Pelican does make some awesome cases.
I’ve always loved the build quality and durability of Pelican’s brand, but always have hated the price tag.
There are tons of great options available that provide similar, if not better protection.
Today I’ll be sharing with you 7 awesome Pelican case alternatives that will save you coin and still protect your gear.
My Favorite Pelican Style Case Alternative at a Glance
Pelican Cases can be really expensive. They are an essential part of being a touring musician, photographer, or anything else with gear involved.
When I was building my case, I spent quite a bit. The 1510 carry-on case itself without the foam ran me more than $200. I also opted to get the lid organizer and dividers for my camera gear. All in all, I spent more than $300 on a heavy-duty case to travel with my camera equipment.
If you do not have a large budget, you may need to shop at a second-hand store for one. Before you convert an old suitcase from the 60s into your new microphone case, I suggest checking out all the Peli case alternatives I’ve listed below.
1) Nanuk 935
Nanuk’s 935 hard case is a great alternative to Pelican featuring padlock holes, wheels, lid foam, steel hardware, the Powerclaw latching system, and cubed foam.
I hadn’t heard much about Nanuk’s hard cases prior to updating this roundup. As far as I know, they are relatively unknown.
That being said, the company has received tons of raving reviews online and is a serious contender to Pelican cases.
Overview of the 935
The 935 isn’t the biggest case in the lot, but is the most unique and customizable of the bunch.
Nanuk’s case comes in six different colors; it’s rare for case manufacturers to offer so many options.
Nanuk offers protective cases for everything including video cameras, DSLR cameras, laptops, drones, outdoor gear, and more.
Compared to a Pelican 1510 case, the 935 actually has a few more inches of room for your gear.
Another great feature of the 935, and all Nanuk cases, is the latching hardware. The cases easily with a definitive snap, so you know it’s secure.
Contrary to Pelican’s hardware latch, there’s definitely an improvement here.
You won’t have to worry about TSA opening and closing your case in the event that it may not latch correctly and stay closed on a flight.
Both Nanuk cases and Pelican cases feature wheels on some of their models for easy transport.
Nanuk’s 935 case features wheels that are almost 1/4″ larger in size. This isn’t the biggest deal-breaker, though the case does seem to roll better.
The padlock integration on a Pelican case is lacking when compared to Nanuk.
For starters, the 1510 case features what appears to be stainless steel crimp locked to the plastic. This is a huge security flaw.
Nanuk addresses this issue with the 935 case, featuring stainless steel flanges that your padlock shackle fits into. A definite plus in our book.
2) Seahorse 920
Seahorse cases are great quality and value if you’re looking to protect your gear. They aren’t the most affordable option, but they are a strong competitor to Pelican.
The Seahorse 920 Waterproof hard case is a fantastic alternative to a Pelican case. It features a retractable handle, wide track wheels, and a safety seal to protect against water, air, and dust.
Seahorse carries cases in sizes that range from micro, small, medium, and large. They also have specialty pre-made designs made exclusively for photographers.
They do have many more cases than we will mention, but we’re just hitting the main ones.
Micro and Small
The Micro case is offered in three variations: phone, tablet, and laptop. Some are without foam and some with.
The two smaller cases feature a Carabiner loop for easily attaching to bags and backpacks.
The line of small cases from Seahorse isn’t too drastically different than the micro category.
These cases are made for professionals, rather than your average consumer trying to protect their Macbook, in my opinion.
Large and Photography Cases
The lineup of large hard cases from Seahorse is just what you’d expect: simple. They offer the 830, 920, 1220, and 1530, all of which sport different uses.
For all you budding filmmakers out there, Seahorse has you covered as well. They have a line of cases made exclusively for you! The 920 is our favorite of the bunch.
If there’s one company that gets the hard case treatment correct, it’s Seahorse.
A buddy of mine is a lighting director from San Francisco who uses the 920 for all his tech gear on the road (gaff tape, clamps, electrical tape, tools, etc).
