouldn't interfere with the camera.

One other piece of advice: Try to use constant length lenses. These won't change volume, pulling soggy wet cave air into the lens as you focus or zoom.

Find the smallest case that will work, and then put THAT in a backpack. That will make carrying easier for the long dull parts of the cave, but still protect the camera.

For a cave environment,I'd aslo suggest adding desicant packages (Lee Valley Tools) to try to keep the interior of the case below saturated humidity.

You also want hand cleaning materials outside of the case (shampoo bottle of soapy water and a small towel) to clean your hands and your face before using your camera. Mud never sleeps.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Another trick: Make up a bean bag (with a zipper) and fill with rice. Rice is a fair desicant, and cheaper than the conventional ones. A rice bag also doubles nicely as a support for time exposures. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 18:13

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