Protective hard cases with or without foam have been around for a long time. They’re great for securing expensive gear such as photography equipment, fishing gear, rifles, outdoor sports gear, and professional equipment used for the worksite. You spend a lot of money to get the best gear possible, you need a waterproof protector case to keep your gear functioning properly for years to come.
Here are our favorite Pelican case alternatives.
A quick search for protector cases and you will see there are an unlimited amount of designs, options and brands to choose from. However, most protector cases with foam have a few features in common that you will want to look for.
The best hard cases with foam inserts usually have press and pull latches, in-line wheels to carry heavy loads, molded lockable hasps, sturdy handles and waterproof materials. The interiors almost always have a protective foam to keep your gear safe and secure. These protective hard cases with foam are ideal for anyone that has a professional business, expensive gear or scientific devices that need extra protection.
Many hard cases are custom fit for your valuables. The padded foam will protect your gear from bumps, drops and shocks when traveling. You want to make sure your protective hard case is completely watertight and won’t let a drop of water in.
You never know where you will go or where your gear will end up, so it’s best to account for all possibilities. Also, many protective boxes are made from crushproof Copolymer-Polypropylene with stainless steel hardware to ensure your case is up to the task at hand and won’t let you down. Some brands also give you multiple options for the interior of your protective case depending on your gear needs.
You have a lot of information to consume when choosing the best dry box for your needs. We’ve done the leg work and found the best dry boxes you can buy.
Best Overall Hard Case:
1. Pelican Storm iM2950
Pelican Storm iM2950 Waterproof Case with Foam
The Pelican iM2950 is one of the best dry boxes you can find. It’s watertight, nearly indestructible, multiple interior options and has tons of positive reviews from people who have used it for years. This hard-protective case is perfect for anything you wish to give a little extra protection. The iM2950 case will keep your expensive gear completely dry with the watertight feature. It has an O-ring seal and pressure equalization valve to ensure that not even a drop of water touches your valuables.
The shell is designed from a nearly indestructible material called Copolymer-Polypropylene. There have been stories of people driving over Pelican hard cases and not breaking them. You can also get a customized fit for specialty gear and you have the choice between 3 different interior options. This is the dry box the pros use. This dry box measures 31.30 x 20.40 x 12.20 inches and weighs 20.79 pounds. The interior dimensions are 29 x 18 x 10.50 inches which is plenty of room for most people’s needs and the soft-grip handles are double-layered and tough. It has a telescoping handle and in-line wheels for heavy gear. It’s sturdy, reliable and will protect your favorite gear for a long time.
This is a great hard case with foam for cameras, video equipment, research gear or anything else you want to protect.
Best Hard Case with Wheels:
2. Nanuk 935 Hard Case
Nanuk 935 Carry-On Hard Case with Wheels
The Nanuk 935 was designed to be the maximum carry-on size and is approved by the FAA. It has wheels for easy transportation and a 2-layer cubed foam insert to protect your goodies. This is the perfect waterproof hard case for travel. This dry box measures L 22.0” x W 14.0” x H 9.0” with internal measurements of L 20.5” x H 9.0” and weighs only 11.6 pounds. It’s the perfect size for many people who like a little extra protection for their carry-on gear. You can get this dry box in 6 different colors to match your taste and it’s perfect for cameras, sensitive electronics, scientific instruments and other gear that you want to protect. The Powerclaw latching system will keep your case shut tight and prevents it from accidental opening. You get a 2-stage retractable handle that is handy for transporting your box and you can lock it with a padlock just in case.
Best Hard Camera Case with Foam:
3. Pelican 1400
Pelican 1400 Hard Case with Foam
Pelican Hard Cases are known to be tough and designed from top-of-the-line materials. The Pelican 1400 Hard Case is no exception. It’s watertight, stainless steel construction, shock resistant and features Pelican’s Pick N’ Pluck foam so you can customize to your needs. This tough box measures 13.37” x 11.62” x 6” and can hold a lot of sensitive devices. You also get an Automatic Pressure Equalization Valve that will release air pressure that’s been built up and it does this while keeping water or other particles out. You can’t go wrong with a Pelican Hard Case.
Best Affordable Hard Case:
4. Condition 1 XL Waterproof Hard Case with Foam
Condition 1 XL Waterproof Protective Hard Case with foam
Condition 1 makes some of the best protective dry boxes on the market. They’re waterproof, dustproof and nearly indestructible.
If you’re looking for a dry box that’s highly-rated and won’t break the bank, read more about the Condition 1 Protective Box. You spend your hard-earned money to buy the best gear, you need a dry box that will protect it no matter the situation.
The Condition 1 25” dry box will keep your precious gear dry even if dropped directly into a body of water. It won’t protect forever, but will give you time to retrieve your box. Studies have shown that the Condition 1 dry box can protect your valuables if dropped in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes.
