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Gear Test: Pelican and Hardigg cases - Soundings Online

Gear Test: Pelican and Hardigg cases

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Durable, waterproof carrying and storage cases are frequently found in and around boats and marinas. They are put to a variety of uses, like storing emergency flares and on-board medical supplies in a dry, clean environment; keeping spare parts and filters, along with tools, protected from the elements; transporting electronics and photography gear; and preserving ships papers and logs.

Durable, waterproof carrying and storage cases are frequently found in and around boats and marinas. They are put to a variety of uses, like storing emergency flares and on-board medical supplies in a dry, clean environment; keeping spare parts and filters, along with tools, protected from the elements; transporting electronics and photography gear; and preserving ships papers and logs.

Though the Pelican brand name is synonymous with quality dry boxes, you may not be as familiar with Hardigg cases. For more than 50 years Hardigg has been designing and manufacturing protective cases that are used by our military and law enforcement as well as by divers, boaters and photographers worldwide.

I have been using and abusing both the Pelican 1430 Top Loader and the Hardigg iM2100 Storm Case daily for more than six months. The Top Loader is up to Pelican standards for watertightness and durability. Standard features are engineering-grade polymer open-cell core construction, polymer O-ring seal in the lid, and stainless steel hardware. The redesigned double-throw case latches improve access to the case contents, which has been a frustration in the past. The Top Loader includes Pelican’s automatic pressure-balancing Gore-Tex purge valve, which keeps moisture from entering the case and prevents vacuum lock so the case opens easily at any altitude.

The top-loading configuration and office divider kit allowed me to conveniently transport and work with files and documents while on the boat, in the car or at home. With available accessories, the case can easily be used for a laptop, photography gear, emergency equipment, etc. With its upright orientation, similar to a cooler, it is well-suited for use in smaller, open boats, where storage space typically is at a premium and decks are often awash.

The “Boat Brackets” accessory allows the case to be hung from the gunwales or a seat back, keeping it from becoming another moving object when under way. Installing the brackets on the case is simple, as they slip under a pin on the case side, but unfortunately they require a screw to be inserted in a boss under the case. Although this worked well initially, I found that repeated removal and reinsertion of the screw can deform the hole enough that bracket integrity of future installations became a concern.

The system would work well with a different form of attachment to the lower case, possibly a threaded insert with machine screw. Although leaving the brackets attached is an option, their awkward protrusion from the rear of the case limits the practicality of transporting and using the Top Loader off the boat.

Hardigg Storm Cases are available in 20 sizes, six standard colors and are injection molded using a proprietary HPX high-performance resin. Unlike some of its competitors, Hardigg doesn’t use a blowing agent in the molding process. The downside of blowing agents is that bubbles and small voids can form and cause failures when the case suffers impact, according to Dinis Jablonski, commercial product manager for Hardigg. In addition to better impact resistance, Jablonski says Storm Cases are on average 12 percent lighter when compared to other similar products.

The iM2100 case features three-point hinges that are molded into the backside of the body and use 300 series stainless steel hinge pins. The pins are press-fit into the case while it is still hot, so as the case material cools it compresses around the pin, preventing them from falling out. Hardigg uses an overmolding process to manufacture the case handle, which places a soft, durable cushioning layer over a structural core to provide comfort without compromising strength.

The Storm Case’s latches are by far the best I have experienced on any similar product. They operate with a dual mechanism, requiring the user to simply press a button in the center of the latch, then pull out on the lower lip of the latch. They provide good closure and latch with minimal effort. There have been times when my wife and daughter have not been willing or able to access the contents of other cases due to the latch mechanism being cumbersome and difficult, but that isn’t an issue with Hardigg.

The latch pins are coated 6061-T6 corrosion-resistant aluminum, while the latch springs are 316 stainless steel. There are molded interlocking notches under the latch area that are engineered to aid in anti-sheer movement of the lid if the case is dropped on its edge. The case seal is made from silicone sponge, which does not take as much compression to set as many other materials.Along with the self-regulating Gore-Tex “Vortex Valve,” which is very similar to the Pelican valve, Hardigg offers a manual pressure relief valve that will make the case airtight. Unlike others on the market, this valve provides a visual indication of its function at a distance (open or closed) and can not be inadvertently removed and lost.

Pelican and Hardigg each provided a battery of testing literature, but I prefer the old kick-it/sit-on-it method. Both the Top Loader and Storm Case were used, dropped, dragged and generally abused — with expensive gear inside. They were weighted and fully submerged in 3 feet of seawater for more than an hour without a hint of moisture inside.

Cases from both companies come with full warranties and are available with a host of options for interior foam, padded dividers, lid organizers and shoulder straps. Hardigg also offers a lid stay. I don’t have the room to review the numerous subtleties that make these cases as good as they are, or as different. However, both Pelican and Hardigg are reputable companies that provide quality products.

The Pelican 1430 Top Loader lists for $114.95, with the 1438 Boat Bracket listing for $16. The Hardigg iM2100 Storm Case retails for $105. Both products, however, can be found at other retail outlets.

Contact Hardigg Cases, South Deerfield, Mass., (413) 665-2163,

www.stormcase.com; or Pelican Products, Torrance, Calif., (310) 326-4700, www.pelican.com .