By Contributing Author Dango
Our list of Pelican case alternatives makes it easy to choose a case that fits your budget–read our comprehensive reviews to find out which is the best fit for your needs.
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Pelican Cases are the standard in the industry for people who travel with expensive equipment.
They are regularly used by musicians, photographers, military personnel, hunters, divers, DJ’s, film and lighting crew, and anyone carrying precious cargo.
The brand has been around since the mid-1970’s and remains at the top of the heap today due to their durability, their lifetime warranty, and their customizability.
During my 15+ years of touring, I have seen Pelicans used on almost every tour and flight, protecting instruments, sound equipment, camera gear, and laptops. I’ve even seen them used as unbreakable suitcases.
However, there are several less expensive options on the market that are available if you don’t need all of the features on a Pelican.
What makes a Pelican CASE so great?
Knowing the best features of a Pelican case will make it easier to evaluate the alternatives. Here are some of the key aspects to be appreciated when it comes to Pelican cases:
- Virtually indestructible
- Lifetime warranty
- Waterproof, shockproof, crushproof
- Pressure Release Valve
- Tongue & groove fit and O Ring
- Customizable foam
- Metal reinforced padlock protectors
- Retractable handle
- Offered in so many sizes and colors
- Extremely customizable
7 Great Alternatives to a Pelican Case
Let’s take a look at some of the great options available from other brands and see what they have to offer.
Nanuk 935 Waterproof Carry On Hard Case
- The Nanuk 935 case with wheels is approved by the FAA as the maximum carry-on size - Interior Dimensions L20.5" x W11 . 3" x H 7.5" | Exterior Dimensions L22.0" x W14.0" x H9.0" | Includes 2 layer...
- Waterproof (IP67 rated), dustproof, shockproof | Automatic purge valve equalizes pressure on the inside of the case when travelling
- Designed for mobility with a 2-stage retractable pull handle with quick release button and smooth rolling polyurethane wheels
The Nanuk 935 comes in at 22 x 9 x 14 inches and weighs just under 12 pounds. It comes in 6 colors and retails at around $190. This is one of the top contenders, but doesn’t save you much money. It’s a very well-built case with some great features.
- Waterproof, Shockproof, Dustproof
- Pressure Equalization
- Recessed Wheels for Airline compartments
- Waterproof in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes
- Padding inside, flexible and customizable
- Stainless steel flanges for a padlock
- Slightly larger than the Pelican 1510
The US-made Seahorse 920 is a great alternative to a Pelican and has a lot to offer for just over $150. Its dimensions are 24.3″ x 16.0″ x 10.10″, weighing just over 14 lbs and available in 5 colors. Seahorse stands behind their product with a lifetime warranty.
- Watertight, dustproof, airtight
- Lifetime Warranty
- Rugged retractable handle, wheels
- Accuform Foam lining
- Several smaller sizes available
SKB Cases iSeries 2011
- Water tight and dustproof
- Nylex-wrapped closed cell fitted foam liner
- High-contrast grey interior
SKB is another company known for cases built for musical instruments, photography equipment, and even guns.
They can be expensive, but they offer several options of sizes and different padding.
The iSeries 2011 model is comparable in size to our other contenders, being 22x14x9 inches and weighing 8 lbs. This particular model costs a bit more at around $236, but the prices can vary quite a bit based on what interior padding and setup you pick.
They have models designed specifically for camera lenses and other specialized items. The internal options of these cases sets them apart so it’s worth looking for the exact features you need.
- Patented trigger latches
- Metal reinforcing locking hoops
- Watertight and dustproof
- Automatic Pressure Equalization valve
- Nylex wrapped cell fitted foam liner
- Retractable Handle and wheels
Condition Protective Hard Case with Foam
- LARGE PORTABLE STORAGE CASE - 25” Large hard shell carrying case with patented latches and rubberized handles for a comfortable grip. This lockable case allows you to add your own locks for maximum...
- WATERPROOF AND DUST PROOF CASE - Features an automatic air pressure release valve which makes the case airline friendly. IP67 Dust and waterproof with a rubber gasket for an airtight seal.
- CUSTOMIZABLE FOAM: Hard shell case with pick and pluck foam that can be cut and shaped to fit your items for a secure fit. The case is stackable and features steel pin hinges for added strength.
This durable case is a budget-friendly option that offers a lot of good protection. This one is super rugged and beefy, however it lacks wheels or a pull out handle. It packs easily in a trailer or cargo, but is not as easy to carry through an airport.
It measures 25 x 20 x 8 and weighs 13 pounds, and comes in six different colors. This case retails for around $140.
- Waterproof in 3 feet of water for 30 mins
- Pluckable Foam Case
- Pressure Equalization Valve
- Drop proof and crush proof
- Rubber Grip Handle
Monoprice Hard Case
- 20.1" x 10.9" x 6.8" internal dimensions and 1497 cu in internal volume.
