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|| News Item: Posted 2002-10-01

The Road Warrior: A Tale of Two Cases
By Mongo Johnson

Photo by
Have you tried to check a 3rd bag lately? Get ready to bend over and spread' em, cause those greedy scum sucking bottom-feeding airlines are boosting their revenues in yet another way. All of the major carriers are now charging up to $100.00 for an extra bag!

What's a working photographer to do?

Find a way to cram all your shit into the (2) bags you're allowed to check!!!

This means you're going to need some big ass cases.

Now there are many different case manufactures out there, and an assortment of different shapes and styles and price points to suit every PW (photo weenie), BUT for the ROADWARRIOR only (2) cases make the grade.

Presented for your evaluation:
(company supplied propaganda, see Mongo's spin for the real world 411)

Photo by

Pelican 1650 Case.
#1650 Case

Product Description
The Pelican #1650 Case is watertight, airtight, dust-proof, crush-proof, and built Pelican tough! Equipped with foam for total equipment protection. Features include fold down main handle, 7" extension handle, large side trunk handles, seven large latches, 2" hard rubber transport wheels, atmospheric pressure purge valve and a personalized nameplate available (engraved at additional cost).

Product Specifications

Inside dimensions: 29" L x 17 7/8" W x 10 1/2" D
Outside dimensions: 32 1/2" L x 20 1/2" W x 11 5/16" D
Colors: Black

#1650 Case w/Foam $304.62
#1650NF Case w/o Foam $259.92
#1654 Case w/ Divider Set $397.12

LIGHTWARE Industries
Multi Format 1629 Case

This is the largest version of our "shell" style cases. Pack in your strobes, heads, umbrellas and stands and you're set for a great day of location shooting.

As with all of the MF series cases the dividers can be cut and arranged to fit a vast array of complete lighting systems. This case does not have an outside pocket, but you can add an optional shoulder strap at any time to help bear the load.

We've also designed this case so that its width can be wheeled through a standard commercial doorway.

Photo by

Lightware 1629 and 1623 Multi Format cases.
The unique qualities that set Lightware Multi Format Cases apart from all other cases are revealed in the shell. The interior super structure of all Lightware Multi Format Cases is a special rigid inner shell that is lightweight, insulative, shock absorbent and molded into a complete unibody shell. In other words, there are no joints to come apart. It's made from a high density expanded closed cell foam sandwiched between a high impact polymer skin. This creates a lighter case that you can depend on to protect your livelihood.

WEIGHT: (13) lbs.
Outside: 31"L x 17.5"W x 12"H
Inside: 29"L x 15.5"W x 10"H
Color: black

Multi Format 1629 Case
$ 463.95


If you read the specs, both of these cases hold about the same volume of gear and are the same color, BLACK. So what's the dif? Well it boils down to (2) different schools of thought. HARDSIDE (pelican) versus SEMI - HARDSIDE (Lightware)

The Pelican case by virtue of their injection-molded construction and gasket seal system, are airtight, water tight, and basically BOMBPROOF! This is the case you wanna be using if you're going to be near or on water. You can stack these cases and stand on them for a shooting platform. They're CRUSHPROOF.

One of my cases has over 100k miles on it and the only thing I've broken on it was a latch. (I sent the case to Pelican and they replaced the ENTIRE case.)

This is a GREAT case if your going to be shipping your gear via FEDX, UPS, or truck line, because the case can be locked in (2) places on the front, keeping your camera gear safe and secure. (remember to use combo locks, NOT key locks, 'cause you will always lose the damned key)
It has 2 hard rubber wheels, and a fold out handle that's supposed to make this thing easy to roll around but in reality, the wheels are NOISY and not very smooth.

All this HARDSIDE protection comes with a serious WEIGHT PENALTY however. The empty case, all by it's lonesome weighs in at (31) LBS! HOLY CRAP!

Hummm? Think about that for second, if you're using this as a piece of luggage, you can only pack 39 lbs of camera gear per case, or you'll exceed the (70)lbs. checked baggage weight limit.

The LIGHTWARE case on the other hand, weighs in at a lean mean (13) lbs. That means I can pack 57 lbs. of camera gear in each case.

Now the last time I checked my bags, I was able to fit a 400mm F2.8AFS, 80-200mm f2.8AFS, 28-70mm f2.8AFS, 17-35mm f2..8AFS, TC14E, (3) D1H bodies, extra batteries, charger, all into my MF1629 and the skycap didn't even break a sweat when he picked up my bag.

Look at it another way. If you were to ship your gear via FEDX, here's the cost difference.

Federal Express Priority 1 overnight

To Zone 5 - Pelican case at 70lbs - $167.00
To Zone 5 - LIGHTWARE case at 52lbs - $126.00

YEEEEOOOOW, you pay $41.00 EXTRA every time you ship a Pelican instead of a LIGHTWARE!

Clearly, if you travel by air with your gear, LIGHTWARE is the way to go.

Hey, wait a sec, there must be a tradeoff for the lighter weight?

Yep, LIGHTWARE cases are not waterproof or bombproof. Bullet resistant, maybe.

After a 100k miles, I've had to replace the cover once. The bottom wore out and the zipper blew out after being dragged around for 2 years.

If you already own a Lightware case, there is a neat little trick I came up with for extending the life of the cover. Run out to your local REI, or Adventure 16, and pick up a tube of "SEAMSEAL" it's a product used for sealing tent seams.

hen applied in multiple coatings, you get a flexible tough polyurethane patch. If you look at the bottom corners of your case, you'll see where it's starting abrade. Just apply a THIN coating of "SEAMSEAL" let it dry overnight, then apply another coating and let it dry. VOILA, no more frayed fabric.

I can tell you that the hype about shock protection is the real deal, with the LIGHTWARE tub construction.

Many a time I've watched ham handed baggage handlers drop my cases off the cargo belt and the gear inside came through unscathed. Remember it's not the fall that kills gear, it's the sudden deceleration at the end of the fall that kills. With the padded dividers in place, the Lightware case, absorbs and dissipates the impact energy through out it's shell.

Another advantage of the fabric covered design is that you don't tear up your car interior, or punch holes in hotel room walls. (ask Bert Hanashiro about this).

Lightware has just announced (well ok, I actually saw it in their skunk works) a new MF1629 with wheels and a pull out handle! YIPPIE!

Already own a MF case?

No problem, your case can be retrofitted! Your tub just drops into the new cover! YAHOOO!

Pricing and availability should be announced this fall.

(Mongo Johnson, a former Hollywood grip, has worked on such award winning films as "dead sexy", "Queen of the Damned " and "Mars Needs Women". He currently works in Missoula, MT booking outdoor adventure outings for Hollywood celebrities.)

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