|The HPRC 2550W|
I recently got the HPRC 2550W and it is a really sweet, professional hard case. There is a whole lot to like about this Italian beauty, so let's get going.
The HPRC brand is produced by the Italian company Plaber S.r.l, founded in 2006 by the two partners Amabilia S.r.l (known for producing various professional cases since 1982) and the injection molding company plastmeccanica S.r.l, founded in 1988 out of a set of other companies.
The brand "HPRC" is an acronym for "High Performance Resin Cases" which currently has 17 different models of hard cases using a patented material. They are all watertight, dust proof and fairly light, targeting all people who want to send their equipment into the most severe conditions.
Don't let the mirrored "P" in the HPRC logo fool you - this baby is not a sexy Russian, but a beautiful Italian - which Plaber describes as 25% lighter and 25% stronger than similar cases from any other manufacturer. In my experience I can assure you the HPRC 2550W is indeed noticeably lighter than my Peli 1510 carry-on case. My Peli is known outside of Europe as the Pelican 1510 Carry-On case.
|Even if the logo could stem from the Soviet Union era, this is not a sexy Russian, but a beautiful Italian case.|
Pelican's 1510 specifications list the weight of their carry-on case without foam as 11.99 pounds (5.44 kg) and 13.6 pounds (6.17 kg) with foam. The HPRC 2550W specs show it weighing 10.69 pounds (4.85 kg) without foam and 12.19 pounds (5.53 kg) with foam.
The weight difference between the HPRC 2550W and the Pelican 1510 should come from the aluminum made extractable handle and the somewhat shorter height of the 2550W I believe. So, from a non-scientific approach, I do not believe the different materials being used for the case account for much of any of the weight difference.
The 2550W case I have been testing is one out of five HPRC models with wheels (model suffix "W" according to HPRC-speak). It's the only one small enough to fulfill the FAA carry on regulations. The larger sister 2600W comes at 550mm x 420mm x 260mm / 21.65" x 16.53" x 10.24" and is too large for international commercial aviation carry-on use.
The HPRC 2550W is a sturdy hard case with extendable handle and two wheels for "trolley mode" coming in the outer dimensions of a maxed-out international carry on: 545mm x 350mm x 230mm / 21.46" x 13.78" x 9.05". This gives us 44.29 inches in "linear length", barely making the 45 inches maximum dimension for carry-on luggage as stipulated by FAA, which should be accepted by most airlines.
|The extractable handle can be used to lift or pull the case when it is locked at its lower position. The grip itself can be flipped 90 degrees and locks at the 180 degrees position shown here.|
|The HRPC 2550W case is definitely compact yet offers maximum space within the carry-on limits. The extractable handle is shown locked in its top position. Please note the small, read lock button high at the top of the pole that you pull upwards to unlock the grip to let it slide it back down.|
|The extractable handle in its lower position with the grip flipped down 90 degrees in transportation mode.|
The HRPC 2550W is really comparable in size to my Pelican 1510, which qualifies as a carry-on according to the FAA regulations. The Pelican 1510 is approximately 14mm / 0.54" taller and a tiny bit wider and shallower than the HPRC, measuring 559mm x 351mm x 229mm / 22.00" x 13.81" x 9.00"
Both cases max out the FAA regulations completely giving you no headroom, which might be bad if you want to convince stressed out ground staff that you indeed should be allowed to take your gear with you on board. I have never had any issues with my 1510 on international long haul flights and guess my new 2550W will be doing just as well. Remember that smaller, short distance aircraft will definitely have issues to stow these hard cases as carry on and will often not allow them on board, probably asking you to drop them off at the plane to be stowed away outside of the cabin while you embark on your adventure.
Some photographers may argue against a hard case for carry-on following the idea that if you can carry it on board, why bother about a hard case in the first place, rather save the money and take your son's old soft, Sponge Bob Backpack (SBB) instead and just dump the lenses and camera(s) into it, right?
Yes, you could do that. But, if you would find that nasty, old ground staffer one evening at this off-the-beat airport forcing you to check-in your SBB, your lenses would be grinded to mineral crystal before you could count to 747. So, a better choice is to check-in your hard case as a plan B than to let that happen. That is what they are made for and since you should have insurance of your gear in case it is lost or stolen in transit, it is not too much of a deal to go with this backup plan.
My HPRC case is black, which is the only serious color for photographers, right? You can though also order the case in yellow and orange. No tan color available - sorry soldiers!
This watertight case is approved according to ATA 300 specification for packaging of airline supplies, which specifies several nasty things that must be done to cases repeatedly without malfunctioning or destroying the content. The ATA 300 drop tests have been successfully absolved by the HPRC 2550W. By the way, there is a marketing video from Plaber showing them throwing down an HPRC case from a 65m / 200 ft tall building with some delicate glass bottles inside - which survive.
Looking at the internal dimensions of the 2550W, the case measures 510mm x 285mm x 199mm / 20.08" x 11.22" x 7.83". This makes it slightly larger than the Pelican 1510 which measures internally 501mm x 279mm x 193mm / 19.75" x 11.00" x 7.60". Interesting!
