Pelican 1090CC HardBack Notebook Case Review

by Reads (26,961)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 9
      • Features
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Total Score:
      • 8.67
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Near-indestructible notebook case
    • Clean and professional design
    • Customizable pads for different laptops
  • Cons

    • Not as strong as the 1490 case
    • No integrated carrying handle

Quick Take

If you are in the market for a notebook case that will resist the elements better than you can, the Pelican 1090CC HardBack case should be on your shopping list.

Notebook cases are an overlooked accessory that most computer shoppers don’t realize they need until their notebook breaks. While most buyers might turn to sleeves or backpacks, some might look for something slightly more durable. In this review, we take a look at the super-rugged Pelican 1090CC HardBack notebook case and see how well it stacks up against not-so-daily abuse.

Pelican 1090CC HardBack Specifications:

  • Fits notebook computers up to 14.4″ x 11.1″ x 1.7″
  • Will hold 8.5 x 11″ and A4 documents
  • Molded plush foam liner – protects notebook from impact shock and scratches
  • Easy snap anodized aluminum latch
  • O-ring seal
  • Vent with Gore-Tex membrane for auto pressure balance
  • Lifetime Guarantee of Excellence
  • Watertight, crushproof and dust proof

Build and Design
Even at first glance, you can tell the Pelican 1090CC HardBack case is designed with durability in mind. The upper and lower shells are thick black plastic with a semi-gloss sheen, with a large black-anodized aluminum hinge and matching front latch. It is definitely larger than a sleek leather slipcase, but in terms of size it’s roughly the same as a messenger bag. Buyers should realize that while the outer dimensions might be the same as a larger bag, since it is rigid plastic, it won’t be able to fit more than a notebook inside.

The 1090CC HardBack case is lined with a semi-rigid foam liner, which is covered with a soft, yet durable, fabric. The liner has some cushion to absorb vibration and impact, but I can’t say that it is plush like the specifications claim. To handle notebooks of varying sizes, Pelican includes multiple square foam stickers to customize the internal size to your needs. They can be used to secure the notebook from sliding as well as keeping it from bumping up and down while being carried.

The 1090CC fit all of the 14-inch notebooks we had in the office with some room to spare, including two business notebooks (the Lenovo ThinkPad T410s and Dell Latitude E6410) with extended 9-cell batteries. While you could easily stuff smaller notebooks into the case, it was hit or miss with 15-inch notebooks. The Dell Inspiron 15R squeezed into place, but it was tight against the sides leaving no room for flex if the case had to absorb a large impact. Make sure that if you decide to purchase this case, you take actual measurements of your notebook and compare it to the listed inside dimensions.

In use
The Pelican 1090CC HardBack is very easy to use with the latch they designed for this case series. Unlike some of their larger rugged cases which have the double-throw latches, the “easy snap” latch pops on or off in one quick movement from your thumb. This is less cumbersome than the other style, but in some ways more prone to being inadvertently opened.

The HardBack case is designed to be carried inside another bag or with the supplied shoulder strap. Unlike the Pelican 1490 Deluxe, the 1090CC HardBack doesn’t include an integrated carrying handle. This has some tradeoffs, but with multiple styles available, there is something for everyone.

The HardBack 1090CC easily lives up to its name, although it does have some limitations. Pelican designs all of their cases to be crushproof, watertight, and dust proof, which means no matter what environment you might be in, the case will protect its contents. In our previous Pelican case review, I was able to sled on the case, throw it over a roof into a snow mound, and spray it down with water without damaging the notebook stored inside. To test the new 1090CC, we flung it off desks, dropped it onto hard floors, which didn’t seem to phase it. Like the previous model, it was also very resistant to water intrusion. It was so air-tight that if you squeezed the case, it would expel air through the one-way valve and have enough suction to prevent you from easily opening the case. The only area that it didn’t seem to hold up as well as the previous model was being stood on. While not every situation will exert over 200lbs of force onto the case at one time, it does show the HardBack is a lighter-duty design.

After putting the Pelican HardBack 1090CC through our rigorous tests, it stood its ground and worked very well as a rugged notebook case. The new design looks nicer than the previous 1490 Deluxe, with a neater semi-gloss black finish and anodized-aluminum segments front and rear. The newer latch design is easier to open or close compared to the double-throw latches on the previous model, but do trade some ease of use with security. In terms of durability, the 1090CC is a very rugged notebook case, but isn’t as strong as the previous model. Even with that said, you don’t have many situations where someone will try to stand on top of your notebook case on a regular basis (unless you have small children). Overall with a current selling price of $146, the Pelican 1090CC HardBack gives a huge step up in protection compared to your average slipcase or backpack.


  • Near-indestructible notebook case
  • Clean and professional design
  • Customizable pads for different laptops


  • Not as strong as the 1490 case
  • No integrated carrying handle



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