I love my Icom IC-705–just check out my review if you need proof–and I love taking it to the field.
It’s a very compact radio for being so incredibly feature-rich and I love the portability simply using the attached battery pack. Since I operate mostly 5 watts with all my rigs, I rarely bother bringing an extra battery with it in the field.
With that said, I worry about the IC-705 more than any other portable radio I take to the field.
For one thing, it’s a $1,300 US rig. That’s not chump change for most of us.
The IC-705 also has a large color touch screen display. In fact, it’s the only field portable radio I own with a touch screen display. The touch screen has a matte finish and is pressure-sensitive rather than capacitive like most tablets and smart phones. Many capacitive screens use something like Corning Gorilla Glass which is actually quite durable and resistant to scratching and puncturing. It’s not perfect by any means (I think we’ve all shattered or broken a capacitive screen) but they’re more durable than the pressure-sensitive screen on the IC-705.
The IC-705 chassis feels very solid and it seems to be sealed very well, but at the end of the day, the chassis is make of a durable plastic material which is prone to scratching and I have to assume easier to damage than, say, the FT-817ND’s metal chassis.
Ray Novak with Icom America is a friend and when I took delivery of the IC-705 I mentioned how I felt protective of it in the field, fearing I might damage it in my backpack or even tumbling off a rock during a SOTA activation. Ray basically said that, as with everything new, I’ll get used to it and become more comfortable in the field.
I’ve never completely gotten there, though, and I’ve had this radio for a good nine months now.
I’m a backpack guy, so when the IC-705 is packed for field action in one of my Red Oxx or GoRuck backpacks, I house the IC-705 in a $14 Ape Case Camera insert. It’s not perfect, but fits it well.
I mentioned in my review that I eventually wanted to find a better solution.
I’ve looked at a number of 3rd party “cages” and numerous readers and YouTube channel viewers have recommended the IC-705 Carry Cage by Peovi. From what I’ve seen, it looks to be the best of the bunch, but it doesn’t do a lot to protect the lower back portion of the radio–the part of the chassis that meets a surface. I feel like it’s not quite what I’d want, thus hard to justify $135 for it (Peovi, send me a loaner to try out if you wish to prove me wrong.)
Other aluminum and 3D printed cages seem to add too much bulk to the radio or obstruct some of the most common connection points on the sides (antenna, key, ATU control cable, speaker/mic, etc.).
The form factor of the IC-705 is otherwise fine, but its chassis design does make it a little more difficult to protect than, say the KX3 or FT-817/818.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the time I use the IC-705, it’s on POTA activations where it’s sitting on a picnic table. Although I’m a backpack guy, this is the perfect time to kit out a ruggedized, weatherproof case.
I started looking at cases last week and, being transparent, I’m a bit of a snob about these things. I want a case that’s made by a reputable company to protect the ‘705–I’m not going to hunt for one at a Walmart or Canadian Tire.
I’ve owned a few Pelican cases over the years. All have been smaller ones like the Pelican 1060 I’ve used with my KX1s. Pelican has a solid reputation and are certainly the best-known in this market and Pelican still makes all of their cases in the USA.
I’ve also been looking for a reason to try the case manufacturer, Nanuk. They design and manufacture all of their products in Canada and have a great reputation. Their pricing is the same or, at times, even slightly more competitive than Pelican for comparable cases.
Although I rarely care about the color, I decided I wanted a light grey or silver color for this case as opposed to black (my standard default), yellow, or another bright color.
In the Nanuk case line, their Nanuk 915 was probably the correct size to give the IC-705 enough padding, and allow space for all other accessories and items I’d need in the field.
In the Pelican line, I liked the Pelican 1400.
I was just about to pull trigger on the Nanuk 915 via the Nanuk website and decided it would make sense to also check pricing on Amazon.com for both units.
The Nanuk 915 was about $76 (affiliate link) with the pick foam insert–a great price–but only that price in the black color. The silver color was about $97.
I then checked the Pelican 1400. The black case with foam insert was $95, but the silver one was $79.95. Since I really wanted silver and since I had a slight preference for the 1400’s dimensions, I purchased the Silver Pelican 1400 (again, affiliate link).
Amazon offers free no-hassle returns, so once I receive the 1400 next week, I’ll carefully measure and double check everything before digging into the pick foam!
A case for advice…
I’ve never kitted out a larger Pelican case with radio gear. I would welcome any and all advise from those of you who have. Since it’s easy to remove pick foam, but impossible to put it back if done incorrectly, I really want to follow best practices. Please comment!
22 thoughts on “The Icom IC-705 is getting a rugged, weatherproof case”
Hi Tom, I have been using an Apache 3800 that I’ve had over a year from Harbor Freight and it’s housed my IC 7100, FT 891 and now my IC 705. It’s sturdy and reliable and waterproof and not as expensive as the Pelican case. (It would be hard to carry in a backpack though) hi hi. 73 de KN3A
My buddy Vlado has had great luck with those cases as well. He only lives a few minutes from a Harbor Freight, so he always check s them out first. 🙂
Just be careful with the Apache cases latches. I have flown with them a few times and the latches have a problem with just coming open when handled. Last trip I took to teach a class at MacDill AFB, I got to my destination and all my equipment was wet when opening the case. Simple fix is to zip tie the lock ports so case doesn’t come open.
I’m also a fan of Pelican cases, having a 1200, 1500 and 1510 in my collection.
I place the radio on the foam and use cocktail sticks to trace out the outline, including space for control knobs and connectors.
