Tips, Tricks, and Hacks - Six Additional Ways to Use a Pelican Case

Tips, Tricks, and Hacks - Six Additional Ways to Use a Pelican Case

We all know how highly respected the Pelican brand is when it comes to protecting your photography equipment. The case's waterproof qualities and seemingly indestructible nature make them the go to choice for many professionals. If you thought they were just for keeping your gear safe then think again, they actually have many more practical benefits than just the obvious.

1. Turns Into a Handy Light Stand

I recently discovered that in some of the older hard cases I own the purge valve (which lives just above the handle and regulates pressure) is held in place by a threaded opening. If you carefully remove the valve by unscrewing it you can actually put a spigot in its place. This opens up a world of possibilities as virtually every camera accessory can now be attached to your case with the aid of various grip.

Obviously this was not what this hole was ever intended to be used for so use with caution, but as you can see in my picture the case has instantly become a very sturdy low-level light stand. If yours doesn't have this you can still attach a light to one of the two handles with the help of something like a super-clamp or Gorillapod. I can see this being useful for when you want to set up a time-lapse camera for a BTS shoot. Just make sure you take out the gear you'll need before you hit record.

2. Getting a Better View Point

There are times when you just need to get a little higher on a shoot and if you're in the middle of a location then maybe a pair of steps are nowhere near. Thankfully the Peli case is so strong it won't have any problem with you standing on it. Even though you will only gain a few extra inches in height you'd be surprised how many times you'll find it comes in handy. It also makes an excellent seat which you will really appreciate when you have to shoot at a low angle for any length of time.

3. Give Your Subjects a Lift

In the same vein as the last point, there are occasions when you want your subject to be a little taller. I have used the case as a platform for models to stand on quite often. It is especially useful when shooting at locations which have been used many times before. Just raising the model several inches off the ground can turn a rather played out location into something a little different. Another handy use for this is if you are shooting groups of people and they are of varying sizes. A hard case can be used as a make shift apple box to help balance up the size of everyone. Even if shooting groups is not your thing, just having a model rest one foot on a case can dramatically change the shape of someone's body and transform a rather flat footed portrait into something more dynamic. The best part of all this is that you had the case with you anyway so no extra kit is required.

4. Transform Into a Rucksack

For those who may have avoided hard cases because they lacked the ability to be carried easily, this one is for you. There now exists a conversion harness by RucPac which allows the 1510 case to be carried on your back like a rucksack. The straps attach easily and when not in use fold down small enough that they won't take up much space. I can imagine this being especially useful when out on location where you may have your hands full carrying other equipment. I have to admit that there are times when the conditions of a location shoot mean my cases have to stay at home. This really defies the reason for investing in such storage as its the time when you probably need the protection they bring the most. It's like owning a crash helmet but only wearing it when you're standing still. For this reason, if you shoot in a lot of crazy places and carrying a case would be impractical then I suggest you invest in some of these straps.

5. Give Your Video Work Motion

Although this will probably appeal more to the video makers out there, I could still see this being of use to some of you photographers, especially the ones who experiment with time-lapse. It is actually possible to modify your case to become an effective camera dolly or slider. All you need to do is add some Rig Wheels like they do in this video and you'll be creating motion in your clips in no time. The wheels themselves are actually removable so they can be stored inside the case when not in use. If like me you rarely do video work but still would like the option, then this modification may be a better option than buying a dedicated slider setup.

6. Turn a Hard Case Into a Tether Station

I came up with this one a while back when looking for a suitable tether station to use on location. In my mind, it made more sense to use an existing piece of equipment rather than having to buy or carry something else. If you want to go down the DIY route as I did then all you need to do is drill a hole in the bottom of the case and feed through a bicycle quick release bolt which then attaches to the head of a slightly modified tripod. If you'd rather go down the less destructive route there are plenty of specialist brackets which can do the same job. Regardless of which option you pick the hard case you thought was just for protecting your gear has instantly become multipurpose.

So there you have it, the humble Pelican case is actually the Swiss army knife of the camera world. I know a lot of these techniques will never replace the kit you already have, I just wanted to illustrate how a hard case can be a lot more versatile than you may have thought. Personally, I'm a big fan of them because I know they will protect my valuable equipment under most circumstances. I also love the fact that they can have more than one use on a shoot with just a few minor adjustments. When you factor in all the additional ways a case like this could come to your rescue while out in the field it might not be a bad idea to add one to your shopping list.

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8 Comments

Great article Paul.
My work takes me all over the world to many challenging places and I live by my Peli cases. The 1510 and 1560 are among the ones I use most. You can see a few of my Peli "pals" in my IG feed. https://www.instagram.com/julian_ray_photography/
My only bit of feedback is on #4. I've tried and tried to use and like the RucPac on the 1510 and though a great idea it just does not work for me. Once you get the harness installed (not as easy as the instructions or videos suggest) it is not all that comfortable to actually carry any real weight (a camera body, two or three lenses, some batteries, a laptop, and the cables) for more than a few minutes.And definitely in any kind of challenging terrain. Maybe it is the shape of my back or that I'm tall but it kills in just a few minutes. I've tried to put some foam between my back and the hard case and this helps -a little. The second problem with the the RucPac setup is that once on you cannot use the wheels. So that means it is either a semi useful backpack OR a rollable peli case. NOT both at the same time. And the lower straps do NOT stay on the wheels and so become difficult to remove when the setup is no longer needed.
How I wish Pelican Case would invent a real back pack add on for them that actually worked.
Thanks for these great tips. It will be fun to see some creative ways other people are put their pelican cases to work.
All the best!

Paul Adshead's picture

Howdy Julian, thanks for the comment and cool IG feed! I had a sneaky feeling the RucPac might not be much use on long hikes which is a real shame. We'll have to go into business and make a better one. ;)

Thanks for your feedback it's much appreciated!

I love the idea Paul. There are about 3 or 4 peli cases that are almost screaming for a GOOD BP option. Let's do it!

Paul Adshead's picture

Haha! we'll become millionaires overnight...

For number 6, here's a pretty robust and well tested solution: http://www.nine-volt.com

Paul Adshead's picture

Thanks for the heads up. I actually already link to Nine-Volt in the article. Great minds... ;)

Derek Yarra's picture

Can you explain how the tiny quick release provides enough strength to support a heavy pelican case in you DIY tether station? I just don't see how the plastic of the case alone and one tiny contact point is able to to a safe job at that.

Paul Adshead's picture

Hey Derek, you can see my write up about it here: https://petapixel.com/2016/03/14/turn-pelican-case-tether-station-2-bicy...

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