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10 Best Pelican Case Alternatives in 2019 – Protective Hard Cases

Pelican has been the go-to manufacturer when it comes to protective cases. But are there more economical alternatives that can match the quality and durability of pelican cases? There actually are quite a few less-known brands that may stand up to Pelican.

To make your choice a bit easier, I’ve listed a few alternatives to Pelican cases that feature comparable specs. They should give your instruments or other gear ample protection while staying within a reasonable budget.

10 Pelican Case Alternatives - Affordable Hard Cases

The cases I listed below are suitable for musicians, DJs, videographers, and other professionals and hobbyists who are on the lookout for an affordable yet rugged protective case.

This Nanuk entry caters to those who are looking for or could use a briefcase-size rugged case. The Nanuk 910 case measures 14.3” x 11.1” x 4.7” (LWH). As promised, like a briefcase!

It is fully lined with foam with a cubed foam insert. The shockproofing is on point, as it is with most Nanuk cases. The IP67 waterproof rating should give you peace of mind with regard to spills or catching some rain before you can find transportation.

Laptops, pedals, tuners, cables, condenser microphones, camera lenses – these are just some of the things that you can easily carry in the Nanuk 910 hard case without having to pay top dollar for a Pelican case or a designer briefcase.

This small rugged case can handle rough traveling conditions. Bad weather, bumpy roads, the occasional fall, pressure changes, etc. Nanuk’s own NK-7 resin is used for the shell and the material is more than capable of keeping your equipment in good working order and dent-free.

The same patented Powerclaw molded latches are used to keep your belongings safe and prevent the case from opening accidentally. The Powerclaws are triple action latches which are easy to operate yet very tough.

If you don’t need a very big equipment case, the Nanuk 910 is a good investment. Not just because of the overall quality but also because of its lifetime warranty.

The only thing not covered by the warranty is the foam padding. It makes sense since any type of foam degrades over time – quicker if you live in a hot climate.

There are many case manufacturers that advertise indestructible products. This just happens to be one that comes pretty close to that standard.

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    Affordable
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    Powerclaw molded latches
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    Waterproof, shockproof, dustproof
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    Pressure purge valve
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    Lifetime warranty
  • May be too small for some people

The Seahorse 920F is an American-made protective case with a lifetime guarantee. Even though the Seahorse is in the upper price range, it comes with a number of premium features.

This case is made of polypropylene copolymer, making it very rugged but flexible enough to withstand some rough handling. The 920F feels sturdy and well-built with scored Accuform foam on the inside. The foam is fully customizable and fits comfortably around instruments or any other equipment you may need to transport.

The 920F is a sizable protective case with approximate exterior dimensions of 24” x 16” x 10”. The case can hold a couple of smaller instruments and accessories, but you shouldn’t expect to fit a keyboard inside.

The Seahorse 920F comes with a set of wheels and a retractable handle. They do a great job of taking the strain off your hand and back, making the 920F one of the most travel-friendly protective cases. On top of that, the Seahorse is water and airtight and features twist-lock latches so the case won’t break open easily no matter how rough you handle it.

  • Travel-friendly design
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    Ample space inside
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    Customizable Accuform foam
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    Water and airtight
  • You may find it slightly pricey

If you’re looking to travel light but safe, the Nanuk 935 is a hard case of impressive durability that’s well worth your attention. It is designed for use as a carry-on, which makes it ideal to hold many accessories that a traveling musician takes with them on the road.

The case is 20.5” x 11.3” x 7.5”, on the inside. The charcoal foam inserts are not too dense, which means you have some wiggle room when packing your pedals, mics, and other gear. A layer of eggcrate-style charcoal foam lines the lid, the base, and all around. This offers great protection for all the content.

Dustproof, shockproof, and waterproof. You can hardly ask for more. The IP67 waterproof rating is more than enough to handle spills and rain.

It’s also good enough to protect the case under 3ft of water for 30 minutes. The dustproofing is solid and helps keep your gear in perfect working order on long trips. This is one case that isn’t going to just sit around in store when you’re at home. You can use it to store your fragile items or whatever.

Shockproofing is essential for any musician, no matter the quality of the interior padding. Because the Nanuk 935 is primarily made for airline travel, it features pressure equalization which will allow you to carry more sensitive gear at high altitude.

If you don’t like carrying the case or if it’s too heavy, there’s no need to panic. You can make use of the adjustable handle and the wheels to drag or push it along. The handle has a 2-stage retractable handle. It also features a quick-release button for convenience.

The wheels rotate smoothly on flat surfaces but will handle other surfaces as well. They are beefy wheels that are built recessed into the case to keep them from protruding too much (a sure way to fail the airline carry-on test at check-in).

The molded latches are another great feature. They do a good job of keeping the case shut and protected against impact. Last but not least, the Nanuk proprietary NK-7 resin used to make the shell is one of the most durable solutions for travel cases. Is this good enough to pick over a Pelican? – You decide.

