Best Drum Hardware Bags & Cases for Gigging Drummers

Author: Joseph Scarpino | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Drummers, while we do love our instrument, admittedly the components required to play are not the easiest things to carry around from gig to gig. The tom and cymbal stands are heavy and at times a little awkward to carry.

If you are planning weekend gigging or are prepping for a lengthy tour, then a hardware bag or case is an absolute must-have.

We will look at some of the most popular choices for hardware bags and cases frequently used by gigging drummers.

Best Drum Hardware Cases & Bags for Easy Travel

1. SKB 1SKB-DH4216W Rolling Drum Hardware Case

This hardware case looks well-built, sturdy, and rugged. This SKB Rolling Case is 42” x 16” x 16.5”. That 16.5” of depth and 16” of width makes for easy storage of nearly any hardware.

This case just feels and appears very strong. It feels like you can throw it around a bit without a problem. Not that I recommend doing that. When transporting your expensive gear in a car or maybe on a plane, I’d feel confident that this would protect my hardware inside.

SKB placed two handles on each side of this case as well as a single handle on each of the shortest sides. A very smart choice here! The placement of these handles will allow you and one of your bandmates to easily carry this case up or down a flight of stairs or hoist it onto a stage.

SKB has also thoughtfully added a collapsible tow handle. The combination of the tow handle and wheels built into the case makes for easy stress-free transport.

I do wish that there was something within the case to better secure your hardware. All hardware within the case is loose which has the potential to cause issues should the case be jostled around a lot.

In case you’re worried about the possibility of the topping popping off, never fear! SKB has added two, adjustable, thick nylon straps on both ends. The straps easily clip atop the case and once clipped they can be tightened down for maximum security.

2. Ahead Armor Cases Drum Sled Rolling Hardware Case

Ahead is probably known best for the drumsticks made famous by Lars Ulrich of Metallica. The innovators at Ahead have teamed up with the award-winning, Ogio-engineering to create this handy item they call a Drum Sled.

This Ahead Armor Case measures 38" x 16" x 14". In addition to its respectable interior size, it also has pockets inside for easy storage of drumsticks and any additional items you might need.

The zippers are oversized for easy grip and rip. Within the bag, you will find nylon straps to secure your stands, pedals, and other items. There are also some separator components in case you want to compartmentalize your items.

This Ahead hardware case is made from a strong, weather-resistant material called 600D polyester. While I was not able to test it for myself, Ahead claims this is a weather-resistant bag that can withstand rain, sleet, or snow.

The bag's underside is lined with a 38” plastic roller board that very much resembles the underside of a sled.

The handles on the outside are wide enough for easy gripping without hurting your hands. They are also easy to locate since they are outlined in gray color.

A retractable handle and oversized wheels with smooth bearings make this an easy bag to tow around.

The only real issue here is if you’re expecting the bag to be able to stand on its own, it can’t when loaded up. You will have to lay it down or it’ll keep toppling over on its face.

3. Gator GP-HDWE-1350 Drum Hardware Bag

Gator’s GP-HDWE-1350 Drum Hardware bag measures 13” x 50”. It is made from an extremely durable 600 Denier Nylon and lined with a synthetic fur interior for a nice soft touch.

Like other Gator products, it’s a well-made, sturdy bag that can easily fit your hardware.

Depending on the size or bulkiness of the cymbal stands you use you should be able to fit about 3 to 4 in this bag without issue. You’ll have room for your floor tom legs or any other smaller items as well.

On the top end (or bottom depending on how you orient the bag) there is a compartment for your felts, hi-hat clutch, gels, or other accessories you may utilize while gigging. Other than small items and your cymbal stands, and snare stand, not much else can fit in here. It’s limited because of its size.

In addition to the handles you can grab from the middle, Gator also provides you with an adjustable shoulder strap for easy carrying. The strap disconnects/connects easily via a carabiner-like connector.

I would recommend not overloading this bag with too much weight. While the strap and handles do feel well made, putting any unneeded stress on them often will eventually cause stress breaks in the stitching or bag liner. This would be the case for any bag, not this one in particular.

If you’re looking for something to carry just your hardware then this would be a great choice. Its simple easy-to-use design will make transporting your gear all the more convenient.

4. Pearl Lightweight Hardware Bag with Inline Wheels

Pearl’s Lightweight Hardware Bag measures 33.75” (external length) x 12” x 9.25”. At the bottom of the bag, you’ll find two big wheels that very much resemble the kinds of wheels you’d see on a kick-scooter.

This bag has plenty of space for stands, pedals, and more.

If you need to get your gear up a flight of stairs there are two carry handles attached. You could also utilize a shoulder strap to free up your hands should you need to.

There are two plastic braces/skid plates on the underside of the bag that keeps it from dragging on the floor. A nice feature in case you may need to slide this around or store the bag on a rougher surface from time to time.

After spending a little time looking this hardware bag over I did notice some glaring issues with its overall build. Which honestly surprised considering Pearl makes other great products.

First of all, the bottom of the bag is not reinforced at all! All the weight of the hardware is pushing against the fabric. With regular usage, the fabric is inevitably going to wear away, especially when continuously under stress from the weight of the hardware.

The wheels are curiously attached to plastic. Again, under a lot of weight, the plastic is going to flex, become brittle, and break. Parts that need to bear weight should never be made of plastic in my opinion.