When I saw what he was using, my first question was, “Hey Rob, that looks like a Pelican, but who makes it?”
This discovery would intrigue me to learn about all the different options available from different manufacturers.
The Seahorse 920 has been great for housing my partial electronic drum set that compliments my drum set on stage.
I no longer needed to worry about the components moving around in the trailer while moving down the highway. This case has far exceeded its value.
The wheel operation is extremely smooth and the case is very rugged. The retractable handle operates in a very similar fashion to the Pelican.
3) Eylar Protective Gear
Outer: 24.43” x 19.43" x 9.65" Inner: 21.48" x 16.5" x 7.87". Case is water and shock resistant.
We didn’t take a sledgehammer to it, but think the Eylar case is still strong like Pelican cases. The plastic outer case is a little bit thinner than a traditional Pelican case but is absolutely sufficient for most applications.
This hard case comes equipped with pluck-able foam to fit any gear you might have. Be sure to map out your gear spaces BEFORE you start removing foam.
4) HUL Military-Style Hard Cases
Hard-shelled protective case for test instruments, SLR cameras, compact cameras and GoPro cameras and accessories.
Here’s a new brand I recently stumbled on: HUL.
Their case is crush-proof and can fit everything from GoPros to SLR cameras. The handles on the case are nice, but a little cheap in comparison to Pelican.
They are somewhat “hollowed out.” I’d guess this is to save money during production.
HUL also includes a rubber ring that keeps the interior dust-free and resistant to harsh weather conditions. Also, the case is safe to fly with.
The foam on the inside is similar to Pelican 1500 pluck-able foam. You can easily create your own spots for gear.
5) AmazonBasics Hard Camera Case
The large AmazonBasics case was intended for a camera, but can utilized for whatever gear you may have.
Being that this case is from the e commerce giant, you know it’s going to be a decent product.
It’s perfect for transporting microphones, SLR cameras, firearms, and anything else you can think of.
The case has a relatively simple design with no fancy branding. Just like a Pelican, the it has a convenient handle for carrying.
You can also create a custom molding for all your gear with pre-cut foam squares. It’s super easy to customize the interior to fit whatever you need to keep safe.
Now, on to the bad. The plastic of the Basics case is definitely inferior to that of a Pelican.
Depending on the size of the case, the plastic will depress a bit when pressure is applied to the center.
That being said, it will still protect your gear well at a more affordable price.
There’s also the awkward angle the case sits at. It’s not exactly squared off and this results in the case sitting on the floor on an angle, easily knocked over if not placed down perfectly.
6) Monoprice Hard Cases
Here’s another fantastic Pelican alternative to add to the list. Just like most other cases, foam is included.
Just like every other case we have mentioned, the Monoprice Weatherproof Hard Case also features a fully-customizable interior with pre-cut foam squares.
It is comparable to the Pelican iM2975 Storm Trak Case with similar interior dimensions.
One giant problem with the larger versions of the case is the positioning of the large handle.
It is located opposite of the wheels making rolling this large of a case extremely awkward and straining depending on the weight of the contents you are carrying.
This may be a big deal-breaker for some.
Some other cases also face an issue of an inward flexing middle latch, often causing user inability to close the middle latch.
These tiny oversights make for poor user experience. When your company focuses on an area of the cheaper market, you should want to be the dominant force.
Maybe these issues will be addressed one day. For the most part, Monoprice makes great products. Despite the two major issues, the cases will still provide excellent protection.
I’ve used their XLR cables, instrument cables, adapters, and many others. These cases may be somewhere they have struck out, however.
The question now remains, are you willing to spend a good chunk of change on something inferior when there are other better options available?
7) Koah Weatherproof Hard Case
The Koah weatherproof hard case is perfect for storage and transport of cameras, lenses, or whatever else you can imagine. (18 x 14 x 7 Inch)
Marketed as a case for a gun owner, this hard plastic case serves as a perfect alternative for anyone needing a tough, reliable case for laptops, microphones, iPads, etc.
