Choosing between a hard or soft compound bow case
In the world of archery we have multiple types of bows and often we travel with those bows, either to a practice location, an archery competition, or to the woods for a hunt. When you travel with a bow you need to think about protection and there are a few factors one should consider, such as how long is the trip, will others be transporting or handling my bow, or even what will the weather conditions be during the transport. Given each situation one may feel that a certain type of case or protection would be sufficient, but for me… I generally look at having solid protection 100% of the time. I’ve spent a lot of money on my compound bow, put a huge amount of time and effort in putting the components together and fine tuning the bow, so I want to protect my investment.
Here’s a little side note… I introduced a really good buddy to bow hunting elk. He spent a small fortune on his bow, he wasn’t using his case…I destroyed his bow… Yes, we’re still great friends. At least that’s what he says.
As I mentioned there are a lot of case options to protect your investment; a soft case, a hard case or as my buddy tried no case at all. Let me share with you the soft case first. The soft case is just that, soft. Most times they utilize a fabric exterior, straps for handles and zippers to cover your bow and in some you have axle protectors. Soft cases are very useful and some soft cases are pretty well built and do give the bow some protection. They won’t stop damage to your bow from a heavy truck or a foot stepping on the bow, but they’ll give some minor protection.
Easton World Cup Case – Top Shelf soft case
Easton World Cup Bow Case – SoftHere’s a great choice in the soft case lineup, the Easton Bow Case. It comes with a solid strap, name plate area, two interior zipper pockets for storage and a little padding. I would actually use this for transport to and from a range, or possibly a local archery shoot. I would not use this for a long trip, or a flight to some far off land.
As you can see it’s a relatively simple bow case and it holds one of my longer, 34″ axle to axle bows just fine. This is a simple case that I would choose, if I were planning to take my bow across town, but not one I’d choose for long trips. It comes with a shoulder strap, extra side pockets, and a durable nylon, soft, exterior.
The picture of the inside of this bow shows my Hoyt Carbon Defiant, which is a relatively longer axle to axle (34″) bow in this day and age short bows. Notice that I have a 10 inch stabilizer on the bow, as well as a quiver. It holds it just fine. Great choice and my Top Shelf – soft case!
SIZE: 45″ x 17″
WHERE TO BUY: Easton World Cup Bow Case
Mohawk Bow Case by Legend
Ok, so this is another top end soft bow case. In my simple mind this really shouldn’t be in the high end category, but it hits the mark. This case has really great interior padding, offers cam protection, and has sufficient pockets and straps to secure your bow.
What I like about this case is that it’s affordable, has an external pocket for your arrow case and it’s pretty simple. I don’t own this one, but if I had a tight budget and needed a simple case for my compound bow to get it from here to there I would certainly buy this case.
This is actually a case I recommended to a buddy who just picked up a new-used bow, and needed a simple case. He doesn’t travel very far to hunt or go to shoots, other than the local shoots around town. Again, it’s a great soft bow case with some great features, but it doesn’t make my Top Shelf choice.
SIZE: 41″ (holds up to a 39″ ATA bow)
WHERE TO BUY: Legend Archery Mohawk bow case
The next couple of cases are the hard cases. I tend to use these types of cases for long road-trips of 6 hours or more, flights, or just anywhere I think it’s a good idea to have the bow well protected. As the name states “HARD” the cases have a hard outer shell, with a soft liner inside. Most often the cases are made of a plastic exterior, but I have some hard cases made with diamond plated aluminum shells…not something I’d buy…cause you have to carry that blasted case!
Plano 44 Bow Case
I’m sure you’ve seen this case, if you’ve been to a big box store, or even a small archery shop. These cases are what I’d call the next step up from the soft bow case. Yes, they’re relatively hard and offer just a bit more protection than the soft shell case, but they are basic. These generally have egg-foam interior, flimsy latches, but they do work if you need them.
This was one of the first hard shell bow cases I purchased many…many years ago. I think it was 40 bucks and well, it did do the job. However, if I were to fly with my bow back when I had the case…I’d have to search for a different case.
