Hard camera cases are fast becoming more mainstream as time progresses because they’re perfect for keeping equipment safe thanks to their hard and durable structure.
Making sure you have one of the best hard shell cases is necessary as cameras and their accessories are expensive, and the slightest damage can ruin a photographer’s profession or hobby.
While backpacks and messenger bags can be a good option to protect your camera for a day out, if you are going on a longer trip and taking lots of camera equipment, a hard camera case is worth investing in.
Especially, if you wish to carry several professional-grade pieces of equipment, you’ll need something more reliable and secure to keep your camera equipment safe.
- Pelican Air 1535 – Best overall hard camera case
- Vanguard Supreme 40F – Best waterproof hard shell camera case
- Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 – Best tough hard camera case
- Pelican 1450 Case – Best lightweight hard camera case
- Vanguard Supreme 53D – Best large hard shell camera case
This article will recommend the five best camera hard cases that may be worth your while.
1. Pelican Air 1535 – Best overall hard camera case
First on this list is the Pelican Air 1535, a popular camera case that’s surprisingly 40% lighter than a regular Peli hard case of similar size.
Essentially, the Pelican Air 1535 weighs precisely 3.95kg, mostly from the plastic shell. Include the foam or a divider insert, and the weight becomes almost the same as the Peli Protector 1510 hard shell camera case.
Regarding toughness, the Pelican Air 1535 is impressively studied as you’ll require great force and puncture pressure to burst the case. While it flexes upon impact, the movement is insignificant and doesn’t affect its usability.
The interior of this Pelican Air 1535 hard camera case contains the default cubed foam with the option to spec a Velcro divider insert; however, many photographers opt for Peli’s innovative TrekPak system. This uses several sheets of corrugated plastic between layers of dense, closed-cell foam.
Special hopped pins secure the Pelican Air 1535 hard case joints, and there’s also a bespoke cutter for cutting each sheet into strips to accommodate the gear you want to carry.
Take a look here for some stories of the hard case in use.
Ultimately, it’s an impressive piece of engineering that’s sure to protect your photography equipment.
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Sturdy body
- Compatible with the optional TrekPak Inserts
- Comes with wheels and remains cabin-friendly
- Strong number 1 contender on the best hard camera cases list!
- Expensive optional driver Inserts
2. Vanguard Supreme 40F – Best waterproof hard camera case
Whether the conditions are snowy, rainy, hot, or rocky, you can trust the Vanguard Supreme 40F to keep your camera and photography equipment safe. It’s designed to stay waterproof up to 5 meters underwater, meaning you’re safe even during nature photography.
The Vanguard Supreme 40F dimensions are 43 x 29.5 x 17.5cm, sufficient space to accommodate a full-frame DSLR and four lenses, but not a glass longer than a 70-200mm f/2.8.
With these parameters, the outside of the Vanguard Supreme 40F has a convenient size of 46.5 x 36.5 x 19.5cm and a modest weight of 4kg, with a full untouched foam interior.
It’s worth mentioning that the cost of this hard shell camera case already covers the hexagonally-diced foam; however, Vanguard also sells a self-contained removable divider bag for additional versatility.
The Vanguard Supreme 40F handle receives positive points for being comfortable and grippy, and the non-slip rubber feet at the base make this case very steady.
As for toughness, this hard case is superior as it can handle a crushing force of up t 130kg and handle temperatures from – 40°c to 95°c
- Extremely sturdy
- Perfect size hard case for smaller camera kits
- Not compatible with larger lenses
- No roller wheels
3. Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 – Best tough hard camera case
The Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 is another famous option for careful photographers that want nothing but the best for their photography equipment.
This hard shell case comes in two size variants, with dimensions of 55 x 35cm in length and width, but the HighLid version has a 22.5cm depth, and the LowLid option is 20cm.
In addition to the sufficient space, Manfrotto included two smooth-rolling wheels in both variants, coupled with the 4.6kg weight; it’s easy to carry around.
The light weight of the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55 hard camera case is mostly thanks to the interior consisting of removable padded liners and Velcro dividers instead of heavy foam.
The HighLid variant of these hard camera cases is quoted to have internal dimensions of 50 x 26 x 17cm, which is small but compatible with most camera equipment.
It’s also worth mentioning that two-stage latches secure the lid for extra security, and there’s an additional harness to strap a tripod at the front of the Manfrotto Pro Light Reloader Tough-55.
Ultimately, the handles are stiff and reliable, and the structure is strong enough to handle massive cursing force. It’s high value for your money.
- Practical size
- Effective external harness
- Neat internal divider system
- Very stiff handle release
4. Pelican 1450 Case – Best lightweight hard camera case
If you desire a hard case that protects your camera from water, crushing force, and dust, the Pelican 1450 Case is highly recommended.
This rugged piece of engineering has exterior dimensions of 16.44″ x 13.00″ x 6.82″ (L x W x D), meaning you can carry it with little to no inconvenience.
In addition to portability, the empty Pelican 1450 case weighs precisely 5.51 pounds, thereby posting very little strain to your muscles when carried.
The Pelican 1450 Case is also built to be watertight, containing a built-in purge valve for pressure regulation like in an airplane. So ultimately, you’re guaranteed that your devices are kept intact irrespective of pressure, temperature, and other factors.
Like other options on this list, this hard camera case also has pick and pluck foam that works great with camera equipment. You pick out the foam that fits the structure you want to pack, like a camera, then insert the equipment.
In terms of size, the sturdy Pelican 1450 hard shell case can hold a DSLR body, wide-angle lens, zoom lens, normal lens, charger, and SD cards with room to spare.
- Sturdy and reliable structure
- Resistant to water and dust
- Built-in purge valve
- No wheels for mobility
5. Vanguard Supreme 53D – Best large hard camera case
Lastly, Vanguard Supreme 53D is similar to the Pelican 1450 since it is carried like a briefcase instead of hand luggage. Nevertheless, it remains indestructible and perfect for protecting your equipment from other detrimental factors.
The Vanguard Supreme 53D dimensions consist of 63 x 52 x 24cm on the outside, with 56 x 45 x 20cm interiors, making it large enough to carry a significant amount of gear. However, the package weighs around 10kg, but fortunately, some wheels ease the hassle.
As indicated by the “D,” the Vanguard Supreme 53D hard shell camera case contains a removable padded divider insert, unlike the 53F, which uses a cubed foam. The divider insert is highly customizable, but sadly, it doesn’t occupy the entire case.
The hard shell camera case has been rated to withstand 120kg crushing pressure and can remain waterproof up to 5m underwater. Its lids are held shut by six reliable latches, keeping you safe no matter the circumstance.
- Massive carrying capacity
- Superior toughness
- Divider insert costs insignificant amounts
- Resistant to water and dust
- Multiple carrying options
- Too heavy even when empty
As a professional photographer, keeping your gear safe against the elements and other damaging factors is one of your top priorities.
Fortunately, these best hard camera cases shown are sufficient to meet your needs, whether you’re packing heavy or light.
However, each option presented here is ideal for different scenarios; therefore, we recommend assessing your needs before picking one!
For day to day photography check out these best camera bags for photography!
DISCLOSURE: I may earn a small commission from some of the links above. For the benefit of the doubt, please assume all links might be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
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