There's nothing cheap about professional-grade camera gear. It's ridiculously expensive, which is why it's so important to keep it well-protected. The first step for most is some sort of waterproof hard-sided case—which usually ends up being a Pelican. They do a great job of keeping water and dust out, but unless you're trying to create some kind of mashed-up stew of broken camera bits, you need some sort of protective organizer on the inside. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, there's a new product on the block—the TrekPak.
While there are a few options on the market for organizing the interior of your Pelican case, the fact is that everyone really only used Pelican's own organizer system. In my experience I've watched it become the de-facto kit for professionals—because it works, and it works well, but that doesn't mean it can't be improved.
The problem with Pelican's solution, if you can call it a problem, was the Velcro in which it uses to secure things. While it has its benefits—there are also some drawbacks. Big drawbacks for people who are outside a lot "working" from their Pelican—it attracts dirt, and leaves, and small twigs, and dog hair, and cat hair, and human hair, virtually anything that can get stuck in the Velcro—will get stuck in the Velcro. Perhaps it's a minor gripe, but it does eventually end up accumulating into a potentially dusty micro-mess and it's a pain to try and clean.
TrekPak's solution isn't just simple, it's also durable and elegant, I legitimately think it's a good looking solution to a variety of issues. The heart of the system is a foam-coated plastic corrugate which rather ingeniously is held together with very simple connector pins with the excellent touch of a red pull tab. The nature of corrugated material turns the kit into an erector set of possibilities.
I did noticed that the foam is more dense than the padding in Pelican's offering which is worth noting if you're frequently in a high shock environment. This would be a larger problem if you didn't have such a wide range of options to properly secure your gear, but certain combinations still leave a bit of wiggle room where some additional cushion would help to put your mind to ease.
The main component of the TrekPak is an insert which lines the interior of the Pelican. The outermost side is twice the thickness of the interior side which provides additional shock protection and padding, it's a nice touch that isn't immediately apparent. It's also the piece which supports all of the other individual dividers, I've set up my system specifically for the needs of my equipment, and there's still a few pieces from the kit that could be used.
You have hundreds of options for securing equipment with this kit, including two large bendable pieces which allow you to provide some support for a large camera body and lens. I do wish that they were a bit larger and possibly included more bendable slits in the material that would allow the user to fine tune the system.
It may be geometrically possible to re-arrange the dividers in order to make this function better, but that would require some form of a mathematics degree from an Ivy League school...or perhaps just basic elementary geometry.
Here's the standard Pelican 1550—one of the more common cases you'll see photographers using. Why? It's not too big, not too small, and you can fit a fair amount of gear in it. Virtually everything I take with me on a photo shoot can fit inside of it. Ours happens to be stamped with "EMS KIT" but the case itself doesn't change. You can see this one has taken its fair share of abuse but it's still functioning flawlessly. The addition of the TrekPak allows me to be more efficient with packing and carry even more with the moderately-sized 1550.
TrekPak currently offers a solution for the following cases:
Adjusting the system is literally as easy as pushing a pin into a plastic slot. I could get into detail—but I'll assume you understand the idea, if not: follow the pictures.
The TrekPak kit for the Pelican 1550 includes the following:
- Two, 13″ dividers (bendable into 'L' shape)
- Two, 4.5″ dividers
- Four, 6.5″ dividers
- Six, 3.5″ dividers
- 28 pins & pull-tabs
- Top & bottom foam for case
- Made in America
- Innovative modular system
- Doesn't easily collect debris
- Allows for precise organization
- Harder density foam absorbs less impact
- Additional dividers not yet available
I'd recommend the TrekPak system.
The 1550 model we tested is listed at $109.99—a pricey option, and nearly the same cost as the case itself, but if you hate spending your days off picking crud out of Velcro as much as I do it's a quite reasonable price. It's a system that when combined with a Pelican case will likely be more useful in 10 years than your current camera setup. Also, don't forget that this system has a lot of crossover, it doesn't have to just keep cameras protected and organized.
If you're on the go and a Pelican case won't cut it for you they also sell a system that turns a standard non-photography-specific-steal-my-backpack-full-of-expensive-gear backpack into a usable and low-key camera bag. Check that out here.
Starting today, TrekPak will be offering Expedition Portal readers a 10% discount and guaranteed delivery by 12/21/2012 by using the promotional code "trekoverland1212"