Not only is this the perfect Pelican case alternative, but you will also be able to afford three, four, even five of these cases for the price of one Pelican. I personally own three of these cases and they have served me well on many tours.
There are no locking mechanisms, so you will be out of luck there. If you’re like me and do not need the locks, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The Koah case features cubic foam inserts that allow you to customize the sizing of any of your delicate gear to your liking. One of my cases holds all my touring microphones and the other holds a MacBook, iPad, iPhone, as well as the necessary power cables for each.
I can personally attest that this exact case will hold up in heavy rain. It wasn’t exposed for too long outside, but it kept my MacBook perfectly safe.
The last place I want my computer to be is submerged in water inside a hard case marketed as waterproof. Thumbs up from us.
My favorite Pelican case alternative
The Seahorse 920 is by far my favorite pick of the bunch. It’s the closest competitor to Pelican and truly stands out against the competition.
At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with any of the cases on the list (Monoprice may be an exception, but they still protect your gear well).
For general use, all of these will perform much better than any plastic storage case you can buy from your local retailer.
I recall a time not so long ago when I used a large plastic bin from my local Target store to carry our microphone stands. Needless to say, the bin didn’t last through our tour.
Ever since we invested a little bit of money to protect our gear, we haven’t lost any sleep while flying down the highway to the next gig.
Where to buy cheap Pelican cases?
If you’re still interested in buying a Pelican case, eBay and Amazon do sometimes have used offers available.
If you’re on Amazon, navigate to the case you’d like, scroll down and look for used & new (x) from $xxx.xx.
This will give you all the available used listings. and Another option to consider is Craigslist.
Why Is Pelican the Standard?
So if the alternatives aren’t for you, I completely understand why. There’s a reason why most industry professionals all use Pelican gear.
Pelican cases are extremely tough and durable, utilized by touring musicians, photographers, military personnel, gun owners, and everyday consumers.
Their cases offer incredible protection for all kinds of expensive gear. I was blown away at how many industry professionals use these cases on a daily basis.
Why do so many professionals choose Pelican?
For one, the gear that they use is expensive.
What photographer wants to leave the protection of a bunch of their expensive lenses to a soft case?
There’s probably no one.
A hard-protective case provides a nice area for storing gear as well as protecting it from fall damage.
Another one of Pelican’s main selling points is the case’s airtight and watertight gasket, making them impermeable to water in less than ideal weather conditions.
They also feature a relief valve to prevent damage to the case when flying with air pressure changes.
While they meet the standards for waterproofing, stacking impact, and extreme durability, is that something that you always need?
Many companies featured on this list, who manufacture similar cases, often also have the same features without the high price tags.
A quick history of Pelican Cases
Pelican holds a world-class title as the leader in high-performance protective cases, portable lighting systems, and rugged gear.
Pelican cases are utilized every day in demanding markets like safety, fire, law enforcement, entertainment, defense, life sciences, military, industrial, and consumer.
These cases are designed to last for a lifetime. Just south of Los Angeles sits the corporate headquarters.
Pelican was founded in 1976 by Dave Parker and his wife Arline in Torrance, California.
A hobby of his being scuba diving, Dave needed cases that were both rugged and waterproof to protect his gear.
Dave set out to build a product better than anything else on the market. The first product, the Pelican Float, was soon followed by the Protector Cases.
One benefit of buying an actual Pelican Case is the company’s strict adherence to being friendly to the environment.
Upon checkout, Pelican offers repeat-use packaging to reduce the amount of waste from traditional corrugated fiberboard. That’s a plus in our book.
Have you used any Pelican case alternatives on this list? Be sure to let us know if we missed anything and if you’d like to leave a comment, we’d appreciate it! Thanks for reading!
No mention of Apachie from Harbor Freight?
Another pelican case alternative is https://Condition1.com. They’re up to 30% less with better wheels than all of them and a full lifetime warranty.
Harbor Freight has a great series of affordable cases as well that are very good. Their brand is called Apache and is sold in similar size offerings as a Pelican and Nanuk for about half the price.