One of the challenges of being a commercial photographer that travels frequently from assignment to assignment is that we often find ourselves having to travel with some rather expensive equipment. Nothing stings more than arriving at a job only to discover that your equipment had been damaged while in transit, leaving you with the stress of unexpected financial burden as well as the possibility of affecting your ability to fulfill your job commitments. To give themselves some peace of mind, many photographers opt to transport their equipment using hard cases similar to those used by the military. Molded from ultra high-strength polypropylene copolymer resin, the SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case meet the requirements set forth by multiple US military standards, and features a submersible, water and dust tight design which is resistant to impact and corrosion damage. Designed with photographers in mind, SKB has outfitted the iSeries 2011-7 with a Think Tank designed lid organizer, as well as a nicely padded interior with plenty of velcro dividers to help keep the contents of the case secure. SKB was kind enough to send one of the iSeries 2011-7 cases over to us for an extended field test. You can learn about all of the case’s features as well as how it fared during our field test after the jump.
Pros and Cons
- Water and dust tight
- Rubberized, fold away carry handles offers secure grip when hand carrying the case
- Latch mechanism is very easy to operate
- Included lid organizer is smartly designed
- Generously padded interior with plenty of velcro dividers included so you can customize the interior to suit your specific kit
- Holds a surprising amount of gear as long as you take some time to configure the interior properly
- Meets most airline carry on restrictions
- If we really had to nitpick, the SKB iSeries 2011-7 isn’t the lightest amongst comparably equipped waterproof utility cases on the market small enough to meet most airline carry on restrictions
We tested the SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case with a variety of different camera setups during our field tests. Below is an example of everything that we managed to fit into the case at once without anything getting crushed or damaged:
- 13″ MacBook Pro (including charger and extension cable)
- Logitech MX Anywhere 2S wireless mouse
- a stack of model releases roughly the same size as the MacBook Pro
- a small notebook, a few lens cloths, a couple pens, plus miscellaneous cables and chargers
- a 20,000 mAh portable battery
- a dozen AA batteries
- Flashpoint R2 Pro remote
- Flashpoint XPLOR 600 Pro (including standard reflector and lithium ion battery pack)
- 2x Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Pocket Flashes (including Fresnel Heads and Bare Bulb Heads for both, along with barn doors, gels, and an extra set of batteries)
- Sony A7R III plus a few spare batteries
- Sony FE 35mm f2.8 Zeiss
- Sony FE 55mm f1.8 Zeiss
- Sony FE 85mm f1.4 G Master
- Leatherman MUT EOD multitool
Tech specs taken from SKB’s website (hotel wifi is blocking SKB’s website for some reason, will update the link when able)
- Interior Length: 20.00″
- Interior Width: 11.00″
- Interior Depth: 7.00″
- Carton Length: 22.00″
- Carton Width: 14.50″
- Carton Depth: 9.00″
- Shipping Weight: 14.00 lbs
- Padlock holes include stainless steel padlock protector clips.
- Cushion grip handles on three sides for comfortable lifting and carrying.
- Waterproof and dust tight design (MIL-C-4150J).
- Molded-in hinge for added protection.
- Trigger release latch system.
- Snap-down rubber over-molded cushion grip handle.
- Ambient pressure equalization valve (MIL-STD-648C).
- Resistant to UV, solvents, corrosion, fungus (MIL-STD-810F).
- Resistant to impact damage (MIL-STD-810F).
- Lifetime Warranty.
- $1500 Content Coverage.
- Proudly made in the U.S.A.
Here’s the SKB iSeries 2011-7 in all of its functional, minimalist glory. It’s got fold out handles on the top and side of the case, both of which are wrapped in a tire like rubber material. I never rain into issues maintaining a solid grip on either handles while I was field testing the case around Manhattan, going up and down flights of stairs and escalators, or lifting the case into and out of the trunk of my car, even during the few times that I was caught in some pretty heavy rainfall (it’s been one of those tempestuous New York summers).
The SKB iSeries 2011-7 also features an integrated pull handle that stows away neatly at the base of the case when not in use. It’s one of the nicer pull handles I’ve used on this class of waterproof hard cases. More on this shortly.
