By Contributing Author Dango
Whether you’re gigging around town or touring extensively, we’ve got you covered with the best cymbal bags and cases for protecting your gear.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. If you make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Read our full disclosure policy here.
If you’ve invested in some quality cymbals, then you’ve probably considered getting some kind of cymbal bag or hard case to protect them while going to gigs, or even just when being moved around.
In most instances a cymbal bag will do a great job, whether you’re playing local club gigs or van gigs.
But if you are going to be flying to shows or putting your gear in a trailer, then a hard shell case is the best move.
If you are serious as a player and gigging a fair amount, you will likely need both at some point, so let’s check out some of the best cymbal bags and cases for both scenarios.
Best Soft Cymbal Bags
All of the top cymbal bags on my list are padded and have backpack straps, as well as a few different carrying options.
Most have a separate pocket out front for hi hats, splashes, or other small parts.
Most of them also have divider sleeves inside that make it easy to protect each individual cymbal and will easily hold 4-6 plates comfortably.
You can always fit more, but it puts significant stress on the bag and you will inevitably be stacking them together without dividers at that point.
Most cymbal bags are available in size 20”, 22”, & 24”. Typically anything bigger or smaller would be a custom order.
Zildjian, Paiste, Sabian, and Meinl all make solid bags that you may want to check out if you are partial to a particular cymbal brand. Some of them even offer artist models that are cool looking and may fit your style.
I own a Paiste one, and have owned the Meinl one, and a Zildjian one. All of them were solid cases, just not quite as many pockets or dividers as some of these more specialized models.
Humes & Berg Drum Seeker Cymbal Bag
- Durable balistic nylon outer shell with soft Pro Sheering Lingin
- Rigid foam padding in top and bottom
- Rough & ready to protect you valuable items
I own a couple of these cymbal bags and can vouch that these are very well-built, solid bags.
This model has a heavy duty bottom that’s padded to hold the extra weight of your larger cymbals. The inside is lined with the “lambswool” looking soft material, and it does a good job protecting from scratches.
I often use the backpack straps or the single handle straps, but I have removed the over the shoulder (messenger bag style) strap because it seems obsolete when carrying an awkward shaped heavy stack of metal.
At around $120, this bag is a great option, available in all 3 sizes.
MONO Cymbal Bag 22”
- Clip and tuck shoulder straps let you carry the case on your back to Distribute the weight.
- The custom MONO Boot protects your cymbals from drops and bumps.
- Radius piping in Military grade material prevents rips and tear, giving your case longevity.
MONO offers a cool option with a well-built cymbal bag, containing larger dividers than most.
The inside is all nylon, so it doesn’t have the soft interior, but it’s still an impressive bag.
It comes in black and Ash grey and is available in 22″ and 24.” It claims to protect your cymbals from drops and bumps, however I personally wouldn’t trust any bag to be dropped with cymbals and not cause some damage.
The price tag of roughly $189 is a little more expensive than some, but it’s a good bag for the price.
Protection Racket 24” Cymbal Bag
- This case will accept 24" cymbals
- The outer compartment will accept 15" hi-hats
- This case has removable Propile dividers in both main & outer compartments. Separate 4 x cymbals in each compartment
Protection Racket is from the UK and they were the first soft bag company to put the white lambswool lining inside their drum and cymbal bags.
I have owned this bag as well. The one thing I can say for PR is that they have the toughest zippers on any cymbal or drum bag case I’ve ever seen.
Zippers are often the first thing to break, sometimes a seam tears also. In my experience, PR cases are super durable and simply do not break.
Any cymbal case may have the straps tear from too much weight, but somehow these don’t!
The dividers are lined with the wool also and they are removable. Of all the bags on our list, this one has the strongest bottom as well.
At around $150, this should be your top choice.
Ahead Armor Cases Deluxe Heavy Duty Cymbal Case with Wheels
- Deluxe cyma case with wheels
- Package Dimensions: 76.2 H x 15.24 L x 66.04 W (centimetres)
- Package Weight: 4.74 kilograms
Ahead came along and basically produced a case very similar to Protection Racket’s whole setup, with the wool interior and the better zipper quality.
I own a couple of their bags and they really are well-made.
What finally set them apart from the others is this model with the wheels on it. It adds weight to the bag, for sure, but makes transport so much easier.
You could even carry them on a plane this way. I never carry cymbals on when I fly because they are so heavy and airport walks are often ridiculous, especially when traveling internationally.
But this case could definitely fly carry-on if it was the 22”. The 24” will be too big for most overhead compartments. If you fly with a 24”, opt for a hard shell case and check it.
This case is definitely worth the near $200 price tag, I would say.
Best Hard Cymbal Cases
If you’re flying or bussing, or packing your cymbals in a trailer, you definitely need a hard shell case.
There’s really no way around it once you tour in any form, and they can be really helpful in some other settings.
You may not want one for gigs in town because they’re heavy and bulky. If I’m playing clubs here in Nashville, the hardshell is too much.
But sometimes it’s still a nice option when it’s raining and I want to keep the cymbals dry just going a short distance. Otherwise I save it for out of town travel.
These are a few of my favorite hard-shell cases for cymbals.
Humes & Berg Enduro Tilt-N-Pull Cymbal Case
- Hardshell Molded Plastic Case
- Water, Scratch and impact resistant.
- Formfitted case
I have owned 3 or 4 different hard cymbal cases and this is the best one.
Humes & Berg does make a version without the extendable handle and wheels, but I assure you that you want those options.
This hardshell comes with individual padded dividers as well as a threaded screw that you secure the cymbals to. There is a sleeve to prevent keyholing, and once they are stacked by size, you screw them down.
There is no additional padding and all of these hard cases are plastic.
