The best hard cases safeguard your camera and video equipment from environmental rigors, inclement weather, and shocks from collisions or serious falls. Typically, hard cases feature some kind of durable polycarbonate shell and a foam-lined interior replete with pockets and various storage compartments. However, even though they share similar qualities and features, hard cases come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some are better suited to certain applications or equipment than others.
In this guide, we’re going to talk about some of our favorite hard cases, including the reasons we think they’re so great, and the applications (or equipment) for which they’re best suited.
Best Overall: Pelican 1535Air Wheeled Carry-On Hard Case with TrekPak Divider Insert
Pelican’s 1535Air Case is our choice for the best overall hard case. The 1535 is waterproof and crushproof and features an O-ring that seals it to an IP67-rating. Its shell is constructed from an HPX2 polymer that’s 40% more lightweight than Pelican’s regular cases.
There are several interior options, but we specifically love the version with the TrekPak Divider Insert―although it does make the weight difference between this case and the non-air versions smaller. The dividers are preinstalled wall sections that can be customized with the included cutting tool. The panels are secured with special hooped pins and can be reconfigured to your specific kit.
Alternative Overall Pick: Nanuk 935 Camera Case with Wheels
The Nanuk 935 is a solid alternative to the 1535Air. The outer shell is made from a NK-7 polypropylene resin, which makes it crush, dust, and waterproof-rated for IP67. Its gasketed lid is held fast with dual PowerClaw latches, which is Nanuk's patented latch system that uses compressive force to clamp the case closed tightly.
The 935 also comes in several different finishes including black, blue, graphite, olive, orange, red, silver, yellow, and even a first-aid version. It can be purchased with foam inserts (with optional lid organizers) or padded interior dividers.
Best for Laptops: Pelican 1490CC1 Computer Case with Lid Organizer and Tray
For those in need of an attaché-style protective case, we recommend the Pelican 1490CC1. It’s a watertight, dustproof, and corrosion-proof case that can accommodate laptops up to 15". It also has additional space for accessories via a built-in lid organizer. The case packs a built-in purge valve for changes in altitude or temperature, and key-locking latches. It is carried by a padded folding handle and a removable shoulder strap.
Best Oversized: Vanguard Supreme 53F Carrying Case
If you need an oversized case, the Supreme 53F measures 63 x 52 x 24 cm with a spacious 56 x 45 x 20 cm interior, capable of carrying a ton of equipment. If you’re planning on traveling with this case, checking it in will be required. The case is constructed from polypropylene and is waterproof up to a depth of 16.5', thanks to its O-ring seal. It has a three-piece foam set with a recessed area inside the case for the top foam and an automatic pressure-equalization valve. The Supreme 53F locks via six quick-release, easy-open latches that lock in place, and steel-reinforced lock holders for using padlocks for added security. The case is carried by its cushioned handle, retractable tow handle, and built-in wheels.
Hard cases can serve a variety of professionals whether you're an amateur photographer or you're looking to transport a drone kit. What features are you looking for in a hard case? Let us know if you swear by any cases that didn’t make this list in the Comments section, below!