You’ll find two stainless steel padlock holes next to the pair of latches on the lid that should stand up to the repeated attaching and removing of padlocks or TSA locks to and from your case. You can never be too security conscious when traveling, or when you’re working in an open set and want to keep the contents of your case away from any sticky fingers.
Here’s the better look at the side handle of the SKB iSeries 2011-7. You’ll also notice the integrated gasket which helps keep any moisture from entering the case when it’s closed.
While they felt pretty heavy duty, the die-cast latches features a patented trigger release locking mechanism that is snap to operate (full pun intended). The latches are also user replaceable should you somehow manage to break them.
Remember that pull handle? SKB has chosen to integrate the release button into the built in pull handle itself, making it much easier to extend the pull handle from the case compared to the friction lock mechanism used by competing case manufacturers.
The hinge that keeps the lid fastened to the body of the iSeries 2011-7 is molded in for extra durability.
Having used hard cases from competing manufacturers, I cannot begin to tell you how much easier the iSeries 2011-7 case was to drag around by comparison, thanks to the roller blade style wheels that SKB uses.
Here’s an example of how much gear we managed to pack inside the SKB iSeries 2011-7 case.
Here’s a closer look. We put quite a bit of gear into the case, and it’s not even near full. SKB included plenty of dividers with the iSeries 2011-7 case, allowing you customize the interior layout as you see fit. I rearranged them all the time to suit the particular equipment I happen to be carrying.
A Think Tank designed organizer is included with the SKB iSeries 2011-7 and comes pre-attached to the lid of the case. The organizer has a large laptop sleeve that can hold up to a 15″ laptop, a tablet, and some paperwork. The pair of zippered front pockets are pretty shallow, but I was able to fit some flash gels, a small notepad, some pens, and other small miscellaneous in them. The large zippered pouch to the right of the laptop/tablet sleeve is decently sized, with enough room to hold most laptop chargers, wireless mice, cables, and the like.
As you can see in the above image, I was able to fit my 13″ MacBook Pro and two envelopes worth of paperwork and model releases in the laptop/tablet sleeve. There’s still enough room left over for me to fit an iPad Pro in there provided it’s not in a bulky case.
Here’s a look at the bottom of the SKB iSeries 2011-7. The protrusions you see towards the four corners matches the four grooves on the exterior of the case lid, allowing you to stack multiple 2011-7s on top of one another securely. You will find similar designs on most hard cases in this class, allowing you to stack multiples of the same case neatly and safely for storage purposes, or if you’ve got a few of them crammed into your trunk.
Like most of the name brand waterproof hard cases currently on the market, the SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case meets numerous US military standards and feels rock solid. If it’s good enough for the US military, it’ll do just fine keeping your photography gear out of harm’s reach. I’ve even had a model stand on it during a photoshoot so that I can better frame her into the shot that I had envisioned. Unless the case fell off the roof of a 10 story building, got ran over by a tank, or if the Incredible Hulk decided to throw it like a baseball, you have nothing to worry about.
Ease of Use
The SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case works like many of the other waterproof hard cases currently available on the market. The integrated thumb release on the pull handle is definitely an improvement over the friction lock mechanism used by competing case manufacturers. The included wheels on the SKB iSeries 2011-7 is similar to those that you will find on roller blades, and made dragging the case around much smoother compared to the flat style wheels competing case makers use on their hard cases. The padded internal dividers and the lid organizer also made organizing my case a breeze, with everything staying put as I had left them even after dragging the case around New York City over rough pavement, dug up side walks, or being tossed around in the trunk of a car while driving over bumpy New York City roadways. Seriously, it’s a case, and it holds stuff. If you can’t figure out how to use it, you probably shouldn’t be handling a camera anyways, let alone be traveling with one.
With a design that good enough to meet numerous US military standards (MIL-C-4150J, MIL-STD-648C, and MIL-STD-810F for those curious), the SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case will surely suit the needs for on-the-go photographers that travel with their gear often, ensuring that all of their equipment arrives securely. The refinements that SKB has included with the iSeries 2011-7 such as the integrated pull handle release and the roller blade style wheels set it ahead of the pack in comparison to the rest of the waterproof utility cases currently available on the market. If you’re looking for a case to keep your gear safe while you’re traveling, you can’t go wrong with this one.
We give the SKB iSeries 2011-7 Waterproof Utility Case five out of five stars.