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Going out and purchasing a bow case used to be a relatively easy to decision to make. There were minimal options available on the market from a limited number of brands. Furthermore, the difference from one case to another wasn't that substantial so your risk of choosing something bad was relatively low.
Fast forward to today, and you now have many top case manufactures producing hundreds and hundreds of bow case models. Honestly, choosing a solid, reliable bow case, especially as a beginner can be a little bit overwhelming.
If you're in the market for a new bow case, we've put together a simple summary that helps you navigate through the most important factors to consider before making a purchase. We're going to cover the different types of bow cases, some notable features, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. Lastly, we're going to link you to other great articles that will help you make that final decision.
The first and most important question to ask when buying a bow case is, "Why do I need this again?" Of course, personally speaking, I've definitely gone years without using a bow case before finally purchasing something. However, it's not something I would recommend, especially for those that travel a good bit.
Take a look at the top reasons why you should purchase, or at least consider purchasing a bow case before the next hunting season.
While it might be obvious, some bowhunters (especially those new to the sport) might not realize what can happen to a bow if a case is not used. Obviously, for any gun owner, it's standard to put your gun in a case to prevent anything from bumping the scope and to keep it protected from water, dust, etc.
This same type of damage can happen to a bow as well. Sights can be bumped, rests can be shifted, stabilizers can be bent - and that's just naming a few things. Furthermore, exposing your bow to water and dust can increase the chance of rust, and it might even lead to cams and limbs performing poorly.
Some might confuse protection with transportation, but they're a little different. When talking about transporting a bow, we're talking about the ease and safety of moving your hunting gear to different places.
For one, traveling with exposed arrows and broadheads is very risky and one that should be avoided. Bow cases, especially those with robust storage additions help keep these items away from others and away from sensitive areas of your bow, i.e. the string!
Furthermore, carrying a bow, along with arrows, bow releases, stabilizer, etc. is just downright difficult. Having something that can neatly store each item helps you more easily and more quickly get to your hunting destination.
Finally, we need to discuss what happens to your bow and gear when you're not on the move. What do you do with everything when you're no longer using it - both between hunts and during the offseason?
Having a reliable bow case will help you keep your gear out of the way of others when you're out of the woods. Ensuring everything is neatly packed away minimizes the risk of anything bad happening, ensuring your bow remains accurate and reliable. Furthermore, having your bow securely stored during the offseason helps to prevent unwanted rust, breakages, etc. while it sits for months.
The second most notable thing to review about bow cases is their top features. Having this checklist readily available will help you quickly review any bow case that catches your eye. Additionally, it's an easy way to compare different options to one another to see which one is right for your needs.
We chose to put warranty at the top our list because a manufacture's warranty demonstrates confidence in their own products. Furthermore, it showcases the quality of their construction, and gives hunters additional comfort before making a purchase.
As you can tell by the list below, many top bow case brands are going to cover their cases with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Of course, the details vary between each brand, with SKB providing one of the most secure warranties available today. If you decided to purchase a bow case from any of these brands, you're going to receive a solid product. However, going outside of these brands may put you at risk for quality concerns.
Plano: Limited Lifetime Warranty
Pelican (Not Vault): Limited Lifetime Warranty
SKB: Liftetime Warranty (And additional coverage for some bow cases)
Case Club: Lifetime Warranty
When it comes to cushioning, there's unfortunately not a lot of information out there. Today's models are going to use some sort of high-density foam within the inner shell to protect your bow from damage. Of course, the thickness and type of foam are important components to consider.
More times than not, you're going to find thicker, more robust foam types within hard bow cases as they provide the room needed for this additional material. Also, many hard bow cases allow customers to customize the outline of their foam interior to match specifically to their bow's shape.
Overall, if possible, it's best to try and get a hands-on touch for the foam being used for each bow case. While it might not be a concern for the popular brands, those unknown brands online might not provide reliable foam cushioning.
After looking at several bow case brands, you'll find that nearly all of them use some sort of plastic-type material, more specifically polymer within their injection molded process. Some companies will use a propriety polypropylene material to increase the strength of their cases, while others will use a more generic version.
Overall, propriety materials are going to provide a higher degree of protection, but are going to be more expensive as a result.
To gather more information on the difference between polymers and plastics, check out this overview by Machine Design.
Something that's relatively new to the bow case world - a pressure valve system now exists on the outside of many of today's top bow cases models. A pressure valve system was created mainly for individuals that fly with their bow case as higher altitudes create a vacuum in the case, making it difficult to open.
Companies like Pelican have created automatic pressure valve systems that allow air to flow in and out of the case with ease while keeping moisture out. This not only makes it easy to open your case, but keeps your case securely waterproof.
When speaking to additional travel features, we think it's important to take time and evaluate the parts of the case that make it easy to travel with. This means wheels, straps, locks, etc. Having reliable characteristics like this not protect your bow from unwanted individuals, but they also help you carry and roll your bow case with ease.
The best thing about choosing a bow case is knowing that there are only two different types of options available. Taking a second to realize this makes the decision even easier. Of course, before we go into the positives and negatives it's best to give a quick overview of each.
As you'd expect, hard bow cases can be spotted by their rigid, hard outer shell. While manufactures use slightly different polymers/plastics to fill their molds, their end goal is still to provide a high level of outside protection and tailored storage. As a result, these types of cases are great for individuals who travel far distances, or who can't risk any impact to their bow's sights, rests, etc. (e.g. Competition Archers).
On the other side, we have soft cases which are made with a variety of soft, cloth-type materials to construct its outer shell. While some of the cases do provide additional storage, they are not as robust as many hard bow cases. Furthermore, even though they don't offer a high level of outside protection, many hunters enjoy their minimal design and lightweight construction.
We're getting closer to making a final decision! You've read about the top features to consider, as well as the two main type of bow case. Now, we're going to highlight their pros and cons.
A hard bow case is most definitely the go-to option when it comes to protecting your bow. Simple put, it's what a case is supposed to look like and do what a case is supposed to do. Not only does it protect your bow from outside damage, it also helps to efficiently get your gear from point A to point B.
1. Provide the highest level of protection with a durable outer shell.
2. Can be locked for additional security coverage.
3. Keeps dust, water, and other harmful materials away from your bow.
4. Helps to organize your bow and bowhunting accessories neatly.
Before purchasing a hard bow case, we think it's important to take a second and do quick overview of the potential negatives. While many of the call-outs below aren't necessary deal breakers, they should be noted. Furthermore, if you're a bowhunter that doesn't need a high level of protection, this type of case might not be right for you.
1. Its size can be difficult to travel with and store.
2. Added weight does make it tough to carry.
3. Can be expensive if purchased from a top level manufacturer.
Soft bow cases are not commonly used by many bowhunters today, but there is still a subset of individuals that take advantage of their features. For those looking for a simple way to transport your bow, and realized there's minimal risk of it being damaged, this option might be perfect. Lastly, the best thing about soft cases is the fact there are so many great brands out there today, providing better and better models each year.
1. Can be purchase at much more reasonable prices.
2. Can be stored almost anywhere due to limited size.
3. Lightweight design makes it easy to carry.
4. Convenient straps offer multiple carrying options.
As mentioned above with hard bow cases, it's necessary to list out the potential cons of choosing a soft case to protect your bow. Evaluating each of these negatives could halt your purchase, or at least help you realize that these cases are designed for specific purposes.
1. No soft cases are TSA approved for travel.
2. Soft outer shell provides minimal protection from outside impact and materials.
3. Minimal security features as they cannot be locked.
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