The Pelican is externally somewhat larger, internally somewhat smaller compared to the HPRC. I guess this comes down to how to measure cases in general. The Pelican specs tell us: "This case has internal wheel and/or handle wells that will reduce usable area" — which might explain why the interior dimensions are bit smaller inside than the HPRC, its wheels are though also partly within the case.
The differences are rather theoretical and should not have factually any practical effect any way. By practical means, these two have the same size.
The HPRC case makes a super sturdy impression and seems to be able to take a lot of beating. As we have to come to expect from professional hard cases, it has reinforced hinges, reinforced corners, tight closures and the few metal parts are either stainless steel or (in the case of the extractable pole for the trolley mode) made out of aluminum.
|Double-throw latches that are easy to open and enforced corners for enhanced stability.|
Probably one of the first things I do when I when I get my hands on a hard case with a "trolley function" is to check out how the extractable handle works, how sturdy it seems to be and how it can be locked when extracted.
|The main handle comes with an anti-slip type of rubber coating and is very sturdy. The automatic pressure adjustment valve ensures that there is no under or over pressure in the case.|
As soon as I started to work with the HPRC's extractable handle I was really pleased. These are the things I liked:
● The handle can be tilted 90 degrees and locked in that position when the pole is not extracted. I actually can carry the case this way - at least when it is empty - and the handle is nicely tucked away. Great!
● The handle can be moved and locked in 180 degrees position and when the pole is still not extracted this is one way to pull or carry it.
● You can pull out the handle by simply sliding a red locking knob upwards. The pole locks with an audible click. This extractable handle will for sure not slide back in again as on some other manufacturers' cases.
● Sliding the red locking knob upwards again allows the pole to slide back into its cozy aluminum home on the back side.
There is one thing I reacted to first regarding that extractable pole and that was that it was made out of aluminum. Hey, that can break! Now after I have been using the case I believe this is of a much lesser issue than I first thought. The pole seems to be very durable and should it ever break, the case comes with a lifetime warranty so I expect HPRC to replace it for me at no charge.
|The metal cover of the extractable handle is well fixed to the case.|
Also the pole has noticeable "play" in the slider/container at the back of the case when extracted fully. The construction seems to work very well though so I guess this has no functional result.
|Should the extractable pole need replacement, the metal seat and cover can easily be removed.|
Another thing I love with my new, Italian girlfriend is the double-throw type polymer latches. You may know them from some other high quality manufacturers. Many vendors seem to forget to implement them these days, but if you get used to them you don't want to miss 'em. They are super easy to open and close and you do not have to worry that they might open by mistake. Old school hard cases (think "Up to the mid-90's") often had latches that you broke your nails on trying to open and made you curse more than usual. Not so with these modern, well worked out latches.
The main handle (the one that you probably use to lift the case when you are not using it in "trolley mode") is covered with a red colored rubber, which makes my new girlfriend not only look good, but also make her very comfortable to carry. As a Nikon shooter I would have loved the color to be the same red as on my Nikon cameras. Close, but not really there!
The patented and trademarked material used for the case is called TTX0. It is a high-strength, polypropylene resin and seems to be similar to the material we know from other high quality manufacturers. It is acid and corrosion proof, crush proof and non-conducting. It does seem to statically charge though (my cat said so as a load of his winter fur released and got sucked onto the surface!). The exterior surface of the case is micro-textured so it should resist scratches better.
Thanks to two, hard and smooth rolling polyurethane wheels the case rolls very well with low friction, which is important when you have it fully loaded and pull it behind you for long periods of time.
|The wheels are high quality and a stainless steel pin serves as axis.|
There are several useful accessories you can get for the HPRC, such as the HPRC CB2550W bag and the HPRC BAG2550W backpack and bag, each made out of durable Cordura and where you can put them inside of the case.
You can also order the HPRC 2550W with either pluckable foam or dividers. I ordered mine with dividers, called "HPRC Soft Deck" and it also came with the HPRC ORG2550W lid organizer, which gives you a lot of additional space for small items that can be stuffed on the inside of the lid.
Talking about lids. Some hard case manufactures lids don't stay open by themselves but fall down over your fingers while you are fiddling around with your gear. Not so with the 2550W. Once open, the lid stays up, rock solid. That's the sign of a good job by the HPRC designers and engineers.
The dividers are easily to cut to the dimension you need. I used a larger pair of scissors to create the compartments needed and the soft sides and bottom of the "Soft Deck" made it very easy to lock them in place. The red and black colored inner of my case just look and work great.
All stainless steel pins, both in the hinges, handles and for the wheels seem to be fitted very nicely, something that is not always the case on cheaper brands. These touches reinforce my first impressions that this is a serious case aimed towards high quality and professional performance.
Based on my experience with the HPRC 2550W, am sure that this is not the last HPRC case I will get. I am already planning on getting a set of their card cases including their water proof media cases for your memory cards, their hard case back pack and maybe more.
The 2550W case not only looks superb, but it is also very well built, has a well thought-through design and clearly fulfills the requirements of a professional or serious amateur photographer on-the-go.
Last thing worth mentioning is the price of these Italian beauties and it is really competitive! You better start getting your own serious arsenal of hard cases - Now with HPRC professional cases are affordable.
Some side notes:
All HPRC cases come with a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials and a lifetime replacement warranty.
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