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Case, Explorer 7630

A suitable case for rough treatment
You know how it is, waiting for your bags to appear on the luggage belt at Heathrow. Why are mine always last to be unloaded But after one recent trip I felt I was in luck. My bags were already belting round the carousel when I arrived in the baggage hall.
     I had them on my trolley and was waiting for my partners last item to appear, when a well-known and irate underwater photographer strode up, took the bags away and put them on his trolley. Why Because they were his. We happened to have identical taste in suitcases.
     My biggest fear is to arrive at some far-flung diving destination with someone elses cameras. Thats because so many underwater photographers these days choose to pack everything in a large black Pelican case. So I welcomed the chance to use a new Explorer case when it was sent to me by Forward Diving.
     The range of Explorer hard equipment cases is similar to the established Pelican line. They come not only in black plastic but in a vibrant Motorway Maintenance orange. I cant see many other people choosing such an outstanding case, so theres less danger of misidentification.
     The Explorer 7630 is almost of the same dimensions as the equivalent Pelican 1650 but about an inch deeper. It has the same robust construction, with a hermetic seal to keep out dust and water; a pressure-relief valve to allow you to prise it open once its been in the low-pressure environment of an aircraft; the same folding handle down the longest side; and the same wheels.
     The bigger of the two handles at the end, used with the wheels, is spring-loaded, but otherwise its very simple. Theres nothing to tax the brains of US airport security officials, but dont try to help them with it or youll soon be right back at the end of the line!
     The 7630 comes with or without foam inserts. It was only when I saw that the foam costs £48 extra that I realised I had thrown away about £20 worth when I fitted my camera kit into it.
     But these cases are for people who travel in the front of the plane, travel on business, or have a benefactor like Bernard Eaton to pick up their excess-baggage charges.
     The equivalent Pelican case weighs around 12kg before you start to load it, but although the 7630s spec says it weighs 11kg, it appears to weigh even more than the Pelican. I wont tell you the excess charge I paid on Singapore Airlines just to get to the first plane-change of my journey to the Far East.
     Of course, these charges could be worth paying the day you see your precious camera kit in its bright orange Explorer case fall off the boat. I cant confirm this, but I am told that the case will still float with an all-up weight of nearly 82kg. With a camera housing rigged with two flashguns, I noted that the weight was 25kg. Thats a lot at Singapore Airlines check-in but not so much when the case is bobbing in the South China Sea.
The Explorer 7630 is undoubtedly tough and capacious but is expensive to buy and use. It has internal dimensions of 765 x 485 x 305mm, comes in black or orange and costs £313 with foam, or £265 without.

  • Forward Diving Services 01202 677128, www.forwarddiving.co.uk


  • Divernet
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    + Very robust
    + Big capacity
    + Buoyant


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    - Heavy weight penalty
    - Expensive