When Pelican Products decided to get into the backpack game, they turned to Bay-Area-based ID consultancy studioFAR. Founded by industrial designer Fernando A. Robert, the firm specializes in softgoods, and produced Pelican's U160:
Brief: Designed for Adventure and Nature photographers who require an 100% waterproof case for equipment.This half-size Pelican case is embedded inside a fully soft backpack construction. Positioning of the case was made for proper ergonomic weight distribution along with the front position of the case lid.
Process: Sketch, CAD, Prototype, Refine.Working very closely with Pelican's engineering team, a half-size Pelican case was designed to create a seamless connection from soft bag to hard case.
Result: The U160 is a ballistic nylon soft bag integrated with a crushproof Pelican case that features the same military-grade attributes as Pelican's classic case products (including a watertight o-ring seal with automatic pressure equalization valve). The case also features a removable padded divider set to protect a camera body, extra lenses and flash equipment inside. Remove the padded dividers and the compartment becomes a travel pack large enough to fit a few days' worth of personal gear.
Additional storage comes in the form of a padded upper compartment for all manner of accessories (portable hard drives, data cables and cords, etc.) with a pocket to store a tablet. Items perfect to store in the upper compartment: Transformers and cords, lens cleaner kit, glare hood, light meter, camera battery and charger. Both storage compartments feature a contrasted yellow interior which helps for easy interior visibility.
It also includes a host of field photo-shoot-friendly features such as tripod carrier straps and multiple side pockets to organize smaller objects. For easy transport, the pack's aluminum S-curve spine and vented padding offers ergonomic comfort. A nylon chest clip and removable waist belt help to balance the load.
Following the project Kevin Murphy, Pelican's VP of Marketing, gave studioFAR a rave review:
"I threw every monkey wrench I could find at [Robert] and it never slowed him down. Fernando pioneered with Pelican a patented integration of plastics and fabrics. He sweated every bar stitch, zipper pull and material choice. His rendering skills gave our execs the confidence to green-light the product line, and he nursed the tech packs through our QC and Engineering for process control.
"Most importantly Fernando was the voice of the product, working diligently over a year with our foreign vendor to bring a series of 11 innovative backpacks to market. He also has the patience of a saint, and attention to detail that supports the work."
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