The Problem

The Pelican Solution

  The Shell

  The Insert


In Use


News Story

Pelican V200 Vault Collection Case
Adorama | B&H

Photo Corners headlinesarchivemikepasini.com

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Test Drive: Pelican Vault V200 Medium Case Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

14 November 2019

Late last month Pelican introduced the Vault Collection, its affordable line of lightweight line of cases for photography. We acquired the $80 V200 medium-size one for a test drive and this is our report.


The problem a hard case is designed to solve is safe storage for your sensitive gear during travel.

Once upon a time, a Zero Halliburton case was part of the traveling photographer's kit. These aluminum hard cases featured a combination lock and snuck fit with foam inserts you cut to hug each piece of your gear.

The company was sold to a Japanese luggage manufacturer in 2006 and while you can still acquire one, it isn't cheap, running a cool $626 for the black aluminum attache we favored in 1972.

But there's another issue with that traditional solution. The foam deteriorates over the years and has to be replaced. The company recommends replacing the foam every five years. But its replacement foam is $75 a set.


Pelican has been making hard cases for a long time. Dave Parker and his wife Arline founded the firm in 1976 to build rugged flashlights and cases that wouldn't leak or fail. The brand was sold in 2006 to the private equity firm Behrman Capital.

What intrigued us about the Vault Collection was, frankly, its affordability. It isn't a solution if you can't afford it. And a $58 or $80 case to hold the equipment our Halliburton could hold seemed too attractive to ignore.

The V200 serves as either a pistol case in the $58 version with a foam insert or a photo case in the $80 version with padded inserts.

Details. Mouse over or tap for captions.

These Pelican Vaults resemble a Hummer. Just looking at the things, you wouldn't dare touch them, let alone think of getting into one.

The Shell

The polymer shell is the same for both versions, only the inserts are different. It's a bit more aggressive than an aluminum shell can be, with squared off edges, big latches you release with a push bottom and a huge handle. It's crushproof, dustproof and weather-resistant.

There are two stainless steel, metal-reinforced holes in the top corners of the case, opposite the hinges at the other corners, for securing the top with pad locks.

The air-tight case also has an automatic purge vent under the handle. You need to purge an air-tight case because when you change altitude (say, on a flight) you can't open the lid because vacuum is created inside the case. The Gortex membrane in the purge vent blocks water molecules but not smaller air molecules. So it remains weather-resistant.

The Insert

Inside there's no foam insert to renew unless you prefer the V200 Pistol Case. Instead, there's a familiar set of orange padded dividers with hook and loop fasteners that sit in a padded insert. Included with the V200 were two black restraining straps as well.

The top of the case is filled with a two-play foam insert, the top piece a bit smaller than the fitted piece. So there's room for anything, like our D300, that sticks up a bit from the bottom case.

The padded dividers are either very long or very short. So you're really limited to configuring compartments horizontally in three rows as we illustrate.

Of course, you can always wrap your gear in protective wraps or clothing to fit them in the padded insert however you like.


One of the first problems we ever had with the Halliburton was fitting a Nikon FM and Vivitar Series I 70-210mm zoom in the low-profile attache case. We managed. Just barely.

We hoped the Vault V200 would be more accommodating and it is. Here are the dimensions:

  • Exterior Dimensions: 15.41" (L) by 13.08" (W) by 6.16" (H)
  • Interior Dimensions: 14" (L) by 10" (W) by 5.50" (H)

We could sit our Nikon D300 with the 18-200mm Nikkor in the insert without taking it apart. And short lenses can sit upright in the insert. There was still plenty of room for a strobe, router, battery charger and smaller accessories. Everything, that is, we'd need to travel with.

We also found it rather lightweight. It even felt light when packed, oddly enough. The large handle probably had a role in that.

It lists at 5.05 lbs. but feels much lighter. In fact, the old Halliburton is noticeably heavier.

The two, side by side, make an odd couple. The attache is sleek but taller and wider than the squat Pelican. Either would fit under the seat in a commercial jet with room to spare.


Like everything these days, the case did not come with any documentation. Inside (if you could figure out how to get inside) was a description of how to set up the dividers but they were already configured.

The trick was to open the thing.

The two latches were obvious enough. But not their release buttons, which seemed decorative at first. We did figure it out, though. The trick is to push in on the top of the release buttons as you lift the bottom of the latch up. It's easy, fun even, once you know the trick.

The purge vent does not need to be opened. It's automatic thanks to the Gortex material within it. So don't try to unscrew it.

We took some time to configure the interior pads. One does, after all. We did find a configuration that held our essential travel kit but it was clear this case was not designed for photographers first. It did seem to be more accommodating to a pair of pistols.

Still, a box is a box and this padded box securely held our APS-C dSLR or our mirrorless kit.

It isn't suitable for including a laptop or even a tablet (although you might get away with packing a tablet between the two foam inserts on top).

So it packs a bit less than a photographer's backpack (which would be restricted to an overhead bin anyway) but it's a lot more secure with locks and will survive more disasters.


As an affordable and configuration hard case, the Pelican Vault Collection is hard to beat. It certainly surpasses our old Halliburton in style and function, not to mention price.

We wish the pads were a bit more configurable. The two very long ones are too long to go across the shorter dimension and the small ones really just work for the three-row configuration. So you don't have many configuration options.

On the whole, we liked the V200 enough to give it three corners. A slightly different shape with more variety in the dividers would have earned it four.

BackBack to Photo Corners