How to Safeguard Your Equipment.
A guide to selecting the most suitable protective case with foam
Equipment cases can be the one thing preventing costs to your business potentially running into thousands of pounds.
They could be the one thing protecting your extremely expensive equipment during transit or when being taken out on site.
They could be the one thing preventing project delays, wasted time on site and unproductive staff – all caused by important equipment arriving on site damaged, faulty or even missing.
Yet their importance is frequently neglected, or even worse, overlooked altogether.
Even if you know and understand their importance, choosing an equipment case can be difficult.
And even if you are looking at waterproof equipment cases – as you really should if you require the highest level of protection – making the right choice can still be daunting.
Common features of waterproof equipment cases
So why should you choose waterproof cases if you are looking to protect high value, fragile or business critical tools, equipment or products?
Well, there are actually a number of very good reasons.
Firstly, this type of moulded plastic case is exceptionally strong and durable. They can absorb impact, general mishandling, will not burst open if crushed (even if run over by a vehicle), can withstand being dropped from a great height and are, all in all, the most indestructible cases available today.
As a result, the majority of waterproof equipment cases come with a manufacturer’s lifetime guarantee – if you manage to break it, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge.
Besides this, waterproof cases can be easily enhanced with foam inserts. Using foam such as Plastazoteinside a moulded plastic equipment case can be eliminated the movement of the contents of the case, but also allows for calculated levels of cushioning protection to be engineered into the case.
The combination of exceptionally tough outer case and foam cushioning can completely eliminate transit or handling damage.
It doesn’t stop there though.
Most cases will offer easy to use handles, pressure relief valves (so the case doesn’t “pop” open during changes in pressure), can feature wheels for further ease of handling, and can feature secure clasps that can usually be locked as well.
But what about protection from water as the name would suggest? This on its own can be a very significant consideration.
What are IP ratings?
There are in fact various levels of protection from water, moisture and dust, with differing cases offering different levels of protection.
This level of protection is often referred to as the IP Rating – the Ingress Protection provided by the case. Communicated as 2 digits, this gives a detailed understanding of just how waterproof your case will be.
The first digit establishes the level of protection against the intrusion of foreign bodies. At the low end of the scale, this can refer to hands and fingers but increases to cover the protection provided against fine dust particles.
The second digit covers protection against water, liquid or other moisture ingresses. Again, the low end of the scale covers gently dripping water, whilst the highest level of protection is concerned with complete immersion of the case underwater.
Therefore, an IP rating of 67 would provide complete protection from both dust and water – even if submerged.
The importance of this for your equipment cases is that high value or specialist tools, parts or components – especially those containing electronics – can be severely damaged by moisture (amongst other things).
Choosing a waterproof equipment case
So knowing that most if not all waterproof equipment cases would provide a similar set of features, and all offer high levels of impact protection, surely the choice boils down to which offers the highest IP rating?
Unfortunately (or fortunately – depending on how you look at it), the majority of waterproof cases offer an IP rating of 67 or 68.
Whilst this means practically any waterproof equipment case will offer your items the required protection, is there any way to decide which one would be best for your application?
The short answer is yes.
But before highlighting the reasons you would choose one protector case over another, it is worth detailing the brands and ranges available to you.
Brands / ranges of waterproof equipment case
Although there are in fact an even wider range of cases than those listed here, the major brands and options that are widely used for the safe transit of high value or fragile equipment are as follows:
Hardigg Roto Mould
The rest of this guide briefly summarises each of the cases distinguishing features or selling points, hopefully allowing you to ascertain the one which is best for your business or application.
Best for reliability / most popular: Peli Waterproof Cases
Whilst this in itself isn’t a benefit, what it does mean is that the brand is well trusted (including by many armed forces around the world) due to its tried and trusted performance.
This reliability, coupled with a large range of sizes and colours that have been developed over the years, means that it is a versatile option. The fact that it has been available for such a length of time also means the cases have been extensively tested, and given an IP rating of 67.
However, being the leading brand is reflected in the price point, is considerably more expensive than some of the lesser known case ranges.
Other minor criticisms include an appearance that many find a little dated, the clasp design being prone to freezing shut and becoming brittle at very low temperatures, plus difficulty branding the exterior.
However, if you are looking for protection and budget isn’t an issue, Peli cases are a great choice.
Best all round case: Peli Storm
A close relative of Peli cases (being manufactured by the same company), Peli Storm cases have been positioned as a slightly more premium option.
However, whilst that is reflected in the appearance which does appear much more “high end”, the levels of protection are not compromised at all.
Being IP67 rated and having undergone extensive military spec testing, you can be certain your equipment or tools will be protected by this range of cases.
