Gear we Like: Pelican Ruck Case (plus Discussion on Cases in General)

Reviewed by Wndsn staff, Germany.

Observations

Maybe we never got over the scene in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta opens the briefcase, but we love the feeling when we open a good case. A good case is sturdy, versatile, not too big, not too small. It should work seamlessly with the overall kit, and if you have a moment of restrained awe when you drag from your cigarette when you look at the contents of said case, then it is special indeed.

The Pelican R40 Personal Utility Ruck Case is a beautiful case, a useful case, a sturdy case, but is not a case one can use in all conditions. In the right context, it sings. But in the wrong, it feels restrictive. If you are carrying electronics, a phone or a small tablet, charging cables, etc., and you are in a vehicle, this is an excellent case. If you are backpacking, the ratio of available room on the inside and the space it takes up on the outside due to the rubberized exoskeleton becomes untenable.

Strengths

  • IP68 rated, protecting sensitive gear from water, drift, snow and dust.
  • Flexible lid organizer makes sorting through gear an efficient process. No need to dump everything out to find just one item.
  • Dual pivot latch: It’s satisfying, the opening. Easy, nice sound and vibration. Smooth.
  • Multiple external attachment points: attach as you need, it’s pretty adaptable.

Limitations

  • Multiple external attachment points: What makes it adaptable also makes the case overly cumbersome in conditions where space saving is of priority.
  • Rubberized exoskeleton: While it gives extra protection to the case and to its contents, it also increases the outside bulk and is not for use in tight kits.

Conclusion

Context is key when it comes to cases. In the right context, primarily in a vehicle and militaristic venues, this case does exactly what you need. In the wrong context, say backpacking, or other survival contexts, this case would simultaneously be too much and not enough. Consider your use case first and measure your gear before purchasing, as it may be the best thing you’ve bought, or the worst.

On Cases in General

While everyone loves themselves a nice and indestructible Pelicase or similar, it makes sense to actually analyze and determine the use case (...) and answer the question:

"What do I need to protect from what?"

Items sensitive to crushing, liquids, radio frequencies, general loss, or disorganization.

Not everything needs to be packed in a crush-proof container, and not everything that can be crushed needs to be packed in the most indestructible container available. A pair of in-ear headphones can be quite safely stowed away, reasonably crush-proof, in a simple Altoids or other former mint tin.

Most items in a gear load out don't need to be packed in a hard case to begin with and do well in a pouch or bag, safe from loss (or scratches if you want). Some items need to be stored in a waterproof but not necessarily crush-proof way, others need to be prevented from sending or receiving or interfering with radio frequencies, or a combination thereof.

Most tools, knives, flashlights, and related gear do not need to be packed in a container and valuable space and weight can be saved when attempting to keep things simple and sensible.

Our task in case, container, or storage selection in general is to determine threats to our gear and choose protection accordingly.

For gear that is carried, start simple, determine which items need a hard case and what level of hard. Then combine those items and find the smallest possible case for them. Same with items that don't need much protection but need to be kept together or for gear with waterproof requirements which may need a drybag, etc.

For gear that is shipped or moved by car, the (reasonably!) biggest Pelicase to hold everything together works well, with sub organization and sub packaging of course.

An onion-like system is a good way to solve those kinds of problems, a core of protection against one threat, inside a layer of protection against another threat, all wrapped up in an outer layer of general protection and holding-it-together. A tried and proven method is a small Pelicase (crush-proof), inside a drybag (waterproof), inside a rucksack.

Specs

  • Manufacturer: Pelican
  • Manufacturer's Website: https://www.pelican.com/us/en/discover/ruck-case/
  • Price: $54.95
  • Weight:
  • Interior Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.7 x 1.9 in; Exterior Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.1 x 2.9 in
  • Material: ABS
  • Package includes: case, divider trays
Gear we like