Pelican cases have been the industry-standard transport solution for a long time. They’re extremely sturdy and carry everything from music equipment to firearms.
The biggest downside is that they’re highly expensive. There are some other brands on the market that offer similar quality at more affordable prices. Are they as trustworthy and durable as Pelican cases? Let’s have a look.
Best Pelican Case Alternatives - Rugged Hard Cases!
Table of Contents
1. Nanuk 910
The Nanuk 910 is an impact resistant and waterproof case that is fantastic for carrying small things like drum microphones, cameras, LED lights, and electronics. The price point makes it a real contender with Pelican, providing security and durability for a cheaper price.
A standout feature is the PowerClaw latching system. It clamps the case shut seriously tight while sliding locks add an extra bit of security.
You can bet that this case will never open while being transported. The case also comes with two sections that allow you to add padlocks, giving you an extra sense of security.
The 910 case comes in 8 different finish options, allowing you to choose from subtler dark colors to extravagant bright ones. So, whether you’re a calm and collected photographer or an eclectic musician, there’ll be a color just for you.
When looking inside the case, you’ll see that the included piece of foam is extremely deep. It’s one giant thick piece. This is perfect for storing larger items.
However, you may need to cut the foam in half to store smaller items so that they don’t move around when being transported.
You can easily cut the foam to fit any type of item in it and it will be kept securely inside. The case will survive all kinds of weather conditions and your equipment inside won’t be affected.
My favorite thing about this case is the sheer amount of water resistance it has. You could take it with you on a kayaking trip and not have to stress about it getting wet along the way. All your equipment inside the case will stay perfectly protected. It’s a great option for adventurous people who may be taking on stormy weather.
I feel that having a disappointing foam structure inside isn’t the biggest downside as you can easily cut it into the way you want it to be. It’s one of the parts of storage cases that you can even replace easily. If the case had a bad outside structure, it would be a different story. However, not being able to store smaller items at first can be easily fixed, making this a fantastic case for multiple uses.
Another thing to note is that this particular case is fairly small. That makes it great for traveling and transporting your gear, but it means it won’t be able to carry larger items. While you can store a fair amount thanks to the depth in the case, you won’t be able to store anything that is very wide.
If you need a case that is a bit bigger, the Seahorse 920F is a great one to look into. It has fantastic overall quality, a double latch, and turn lock system. The wheels are incredibly smooth and allow the case to glide easily. The retractable handle is also quite smooth.
The best thing about this case is that it can fit a serious amount of equipment inside of it. When it seems to be full, you’ll always be able to fit that one last thing as well. No matter how much is inside, it will still feel very secure and safe.
There is a lot of foam inside the main part of the case that will accommodate cameras, lenses, drum gear, and lighting. The case also comes with two carrying handles.
Although it’s a bigger case, it will still fit inside the overhead storage compartment in an airplane, meaning it’s easily transportable.
The one downside is that the outer plastic doesn’t seem to be as durable as more expensive Pelican cases. However, that’s the price you pay for getting something a little bit cheaper. It’s still a highly durable case, though!
However, you won’t be able to fit this in the overhead compartments on smaller flights with limited onboard luggage space.
I particularly like the double latch and lock system. The double latch gives a sense of extra security, making me feel like the case will never open accidentally when I don’t want it to. The lock system is the second security aspect and I feel it is finely crafted. Overall, I think you’ll feel very safe with this case.
My one big complaint with the case is its wheels. Although they’re smooth and allow the case to glide effortlessly, they’re hard as plastic and tend to make a big noise every time you’re moving the case.
You’re going to be heard by everyone when dragging the case, so it’s not great if you don’t want too much attention on you. The wheels also can’t be simply replaced. So, you’re pretty much stuck with them. If you don’t mind the noise, it won’t be a problem at all. However, I can see some people shying away from the case for this specific reason.
3. Nanuk 935
If the previous Nanuk case sounded appealing, you may need to look into the Nanuk 935 which is bigger and can be wheeled around. This version also has the PowerClaw latching system along with padlock holes.
The difference is that the 935 has a 2-stage retractable handle and a set of wheels. The top handle automatically goes back down when you release it, a pleasant feature that adds to the quality of the case.
The hinge joints of the case are incredibly smooth and there are no catches when opening and closing the case.
The two stages of the retractable handle make it accessible for taller people to lug the case around. This is a great feature as tall people often get the short end of the stick when it comes to retractable handle lengths.
The inside of the case is fairly large and will be able to fit many different types of things in. Everything will be securely placed in the foam and won’t move when traveling.
Similar to the first Nanuk case, there are a variety of colors to choose from. However, the 935 only has 6 options, 2 less than the 910. Each color option looks smooth and aesthetically pleasing.
One downside is that the non-skinned open-cell foam that is inside the case tends to wear out quickly with repeated use.
While the 935 may be larger, I still think it’s small enough to carry onto a plane. So, I think it’s a bit more versatile than other larger cases that wouldn’t make it to the overhead compartment when you’re traveling. You could fit an impressive amount of gear in here and not need to pay for luggage storage.
I absolutely love the handles on this case. On top of being good for tall people, the retractable handle offers so many other conveniences. The two carry handles also blow me away.
The latches are quite chunky and they have a secondary lock. This lock stops the handles from being opened accidentally by other bags. Since you need to use your thumb to release them, it’s easy to do with one hand. So, it’s quite simple to open the case, but it seems near impossible for the case to open accidentally.
I’m not the biggest fan of the foam because of the quicker wear out. Once it starts wearing out, all the gear you have inside starts to get a bit grimy thanks to the black material rubbing off on it.