The cocktail sticks should slide easily into the corners of the segments.
I tend to prioritise the space around the controls, so any shift of the radio through the natural flex of the foam only loads the flat sides and body of the radio.
Once I’ve removed the foam and double checked the fit of the radio, I use a foam friendly general purpose glue to reinforce the walls and fill the pick and pluck cuts. This I find is particularly important for the sections that accommodate the controls.
I also find that filling some of the cuts one segment behind the side walls is also good for strengthening them against the inevitable strain as the radio is placed in and removed from the case.
The glue I’ve used is white and dries clear (solvent free from Bostik), and has the advantage that it soaks into the foam forming a strong bond. I usually wait a day just to be sure its dried properly.
Mark, this is brilliant advice. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ll try to source some of this glue here State side.
Why not put the radio in lying with the knobs and screen facing up?
Mark, those are excellent ideas! Can you tell us the exact model name of the Bostik glue you recommend?
The packaging of the glue has changed recently, but this is what my dwindling tube looks like:
Based on the product code, this might be the new look:
It comes out like soft toothpaste, but then dries clear.
Thank you! This glue will help keep the foam squares secure as you mentioned.
While I do have several Pelican cases, I do have two Nanuk cases and I have to say I think Nanuk has the edge. The biggest reason is the securing mechanism. The Nanuk closures are far easier to open and close. I have one Pelican that I struggle with every time I close it. While I have had Pelican cases back to the early 2000’s, and they have improved their latch over the years, the Nanuk cases are far superior. I have the Nanuk 935 that I use to transport a digital SLR and a 100-600mm lens. I ordered a second set of foam and will be converting the case for using in airplane travel for my 705. I too chose the silver/gray color to keep down heat absorption in black. I’ll send pictures after I get everything arranged. It will hold my 705, battery, fused transfer box, cables, tuner (Mat-705Plus or Elecraft T-1), cables, CW key, antenna analyzer (RigExpert 230 Stick). My antenna and coax will go in checked baggage. But my radio and more expensive gear will roll on beside me.
Brilliant! Yes, Jim, please send photos when you’re finished. Now I’m trying to think of an excuse to buy a Nanuk case. Hmmm…what other radio would benefit? 🙂
I own a few Pelican cases for my various portable radios, etc. They are almost bullet proof except for the foam. It deteriorates quickly and, as you mentioned, impossible to put back in order. I’ve always preferred closed cell foam but this is difficult to source in the right size. A good source for custom sizes and cutouts would be great…of course, at a reasonable price. and yes, the Harbor Freight Apache cases are a good choice, I use several of those also and find them to be quite acceptable quality.
The downside to Apache cases is the cheap foam. My Pelican cases foam is far better. I have in Apache that the foam was trash within one year. My Nanuk foam is amazing.
It’s snug but it works great!
HAZARD 4 Jelly Roll(TM) Lens/Scope/Bottle Padded Case w/MOLLE (R)
Hi Lance, I used that Hazard 4 Jelly Roll case for a while, but found it a little TOO snug for the 705 for my liking. I ended up with this one, the 2XL size for $17.99:
I’ve had foam in cases deteriorate to sticky mush in say 20 years or so. In particular, a Bird leather case with the foam for extra slugs just recently. Is there any foam that does not turn to mush eventually?
Just saw this on eBay and Amazon:
Not exactly cheap either but at least protection all around. Looks like they all closely monitor your demands and monetary pain threshold! 🙂
Ha ha! It does look like a cage that would properly protect the IC-705. It is tempting. But honestly? For me now that I have a Pelican case for it, I’m not 100% certain I’d need it.
Thanks for sharing!
Thomas, I have always been a big fan of Pelican cases and have ones fitted for most of my portable rigs. It certainly paid off the time that I dropped my K1 on the driveway taking it out of the car! I know a few people who like to go for over-sized cases to hold their whole station but my philosophy has always been to use a Pelican case just big enough to adequately protect the radio itself. Things like power cords and microphones are not nearly as expensive nor fragile as the rigs themselves so I have never seen the point of having them take up a lot of space in a Pelican case. I have no problem with spending $100 or more on a durable waterproof case to protect a $1300 radio ! I have no experience with the Nanuk cases but I will check them out. I just ordered an IC-705 so I think it might be time to buy another case.
Cheers – Michael VE3WMB
P.S. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate and enjoy your activation videos on Youtube, It was great to see and hear the IC-705 in operation before committing to buying one.
I have a Pelican 1200 for my HTs for VHF SOTA activation which I carry inside a Rebow (military-Molle style) backpack $35 on Amazon. I’ve used this backpack on 100+ SOTA hikes and it has held up well.
I have a Apache 2800 that I house my FT818 and accessories in that also fits easily in the same backpack (without HT case). I’ve read the Apache closed cell foam can eat away at plastics over time so I keep my 818 in a Zip-Loc bag inside the case. So far ~1 year no problem.
I am still looking for a SOTA tough carry option for the 705. The Apache 2800 would work but the foam fumes eating away stuff scares me.
Did you already receive and try out the pelican case? I’m looking at a slightly smaller model, the Pelican Storm iM2050. Looks to be a little cheaper maybe a little too slim. I’m going to order one and will report back if it’s any good.
I ultimately ordered and have been using this case.
The 705 fits perfectly in the case with the Peovi Cage installed. I put this in my backpack and feel very comfortable taking it on SOTAs and POTAs!