Best Hardshell Camera Cases Choices for 2016

Best Hardshell Camera Cases with Foam Inserts

Professional photography gear needs to be protected in transit so that you can start shooting on location with all your gear intact. Hard metal cases and hard plastic shells with foam inserts are airport friendly and will keep your gear safe from drops, vibration and sudden impact unlike a soft sided backpack or soft sided wheeled camera bag.

Inside a hard camera case is pre-configured foam padded compartments or pre-cut cubes that can be arranged to fit the equipment you need to take on location.

When purchasing a hardshell camera case you will want to consider whether they are watertight, crushproof, or dustproof  – wheeled  or not – depending upon your needs.

If you are heading outdoors or into rough terrain, you will want to have a durable exterior shell and an 0-ring water proof seal that keeps all of the elements out – including water.

BrandSizeGet SpecsCheck Price
LowePro Hardside 300 Convertible Case17.60 x 7.09 x 11.69"Get SpecsCheck Price
Pelican 1500 Brief Case Sized Hard Case18.5 x 14.06 x 6.93"Get SpecsCheck Price
Pelican 1514 Carry On Case with Dividers22 x 13.81 x 9.0"Get SpecsCheck Price
Elephant E300 Wheeled Hard Case Carry On21.92 x 13.70 x 9.76"Get SpecsCheck Price
Ape Case ACHC5650 Large Carry-On Hard Case21.5 x 14 x 8.0"Get SpecsCheck Price
Pelican 1624 Waterproof 1620 Case with Dividers24 13/16 x 19 3/8 x 13 7/8"Get SpecsCheck Price
Seahorse SE920FPL Carry On Protective Equipment Case23.96 x 16.0 x 10.1"Get SpecsCheck Price

Brands featured include:

Below is a compilation some of the best photography hard shell camera case options to help make your buying decision easier.

LowePro Hardside 300 Convertible Case (Internal Removable Backpack)

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The LowePro Hardside 300 is a hard waterproof camera case that provides an outer shell built from ABS polymer for extreme-impact resistance, plus the insert is removable and converts into a backpack. Alone, the Hardside 300 has a waterproof and dustproof rating of IP67 which means you can totally immerse the case in water – and it is also free from dust ingress – thanks to a durable silicone gasket with a long-lasting seal. Features integrated release valves in latches for easy opening in low and high altitudes. The LowePro Hardside 300 Convertible Case will fit in the standard carry-on size compartment. Fits a DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, 4-6 lenses or flashes and extra accessories. It’s not too heavy at 7+lbs, but when you load it up you may find it a bit hard on the hands.

External Dimensions: 17.60 x 7.09 x 11.69
Internal Dimensions: 15.75 x 4.65 x 9.45



Pelican 1500 Brief Case Sized Hard Case

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This is the perfect sized hard waterproof camera case if you need to get a camera body and a few lenses to a shoot. Or if you are heading out on an overland adventure in your 4×4, pack up your gear in this case to keep it safe while you traverse bumpy terrain. And, it’s the perfect case for taking your gear in a kayak or canoe adventure. Waterproof and floatable, your camera and video gear won’t get wet even if you capsize.

Features include: Watertight, dustproof case made of Ultra-High Impact Copolymer with a three piece customizable foam insert. Includes an automatic pressure equalization valve and double throw open/lock latches. A comfortable rubber over-molded handle makes this case easy to carry around. This case is o-ring sealed and watertight to 30 feet. It also floats in salt water with up to a 50lb. internal load. The Pelican 1500 hard case weighs 7.05lbs empty.

Exterior Dimensions: 18.5 x 14.06 x 6.93″
Interior Dimensions: 16.75 x 11.18 x 6.12″




Pelican 1514 Carry On Case with Dividers

pelican hard cases. pelican camera case
This is an excellent carry-on hard camera case with wheels. You can get easily through the airport without having to hand carry your heavy equipment. Pack up 1-4 camera bodies and a few lenses along with filters, memory cards and battery packs. This is the case you see those “other guys” carrying their camera gear in when you are heading out on your own adventures.

Pelican 1514 Carry On Hard Case with Wheels, best pelican case

Features include: Chemical resistant and corrosion proof, airtight and dustproof case made of Ultra-High Impact Copolymer Resin Polypropylene with an 11-piece divider set included. The case is locked up with ABS double throw open/lock latches. Includes built-in purge valve to maintain even pressure. Carry this case with either the front large folding haul handle, large side folding haul handles, or a retractable extension trolley handle. Polyurethane wheels with stainless steel ball bearings are side protected to keep them from being knocked off while baggage guys toss your gear around. This case can be padlock protected to deter theft. The Pelican 1514 Carry On Case is a hard waterproof camera case that weighs 15 lbs 3.0 oz empty and can float in salt water with up to 64.2 lbs internal load.

