Being a photographer and professional guide I had a long debate as to which protective camera case I would like to join my kit. I had to be completely happy that all my kit would safe on my safari to Gods Window and Kruger National Park in South Africa
In the end I decided to go with Vanguards Supreme 40F case as it would hold all of my valuable kit, it’s measurements looked as though they would pass as hand luggage and it offered a high level of protection, all for a great price.
With my new Vanguard Supreme 40F in hand - off I went.
Vanguard’s Supreme Case passed the first test. It safely fitted Canon Mk 2, Canon GX12, 17-40mm lens, 100mm F2.8 Macro lens, 70-200mm F2.8 Mk 2 lens, 2 x multipliers, 430EX flashgun, spare batteries and accessories.
The Supreme case also passed the second test and was accepted as hand luggage without any problem. This meant my kit was always with me and therefore 100% secure. I didn't need to worry about my camera and lenses being lost in transit before I even arrived.
Immediately on arrival I started testing the level of protection. Loading a vehicle in Africa is not for the faint hearted as equipment is rarely handled delicately. In addition 90% of the trip would be off-road on notoriously bad roads. Knowing this I asked for the camera gear to be packed carefully on top. When I arrived at camp I found the trusty locals had not followed my directions at all and had packed my camera kit under almost a tonne of camping equipment, tools and bedding. When I asked why, they explained that due to the high level of theft, packing it at the bottom meant the camera equipment would not get stolen or fall off the Land Cruiser. Ultimately I couldn't argue with that line of thinking and it had survived (phew!) the third test.
I then encountered a couple of other challenges I hadn’t expected.
Africa's environment means temperatures of 45°C and the variety of wildlife means you always need to keep food safe. After setting up the camp I took all camera kit out and made sure everything was in working order for the Safari. I then discovered that by taking out the foam insert, the Supreme 40F case made for the perfect food storage container. Having elephants, warthogs, ants, cockroaches and other animals around, the less your food's scent gets out, the less you have in camp over the day and night. We had both warthogs and elephants wander through camp and not once did they sniff the case which was now a food storage container and makeshift table. To pass the elephant scent test was great and means that next year I can take some fruit and they won’t be able to smell it. Great case really did the job.
When we were leaving, a friend who lives in South Africa asked if he could test the case as he would like something similar but was undecided as to which brand. I obliged and so my South African friend’s tests started. We drove the Land Cruiser over it and it held out (though I wouldn’t recommend doing this as it did warp under the weight, but was back to normal after that). We dropped it off a 30m cliff and it was still closed and intact when we collected it. We also tested the waterproofing by tying a 40kg bag of sand to it and throwing it into a dam approximately 20-25m deep. When we opened the case it dry inside. It therefore passed all the South African tests which were well beyond the declared spec. At the end, my friend asked if I could leave the case with him. As I didn’t know when I would be back, I swapped his old camera bag for it and left it with him.
One regret is that as I was not actually planning to test and review the case, I didn’t bother to take pics, but will do in the near future!
Overall the Vanguard Supreme 40F case surprised me with its strength, price and quality. In my eyes is second to none which is why I volunteered to write this article. I would definitely recommend them. Great product and I’m going to buy another one now.
About Jason Wharam
Jason Wharam DPAGB, BSc, MSc, DSc is Zimbabwe¬born where he grew up on a farm, where the local elders taught him about the cultural backgrounds and traditions of Zimbabwe’s varied people. From them, he also learned about the landscape and became passionate about nature. His high school years were spent at an old, military-type boarding school – Plumtree - near the Botswana/Zimbabwe border. There, his love for the bush blossomed as he spent time bird watching, camping, fishing and exploring the surrounding wilderness. After completing his Cambridge studies, he became a trainee safari guide in the Gwayi Valley on the outer perimeters of Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. He has worked with safari legend Lionel Reynolds and honed his white¬water rafting skills before becoming a professional guide in 1999, leading safaris throughout southern Africa's most remote and beautiful parks and reserves, from the Skeleton Coast in Namibia to Botswana and down the wild Zambezi. His second passion? Photography. He have recently retired from guiding and is using his camera to create incisive, inspiring images that are designed to help protect wildlife and the parks in which they live.
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