Overall, a functional bag with some design flaws.

5. Tama Power Pad Designer Collection Hardware Bag

I have to start by saying that this is a very classy-looking bag!

The Tama Power Pad Hardware Bag measures 34.6” x 7.8” x 5.9” and is made from strong Nylon material.

The Nylon doesn’t have a lot of stretch to it which I liked. To me, that means this bag will hold up over many years and use.

These bags from Tama come in a variety of colors like Wine Red, Navy Blue, Moss Green, Black, and Beige.

A double zipper adorns the top of the bag. Adorned with accent color matching pull tabs that pull the whole thing together. Literally.

Both the shoulder strap and carry handle are cushioned. The shoulder strap is reinforced with metal anchor points as well as a metal clasp.

While the bag is fashionable and a pleasure to look at it does also have ample room for hardware. Tama claims you can fit about 5 cymbal stands. That may be a problem for bulkier makes of the stand.

The underside of the bag has 4 evenly spaced plastic patches to prevent scratching and keep the bag somewhat elevated. A nice touch.

This bag doesn’t have wheels or any other method of transport other than the straps you see. You will be carrying this by hand unless you place it on a trolly or something of that sort.

For drummers who desire a little bit of style and play on a simpler setup kit, this is a great choice.

6. Pro Tec CP205WL 36" Hardware Bag with Wheels

This Pro Tec hardware bag has a lot going on! At first glance you can tell this will hold a lot of your hardware and then some.

The Pro Tec CP205WL interior dimensions measure 36.5 x 14 x 13". It weighs a little over 7 pounds, so expect some weight already built in when loading it up.

This Pro Tec Hardware bag is made from a puncture-proof material 600D polyester. A polyester that can stand up to bad weather conditions and take a beating.

One thing I did immediately notice is there are no straps or tie-downs within the primary storage compartment. The inability to secure your hardware could be a turn-off for some, especially if you prefer your gear to be secured and not jostled around.

However, the interior of this bag provides ample space for a variety of hardware components.

The top flap zips wide open and allows for easy storage without any obstruction. The bag is lined with thick, metal tubular supports on each side for added support.

There are no straps or tie-downs in the bag to secure your hardware. I could see how this might be a turn-off for some potential buyers.

Atop the bag are 3 handles for solo carrying or you can have a bandmate assist you with moving all that heavy gear around.

If you need to load up this bag fortunately you can roll it around. The lack of a collapsible handle that would provide some mechanical leverage is disappointing.

Hard Case vs. Soft Case

When considering what style of case is best, you have to use your discretion here. It all depends on what you’re doing and how often you’re doing it.

For smaller more manageable setups containing something like 3 cymbal stands, a snare stand, maybe your pedal as well a soft bag may do just fine.

For drummers who are touring, a hard case is best. You do not want a soft case when loading and unloading frequently or putting your gear on a plane or trailer.

What Bag is Best for Your Drum Setup?

If you’re looking for the right bag to get all your hardware to a gig, I’d recommend taking an inventory of your gear. Not all bags are equal, not all drummers use the same kit. So, don’t expect to be able to buy the same hardware case you saw another drummer use and have it work the same for you.

If you happen to have a music shop close by that carries hardware cases, it’s worth going to see them in person. We can all read the dimensions online, sure.

However, some dimensions are listed as “interior dimensions” and you could wind up wasting both time and money buying something that doesn't work for your gear.

It’s also difficult to gauge the size of extra compartments within or on the hardware bags. Getting that real-world, in person look is the best way to save yourself the headache.

Do I Need a Hardware Case?

You may be deliberating purchasing one of these cases because they’re too costly or you don’t find them necessary.

Consider this. When your items are loose, there is a greater chance of them getting stolen, lost, or prematurely broken. When secured in a container that is sealed, buckled and locked, you mitigate the risk of the aforementioned instances.

Let’s do some quick math here. Let’s say you have 4 cymbal stands that cost you about $140 a piece, a snare stand that costs $110, and a double bass pedal that you purchased for about $500. Your total investment in hardware alone is nearly $1,200.

Protecting your investment from theft or breaking prematurely is a wise thing to do.

Final Thoughts

Doing a bit of research on the right kind of hardware case best suits you can save you a lot of money and grief at the end of the day.

You do not want to be buying a hardware case every few months. It’s an investment that can add potentially years of life and hours of playtime to your hardware.

Soft hardware cases almost always have more functionality to them. The reason is, pockets, carry handles, and compartments can be stitched in almost anywhere. For function and flexibility, you may want to consider one of the soft cases above.

Treat your soft cases with care no matter what material they are made from. Just because they are durable does not mean neglect or abuse will not cause them to fail.

A hard shell hardware case may cost a little more but, you will have more peace of mind. Placing heavy items on top of a hardshell case won’t damage the contents of its interior.

If you’re planning on touring or traveling with your kit, a Hard case is where you should invest your money.

Your hardware works hard for you. Protect it as best you can so you can keep the show going!

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About Joseph Scarpino

Joseph is a drummer and lyricist from Asbury Park, New Jersey. When he is not on stage, on tour, or in the studio, you can find him behind a camera, directing, or in front of that camera, acting. Joseph enjoys many genres of music but he most frequently listens to Heavy Metal, Punk, and Hard Rock.

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