Exterior Dimensions: 22 x 13.81 x 9.0″
Interior Dimensions: 19.75 x 11 x 7.6″





Elephant E300 Wheeled Hard Case Carry On

elephant hard camera carrying case
Elephant E300 Case is a solid alternative to Pelican cases. Waterproof, dust proof, and crush proof, made from fiber reinforced polymer this is a solid carry on for your gear.

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It features a heavy-duty closures, heavy-duty hard wheels, rubberized handles, a pressure relief valve, and stainless steel hardware. Inside features pre-cubed foam for easy customization. This hard waterproof camera case is perfect if you don’t have a Pelican budget.

Exterior Dimensions: 21.92 x 13.70 x 9.76
Interior Dimensions: 20.51 x 10.94 x 7.51





Ape Case ACHC5650 Large Carry-On Hard Case

ape case hard photography case
Ape Case makes a solid carry on that will protect your gear from bumps, shock and vibrations. It’s made from a combination of aluminum, steel, and ABS. This large carry-on features aluminum alloy wheels, reinforced steel corners, a removable wheel cart so you can carry this as a case only if you don’t have space for the wheels.

Ape Case Hard Case Carry On Extended Handle, hard shell camera case

With a high visibility yellow interior, your gear won’t get lost in a sea of black. A keyed lock protects against theft. You also have the option of carrying this case with a shoulder strap, but it might be hard on the back because this hard shell camera case weighs 14.3lbs empty.

Exterior Dimensions: 21.5 x 14 x 8.0
Interior Dimensions: 21 x 13.5 x 7.5





Pelican 1624 Waterproof 1620 Case with Dividers

pelican 1624
If you are heading to a warzone, this is the case you want to carry all your photography and video gear in. Standing tall at almost 25″, you can pack a lot of cargo in this hard waterproof camera case. NATO-codified and tested to MIL C-4150J (Military Standard), this case is made for harsh and unsafe environments.

It’s unbreakable, watertight to 30′, airtight, dustproof, chemical resistant and corrosion proof. Made from Ultra-High Impact structural copolymer this case has a neoprene o-ring seal and latches tightly to keep your contents protected in harsh and unforgiving terrains. The Pelican 1624 also featuers an automatic purge valve for quick equalization after changes in atmospheric pressure. Pack up your gear with the 28-piece padded, customizable divider that includes multiple storage options: a large tray, one small tray, two medium and 24 short padded and flexible dividers interior compartment for your gear.

Pelican 1624 closed hard case

The Pelican 1624 is easy to get onto tall automobiles or a tank if necessary. It comes with a two side haul handles, front haul handle, an extension handle. Roll it around the mountside or through an airport with side protected polyurethane wheels with stainless steel ball bearings. The lid padlocks shut and protects against theft. The Pelican 1514 Carry On Case with Dividers is 27 lbs empty and can float in salt water with up to 150 lbs internal load.

Exterior Dimensions: 24 13/16 x 19 3/8 x 13 7/8″
Interior Dimensions: 22 1/16 x 17 x 12 9/16″





Seahorse SE920FPL Carry On Protective Equipment Case

Seahorse SE920FPL Hard Case for Photography, best hardshell camera case
Seahorse Protective Equipment Cases are made in America and have been engineered to protect your photography and videography gear from severe weather conditions and rough terrain. Waterproof, dust proof, made from a high-impact material this hard waterproof camera case includes a neoprene O-ring for an airtight/waterproof seal. Seahorse is capable of withstanding water immersion between 15cm and 1 meter for 30 minutes – (Mil. Std. 810F, 512.4 & IP67) – and the exterior is virtually indestructible, like Pelican cases. Airtight, Seahorse cases also allow the pressure to equalize when needed.

Roll around with wide track wheels and built-in telescoping trolley handle. Makes getting in and out of hotels or rough terrain a breeze at 14.23lbs. The pre-scored accu-form foam allows you to customize the internal space to fit snugly around your gear. You can lock your Seahorse case with non-corrosive padlocks to deter theft. More affordable than Pelican, this is a solid case for the money and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Exterior Dimensions: 23.96 x 16.0 x 10.1
Interior Dimensions: 22.12″ x 13.54″ x 8.50″

Looking for more camera bags, maybe an outdoor dslr backpack, a mirrorless camera bag, a stylish and functional ladies camera bag, a bad ass camera bag, a wheeled camera backpack or a padded camera insert to carry gear in the bag you already own? Check out more good looking and functional camera bags on our blog!