If you need a super cheap box that is still sturdy enough to protect most things, the Monoprice hard case is something you should definitely consider getting. It’s fairly small, yet very deep, allowing you to pack a few things inside.
The standout feature of this box is the sheer durability of it. It feels sturdy enough to drop from a roof without damaging anything inside. The internal foam is very soft, making it a bit easier to cut out sections to store equipment. However, the softer foam means a bit less protection from the inside.
The case is extremely weather-resistant. So, you can take it on camping trips without worrying about any water getting inside to your equipment. It also has room for a padlock. That extra bit of security will always add some peace-of-mind.
One downside is that there are no bottoms for the foam trays. This will stop you from storing many small things. If you’re planning on storing a few big things, this won’t be a problem.
Overall, it’s a fantastic case to get if you’re on a tight budget.
I found the latches to be a bit stiffer on this case compared to all the others on the list. I can see that how frustrating that may become in the long run, especially if you plan on using the case frequently.
The case is also a bit harder to open and close. It’s not too bad once you get used to it, though. It’s just the price you need to pay for having such a cheap case that is still as durable as anything.
I’d only suggest transporting lighter things with this case. While it’s still incredibly durable, it just isn’t as solid as the higher-quality and more expensive cases we’ve looked at. I’m less likely to trust having my expensive cameras in here than I am with the other cases. However, I’d more than happily store things like LED lights and different drum gear.
The AxiGear hard case is another affordable case on this list. It has most of what you need in a case and does the job of securing and keeping equipment safe relatively well. It comes in two finishes, black and yellow. The yellow version is a highly popular choice.
The exterior is shock and impact proof and the interior is sealed by rubber, stopping any water from getting inside. The case comes with customizable foam inserts that allow you to shape whatever you’re going to store. Two layers of foam are in the case and the other layer is on the lid of the case.
This case is best used as a storage solution for things that you don’t plan on traveling with frequently. Although it’s intended for safe traveling, the case isn’t as durable as the other cases on this list.
However, the easy storage features of the interior still make it a good option to go with. One downside is that it doesn’t have any holes to add padlocks to.
I’d highly suggest just using it as an at-home storage solution. I’d personally put things like drum microphones in here to keep them safe and secure in one place. The fact that you can’t add padlocks makes me wary of transporting those microphones in this case, though.
Apart from the lack of security and less durable nature of the case, I love how affordable it is. There have been many times when I’ve needed storage solutions at home for my gear, but hard cases have always seemed way too expensive to just sit around. Something like this case is the perfect solution for that.
The Condition 1 hard case is a little bit closer to the price of a Pelican case. However, it’s still more affordable while offering some high-value features. Firstly, it’s highly customizable inside.
The case comes with pluckable foam that caters to many different types of equipment. You can easily adjust the foam to fit whatever gear you have.
Secondly, the protection this case gives can rival most Pelican cases. It’s so sturdy and durable and the case will last you years of frequent use without any equipment getting damaged.
Lastly, the case has more security than any other case on this list. There are 4 holes to add padlocks to, creating a safe environment for your equipment to live in.
The case has a pressure equalization valve, a watertight seal, an easy snapping latching system, and a smooth rubber grip handle. You won’t find many cases better than this one at the price it comes at.
It is the most expensive case on this list. So, you’ll be spending a fair bit of money. It’s highly worth the investment to keep all your gear safe and secure.
The amount of security this case lets you have is my favorite part of the whole thing. This is the type of case that I would trust my most expensive piece of gear with. I would feel that it’s incredibly secure while being safely stored at the same time. With all the locks that you can add, I wouldn’t worry about anyone else getting to the goods inside the case.
The big debate I have with this case is that it’s so expensive that you may consider getting a proper Pelican case in the end anyway. If you like how this case sounds, you should compare it to a Pelican case with a similar price and see which case you like better. I think the Condition 1 case has such great qualities that you may be surprised to find that you prefer this to the Pelican case.
How to Choose a Pelican Alternative Case
When choosing a case, it’s important to establish just how big you’re going to need it to be. You may be thinking that bigger is always better, but I don’t suggest going with that mindset.
Although having a larger case will mean you’ll have lots of space, it also means you’ll be carrying a big case around with you everywhere. If you just plan on storing a single camera in the case, carrying a large case around would be pretty unnecessary.
So, I’d suggest you choose a case with a size that fits exactly what you need it for. This will make transporting it much easier.
Should You Get Multiple Cases?
I’d also suggest getting multiple cases, especially if you have lots of gear. Since you’ll have a case that is made suited for transporting your gear, I also think having cases of different sizes will help tremendously.
This isn’t a possibility for everyone as Pelican cases are so expensive. However, the alternative cases I’ve mentioned above will make it easier to build up a collection of cases as they’re much cheaper.
Pelican Cases vs Alternative Hard Cases
Pelican cases are the industry-standard hard cases across several different niches. The brand has built up such a strong reputation that everyone uses their cases. I can confidently say that not many other cases are as strong or durable as Pelican cases are. So, it’s better to go with them if you have the money for it.
However, most casual people won’t have money like that to spend on such expensive cases, and I think the alternatives we’ve gone through are more than capable of handling all your equipment. Just make sure to check that the alternative case you’re getting matches all your requirements and needs.
There’s nothing worse than putting money down on a case and realizing that it doesn’t suit everything you need it for.
If you’re someone who travels with your gear often, it’s important to keep it safe and protected. Having a good carry case is almost essential for musicians, photographers, and anyone else who does something with expensive gear.
Each case from the above list will work well in most situations. You just need to decide how big of a case you need and just how protective it needs to be. If you don’t travel that much, you may not need to buy such an expensive case.
If you do travel often, the higher quality the case is, the more your future self will thank you.