  • Highly durable NK-7 resin case
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    Carry-on dimensions
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    Patented triple action latches
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    High-quality foam
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    Shockproof, dustproof, waterproof
  • Slightly expensive

This protective case is designed for professionals who need a hard case, which include musicians, videographers, and more.

The Monoprice Hard Case comes in a large range of sizes, from as small as 1 liter volume to as massive as 146 liters. As is the case with most hard cases, the internal foam is fully customizable to your needs, those the foam in this one doesn’t come with any cutouts.

The protective foam fits snugly around your equipment and the impact and UV-resistant case shell features a pressure release valve. The Monoprice sports a 67 Ingress Protection (IP) rating, attesting to its premium build quality.

Overall this case feels sturdy and durable with minimal flexing on the sides.

  • Premium build quality
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    Huge range of sizes
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    Compact and versatile
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    Ultraviolet resistant
  • Latches may be hard to close
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    Only 1-year warranty

The CASEMATIX TOUGH-XL is another case designed for videographers. But musicians, gun enthusiasts, and other gearheads can use it as well since it features a fully customizable layer of thick foam.

The CASEMATIX is relatively inexpensive for a Pelican substitute. But you shouldn’t be deterred by the low price since the build quality is excellent.

This case is made of high-quality polypropylene which adds to its overall rigidity, and the dense ELE foam should keep you gear nicely secured no matter where you take it.

Even though this case offers ample protection for your equipment, it doesn’t feature a pressure release valve. So it might not be suited for every professional, especially if you have to bring sensitive gear on air travel.

  • Affordable price
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    Thick ELE foam
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    Rugged materials
  • Lack of pressure relief valve
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    The latches could be better

The Seahorse SE-520F hard case is all about customization and protection. This 5.15lbs case is small but built like a tank. Its exterior dimensions are 15.27” x 12.13” x 6.69”. On the inside, you don’t lose as much space as you think.

Accuform foam is used for padding and compartmentalization on the interior. You can rearrange the separators to fit as much gear as you need. Whether it’s electronic gear, valuable items, or anything else that needs protection, the interior is fully customizable and accommodating.

Making your own foam compartments may seem like a drag for some people. But, at this price range, it’s rare that you can get a good alternative to a hard Pelican case and the perfect interior to fit your equipment.

What’s also nice to see is that the case is airtight and waterproof. This means that you won’t have to worry about dust, spills, and other nasty particles affecting your equipment during a long trip. The pressurization also ensures that flying won’t damage any sensitive gear.

Even better, the SE-520F comes with a lifetime guarantee. That may vouch for the overall quality of the case for those who might be hesitant of getting a case from a lesser-known brand.

The pricing is also fair. The case doesn’t look too impressive, it’s just your average equipment case. This means that you don’t pay a premium on fancy aesthetic features that may not help your cause – keeping your gear safe.

When it comes to security, the SE-520F enjoys a combination of safety latches and padlock holes. That should be enough to also keep your gear away from prying hands.

Be careful when you order this because there’s also an SE-520 model that comes without protective foam. Another use for a smaller case like this is as a gift box! Instead of wrapping up your gift, you can easily put it in one of these. This one may hold up to 3 bottles of fine wine, for example, but remember to pad the interior to keep the content from moving around.

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    Fully customizable interior
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    High-quality padding
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    Good value for the money
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    Waterproof and dustproof
  • Not a well-known brand

Condition 1 offers another budget-friendly option similar to Pelican travel cases. The case weighs 4.4lbs and measures 14” x 11.5” x 6” (LWH). These dimensions make it compliant with ATA and TSA regulations and ready for airline travel.

As you can tell, there’s quite a bit of room on the inside. You can carry a laptop, a couple of effects pedals, a pedalboard etc. The interior is fully customizable. While the lid lined with eggcrate-style charcoal foam, the rest of the foam can be rearranged or cut to fit your needs.

The case is lightweight yet very tough. It offers good shock and impact protection. It can also withstand being submerged in 3ft of water for up to 30 minutes. That’s not bad at all at this price range.

I like the use of a proper O-ring seal for waterproofing and airtightness. If it’s important to keep your gear dust-free, this case will do a good job. What’s also worth noting is the presence of an automatic pressure valve.

It’s hard to say that any hard case is a good replacement for the real deal if it doesn’t have an automatic pressure release valve. This one does, and it works.

You can also see the quality of the material and how much abuse this case can handle in the following video.

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    Affordable
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    Customizable interior
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    TSA-compliant
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    Pressure release valve
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    Lifetime warranty
  • May be too small for some people

IBEX designed its Pelican replacement cases to withstand truly harsh environments and traveling conditions. This particular model is as rugged as they come and offers just as much protection on the exterior as it does on the interior. The shell is made of injection-molded polypropylene.

