The 11 Best Camera Hard Cases Of 2023

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Most hard cases are great for providing safety to your gear. The camera equipment is a big investment because of its high price and you should choose it wisely. In this article, we will cover the 11 best and most versatile camera hard cases that will keep your gear protected.

Best Overall Hard Case

a black shopping cart full of groceries

Pelican Air 1525 Case With TrekPak

Best Case For Travel

a black and silver electronic device

Nanuk 935 Waterproof Hard Case

Best Waterproof Case

a black rectangular object

Monoprice Weatherproof Case

So, which are the best camera hard cases in 2023? Read on to learn all about them!  

The best hard cases of 2023 include Pelican Air 1525, Nanuk 935 Waterproof, Pelican Air 1560 Roller Case, CASEMATIX Cam Hard Case, and Manfrotto Reloader Tough L55, among others. However, our best overall hard case is the Pelican Air 1525 due to its tough exterior and soft, well-padded foam interior.

The Winners by Category

Best Overall Hard CasePelican Air 1525 Case With TrekPak Padded Dividers (Black)
Best Hard Case for TravelNanuk 935 Waterproof Carry-On Hard Case
Best Waterproof Hard CaseMonoprice Weatherproof Hard Case
Best for Tough ConditionsPelican – V200 (Vault) Hard Case with Foam
Best Lightweight Hard Case:MEIJIA Portable All Weather Waterproof Camera Case
Best Large-size Hard CasePelican Air 1535 Case With TrekPak Padded Dividers
Best Small Hard CaseSKB 3i-13096PC4K iSeries

The 11 Best Camera Hard Cases

Below are several most popular cases for photography gear. Check them out and pick the most suitable one for your dslr or mirrorless bodies.

1. Pelican Air 1525 Case With TrekPak Padded Dividers (Black)

Pelican Air 1525 is a lightweight hard case that offers maximum shield for your camera gear. It’s the best hard case around! 

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 21.96 x 13.97 x 7.49 inches (55.8 x 35.5 x 19 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 20.5 x 11.31 x 6.75 inches (52 x 17.14 x 28.7 cm)
  • Customized Pick N Pluck Foam fit for delicate gear safe
  • Padded Dividers
  • Item weight: 5.99 pounds
  • Adjustable velcro padded dividers

Pros

  • Regulatable interior air pressure by the purge valves
  • Customized foam 
  • Adjustable and less space-consuming
  • Crushproof exterior and watertight seal to protect your camera
  • Lightweight for easy portability

Cons 

  • It’s an expensive camera equipment case

2. Nanuk 935 Waterproof Carry-On Hard Case

Nanuk 935 are hard cases with added security for the drone. They are also spacious enough and have a lot of extra padding.

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 22.0 x 14.0 x D 9.0 inches (55.9 x 35.5 x 22.9 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 20.5 x 11.3 x 7.5 inches (52 x 28.7 x 19 cm)
  • Roller wheels on one end and a two-stage retractable handle 
  • Purge valve that equalizes pressure 
  • Removable padded divider inserts 
  • Two built-in latches for padlocking
  • Foam-padded lid interior 

Pros

  • Waterproof (IP67 rated), shockproof, and dustproof outer shell 
  • Sufficient space for cameras and other accessories and great organization of the gear – you can create custom compartments
  • A high degree of mobility and durability
  • Equalized pressure by the valves
  • Enough storage space
  • Fairly lightweight with a soft interior

Cons

  • You need an adapter or converter in some locations outside the US

3. Pelican 1560 Hard Cases With Foam (Black)

Pelican 1560 are heavy duty hard cases from Pelican brand. They are rough handling cases that offer sufficient protection for all types of equipment. They are suitable for longer travel and they can accommodate lots of equipment.

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 22 x 17.4 x 10.9 inches (56 x 45.5 x 26.5 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 19.7 x 11 x 7.6 inches (50.5 x 38 x 22.7 cm)
  • Stainless steel reinforced padlock protectors
  • An automatic pressure equalization valve
  • Roller wheels with stainless steel bearings
  • Firm Pelican’s Pick ‘n’ Pluck foam
  • Rectangular extendable handle 
  • A double throw latch system
  • O-ring seal

Pros

  • Excellent protection: waterproof, crushproof, and meets the US military-level standards
  • A customizable firm foam interior
  • Easy and comfortable mobility
  • Sufficient space for big loads; hence, ideal for larger items
  • Stabilized interior pressure
  • The foam gives the hard cases gear a soft interior

Cons

  • Quite pricy

4. SKB 3i-13096PC4K iSeries

SKB 3i-13096 is a small-sized hand-held hard case, but it doesn’t compromise quality and durability. It will keep your camera protected.