Also, take a look at the interior, as I mentioned these come with egg foam and a couple straps to hold the bow in place. Also, note that my 34″ ATA Hoyt barely fits and I would certainly need to remove my stabilizer and arrow quiver. This is a decent case and you can find them pretty cheap these days. They do a decent job, will easily hold most compound bows. If you need an affordable hard sided case and don’t plan to travel across the country it’s a solid option.
SIZE: 44″ x 8″ x 20″ (easily fits a 34″ ATA bow)
WHERE TO BUY: Plano Bow Case
SKB Hunter 411
The next up is a real step up! This is one that a cousin of mine uses, and swears by it. It’s a little more sturdy than the Plano 44, has a little
bit more room inside, but you can dell it has a bit of quality built into it. There are only a few minor issues I have with this case. The thinness of the exterior plastic and the types of locks used on the latches. The plastic is more stiff than the Plano 44, but it just seems a bit thin. For traveling I like to have a more substantial lock option, as I will usually pack a few thousand dollars in the case for the flight…and yes I want to protect my investments. The other minor thing I’d like to see improved on this case would be the weather protection. It doesn’t have much protection from inclement weather. If you were going to be traveling in harsh weather and you needed the bow case to be on the outside of your transportation…this case may not be the best in the case of bad weather.
Again, I have a cousin that swears by this case and has flown with it to Oregon on more than one occasion without an issue. He also stuffs it full with his hunting clothes to help with protection and weight distribution from his other luggage. It has great foam lining to protect your bow and it also feels like quality. This is a great case and one that won’t break the bank.
SIZE: 41.5 long x 17.75 wide x 9 (easily fits a 34″ ATA bow)
WHERE TO BUY: SKB Hunter
SKB i-Series – Top Shelf hard case
So, after a trip where I tested this case I’ve decided to change my Top Shelf selection of hard cases to the SKB i-Series case. I have used this case in the past and found that it held up very well. It was beat, dropped, and thrown with my favorite bow in it and it held up strong! This case is made with a molded plastic, has 3 different handles, wheels, and multiple reinforced lock areas. Check out the pictures to see the different scars, handles and lock areas. This case is a tank and isn’t something that I would use to run my bow to a local archery shoot, but it is a case I would want to put my bow in to travel to an elk hunt in the west, a long flight to an Iowa deer hunt, or overseas to hunt red stag!
The other great component of this case is the interior. As you can see in the picture this case has a plush interior, has solid velcro straps to secure the bow to the interior. Just like the other cases I have my bow nestled in this case. Again, this is my Hoyt Defiant, which has a 34″ ATA measurement. Even with my bow and arrows inside you can see it has plenty of space available to store my hunting clothes.
The one challenge with this case is that it’s a tank. The shipping weight of this case is right around 26 pounds. The good thing with this weight is that it is a tank and it can take a beating, it’s tough to throw around. SKB stands behind their case with a Lifetime Warranty, as well as a content guarantee of $1500 bucks! The wheels help to get it through the airport!
SKB i-Series handle, ambient valve, lock area, and latchHere are some, but not all of the key features SKB lists with this case:
- Built to military standards.
- Plush-lined interior.
- Holds up to 12 arrows.
- Padlock holes include stainless steel padlock protector clips.
- Cushion grip handles on three sides for comfortable lifting and carrying.
- Waterproof and dust tight design – as you can see I put it to the test with dust…
- Snap-down rubber over-molded cushion grip handle.
- Ambient pressure equalization valve.
- Resistant to UV, solvents, corrosion, fungus.
- Resistant to impact damage.
- Lifetime warranty.
- $1500 content coverage.
- Proudly made in the U.S.A.
COST: $329SIZE: interior: 41.00″ x 15.50″ x 4.75″ (easily fits a 34″ ATA bow)
WHERE TO BUY: SKB i-Series Large bow case
I hope you found this article helpful and you can use this information for your purchases. As I’ve mentioned it’s very important to protect your equipment investment, so you can trust it’ll work when you need it. I’ll be adding to this article soon, as I wasn’t able to get to one of my favorite and most trusted cases, so make sure you check back. If you have a favorite case and want us to take look at it, please reach out.
Thanks for reading
Check out the video: Hard vs Soft bow cases