What Is It? – A lot of luggage looks tough but isn’t waterproof or strong enough to protect fragile electronics. The Pelican Elite BA30 Vacationer is the exception, luggage built by a company known for making hurricane-proof cases for first responders and the military. The Pelican Vacationer is a hard case with a double-walled design that can withstand up to 1,500 pounds of pressure. It eschews zippers in favor of recessed latches that won’t jam or get torn off. A watertight rubber O-ring seal keeps things dry inside, and it’s rated to remain submerged in three feet of water for an hour without leaking. Should it end up overboard, there’s a built-in purge valve that automatically vents the interior to maintain equal pressure inside and out, preserving the waterproof seal.
Is It 50 Plus Friendly? – The best aspect of the Pelican Elite case is that should the Department of Homeland Security follow through on its threat to banish all laptops and tablets to the cargo hold of planes, this luggage will protect your electronics, come what may. The case is also relatively light (compared to some metal and even soft cases) and the retractable handle is rugged. Pelican’s wheels also operate smoothly and are recessed so that they are unlikely to jam or get broken in transit. I’ve hauled several models of Pelican cases–including this one–around the world through some of the toughest security and most inclement weather and every time my valuables remained unscathed.
Frustration Factor? – There aren’t any nifty compartments for separating out your gear and keeping dirty linens in check. The Pelican Elite is essentially one big empty case. That provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to stuffing different objects into the luggage. But if you have a propensity to organize clothes into separate sections, you’ll have to provide your own packing organizers or choose the B30 with the Enhanced Travel System, which includes a lid organizer, toiletry bag, shoe sack, laundry bag, and garment bag, for an additional $50.
Is it worth the Money? – If you are carting around valuables on your peregrinations, the Pelican cases are absolutely worth the money. Not only will your gear survive the most unruly luggage handlers, but everything will stay dry. This big boy case originally listed for $575, but it can be had for around $450. That’s hundreds of dollars less than hard cases from brands like Tumi, which lack the first-responder street cred.
We beat the case around, hauling it through rainstorms and dropping it down a rocky hillside and everything inside remained intact. The roller’s wide retractable handle stows away flush with the case and the recessed latches prevent the hardware from getting damaged when shoved or bounced along even the roughest surfaces. A TSA-approved combination lock also ensures that should you be forced to submit your carry-on to the luggage compartment below, your gear will still be inside. [$449.99, pelican.com]
Here’s a corporate video that shows the luggage and its features