Features

  • Interior dimensions: 13.7 x 9.2 x 7.5 inches (34.8 x 23.4 x 19.1 cm)
  • Automatic ambient pressure equalization valve
  • Rubber over-molded cushion grip handle
  • Complete gasket seal
  • Custom cute PE foam 
  • Lid protector

Pros

  • Ideal size for DSLR or mirrorless equipment with lenses
  • Perfect protection: military-grade tough exterior
  • Watertight due to its gasket seals
  • Highly portable as it’s small in size
  • Interior pressure stabilization

Cons

  • Can’t accommodate many pieces of equipment

5. Manfrotto MB PL-RL-TL55 Reloader

Manfrotto MB L55 is a protective gear case ideal for professional outdoor photography. Its interior is spacious enough to fit several cameras, lenses, memory cards, and other accessories. It’s a perfect buy because of the excellent padding. 

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 13.78 x 7.87 x 21.65 inches (35 x 20 x 55 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 22 x 14.8 x 8.9 inches (55 x 35 x 20 cm)
  • An adjustable 2-stage retractable trolley handle
  • Padded interior with velcro dividers
  • Large and secure roller wheels
  • Integrated TSA Lock

Pros

  • Perfect build quality
  • Spacious interior fit 
  • Adjustable padded dividers to suit your needs
  • Small enough to fit into a hand luggage
  • Highly mobile even when loaded

Cons

  • Can’t hold that many pieces of equipment

6. Pelican – V200 (Vault) Hard Case with Foam

Pelican V200 (Vault) is a convenient gear case with an ultra-durable design. It offers enough safety for the majority of cameras.\

Features

  • External dimensions: 15.4 x 13 x 6.1 inches (39 x 33 x 15.6 cm)
  • Interior dimension:  14.00 x 10.00 x 5.50 inches (36 x 25 x 14 cm)
  • Customizable standard-density foam
  • A pressure stabilization valve
  • Stainless steel lock hasps 
  • Weight: 5.05 Lbs (2.3 kg)
  • Heavy-duty handles
  • Push button latches

Pros

  • Spacious enough to carry a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera, lenses, and a few accessories
  • Convenient size that takes less space to carry when traveling
  • Ability to withstand tough conditions
  • Easily portable due to its small size
  • Safety for the lenses, memory cards, and other accessories
  • Adjustable interior foam insert
  • Air travel capability

Cons

  • It’s a bit too big to fit into a hand luggage 

7. Monoprice Weatherproof Hard Case

Monoprice waterproof is one of the high-value hard cases with ample storage capacity. It’s affordable but it has a lower build quality.

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 22 x 14 x 8 inches (55.7 x 35 x 20 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 20.1 x 10.9 x 6.8 inches (50 x 28 x 17 cm)
  • UV‑resistant and shockproof polypropylene construction
  • Pressure relief valve and Impact‑resistant latches
  • Fully customizable foam interior inserts
  • Ergonomic, rubber-covered handle
  • Four 7mm padlock holes
  • 1497 cu in internal volume

Pros 

  • IP67 rating: 100% waterproof and dust-tight
  • Ample storage space 
  • Sheild against cold to as low as -40 C
  • Comfortable rubber handle
  • Fair price

Cons 

  • Relatively low build quality

8. MEIJIA Portable All Weather Waterproof Camera Case

MEIJIA all-weather camera case is a solid handheld case ideal for traveling light. It’s an everyday use gadget not suitable for professional photographers.

Features

  • External dimensions: 15.98 x 12.99 x 6.85 inches (41 x 33 x 17cm)
  • Inside dimension: 14.62x 10.18×6 inches (37 x 26 x 15 cm)
  • Customizable interior fit foam inserts
  • Easy-to-open latches design
  • High-quality pressure equalization valve
  • Reinforced stainless steel

Pros

  • Perfectly measured space for each piece of equipment
  • High portability
  • Solid build quality: all weather and waterproof
  • Secure air travel due to pressure stabilization

Cons

  • Not suitable for professionals because of its low storage capacity

9. Pelican Air 1535 Case With TrekPak Dividers

Pelican Air 1535 is an amazingly lightweight and durable hard case. It’s a perfect for air travel because it meets the airline carry-on requirements.

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 21.96 x 13.97 x 8.98 inches (56 x 35 x 23 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 20.39 x 11.20 x 7.21 inches (52 x 28 x 18 cm)
  • Lid mesh and zippered storage compartments
  • Press and pull latches with TSA key locks
  • A retractable extension handle
  • Empty weight: 8.69 pounds
  • IP67 rated waterproofing
  • Steel bearing wheels
  • Packing cube organizers

Pros

  • Spacious enough with the best possible protection: crushproof, dustproof, and watertight
  • Balanced interior pressure that keeps water out
  • Compatibility with airline carry-on requirement
  • Perfectly suited for travelers as it’s highly mobile: quiet, smooth rolling wheels with bearing
  • Lightweight for easy portability

Cons

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • High price

10. CASEMATIX Cam Hard Case

Casematrix cam is a very inexpensive hard case suitable for everyday use.  