The watertight tongue and groove seal keeps water out. You probably have an assortment of gear that can’t be bought straight from the shelf, so you need to be able to personalize your protective hard case.
The Condition 1 has a pluckable foam case and allows unique customizations for the interior. You can fit it to your gear exactly how you want. It also has a special feature that keeps the lid case open at 90 degrees for those times you need it to stay open while choosing or changing out your gear. You don’t want the lid slamming shut on your valuables while you reach for them.
This protective case also has a unique design function that allows you to stack multiple cases for large projects. If you need a case that’s shock absorbent, indestructible, waterproof and easy to transport – the Condition 1 XL Hard Case is one to check out. Also, Condition 1 Hard Cases could be a good Pelican Case alternative.
Best Small Hard Case:
5. Pelican 1200 Camera Case with Foam
Pelican 1200 Camera Case with Foam
The Pelican camera case with foam is a great protective case for expensive camera gear. It’s watertight so you don’t have to worry about rain drops getting inside. The tongue and groove fit and polymer O-ring make sure your camera stays dry.
The Pelican Pick N’ Pluck foam allows you to fit your camera gear perfectly in your case so it doesn’t move around. This makes traveling easier for photographers. The stainless steel reinforced padlock protectors keep people out and the automatic pressure equalization valve releases air pressure and keeps water out.
Pelican makes some of the best hard cases with foam for cameras and other important gear.
Best Hard Case with Dividers:
6. Nanuk 940
Nanuk 940 Waterproof Hard Case with Padded Dividers
Nanuk cases are known to handle extreme conditions such as deserts, cold weather and even rain. You get what you pay for in protective hard cases and the Nanuk brand is trusted by professionals all over the world. This version is made from high-impact NK-7 resin that is shock absorbent and will protect what’s inside no matter the environmental conditions. You never know where your career will take you, so you need to have the best waterproof hard case for your gear. These protective cases are adaptive, meaning you can integrate attachment features such as adding a shoulder strap or panel kit without having to buy a new case. The latching system is one of the best in the world and will keep the interior safe and sound. It also has stainless steel hardware that will last and makes this protective hard case nearly indestructible. If you’re looking for a hard camera case with foam, this Nanuk makes a great addition to your gear.
Monoprice Hard Case with Wheels
The Monoprice Hard Case is shockproof, weatherproof, dust proof, provides water protection for up to 3 feet depth and comes at an affordable price. The wheels make it easy to transport heavy items and the box itself measures 33” x 22” x 17” and 36.75 pounds. It may seem heavy, but will be glad you got the extra protection to secure your best gear and instruments. This protective hard box was designed to take abuse and to comply with top-level safety standards. The shockproof design protects what’s inside from drops, scrapes and shocks. The material is impact resistant and ultraviolet resistant to protect against the harshest conditions. Internal measurements are 30.04 x 19.02 x 15.83 inches. It comes equipped with full load handles on both sides of the box to allow for 2 people to carry it. You never know how heavy your instruments will be and you may need a partner to help carry it. Nothing gets in this protective hard case unless you want it to.
Nanuk 930-1001 Waterproof Hard Case with Foam Insert
The Nanuk 930-1001 comes in 6 colors and is designed tough. It’s waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and any other proof that you need to keep your gear safe. The NK-7 resin is super strong and impact resistant and gives a whole new meaning to “rugged.” This is the type of dry box you can take on any trip. The foam squares can be removed and personalized to fit your gear perfectly. The exterior dimensions of this hard case is L 19.8” x W 16.0” x H 7.6” and it only weighs 3.3 pounds.
This hard case with foam insert is great for long trips where you need to protect your gear. Nanuk cases are built to last and don’t cost a fortune.
Pelican Storm iM2975 Waterproof Case (Foam Additional)
The iM2975 will protect your equipment no matter your destination. Lightweight and tough as nails, the Pelican Storm iM2975 has been extensively tested in some of the harshest climates known to man. This case will meet or exceed current military requirements – it’s that rugged. This is the type of large hard case with foam that you can literally take anywhere.
This dry box comes fully equipped with in-line wheels for heavy loads, press and pull latches for easy access, impact resistant HPX shell, vortex pressure release valve, rounded corners to absorb impact and soft-grip handles that won’t injure your hands. This Pelican Storm dry box measures 31.3 x 15.5 x 20.4 and weighs 29.5 pounds. It makes the perfect camera case, filmmaker protective case, telescope case, outdoor gear dry box and more. Throw it in the back of your vehicle and travel without worrying about your gear. If you’re looking for the best hard case for camera equipment, you may want to check out Pelican hard cases.
Miejia Hard Case with Foam
The Miejia hard case is perfect for cameras, handguns, drones, scientific equipment and other valuable instruments that you want to protect. It’s a hard shell case with foam that will survive the elements and outdoor excursions.
