When it’s time to hit the road to play some shows, head for an out of state studio or make your way to the practice room, making sure that your gear gets there in one piece is always going to be your number one priority.
Arriving to find that a mic or a tuner has been busted or broken in transit or that half of your leads are missing is the sort of nightmare scenario that no one wants to have to deal with.
Some friends of ours who we used to bump into when we were playing shows together, always swore that Pelican cases were the only ones that they’d use, or trust, to get their gear from show to show and practice and practice.
We always figured that they must have had way more fans who would regularly show up to watch them play than we did to be able to afford Pelican hard cases.
As functional, durable, and incredible as Pelican cases are, we never had, and still don’t have, the sort of financial stability that would allow us to use them to carry our gear around with us.
So, being driven by budget, we set out to find the best alternatives to Pelican that we could, and after hundreds of thousands of miles, both on the road and in the “comfort” of coach class, we put together a list of the seven brands that we’d happily use to transport our gear.
They might not have the same name recognition as Pelican does, but they’ll do exactly the same job at a much more pocketbook-friendly price.
OUR TOP PICK
A little bit of homegrown ingenuity is always worth supporting, and Seahorse is a tried, true, and tested made in America brand that takes protection and security incredibly seriously.
Supplied with foam inserts that you can cut and shape to suit whatever it is you want the case to carry, every Seahorse case comes with a lifetime warranty.
Once your gear goes into the case, and you’ve snapped the locks shut and fastened them, the only way that it’s coming out again is when you open the case and take it out.
Airtight, dustproof, and watertight up to a depth of one meter, the 920 was made to take all the abuse that even the least inattentive airport baggage handlers can dish out and inflict on them.
The latches are solid and tight, the handle is comfortable, the extender handle is easy to use and the case itself is hardier than adamantium.
It is, if we’re honest a little heavy and weighs somewhere in the region of fourteen pounds, so it isn’t exactly light before you pack it full of equipment, which if you’re a little older and the miles have started to take their toll on you might be slightly problematic.
And the fact that certain colors are more expensive than others is a little baffling and something that we had difficulty understanding, and was the main reason why we ended up settling for gunmetal grey.
You don’t want to know how much more expensive black was, trust us you’ll be happy with grey and so will your bank account.
Don’t bother asking, we don’t know much about Monoprice, although given the way this case is built we’re assuming that it was originally designed for some sort of super-secret government agency.
What we’re trying to say is, that for the price that you’ll pay for this case, it’s one tough hombre that’ll keep your gear safe no matter what happens.
It’s also just the right size to be used as a carry on if you hop on to a flight between shows, but even if the airline does make you check it in, it doesn’t matter how sensitive your gear is, as the case has its own pressure regulation valve.
It’s also shockproof, impact-resistant, doesn’t buckle or bend when your drummer sits on it in the van, and if it does end up being tossed overboard the boat you’re sailing on, as long as the water it ends up in is only a meter deep, your gear will be absolutely safe until you can fish the case out.
Again, it’s another heavy case and weighs close to seventeen pounds (Including the foam inserts that you can shape to fit your gear) before you throw anything in it, so it was kind of nice to see that Monoprice took this into account and lined the handles with rubber to make it easier to carry. And best of all? Monoprice only make it in one color, black,
Sometimes you just need a hard case to be as basic as possible, and as Amazon’s own brand is designed to carry camera equipment and keep it safe, you know that it’ll easily double up and do the same for your equipment and gear.
It’s fitted with a pressure equalization valve, so it’s waterproof and safe to fly with, and even though it’s slightly on the large side it does fall within the FAA’s (Federal Aviation Authority) size guidelines for carry-on luggage.
That should give you a little extra peace of mind, as even though it’s pretty tough, it doesn’t feel like it would survive the unwanted attention of a baggage handler.
The only issue that’s slightly troublesome about this Basics case, is the price which seems to be anything but basic. It’s in a higher price bracket than a lot of the other cases on our list, so unless you’re unduly swayed by its design aesthetic, it’d probably make more economic sense to invest in a 920.
HUL is another of those brands that seem to have popped up out of nowhere, and in all honesty, we couldn’t tell you anything about them. But if you’re anything like us, that would be important to you.
All you’ll need to know is that this case, which was designed to take all the punishment that life in the military would hand out to it, can keep your gear safe.
And thanks to it being shock-proof, impact-resistant and as it’s fitted with a pressure equalization valve, water-proof too, it’s perfect for carrying the sensitive electronic equipment that your band depends on.
The only problem that we had, and have, with HUL’s hard case is that it’s a hand-carry only, and doesn’t have an extended handle or wheels.
But then, it is one of the smallest and lightest cases on our list, so if you’re looking for a case that isn’t quite as bulky as the others, then the HUL might be the solution to your hard case problem.
If you asked a musician to draw you a picture of their perfect case, it’d probably look something like the Zeikos.
Which would be a little odd, as it isn’t the most visually pleasing hard case, but if you’re just traveling from show to show, it’s ideal for getting your gear to where it needs to be.
It isn’t water-proof and it won’t fare well in the hold of any commercial airliner, but it is impact and shockproof, has a double-lined, fully customizable foam interior, has been fitted with a brace of sturdy catches, and will easily deal with life on the road when it’s traveling next to you in the van.
It’s just a shame that it looks like it’s been beamed straight into the twenty-first century from a nineteen-fifties downtown rehearsal studio in New York.
If we spent all day trawling the internet then maybe we could tell you more about Meijia and what they originally designed this completely weather, water, and dust proof case to carry. Then again, would it matter if you do know? Probably not.
It’s another mid-sized hard case with customizable foam inserts and latches that you’ll be able to fit a padlock to in order to stop unwanted hands from being able to reach inside and take what they want.
Surprisingly light, it’ll do everything that it claims it will and it’ll do it just as well as the similarly sized Pelican option will at a fraction of the cost.
We saved the best for last, Nanuk, as their name implies, are from North of the border and these Canadian cases are everything that their American counterparts are.
They’re shock, dust, and waterproof, have a pressure equalization valve so they’re ideal for long and short-haul flights, are impossible to open unless you know how, have fully customizable foam inserts and can survive any number of drunken stage invasions.
They are impossibly cool and should have pride of place on any band’s equipment list.
Or at least they would if Nanuk cases weren’t at exactly the same price point as Pelican cases are, which makes choosing between both of them incredibly difficult.
Do you go with the name that’s trusted by musicians all over the world or do you let the cool factor make the choice for you and entrust your gear to Nanuk? We know which we chose, and like us, maybe you’ll let your hearts rule your head for once.