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Budget cases: cheap equipment case options for your business

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

Low-Cost Protective Cases

How to source cost effective "budget cases" without compromising performance

It is obviously important to protect your business’ assets – whether that is tools, diagnostics equipment, specialist kit, or other products that your staff or customers use.

But with costs spiralling across many areas, sourcing budget cases that still provide the required levels of performance can be a smart move.

But how do you find a cheap equipment case that still ensures your items remain protected? Well, this guide provides a range of handpicked, budget cases that will be suitable for every possible application and / or industry.

It covers:

  • Cheap waterproof / hard cases, where high protection levels are required
  • Aluminium case options (ideal for shipping)
  • Lightweight plastic cases for professional presentations and sales meetings
  • Cases specifically for smaller items
  • Custom sized options (such as flight cases)
  • And much more!

Please continue reading below, or use the table of contents to head straight to your area of interest.

Quick Reference / Contents


Are cheap equipment cases a false economy?

Many businesses will – correctly – believe that cutting corners when specifying packaging or protective cases can actually cost more money in the long term.

This is particularly true where costly or specialist equipment becomes damaged because the case it is stored and transported in isn’t up to the job. Beside the monetary costs of replacing the damaged items, it can also risk wasted time on site for staff, as well as damage to your business’ hard-earned reputation.

budget cases
Many businesses will assume budget cases are a false economy - but if chosen well they can provide the required levels of performance

Often, however, the problem simply lies in choosing the wrong type of case for the specific application.

In fact, once you know what the most suitable case type is for your tools, equipment, environment, application, or use, it allows you to begin exploring budget case options. Frequently, these provide the exact same levels of performance and features as the well-known, higher priced brands that are available.

This guide provides a break-down of not only which cases you should use for which application, but goes on to highlight the cheaper options that you would be wise to consider.

What about foam inserts?

Before we look at the protective case options, it would also be remiss to not mention foam inserts.

This is another area where businesses can sometimes want to cut corners – often with catastrophic results.

Foam inserts, particularly those tailored to your specific tools or equipment, will help to protect items. Often, they are the single biggest factor in whether your equipment remains well protected, or becomes damaged.

So, regardless of the protective case you choose, selecting an appropriate foam insert is just as important.

Saying that, any experienced foam converter should be able to provide a range of options to suit your specific budget, working with you to provide a solution that is not only cost effective, but provides longevity and excellent protection too.

cheap equipment cases for business
Businesses looking for cheap equipment cases may try to cut corners on the foam insert element - but to do so would be a mistake

01: Cheap Waterproof Cases

B&W Outdoor cases (lowest cost for where high protection levels are required)

When businesses or individuals are looking for a tough, waterproof protective case, they usually think of Peli. In fact, “Peli case” has become a term used to describe all cases of this type.

And whilst these cases can be cost effective in the long run – preventing costly damage to equipment and usually being offered with a lifetime guarantee, their upfront costs can be eye wateringly high.

Whilst there are a number of options that are cheaper than Peli Protector and Peli Storm cases, most notably Explorer and Nanuk, the lowest cost option when looking for a case of this type is B&W.

Manufactured in the Netherlands, B&W cases are in fact the cheapest waterproof cases currently available.

cheap waterproof cases
B&W Cases are an excellent, low cost alternative to Peli cases and similar waterproof options

However, they provide all of the benefits and features you would expect from one of the more premium options. This includes comfortable handles, pressure release valve, easy to use latches and locks, inline wheels on larger cases, and an all-round seal.

This latter point means the cases are fully waterproof (IP67 rated), whilst the polypropylene outer also makes the cases exceptionally tough. They have even been tested to various military standards.

All of this means that B&W cases are the most cost-effective waterproof cases for protecting specialist tools, service engineers’ kits, broadcasting equipment, and anything that needs to be kept safe and dry.

02: Budget Aluminium Cases

Bott Aluminium Cases (lowest cost for lightweight yet durable cases and / or shipping)

Aluminium cases have a number of inherent benefits.

This includes an excellent strength to weight ratio (meaning cases are both light and durable), resistance to rusting and corrosion, and being easy to clean.

Due to this, aluminium cases are frequently used for international shipping (where the light weight can help reduce costs) sports kit (travel skips are used by virtually all professional sports teams, including Premier League Football clubs), and for the protection of engineer’s tools and equipment.

All of this means that aluminium cases – and those manufacture by market leader Zarges – have steadily grown in popularity.

cheap aluminium cases
Bott aluminium cases are not only versatile, but are also a viable option when looking for budget aluminium cases

But much like waterproof cases detailed in the previous section, there is one major drawback: their cost.

However, if you are looking for a budget aluminium case for your business, but which maintains the key benefits as highlighted above, then the range of Bott cases is a great choice.

Being considerably cheaper than their closest rivals, Bott cases also boast ribbed corners for added strength, a seal in the lid to make them shower proof, a recessed base to prevent water ingress if left on a wet surface, plus easy to use catches and handles.

