Last updated: 4 August 2005

Mike here: This is from The Case Place, a reseller of cases. But the information is still useful when considering a case purchase, regardless of where you purchase from.

Subject: soft VS hard cases
From: thecaseplace (

With so many cases available, it is often hard to determine which case would best protect your valuable object. Our recommendation is to purchase the best quality case you can afford. Remember, the quality of the case matters, if the object you are putting in the case matters. Don't ever forget that glass lens break and lightweight metal can bend! We recommend at least 1" of foam surrounding the object and around the perimeter of the case. 2" is better on heavy objects that could shift inside the case.

You will find soft cases, and hard cases to choose from. Soft Cases are generally lighter weight and less expensive than hard cases, but the higher quality soft cases can be as expensive as a hard case. Most have an outer covering of Cordura, or some form of Nylon, and a pad of some sort between the outer and inner shell. They usually have a zipper which provides a means of keeping the case shut and a hinge of the same material as the case. One drawback of the soft cases is the fact that the padding is hidden, and you will be unable to determine if it is deteriorating until it fails.

Hard side carrying cases are usually made of various plastic compounds, aluminum, or have wooden frames covered with vinyl or cloth. We will confine our remarks to Plastic cases and aluminum cases, as these are the most frequently found hard cases. These cases will have some form of hinge on the back such as a small hinge pins, or piano hinge. The piano hinge seems to offer the best security, and is found on the higher quality aluminum cases, and some plastic cases. Most of these cases can be locked by some type of key locking latch, or a padlock which is generally an extra cost item. These cases will usually be filled with solid foam, or some variation of pick and pluck foam which will allow you to form a cavity for the object you are putting inside the case.

A quality made soft case will often provide protection if you want a light weight case to transport your telescope from your home to a destination not requiring air travel with checked baggage or rough terrain.

Quality hard side cases will provide a higher level of protection, because the hard side material will absorb most of the bumps and drops that can occur, and the foam inside will offer a nest of foam which will surround the objects being placed inside the case. Locking latches or padlocks also offer a higher degree of security than the soft cases which can easily be cut open with a pocket knife or box opener, or torn open by a hard pull of the zipper fobs which can tear the zipper open.

Our military services, government agencies, and air travelers who need to protect optics, weapons, computers, etc will usually purchase hard side cases due to the proven protection that these cases offer in the event of rough handling and accidents. Professional photographers, with their expensive camera bodies, and lens, usually buy hard side cases because one dropped case could cost thousands of dollars damage to their equipment.

Protecting your telescope or camera takes on the same considerations as protecting your body. Take the best care of it, and reduce the possibilities of accidental damage, and you and your valuable object will probably last a long time. Also, when making your case purchase you can easily pay $60-70 for a good soft bag, why not pay an additional $10-20 for the proven protection of a quality hard side case?

You never know when your or another might drop your case, or some heavy object might fall on your case cracking your telescope lens, or bending the tube. Consider this, if you thought a brick was going to be dropped on your hand, would you feel safer with a soft padded layer about _" between your hand and the brick, or would you feel better with a padded hard piece of plastic or aluminum protecting your hand. When you purchase your next case, plan for that possible accident, hoping it will never happen. After the accident it is too late to plan.

We will be happy to discuss hard side carrying cases with you anytime you might want to call us. Our toll free phone number is 1-888-477-9138.

The Case Place, Inc.

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Copyright ©2005 Michael L. Weasner /
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