It also has a number of clever features such as automatic pressure relief valve (Peli and many other cases require manual adjustment), as well as much improved clasps, handles and wheels (on larger cases).
Being a relatively new case, the range of sizes and colours are much more limited than its older sibling. The price points again reflect both the Peli brand and the positioning of this particular range.
Saying that, if you are looking for excellent protective performance and also want the best possible appearance, then a Peli Storm is the equipment case for you.
Best for price / performance balance: SKB
A relative newcomer to the market, SKB has quickly been making up ground on the competition through the performance levels (it matches the Peli cases on IP rating and military testing specifications), but also through the wide array of sizes and styles.
There are in fact a number of differing ranges within the SKB catalogue (3i and 3R being the two most notable), as well as a huge range of specialist cases designed specifically for musical instruments, drones and other equipment.
With pricing also more competitive than the Peli cases, there is little negative to say about the cases. However, some people complain that the catches– whilst easy to operate – can deteriorate more rapidly than other options on the market. The range of sizes is also slightly more limited than some of the other options.
Best for cost: Explorer
Once marketed on their Italian heritage (and by extension good looks), Explorer cases are actually one of the most cost-effective options on the market today.
Being very similar to Peli in terms appearance and features, these European designed / manufactured cases are widely used by armed forces within the EU.
Although the appearance is (arguably) appealing, the range is limited somewhat by both a lack of sizes and colours when compared with some of the other case options.
The catches can also suffer a similar fate to those on the Peli cases (in that they can freeze shut and snap), but overall the performance levels are excellent (backed up with a lifetime guarantee and military level test certification).
As a result, this is the case to choose if costs are tight or you are working towards a specific budget.
Best for ruggedness / protection: Hardigg Roto Mould
Hardigg roto mould cases are without a doubt the toughest case available on the market today.
As a result, if you require the highest level of protection for very high-value items, this is the case for you.
Other benefits include an extensive range of sizes (more than most of the other options listed here combined), plus the ability to “cut and shut” cases to achieve an even greater range of dimensions.
Besides this, they have an incorporated stacking feature, are available in specific rack mount setups, and have been extensively tested by the military.
Well, the cases are very heavy and bulky, meaning they can be difficult to handle and may incur significant transit costs. They are also very expensive (when compared with the other options here), although this is a reflection of the amount of protection they offer.
So whilst they may not be ideal for field staff if portability is an issue, they will offer your equipment the highest level of protection possible.
Best for features: Nanuk
Another new entrant to the already crowded market, Nanuk cases offer all of the performance expected of cases in this segment, at a mid-range price point.
However, whilst there are cheaper cases (and more expensive ones too), the main benefit these cases offer is the amount of built in features which often cost extra on other cases.
For example, every Nanuk case comes with an integrated bezel which allows for easy mounting of electronics without needing to drill the cases exterior (as with Peli and Storm for example). As well saving cost on purchasing the bezel, this also retains the full IP67 rating too.
Similarly, an integrated lid stay is also included (again, an extra or not even available on other cases).
Saying that, as the range is relatively new there is a limited number of sizes / colours (although this may still grow as the case gains popularity). Some people are also reluctant to trust their high vale equipment with a case that is – relatively speaking – still rather untested compared with some of its rivals (although it does have good results from a range of military test etc.).
All in all, a good case that, if you are looking for a lot of features as standard, or definitely require mounting of electronics – is a viable option.
Best for specific sizes / shipping: EXOCase
So whilst it is offering performance that is approaching (but not quite at) the level offered by moulded waterproof cases, it offers one major point of difference and advantage – in that it can be easily manufactured to virtually any size.
Effectively being a waterproof flight case, EXOCase offers a great compromise between a moulded plastic case (i.e. protection) and a custom built case (custom sizes).
The benefits of this are that rather than selecting a case which is the nearest size (and therefore slightly too large), a case that is the perfect size can be sourced. This reduces the cost (through less material) of any foam inserts, as well as allowing for more efficient and cost-effective (yet safe) shipping.
The other main benefit is that the cases can be very easily modified in terms of colours, handle types, adding wheels and even rack housing, whilst it is possible to replace components (e.g. corners or panels etc.) if they become damaged.
The main disadvantages, however, are a relatively high weight (which can make handling difficult), and the lack of a full IP67 / 68 rating. It also offers slightly less impact protection too.
Saying that this protective case offers a great choice, combining the flexibility with the (almost) performance of moulded case.
Choosing the best equipment case for your business
As you can see, whilst the majority of waterproof equipment cases offer similar levels of performance with the arguable exception of Roto Moulded and EXOCase options), there are specific reasons why you would choose one particular option over another.
If you are still unsure of the best option for your application, however – or would like to discuss how this could fit within your specific budget, then please contact a member of the team at GWP Protective who will be happy to help.