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Gear & Apps

Top 5 Hard Cases For Under $100

By Anthony Thurston on March 31st 2015

Let’s face it people, sometimes a bag isn’t enough protection for your precious gear. Sometimes you need something watertight, dust-proof and shock resistant. If you are a ‘throw your gear in the back of the truck’ or a ‘gear on a sailboat’ kind of photographer, this is the list for you.

These are the top 5 hard cases for under $100, in no particular order, in varying sizes and colors. If you are a nut about keeping your gear protected, there is no better option out in the field than these cases.

Top 5 Hard Cases For Under $100

nanuck

Nanuck Protective 910 Case

This case is perfect for mirrorless shooters. It is designed to be small, lightweight and the perfect home for your mirrorless kit. It is padlock-able, waterproof, and dustproof, as well as crushproof.

Best of all, it’s not even that expensive, coming in at only $49.99. This is almost a no-brainer for those looking to better protect their mirrorless kit. You can find the Nanuck Protective 910 Case over on B&H here.

Barska HD-400 Loaded Gear Hard Case

barska

If you have a larger kit, this is a great option for you. Not only is it Crush, Water, and Dustproof, but it has a pressure valve to regulate the pressure inside the case. This is a serious case for people wanting to protect serious gear.

Best of all, as the name of this post implies, it comes in under $100, at $93.99. If you are interested, you can find the Barska HD-400 over on B&H here.

Explorer Cases Small Hard Case 2717

explorer

Maybe you don’t need to protect your whole kit, or maybe you prefer to package lenses or cameras individually, this would be a great option for you. The Explorer Cases Small Hard Case 2717 is the perfect way to protect your smaller items and know it will be safe and secure.

At $62 though, you may be better off getting one of the larger cases if you have many items to protect. But if you just have one or two things, these are still a great option. If you are interested, you can find the Explorer Cases Small Hard Case 2717 at B&H here.

Pelican 1400 Case

pelican-case

What would a list of top hard cases be without at least one Pelican case on it? When people think about hard cases, they think Pelican. This Pelican 1400 case is a great case for one or two small items (maybe a mirrorless camera and small lens).

It is, of course, waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, etc. It comes in at just under $75, so you are paying for the brand name, but it’s a Pelican – so you know it’s solid. If you are interested, you can find them over on B&H here.

Pelican 1085 Hardback

pelican-laptop

Chances are, if you are traveling with a lot of gear, you are also probably going to have a laptop that needs protecting as well. This is the case you want (if the laptop is under 14″). It will protect your computer from just about anything short of the world ending (and in that case, who cares).

Coming in at $60, it’s a small price to pay to make sure that your work is safe on your laptop. If you are interested, you can find the Pelican 1085 Harback case over on B&H here.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this helps you find some good budget options if you are looking into hard cases for your gear. If you missed it, make sure to check out our list of the top 5 sling bags for under $100 here, and check back again in the future for more top 5 bag posts.

What do you think of the hard cases that we found? Do you own a hard case that you recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. J. Dennis Thomas

    That Pelican 1400 looks pretty good. But it’s hard to get an idea of the size. I’m looking for something to fit two Leica M’s, one 28mm f/2, one 35mm f/1.2, three 50mm’s, and one 90mm f/2. plus a few batteries, a small charger, and some SD cards.

    I wonder if that case will fit the bill. The price is right and my previous Pelican cases have been bullet proof.

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    • adam sanford

      Re: “Hard to get an idea of the size”

      I had a similar question when I was shopping for the right cabinet to hold all my gear. Being an engineer, I went to the mattresses and spreadsheet-ed the whole damn thing out (I s— you not). I actually ‘drew’ the whole thing out and laid out all my gear, left space for padding/compartments/etc.

      See here for one level of that cabinet looked like in layout form:
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/66374817@N04/16996043641/

      You could get the Pelican specs off their website and knock this sort of thing out in Excel (hell even Photoshop) in half an hour if you have all your gear and a tape measure handy. Just an idea.

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    • J. Dennis Thomas

      Wow. Being not an engineer (I’m an Electrical Engineering School dropout), that would not be something fun for me to do Haha. I’d be more likely to buy it and send it back it it didn’t work.

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    • adam sanford

      I hear ya. The backbreaker wasn’t if the gear would fit so much as that TrekPak stuff I was going to use to divide the cabinet. As it was a custom order, I wanted to have it all planned out. Look at that picture I linked again — the green shaded boxes were how much material I needed to order.

      Worked like a charm. It was 100% overthought, but I didn’t need a second order or have to return anything. #planning

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    • Michael LaNasa

      I would also consider the Pelican 1510 if you’re set on that brand and need all of that gear to fit. I have the 1510 with the divider insert and it’s great for two bodies, three lenses (Canon 16-35mm, 50mm, 135mm), three strobes and some other accessories. I’ve also made it fit the 70-200mm with no problem.

      Here’s the combination via Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0019CSVMW/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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  2. Anders Madsen

    Of the brands mentioned above, only Pelican is (to my knowledge) available where I live (Denmark).

    However, we do have Vanguard cases here as well, and I’ve been very satisfied with my Vanguard Supreme 46D Hard Case. Although that particular model is USD 250, they have smaller, more reasonable alternatives like the Vanguard Supreme 27D Hard Case at USD 99 or the 27F at USD 79.

    F-models use foam while D-models have dividers with velcro for organizing your gear.

    To the best of my knowledge the Supreme series is just as rugged as the Pelican cases.

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  3. adam sanford

    A little bit off-topic, but hard case fans should check out TrekPak. Awesome stuff — they make super handy reconfigurable dividers without the need for puffy foam or noisy velcro. (Head to TrekPak.com if curious.)

    They make a version for configuring backpacks and another for hard cases, including pre-loaded kits for specific Pelican, Storm, or HPRC cases if you prefer camera-bag-level customization of hard case dividers over pick and pluck foam (like in the Nanuck case above) or the generic egg-crate stuff in other hard cases.

    I actually used this stuff to configure a weird sized cabinet to hold all my gear, and it works wonderfully. Highly, highly recommended.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I had never heard of them before, thanks for the suggestion!

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    • Daniel Thullen

      Adam, thank you for the additional suggestion.

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    • Daniel Thullen

      Anthony, thank you for this listing. I own a (more expensive) Pelican. Loaded it weighs 25+ pounds. I’ve either got too much gear or too much pack. I’ll be interested to see the sling bag list.

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    • adam sanford

      Their stuff seems pricey at first glance, but try to buy a set of foam inserts that will span a larger pelican case and you’ll quickly go broke as well. It’s little wonder folks go with bulk foam or pick n pluck foam for these cases.

      But I (a) didn’t want unsealed foam rubbing and fretting into little bits against my gear and (b) I wanted to reconfigure the layout as I buy/sell gear from time to time, so the TrekPak was perfect and (in my mind) worth the added expense.

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