The case is 15.5” x 12.6” x 5.6” (LWH). And these are the interior dimensions. You can fit a lot inside it, which makes sense. IBEX didn’t make this model for any one particular use. They recommended it for musicians, photographers, filmmakers, and even everyday travelers that want an extra layer of security for their sensitive equipment.

A pressure release valve takes care of atmospheric pressure changes and any potential negative impact of such changes. The seal is great and helps protect your valuable equipment from both water and dust particles.

The case is also made to resist extreme temperatures. It’s rated for -4 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s -20 to 80 degrees Celsius). Note that this means the environment truly doesn’t matter. Whether you want to take photos of polar bears or record a video in the middle of the desert, the case will protect anything that you put inside it.

If you’re worried about security, know that the IC-1500BK comes with dual padlock clasps. You can use your favorite locks to protect yourself against “opportunists”.

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    Good heat and cold resistance
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    Airtight seal
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    Padlock feature
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    Pressure purge valve
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    Customizable interior
  • Higher density foam (which could also be a pro)

Although the AmazonBasics protective case is primarily designed for camera gear, musicians may find it useful as well. There is enough room for a smaller brass instrument, guitar pedals, processors, or your favorite pair of DJ headphones or mixer.

There are 3 sizes available but even the largest one is compatible with most US airline standards so you can easily take it on the plane. Though it still may not be enough for a drum set. The inside features customizable foam squares.

The squares have been pre-cut for camera gear but you shouldn’t have any problems fitting your instrument or audio accessories, or even a handgun. It also comes with a pressure equalization valve to protect your equipment against extreme pressure changes.

This protective case is very lightweight yet built from durable plastic. These features make the AmazonBasics case easily transportable and strong enough to support heavier gear or less-than-careful handling.

  • Airplane ready
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    Lightweight and durable
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    Pre-cut protective foam
  • May not be suitable for all musicians
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    The sides may flex too much

The Condition 1 protective case by Royal Case Company offers the ruggedness and versatility that most gear-oriented professionals need.

This case is made of polypropylene copolymer with molded hinges and stainless steel hardware. It is completely protected from the outside elements with a pressure valve to relieve sudden pressure changes. What’s more, this case features spring-loaded hinges that make opening and closing a breeze.

The Condition 1 comes in 4 different colors to match your style or the type of gear you put inside. There are four customizable foam layers with an additional layer of scored foam under the top lid.

The 4 pieces of foam combined with the increased depth of this protective case should allow you to safely stack different pieces of equipment.

  • Rugged and sturdy
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    Comfortable handle
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    Versatile and customizable
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    Stainless steel hardware
  • May not be as watertight as expected

What to Consider in Protective Hard Cases

Before you actually purchase a comparable model or simply a pelican case knock off, there are a few things you should know about. This is a brief overview of the features you should look for.

Materials

Most hard cases are made of polypropylene or polypropylene copolymer. This type of rigid plastic offers more than enough protection, but some models perform better than others. Your case should feel rugged and you make sure the lid or the bottom don’t flex too much.

It also pays off to invest more into a case that comes with steel elements for added protection and durability.

Protective Foam

The protective foam inside the hard case is usually Ether-Like-Easter (ELE) polyurethane. Even though it is a budget option compared to polyester, it is more customizable than the harder polyester foam. You should choose a case featuring thicker layers of ELE that don’t sink in too much when pressed.

Pressure Release Valve

The pressure release valve might be one of the vital features of a hard case if you know there will be pressure changes. It ensures that your sensitive equipment won’t come under undue pressure, on an airplane for example.

Conclusion

I hope my selection of decent hard cases (similar to Pelican) allows you to choose the most suitable rugged case for your instrument or other gear.

My personal favorite would be the Nanuk 935 because it offers excellent protection and it’s very easy to move around with its wheels and retractable handle. But if you are on a tight budget, you can consider any of the more economical options on my list.

Gavin Whitner
    Gavin Whitner
     

    A guitar player, songwriter, composer, and also the lead editor of MusicOomph, Gavin is one of the four musician friends behind this site. Outside of music, he's an avid sports fan and hardly misses anything from football (soccer) to F1.

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
    Avatar
    Ruth Josey - January 15, 2019

    Didn’t see a date, so this could be years old, but this was very helpful in making an alternative case selection for a non-music application. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
      Gavin Whitner
      Gavin Whitner - January 16, 2019

      Hi Ruth,

      Glad you found this useful. And this was originally published towards the end of last year, so it’s not years old either. 🙂

      Reply
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      John - October 26, 2019

      Does say 2019 in the heading…

      Reply
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    Gobba Yol - March 3, 2019

    Gavin, thanks! This was some very nice info for those of us, who can’t afford those expensive Peli cases! Have a nice day!

    Reply

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