Features

  • Exterior dimensions: 16 x 13 x 6 inches (41 x 33 x 15 cm)
  • Interior dimensions: 14 x 11 x 4 inches (36 x 28 x 10 cm)
  • An impact-resistant hard polymer plastic exterior 
  • A soft, shock-absorbing foam interior
  • Reinforced latches and hinges
  • Empty weight: 3.6 pounds
  • 2 padlock rings

Pros

  • Spacious compatibility for your camera gear
  • It can easily fit your hand luggage
  • Customizable soft interior foam
  • Padlock ring security
  • Reasonable price, hence perfectly suited for those on a budget

Cons

  • Lacks the waterproof feature

11. Pelican 1510 Case With Padded Dividers

Pelican 1510 hard case is a perfect companion for traveling photographers. It offers the best possible protection for all types of camera bodies. 

Features

  • Exterior Dimensions: 22 x 13.81 x 9 (55.9 x 35.1 x 22.9 cm) 
  • Interior Dimensions: 19.75 x 11.00 x 7.60 (50.1 x 27.9 x 19.3 cm)
  • Adjustable single-layer padded velcro dividers 
  • Wheels with stainless steel ball bearing; thus, making it is easy to carry the luggage
  • Reinforced padlock protectors
  • Retractable extension handle
  • Pressure valve
  • Foam inserts

Pros

  • High mobility from the steel-bearing wheels
  • Offers safety to the camera bodies from the layered foam
  • Perfectly suited for travelers since it is watertight, dustproof, and crushproof
  • Lockable through padlock holes
  • Internal pressure stabilization
  • Comfortable extension handle
  • FAA-compliant carry-on size

Cons

  • Wheels lack suspension

What Is A Hard Shell Camera Case?

A hard case is the most efficient protective gadget for your camera kit. Photography gear, such as lenses, gimbals, and filters, are very fragile, and you must keep them safe from the smallest scraps and knocks for the sake of durability. Plus, you need to prevent damage to your DSLR camera (or mirrorless camera) and lenses. 

This review outlines the 11 best hard cases to choose from. Go through the list, and compare their durability, pros, and cons to make an informed decision. But first:

Different hard cases have varying build quality to help carry different types of photo gear.

Should I Use A Camera Bag Or A Hard Camera Case?

Depending on several factors, you can use a camera bag or a hard camera case. A camera bag is suitable for travelling through crowded places like beaches, mountains, gardens, cities, etc.

On the other hand, a hard case is generally good for working on location. It’s convenient when travelling by plane, train, or car. 

However, you can purchase any, as both are fine. They also come in different sizes.

Nevertheless, a hard case offers more safety for your camera kit than a bag. As its name suggests, it’s ‘hard’ and protects your gear from the slightest scratches or knocks. Even more impressive are some hard camera cases that are 100% watertight seal: They can stay underwater for a long time without leakage.

Let’s look at some of the best and most popular cases today. Keep reading.

FAQ

How Large Should Be Your Camera Hard Case?

Your case should be big enough for all your essential camera gear but portable enough for traveling. The size is classified in liters: 15L for the small ones that carry one camera and about 40L for the large bags. Standard camera cases range between 20-30L.

What Are Hard Cases Made Of?

Hard camera cases are made of plastic or polycarbonate exterior and sometimes wood or metal for specialty requirements and durability. 

Do Airlines Prefer Hard Or Soft Luggage?

Airlines prefer soft luggage. Most US airline crew members carry roll-aboard bags that are soft-sided. Have this in mind when packing your stuff.

Conclusion

There are several reasons why you might want to use these cases:

Protection: Hard cases are designed to protect your camera and its accessories from damage due to impact, drops, moisture, and other environmental factors.

Travel: If you are traveling with your camera, a case is essential to ensure that your camera stays safe during transit. 

Storage: Even when you're not traveling, a case can help protect your camera from dust and other elements that can damage your camera over time.

Overall, cases are a smart investment for anyone who wants to keep their camera and its accessories safe and protected. Pelican Air 1525 is the best choice in our opinion.

Best Overall Hard Case

a black shopping cart full of groceries

Pelican Air 1525 Case With TrekPak

Best Case For Travel

a black and silver electronic device

Nanuk 935 Waterproof Hard Case

Best Waterproof Case

a black rectangular object

Monoprice Weatherproof Case

Further Reading: 

About Author

We want to teach people how to create the photographs that they aspire to. We want to take you from snapshots to intentional and well-considered images. We do that through free written and video tutorials and affordable courses.

Thanks for a great comparison. The question: “hard case or bag” can be answered simply: “both”. Personally I use a hard case for storage and transport (car air). While travelling I use my back-at for normal carry on stuff. Once arrived at location I take the gear I intend to use from the hard case, put in my bag. That’s great for hiking or strolling around.

This combines protection while travelling in between locations, and convenience once at location.

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