- IP67 rating means it is 100% dust‑tight and waterproof when submerged to 1 meter.
- UV‑resistant and shockproof polypropylene construction, Four 7mm padlock holes for theft protection.
Monoprice is another cheaper option with less frills, but it does have some impressive features. It’s offered in 4 colors and 7 sizes. This larger size is comparable to our others, but runs much less expensive at about $80.
This case also lacks wheels or a retractable handle. But it may be exactly what you need for half the price of some of the other cases.
- 22x14x8 / 11 lbs
- Weatherproof, Shockproof
- Waterproof up to a meter for 30 minutes
- Customizable foam interior
- Pressure Relief Valve
- Ultraviolet Material
- The injection molded polypropylene IBEX Cases are dustproof, watertight, and temperature resistant from -20°C to 80°C (-4°F to 176°F). Pressure Release Valves are also present on all cases to...
- 2 Wave foams, 4 pre-cut cube foams are included with the case to provde a fully removable and customizable interior for your electronics, equipment, tools, cameras, drones, GoPros, and other contents.
- Dual padlock hasps provide a dedicated location for locks to secure your valuables.
The Ibex 2500 is another heavy hitter in the lineup, coming in at around $230. This case is 22x14x11 and weighs 13 lbs, and is only available in black.
It has a super rugged retractable handle as well as recessed wheels.
- Injection molded polypropylene
- Dustproof, watertight
- Temperature resistant from -4°F to 176°F
- Pressure Release Valves
- 2 Wave foams, 4 pre-cut cube foams are included
- Dual padlock hasps provide a dedicated location for locks to secure your valuables
Goplus Hard Camera Case
- 【High Density & Customizable Foam】There are 3 high density sponges inside this hard camera case, and one of which is customizable. You can remove some sponge blocks to put in different shapes of...
- 【Waterproof Design & Durable Material】Made of high quality PP material, our lens case is very strong and ensures high durability. The IP55 waterproof level and good air tightness allow you to take...
- 【Reducing Valve & 2 Buckle】There are 2 buckles on the outside of the box to secure the cover to protect the camera lens or accessories inside. In addition, when the pressure inside the box is too...
The Goplus case is a very inexpensive alternative to the Pelican, and it’s also less expensive than the other options on this list.
For $65 you get a solid travel case to protect a camera or anything similar in the size range. This case is 22 inches long and weighs 10 lbs.
- Weatherproof / Shockproof / Airtight
- 3 high density foam sponges inside, 1 customizable
- Water resistant up to a meter
- Reducing Valve and 2 Reinforced buckles
Why are Pelican Cases so Popular?
Pelicans are such a popular choice because they are a time-honored favorite that many photographers, musicians, and other professionals believe is the best.
Pelican set the standard over 40 years ago that all of these companies are now trying to attain. They use the best materials and some of the strongest parts available, while offering so many options.
Pelican has maintained a reputation with their lifetime warranty and I’ve personally seen them replace a suitcase that was several years old that had been run over by a bus, with no receipt or anything. Their customer service is also top notch and sets them apart these days.
Finding Cheap Pelican Case Alternatives–What to Look for in a Case
As we’ve seen from this list, there are several good options for you to choose from as alternatives to the Pelican. It really comes down to your needs and what you are looking for.
Let’s look at a couple of key things to consider when shopping for cases.
Where and How are You Traveling?
Are you traveling by plane, bus, or van? Will you be near water or desert? How important is the waterproofing or crush proofing, given your most common type of travel?
Is it likely you’ll need the air pressure valve to protect your equipment?
What Type of Equipment are You Protecting?
Almost every case can be customized to a size you need to protect whatever equipment you have.
If you’re carrying on a flight you will want a handle and wheels. You also may want a pressure release valve to help equalize the pressure in the case.
If you are putting it in a trailer or the storage area under a bus, you can probably get away without those.
If you’re worried about it getting crushed, then the lifetime warranty offered by a few of these brands may be essential.
What’s Your Budget?
Only you can decide how many features you need and how much you’re willing to spend.
At the end of the day, I think you’re making a great decision to consider this level of protection for your gear. Protecting your precious cargo is always a worthwhile investment.
Our Top Picks for the Best Alternatives to a Pelican Case for Protecting Your Gear
My top pick for a great alternative to a Pelican case is the Seahorse 920. It offers the most features, is locally made in the US, and has a lifetime warranty.
The price difference is noticeable enough from the Pelican that it’s definitely worth considering.
If you need a more budget-friendly option, my top pick for a lower cost case is the Monoprice Hardcase. For about $80 you get a no-frills but solid case that will protect in most normal settings you will be in.
It doesn’t have everything the others do, but it’s a great way to keep your laptop and camera safe on the go.