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Pelican’s ProGear CE2180 Case for iPad Air: Nails wished they were this tough!

Nails wished they were this tough!
Nails wished they were this tough!
Brian Hart

Pelican’s ProGear CE2180 Vault Series Case for iPad Air


For over the past decade this author has been aware of Pelican Products, Inc. for producing exceptionally protective cases and boxes for transporting various electronics and equipment. Moreover, professionals (e.g., first responders, military, entertainment industry, etc.) were the primary purchasers of these Pelican’s products; however, this company has released a new line, Pelican ProGear, specifically for consumers.

Pelican’s ProGear CE2180 Vault Series ($99.95) is designed to fit Apple’s newest iPad Air and is available in either black with grey accents or grey with white trim. The latter model was reviewed, as the white trim perfectly matched the white coloration of the iPad Air.

Unlike other tablet cases, Pelican’s heavy reliance of dark grey in this model of the CE2180 retains a masculine feel to its design while also hiding staining/marring, as compared to an entirely white case.

The CE2180 features an integrated screen cover that opens like the jacket of a book. Unlike a book, the screen cover’s hinge allows movement of up to 360 degrees, thereby, when opened in a horizontal orientation, the screen cover acts as a stand to prop the iPad providing a multitude of viewing angles.

When the screen cover is closed, the tablet, its ports as well as its buttons are completly protected from dust particles, falls, and brief contact with water. In fact, the CE2180 meets the IP54 (or Ingress Protection ratings developed by the European Committee for Electro Technical Standardization) for dust and water protection in addition to attaining the United States Military Standard of MIL-STD 810G for drops.

This case is able to obtain the previously mentioned ratings and standards by covering the audio port, mute switch, and Lightning connector of the iPad Air with three removable plugs. Moreover, the home button, wake/sleep button, and volume rocker are permanently enclosed by the case’s own button covers, while the rear camera is protected by an exceptionally clear “Dragontrail Lens Cover.” Also, of interest, the inside of the screen cover is lined with elastomeric material to aid with absorbing the shock from a fall.

Installing the iPad Air into the CE2180 requires initially opening all of the port covers and removing 15 hex bolts (screwdriver included). Then, one uses significant force to pry the inner bezel from the back of the case and lay the iPad Air inside of the opening. Finally, the bezel is snapped back into place and the 15 hex bolts are screwed back into the case. This procedure is not difficult but does take longer than the traditional tablet case installation; once completed, the iPad Air is definitely well-seated within this case.

The author believes that Pelican intentionally did not include a plastic screen protector with this case so as not to impair interacting with the tablet via touch. If a user needs a screen protector, then the inner bezel’s rubber edge appears to easily permit the positioning of one.

Overall, the design of Pelican’s CE2180 is amazing and adds much needed as well as affordable protection to a delicate and expensive tablet. This case expertly conforms to the iPad Air’s new dimensions while also allowing all of the ports and buttons to be fully defended. There is only one minor exception in the form of the volume rocker. These buttons are relocated to the back of the case and this author had some slight issues with adjusting the iPad’s volume (i.e., not all of the initial button presses resulted in volume changes).

Nonetheless, this author would recommend Pelican’s ProGear CE2180 for the iPad Air, as it has taken much abuse from the author’s travels across the country for school interviews and the iPad has been well preserved inside. Pelican also believes in this product so much so that they guarantee it for life.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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