When we invest our money into gear, the goal is to be able to use it and store it for years to come. The problem then becomes, how do we store it safely without going broke in the process? Over the years, I have personally had the unfortunate experience of losing expensive DSLR cameras, and lenses because I lacked storage solutions that could withstand the environmental conditions I exposed them to. I’ve tried storing equipment in polymer cases purchased from, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, and several other big name retailers. They all failed me at one time or another. The only brand of case that has withstood my use and abuse were ones made by Pelican Products, whose cases are known around the world for their durability. Naturally, you can understand my skepticism when three cases arrived in the mail from a company I had never heard of before, the Boulder Case Company.
When my package of items arrived it contained the J1000, J2000, and J3000 series cases from the Boulder Case Company. I performed a quick inspection to check for damage, and to get a better understanding of what type of case I was dealing with. My initial impression was indifference. These cases seemed to be similar to other brands of cases and featured standard locking mechanisms commonly found in other cases. I then began to formulate my plans for a series of true Alaskan style torture tests. Before we get into the details of the tests I performed, let’s look at the specifications of the cases.
- J1000: Length 4.40″ Width 3.05″ Depth: 1.40″
- J2000: Length 6.47″ Width 4.13″ Depth: 1.64″
- J3000: Length 8.38″ Width 4.66″ Depth: 1.88″
- J1000: Black, Blue, Yellow, Red, White
- J2000: Black, Blue, Yellow, White
- J3000: Black, Blue, Yellow
- J1000 : 3.8 Ounces
- J2000: 7.5 Ounces
- J3000: 10.6 Ounces
Features on all models:
- Stainless Steel hinge pins
- 80 Feet (28 Meters) water resistance
- Lifetime warranty
- 1/8″ Foam lining
- O Ring seals
- Nylon lanyard for easy carry
- Made of high impact Arcylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS plastic)
The Alaskan Torture Test
When testing a case that has a lifetime warranty, I put that warranty through its paces. If the manufacturer claims a lifetime warranty, then they have faith in the superior quality of the product they are marketing. I consider it my right as a consumer to make sure the company knows people like us here at The Loadout Room, are out there testing their product to its limits. It was with this mindset that I devised the tests I performed. I thought about what sort of hazards a hunter or wildlife photographer might encounter while in nature. I held nothing back in my attempts to destroy these cases.
First Test: Matanuska River, Palmer Alaska.
Weather conditions at time of test: Raining, overcast skies, 42*F
Test objective: To test the water tightness against the Matanuska River’s current for 30 minutes.
Test Summary: When I first arrived I placed an Ace of Spades playing card in the J1000 case and sealed it. (The reason behind inserting a playing card into the case was to show if moisture was able to penetrate the case. In the event that moisture seeped in, it would be present on the face of the card in the form of raised water droplets). Next, I tied 100 feet of military issued nylon 550 cord to the factory supplied lanyard on the case. Once satisfied that the nylon retaining rope was secured, I threw the J1000 approximately halfway across the river.
Once the case was floating in the river, I secured the rope around a large rock and let it float in the current for the next 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, an additional 15 minutes were spent repeatedly pulling the case back to shore, ensuring it submerged in the current, then throwing it back into the river. The case was pulled to shore one final time and opened to inspect the Ace of Spades for any signs of water infiltration. The results are shown below.
This same test was repeated with the J2000 case with a slight snag. I noticed one of the clasps on the case came unlatched during the initial 30 minutes of testing. I decided to continue with the second portion of the test to see how it would perform with only 50% of its latching power. To my surprise, after both water-based tests were performed, the playing card inside the J2000 case was still dry.
This is a real testament to the quality of the seals used in the Boulder Cases, with only 50% of the latching power securing the lid, it was still able to remain watertight. I wasn’t gentle with these cases in the water testing phase, but all three passed with no signs of leakage.
Test Two: The Drop Test
Weather: Overcast skies 42*F slightly windy
Test Objective: To test the impact resistance of the Boulder Case Company cases by dropping them off a bridge, onto the rocks below. The impact surface consists of large to medium river rock, and concrete bridge supports
Test Summary: Once the water phase of the testing cycle was finished, I went to the top of the bridge spanning the Matasnuska River. I didn’t make this test overly complicated, or scientific. I simply walked to the highest point on the bridge and dropped the cases (individually) over the side rail. There was one failure in this phase of the test, the J3000 case. Upon impact, the J3000 case popped open, allowing the playing card to fall out. When inspecting the J3000 for damage I found it noticeably harder to open, but it still functioned correctly.
The smaller J1000, and J2000 cases both appeared to absorb the impact better than the larger J3000. These two only suffered some light scratches and dents from the rocks. The smaller cases opened and closed with the same effort as before the drop test.
It’s important to note that the J1000 and J2000 cases landed flat, whereas the J3000 appeared to land directly on the seam. The damage to the J3000 is shown in the above photo. When performing the drop test a second time on the J3000, it landed flat and did not suffer a second failure. The clasps both remained solidly in the locked position.
Final Test: Ice cube test
Weather: Constant -3*F inside a commercial freezer
Test Objective: To test the water tightness and structural integrity of the J3000 after being frozen in a block of ice for seven days.
Test Summary: The J3000 had a small set back during the first drop test, becoming the weakest link. For this reason, I chose for the final test. I figured that a cold test would be the next logical progression. Any defects in the case should become apparent after being submerged in water, and frozen. This test also served as a severe winter weather simulation. What if someone lost the case off the back of a snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle while hunting in the winter? How would this style of case hold up to prolonged negative temperatures?
I had an empty plastic coffee can lying around my garage that I knew would be watertight. I proceeded to fill the can up with water and placed the J3000 case inside. The lid was secured with duct tape, and the container was placed in my freezer. The temperature is set to a constant -3*F. I then waited seven days to ensure the case was completely frozen in a block of ice. It’s important to note that neither the case or the freezer were disturbed during this seven-day period.
After the seven days, I removed the container and peeled back the lid. I found the case frozen solid within the block of ice, as expected. I had to remove the case from the ice, so naturally, this involved one final abuse test. The tool of choice to extricate the J3000 from its icy cell was a tool we have discussed before, the Stanley Tools FUBAR. The FUBAR is a multi use, pry bar style, tool that features a hammer/pick, perfect for ice chipping.
The J3000 proved to be both moisture proof, and impact resistant following its immersion in ice. I hit it several times with the FUBAR while removing it from the ice and had to tap it against a wooden stump to free the ice trapped under the clasps. A quick inspection showed no warping, or cracks to the outer shell. The hinge was noticeably harder to open when it was first removed from the ice, but after several minutes it became easier. I attribute the progressive improvement to the stainless steel hinge pin heating up to room temperature, melting any ice molecules that had formed around it.
Conclusions: In the beginning, when these three small cases showed up from a company that I was unfamiliar with, I was skeptical. I wanted to see if they performed as well as other brands of similar cases. These cases withstood all the abuse I could think of, short of running them over with a truck. The thought had crossed my mind, but in the end, I decided it would be overkill.
They performed well in each test, passing with only one issue. I attribute the J3000 failure in the drop test to its position on impact. The case in that test landed directly on the seam, and from a height of more than 40 feet. When repeated, the J3000 passed the drop test with zero malfunctions.
These cases from Boulder Case Company are well-built, and I believe would stand up to any case by Pelican or Storm Case. I was not gentle to the cases, and it’s important to note that any case can, and will fail under the right conditions. The key is knowing the limitations of your equipment. I would have zero problems placing my camera gear, or firearms, in any case, made by the Boulder Case Company. They offer many different sized cases, so be sure to check out the whole line up on their website.