This hard case measures 18.5 x 14.06 x 6.93 inches and is smaller than the large dry boxes. Not everyone needs a large trunk for their gear and could benefit from a smaller hard case. The Miejia hard case is waterproof and will keep your devices dry even in inclement weather or dropped in water. It comes with a pressure valve that will release air pressure and keep everything else out. This dry box is perfect for the road and can take bumps and shocks that are common when driving. You can get this box for around $70 at the time of posting. If you have sensitive devices, scientific instruments or other gear, you need a hard case that will protect and keep your expensive gear safe.
Condition 1 18” Medium Waterproof Protective Hard Case with Foam
The Condition 1 18” Hard Case is a TSA approved portable trunk that will protect your gear. It’s watertight, dust proof, shock proof and comes equipped with a pluckable foam case that is customizable. You can literally create your own custom protection to fit your gear the way you need it to. You can drop this protective case and the CN-1 resin will protect it. It’s also crush proof and is perfect for tactical grade equipment. It also comes with an automatic air pressure release valve that comes in handy when traveling. Perfect for the job site as you never know what you face for the day, especially Mondays.
Eylar Protective Hard Case with Foam
Eylar makes a smaller protective hard case for those who don’t necessarily need a trunk for their equipment. This dry box measures 13.37” x 11.62” x 6” and has an interior measurement of 11.81” x 8.87” x 5.18” and is perfect for many items. The Eylar hard case is crush proof, shock proof and waterproof and comes with pluck and pull foam. TSA approved fittings so you should be able to travel anywhere with this protective case. The stackable design comes in handy when storing multiple cases and you get a lifetime warranty. If you’re looking for the cheapest hard cases that are still high-quality, you can find the Eylar hard case for under $40.
Miejia Waterproof Equipment Hard Case with Foam
The Miejia Equipment Hard Case has different measurements than other cases. It stands up instead of laying down like a trunk design. Designed with Copolymer-Polypropylene for added protection. This hard case can get wet and still protect your gear. You can also customize the interior foam to fit your needs. The reinforced stainless steel gives extra strength and durability. These boxes are incredibly tough. The Miejia Equipment Hard Case measures 16.26 x 8.66 x 13.39 inches and weighs 6.78 pounds. The Miejia hard case with foam is an inexpensive hard case that will last you for years of hard work.
Protective Hard Case Buyer’s Guide
There are tons of options on the market for protective hard cases. You may feel overwhelmed trying to choose the perfect hard case for your gear. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. While there may seem to be an unlimited amount of options, there are a few things that you should look for before buying.
- Size: There are multiple sizes on the market and you need to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. Each hard case gives the exterior and interior measurements so you know exactly what you’re getting. We suggest measuring each one on the floor with a tape measure and placing your gear inside. This will let you know roughly what size you will need. Don’t forget to account for foam.
- Customization: Most hard cases come equipped with customizable foam. They call it pick and pluck foam because you can pull it to form spaces that fit your gear perfectly. Some hard cases give you up to 3 or more interior options to choose from. Read product information carefully to make sure you get the right protective hard case for your needs.
- Wheels: Not everyone will need wheels on their hard cases, but it is a handy option to have. Some gear is heavy and a wheel system can be helpful. Make sure the wheels are designed for heavy use.
- Handles: The quality of your hard cases handles matters more than you think. You will be lugging this hard case around with your most expensive gear and you want to make sure your hands will be comfortable and that the handles won’t come off. Most handles are high-quality and sturdy, but you need to read the specifications to make sure you get the best one possible. Many hard cases with wheels have a retractable handle that extends.
- Automatic Pressure Equalization: This is an important feature because this valve will release built-up air pressure while keeping out water and other harmful particles. This keeps your gear safe and secure.
- Watertight: One of the biggest selling points for protective hard cases is the fact that they can keep your gear dry. Most hard cases can be dropped directly in water for 3 minutes without issue.
- TSA Approved: This isn’t for everyone, but you will want to make sure your hard case is TSA approved and you can fly with it if you need to. There are size requirements and larger boxes may not qualify. This is only an important feature if you intend to fly often and need your hard case close to you.
What are the Best Hard Cases to Protect Your Camera Equipment?
Camera and video equipment can be expensive, especially if it’s your business. You want to make sure you protect your investment with a high-quality protective hard case, preferably with foam inside. You will have to measure the space you need for your camera equipment and read through the specifications of each hard case. Pelican cases are well known around the photography community as some of the best camera hard cases. They’re also great for video gear as long as you get the right size. If you’re into filmmaking, you will likely want to get a larger size hard case with wheels to fit your camera.
Jerome is an avid outdoorsman who moonlights as an attorney when he’s not creating the world’s greatest online content.