Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Bolton Waterproof Cases (camera and lens case)

As I begin to amass a very expensive collection of lenses, cameras, and accessories that I plan on carrying all over god’s green earth, it begins to dawn on me how fantastically important a good case (or two or three) is.

Pelican seems to be the standard for camera/lens equipment, but they also seem to be pretty overpriced.  I realize they are holding thousands of dollars of equipment, but I don’t believe the premium on the contents should up the price of the item.  The price of the item should be dictated by materials and manufacturing.

That’s why I was excited when I found the waterproof cases from Bolton.  These are extremely sturdy, thick ABS type plastic cases with foam lining and a rubber gasket and pressure valve.  Pretty much the exact same thing as the Pelican case… but for HALF the price!

Below are the listings from Amazon for the two available case sizes.


Price $55.43 (free shipping with Amazon Prime)
Product Description

A. Exterior dimension 18L x 14W x 7"D B. Interior dimension 16.75L x 11.18W x 6.12"D. C. Watertight,crushproof, and dust proof. D. Each case features a diced foam interior that can be plucked to the shape of whatever gear you are storing. E.Standard features include a comfortable carrying handle, pressure release valve and padlock protectors. F. Uncondition lifetime guarantee of excellence. G. Tools not included. H. Net weight 7.5 LBS I. Capacity 45 Lbs.

[NOTE: The exterior measurements I took for this case were slightly different than what’s listed; I got 18.25 x 15 (handle folded down) x 6.25]


BOLTON TOOLS Bolton 20 1/2 Inch Waterproof Case
Price $73.31 (free shipping with Amazon Prime)
Product Description

1) Watertight, Crushproof and Dust proof. 2). Easy open with solid wall design. Strong and light weight. 3). O-ring seal. 4). Automatic pressure equalization valve . 5). Hexagon pluck with convoluted lid foam . 6). Unconditional lifetime guarantee of excellence. 7). Exterior dimension : L 20.5" x W17" x H9". 8). Interior dimension: L19 3/4" x W 14" x H8.5". 9). Load Max: 55lb. 10). Material: PP 11). Net Weight 10.5 LBS.

[NOTE: the largest dimension on the outside of the large case when including the ridges is actually  22.25,” substantially larger than what is listed.  The exterior measurements I took came in at 22.25 x 16.5 x 8.5.  It looks like their listed measurement are to the exterior of the body of the case, not the exterior of the support ridges (which is what really matters when you’re trying to figure out if the case will fit inside a certain dimension).]


When I bought my larger case, Amazon Prime was not available (like with the smaller case); thus I went with the offering from boltonhardware on eBay ($77.99 delivered); however, now Amazon is fulfilling the item directly and the price is $73.31.

Both transactions (eBay and Amazon) came off without a hitch, so you should be safe going either route.  I tend to like the added (or at least “perceived”) security of purchasing from Amazon.

Evidently, Sears sells these as well, but they charge $129.81 for the smaller case.  HOWEVER, if you buy ten, they are only $34 a piece.  What the what?

PHOTOS (click for larger image):


IMG_0010I didn’t think there would be such a noticeable difference in size, but as you can see, it’s fairly substantial.


It’s nice that the larger case has side clasps as well as the ones on the front.



The hinges are simple and very sturdy.



The cases easily sustain the weight of a 90 pound Boxer Mix.  I also stood on both cases, and while there was a little more flex in the larger case (I was standing in the center), both held my weight easily.




I was more than a little disappointed that the larger case didn’t have more thickness to the center foam (the pick ‘n’ pluck).  The small case center foam section is slightly under three inches, while the larger case two center foam sections only add up to slightly over 3.5”.


No only that, but while the smaller case’s entire 3” center foam section is pick ‘n’ pluck, the larger case has only a 1.5” pick ‘n’ pluck layer with the remainder being filled out with another solid layer.  Looks like I’ll have to break out the electric carving knife to make this case work! (photo above is the two layers in the larger case)

Both cases have egg crate type foam lining the top (1.5” thick for the smaller case, almost 2” thick for the larger) and a solid piece on the bottom (1.5” thick for the smaller case,  1.75” thick for the larger).  Neither the top piece nor the bottom are glued in, but they fit snuggly and don’t fall out if you shake the case.  The center foam pieces are not as snug and would fall out under the same conditions.

There is a waterproof gasket lining the entire perimeter of each case.  I haven’t tested the waterproof-ness, but I saw a review online where the person had placed his case in the shower and it remained dry inside.  I imagine this case could even be submerged, but hopefully I’ll never have to test that theory.

The “pressure valve” is simply a thick plastic disc with a metal threaded rod that screws into the case under the handle.  There is a rubber “o” ring on the underside of the disc that seals against the surface of the case.

So far, I am VERY happy with these cases.  And at this price, Pelican can suck it.


Finally, here is my favorite product shot from Bolton: two very fat people standing on the case.  Your equipment is safe, even under attack by the morbidly obese!  Awesome.


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