The only slight downside to Bott cases is the range of sizes are fairly limited when compared with Zarges Eurobox and Zarges k470 ranges. But, being based on standard pallet sizes, the likelihood is that there is a Bott case to suit your specific application (and at a very cost-effective price point too).

03: Budget Plastic Cases

WAG Tekno cases (cheapest option for lightweight use / presentations)

Although plastic cases (also commonly referred to as sample cases or carry cases) are typically amongst the lowest cost / budget cases available, it can be surprising how much cost variation there can be between the differing ranges.

Whilst in some cases this understandable – for example, the double walled construction of WAG Heavy cases and Hofbauer Megabag and Quantum T options increasing their cost – for many there is little discernible difference between the performance and features of the cases. Yet the costs can still vary dramatically.

So, whilst many businesses will select a lightweight plastic case based on appearance or available colours, for those looking for a truly cost-effective option there is really only one choice – WAG Tekno cases.

cheap plastic cases
WAG Tekno cases are simultaneously one of the most well made and cost effective sample cases / carry cases available

Providing a wide range of sizes and colours (being amongst the largest ranges of this type of case), Tekno also provide a number of features alongside their competitive price points.

This includes an ergonomic, moulded in handle. Stacking feet and locators. Durable catches. Plug in hinges that last over thousands of uses. A large branding area (perfect for print, labels, or even in-mould labelling). It is even possible to mix and match the base, lid, and catches of the cases to match your corporate colours.

As well as all of this, Tekno cases are also exceptionally well built, surprisingly durable, and offer excellent longevity. This means that not only are the upfront costs low, but the lifetime costs are excellent too.

This is why Tekno budget carry cases are commonly used for sales meetings, protecting samples, for engineers’ equipment (i.e. protecting tools etc.), added value retail packaging, and much more besides.

04: Small Budget Cases

Hofbauer Minibag and / or SKB 3S (cheapest small cases)

Whilst Tekno cases are also a great option if you need a small case (i.e. to save space, protect smaller items etc.), there are a number of other budget case options that should be considered here.

Firstly, Hofbauer Minibag cases are – as the name would suggests – a range of smaller sized cases. As with Tekno cases, they offer a surprising range of features and excellent performance (in a similar manner to the majority of Hofbauer cases).

Although there is a limited range of sizes, the small dimensions of these, alongside their modern appearance, makes them an excellent choice for applications where larger cases are not required.

cheap small cases
If you need a small case that is also very competitively priced, then both the Hofbauer Minibag (pictured) and SKB 3S series are great choices

But what if you have really small items or tools to protect? Or need cases that are to sit within larger outer cases as part of a “kit” of products or equipment?

Whilst this is another area that Peli dominate (with their Peli Micro cases), another option is the SKB 3S range.

Despite being amongst the smallest cases you can buy (the internals of the smallest option being only 100 x 60 x 24 mm) these case are incredibly tough. In fact, they are crush proof, IP 67 rated (being fully watertight) and have been tested to exacting military standards (much like the larger SKB cases, including the popular i Series range).

05: Cheap Flight Cases

Can custom built options actually save you money?

Surprisingly, sometimes the way to save the most money when looking at protective cases for your business is to specify custom built options.

This is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, when selecting an “off the shelf” case model, you typically need to select a case which is slightly too large (so as to accommodate all of your equipment safely). This additional space is effectively wasted – making the cases more costly to ship and store (not to mention more difficult to handle).

Secondly, if you are using custom foam inserts, an oversized case will affect your costs here, too. The additional material needed to fill that case will obviously cost more, but can – surprisingly – actually reduce protection levels as well.

cheap flight cases
Using custom sized flight cases can reduce costs by maximising space efficiency, whilst EXOCase is also a a genuine alternative to expensive roto molded cases

So what are your options?

Well, for many, a standard flight case will do the job excellently.

These can be specified to the exact size and shape you require, enhancing the efficiency of your business. However, traditional flight cases, whilst relatively low cost, do come with the caveat of comprises on both performance and longevity. They are also not typically waterproof.

This is where EXOCase should be considered. Whilst a considerable step up in terms of costs from standard flight cases (making it difficult to describe them as a budget case), EXOCases are both waterproof and significantly tougher than flight cases.

In fact, this makes EXOCase a competitor to waterproof hard cases such as Peli, but also a viable (and lower cost) alternative to roto moulded cases for many applications.

And of course, the longer-term cost savings that can be achieved by using custom sizes, also applies to any EXOCase you use as well.

In Summary

Choosing the right budget case for your business

Whilst many businesses can be surprised at the cost of protective cases, this guide hopefully indicates that there are a number of cheap equipment case options that you can consider.

It is of course imperative that you select a suitable case for your application. Choosing the wrong option (whether low cost or not), that subsequently leads to damaged kit, is a false economy.

Should you need any help in selecting the right protective case for your business however, then GWP Protective can help. As impartial, independent suppliers of the widest range of protective case options in the UK, you will be able to source a suitable case (and foam insert) regardless of your budget or other requirements.

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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