They’re not completely indestructible, but I’ve watched countless airline workers drop my cymbals, tip them over, and stack heavy weight on top of them, with no ill effects.
This case has 2 super durable straps and is very unlikely to break. Outside of Flight Cases and true drum vaults, this is the best rolling cymbal case.
SKB Cymbal Vault with Wheels
- Holds as many as eight (8) cymbals, up to 24" in diameter
- Four padded dividers for protection
- Industrial strength pull out handle
This SKB cymbal vault is a pretty solid case with some good features. In my mind, H&B, and SKB are the two leaders in drum cases and cymbal cases.
The best part of this case is how thick and tough the extendable handle is. All the other features are similar to the H&B as far as dividers and screwing down the cymbals.
This is a decent case that will work in most settings, but it has some limitations. I have a couple major issues with this case as I have owned 3 of them.
First off, there is only 1 strap instead of two. I have seen these break and then your case is done.
Secondly the wheels aren’t quite as strong and if the case is roughed up, it can lose a wheel. I have had this happen on 2 of the 3 I owned.
Finally, the big reason I actually switched all of my cases from SKB to Humes & Berg was based entirely on this next thing. When this cymbal case gets weight stacked on it, it inverts. It is not designed to take much weight before it folds in and crushes your cymbals.
I had this happen two separate times on two separate flights with checked cymbals and I switched to H&B right after that. I have flown to 10 different countries with my H&B case and it’s still going strong.
So while I think this case could be a solid option for many players, particularly if you aren’t flying often, I still prefer the Humes & Berg model.
Gator Cases Protechtor Elite Air Series Cymbal Case
- Rotationally Molded Hard Case to hold Cymbals up to 22" Diameter
- Recessed Wheels and Fold Away Handle for Convenient Transportation and Storage
- Strapless Design and Wingnut Sytem will Safely Secure your Cymbals in Place
Gator cases are always a little more budget-friendly than SKB or H&B. They make decent cases that will work with light wear and tear.
Basically this is a baby version of the previous 2 we’ve looked at. This is still a “pro” level case, but even looking at the photos you can see how much less beefy it is.
One of its selling points is that it’s lightweight, but when it comes to hard cases, I think I would prefer a more rugged option any time.
It has no dividers and is also only available in 20” or 22″, but this option can be a great way to get a pro-level case at a lower price point, particularly for lighter use.
Should I Choose a Cymbal Gig Bag or a Hard Cymbal Case?
To decide which option is best for you, it’s important to consider where and how often you are playing drums.
If you don’t leave your house at this point, you may not need any case, or you could get by with just a bag. For instance, I store any cymbals I’m not using in bags.
If you are gigging in town, at clubs, church, school, or coffee shops, then a bag is the perfect option for lightweight travel. They’re easy to throw in your backseat or trunk, and get downtown with them.
If you are flying, I will highly suggest a hard case again. I would never check a cymbal bag on a plane. I would never put a cymbal bag in a packed trailer of gear to move around with amps and drums.
Instead, I would get a hard case for any gigs going van and trailer, bus, or plane.
Hard cases are bulkier and harder to store, so you will need to have room for hard cases when you aren’t traveling, whereas bags are much easier to stack and compress if needed for storage.
If you’re getting a hard case, definitely get the handle and wheels. Otherwise you have a large 25” hard case that is heavy and awkward.
Tips for Protecting Your Cymbals During Transport
As with most things in drumming, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Ultimately, you’ll want to figure out what works best for you based on your unique needs.
However, there are a few things to consider that will be helpful in protecting your gear.
A Quality Bag or Case
After reading our top picks, it should come as no surprise that the main tip for protecting your gear is of course going to be using a high quality bag or case.
We’ve given you several solid options to choose from, so now let’s look at some important factors regarding packing your cymbals into your bag or case.
Dividers or not?
If you get your cymbals all dirty, you may not care about dividers to prevent scratching. If you’re like me and keep all your gear spotless, you’ll want to figure out what works best for your cymbal sizes and setup to protect them.
You can use the dividers if you only pack a few cymbals in either type of case. But if you’re packing 8-10 cymbals, you may have to get rid of the dividers all together.
With any brand of hard case, make sure you don’t overpack it. You want to be sure the case closes completely.
If you have too many cymbals and the case is flexed, any weight stacked on the case will go directly on your cymbals instead of the case itself.
If you have too many cymbals and can’t use the dividers, I’d suggest at least using the bags each cymbal came in as added protection, as they’re super thin and easy to stack.
If that’s too much hassle, you can put the cymbals in the case and add a towel or some other padding.
When you use a hardshell case you can really pack them and forget about them. When you use a soft bag you need to be a little more careful and make sure they stack on top of things and not get crushed.
Our Top PickS:
Cymbals are a huge investment and a special part of anyone’s setup. It’s never too early to start protecting your plates.
What separates the best bags from the cheap ones is the durability. I suggest getting a nice one that will last so you’re not replacing it after a few loads of cymbals go to a few gigs.
I have shared all of my personal experiences with all of my cymbal tragedies over the years. I am a big advocate of Humes & Berg cases and even switched from endorsing SKB to endorsing H&B due to the cymbal vault itself.
I truly believe the Humes & Berg case is your best option for a hard case, but you may have great success with either.
As for soft cymbal bags, they are all honestly good options. I believe the Protection Racket bag is the most durable and will last the longest.
If you want a bag with wheels and want to use it almost like the hard case, check out the Ahead case. However, for normal cymbal bag use, the wheels may be a bit much to fit in your front seat or on a small dolly. I personally wouldn’t pay the extra $50 for wheels since I own a hard case for serious travel.
There are also plenty of super inexpensive budget-friendly options on Amazon if you’re buying your first bag and you just need something for light use or to hold your extra crash cymbal.