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Best equipment cases: choosing a waterproof protector case

Richard Coombes: Last Updated 16th February 2024
Posted In: Guides and Advice | Transit Protection xx 31623

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.

The protective case market as a whole takes in a huge range of different protector cases. Everything from lightweight plastic to aluminium, custom built flight cases and even wooden crates.

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.

Quick Reference / Contents

01: Waterproof Case Features

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.

Equipment cases
Equipment cases can play an important role in protecting your business' assets

Besides this, waterproof cases can be easily enhanced with foam inserts. Using foam such as Plastazote® inside 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.

02: IP Ratings

What are IP ratings?

There are in fact various levels of protection from water, moisture and dust, with different 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.

Waterproof equipment cases
Waterproof equipment cases are given an IP rating - effectively indicating how resistant to water they are

Therefore, an IP rating of 67 would provide complete protection from both dust and water – even if submerged.

Please read this guide for further explanation and details of IP ratings.

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).

03: Choosing a Waterproof Equipment Case

Selecting a suitable option for your business / application

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?

Well, no.

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:

  • Peli™ Cases
  • Peli Storm Case™
  • SKB
  • Explorer
  • Nanuk
  • Hardigg™ Roto Mould
  • EXOCase™

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.

04: Best for Reliability / Most Popular

Peli™ Waterproof Cases

Peli™ Protector cases are the original waterproof equipment cases, having been first launched in 1967.

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.

Peli equipment cases
Peli equipment cases are the original waterproof case, being extensively tested and used by military forces worldwide

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.

05: Best All Round Case

Peli Storm Case™

A close relative of Peli cases (being manufactured by the same company), Peli Storm Case™ 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).

Peli Storm equipment cases
Peli Storm equipment cases are arguably the best combination between price, performance and features

The downsides?

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 Case™ is the equipment case for you.

06: Best for Price / Performance Balance


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 different 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.

07: Best for Cost


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.

Explorer cases
Explorer cases offer the majority of the benefits of the other equipment cases, but at a considerably lower price point

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.

08: 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.

Hardigg roto mould cases
If you need the toughest equipment case available then you should consider the Hardigg roto mould case range

The drawbacks?

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.

09: Best for Features


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.

10: Best for Specific Sizes / Shipping


EXOCase actually offers a lower IP rating than all of the other cases detailed here – although it does still provide protection to IP *6.

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.

EXOCase equipment cases
EXOCase equipment cases offer the protection of moulded cases, but with complete size flexibility

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.

In Summary

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.

Please note: All trademarks are registered and/or unregistered trademarks of Peli Products, S.L.U., its parent, subsidiaries and/or affiliates

Further Reading...

About the Author

Richard Coombes

Richard Coombes

General Manager | GWP Protective

Having originally joined GWP Protective back in 2004, working on the factory floor, Richard now heads up the business as General Manager. [Read full bio…]

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