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How to Choose the Best Bow Case for Your Hunting Needs: A Comprehensive Guide

a bow case with a bow inside

Being a bow hunter, I know how important it is to protect your bow. You need a good case that will store your bow safely and securely. And it must be compact enough to fit in the back of your truck. Luckily, today’s bow cases come in numerous sizes and configurations, allowing you to choose the best suits your needs.

I 100% recommend the Plano Protector Compact. I have been using it for years. This bow case has everything you need: high-quality construction, excellent protection for your bow, and plenty of space for six arrows.

At a Glance: 5 of the Best Bow Cases Currently Available (First-Hand Perspective)

+ BEST VALUE- Plano Protector. Durable and of great quality. Lightweight and PillarLock Protection. I have used this model for 12 years with nothing to complain about. That’s why I strongly recommend the Plano Protector!
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+ BEST COMPACT- Plano Ultra Compact. The smaller version of the Plano Protector. As durable as its “big” brother. Good for smaller bows. Crush Protection.
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+ SOFT CASE – BlackOut 1.0. The only soft case on my list. Not as protective as a hard case. But perfect for a short travel to and from the woods or the range.
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+ WATER AND DUSTPROOF – Cabelas. Water, dust, and snowproof. It´s an all-weather bow case. Holds up to 12 arrows. Shock protection and multiple-position tie-downs.
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+ BEST DOUBLE BOW CASE- SKB. Premium Bow Case. Enough room for two compound bows or one bow and an extra tray for equipment. This is the real deal if you need to travel somewhere and need a robust and spacious case to transport your bow safely.
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+ BEST CROSSBOW CASE – Plano SPIRE. Durable plastic case with foam padding and lashing straps securely protects and transports top-notch crossbows.

These top 5 bow cases offer the best value, protection, and convenience for your bow and accessories.

TL;DR
A bow case can protect your bow from damage, dirt, moisture, theft, and loss. It can also make transporting your bow easier and comply with different states’ or countries’ laws and regulations.

The winner on this list is the Plano Protector Compact.

There are two main types of bow cases: hard and soft. Hard cases offer more protection but are heavier and bulkier. Soft cases are lighter and more compact but less protective.

The best bow cases for every type of hunter are reviewed on this page. They include the Plano Protector, the Plano Ultra-Compact, the Blackout 1.0, the Cabelas All-Weather, the SKB Double Bow Case, and the Plano SPIRE Crossbow Case.


Plano Protector Compact Bow Case

My Plano Protector Compact_1

I have owned this Plano Protector Bow Case since 2009


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Plano has served as one of the industry’s top bow case manufacturers for several decades and has produced a number of the best-selling cases to date. However, few such products have remained as popular, for as lengthy of a period of time, as the Plano Protector Compact Bow Case.

This bow case is lightweight, durable, and economically priced, making it the perfect option for any situation.

I, myself, own a Plano Protector Compact Bow Case that I have had since 2009. I previously owned an earlier version of this case, dating back to 2006, which I would likely still own if it had not been stolen.

Josh Boyd

Bowhunting Expert

I am very fond of my Protector Compound Bow Case’s simple yet effective design. My bow fits securely into this case without the slightest issue and is protected by the product’s built-in foam liner.

plano Protector Bow case with my bow

Plano Protector Compound Bow Case


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I also appreciate this case’s integrated arrow storage, which allows an archer to securely carry up to six arrows at a given time. These arrows fit securely into their slots, without the slightest chance of falling from place. The bow you see there is my Hoyt Defiant.

I have found this case to be extremely durable, as the particular case that I own is still serving its purpose after more than 12 years

Specs:

  • 41.5” x 14.75” x 5.25” (interior dimensions)

Pros:

  • Patented PillarLock® system for protection
  • Arrow storage under the lid
  • Lockable and airline approved

Cons:

  • Can´t store bow with mounted quiver

Here are some more pictures:

Plano Protector Compact Bow Case, Black,...
Plano Protector Compact Bow Case, Black,...
Plano Protector Compact Bow Case, Black,...

What I Like Most

A durable (I have had it for 12 years now) case with integrated arrow storage. It´s lockable and airline-approved. In comparison to the Plano Ultra-Compact, it offers more space.

It uses the patented Plano PillarLock System. You will have a hard time finding a better case for this price! In my opinion, the best bow case available.

read.. how to travel on a plane with bow and arrow?

Plano Ultra-Compact Bow Case

plano ultra compact bow case

Plano Ultra Protector Bow Case


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If you are a fan of Plano’s Protector line of bow cases yet are in search of something a little more compact, then the Plano Ultra-Compact Bow case should be worthy of a second look.

This case measures 41 inches in length while weighing only 6 pounds. This case’s relatively subdued size allows it to be carried virtually anywhere without hesitation.

I find this quite impressive, as many of today’s most compact bow cases sacrifice amenities in the pursuit of size reduction.

This bow case also features Plano’s crush-resistant PillarLock® system, further enhancing the unit’s overall durability, far beyond that of many compact bow cases.

Plano-Protector-Ultra-Compact

Plano Ultra Protector Bow Case


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The Plano Ultra-Compact Bow Case includes many of the same features as its full-size counterpart.

Specs:

  • 40″ x 13.75” x 4.5″ (interior dimensions)

Pros:

  • Patented PillarLock® system for protection
  • Storage for six arrows under the lid
  • Internal adjustable tie-down straps

Cons:

  • It´s designed for smaller bows. The internal dimensions are approx. 40″ long, 13 3/4″ tall, and about 4 1/2″ deep. Measure your bow!

What I liked

At only 6 pounds and smaller dimensions, the ultra-compact case still offers plenty of space. You can store your bow and arrows. Make sure to check the dimensions before ordering. It is designed for smaller bows!

The internal dimensions are approx. 40″ long, 13 3/4″ tall, and about 4 1/2″ deep!

PillarLock® System

In case you do not know what the PillarLock® System by Plano is:

Molded contact points that create pillars when the case closes for extra protection.

See the arrows? Those contacts ensure that the case is extra protected against crushing.

a bow case

BlackOut 1.0 Bow Case

Blackout Soft Bow Case

BlackOut 1.0 Soft-Sided Bow Case


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The Blackout 1.0 is a quality soft-sided bow case that is extremely lightweight yet far more durable than most would assume.

This soft bow case features a padded liner for enhanced protection and three individual storage pockets for added convenience. The Blackout 1.0 also utilizes five independent hold-down straps, which are intended to aid in securement. 

After looking at the BlackOut 1.0, I feel that this case will be perfect for those seeking a lightweight option for quick travel to and from the woods or range.

The Blackout 1.0 is not only compact but also appears to be quite durable as well.

This bow case is perfect because it has a padded liner for protection and three individual storage pockets. The Blackout 1.0 also has five independent hold-down straps, which will help keep my bow safe. I like that this bow case is lightweight and compact so I can take it with me quickly when I need to go to the woods.

Soft Bow Case Inside with straps

Hook-and-Loop Security Straps


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While I would not recommend any soft-sided bow case for use during rigorous travel, the BlackOut 1.0 should prove quite valuable to the bulk of circumstances.

Specs:

  • 42″ x 17″ x 4″

Pros:

  • Durable 600-denier polyester shell
  • Plush interior lining for protection
  • 5 hook-and-loop security straps 

Cons:

  • Good only for a short trip to the range or woods

My Thoughts

This is the only soft case that made it onto my list. It´s compact and durable. Ideal for quick travel to the range. It is not as protective as the Cabelas All-Weather Bow case.

You have extra pockets to store stuff, plus hooks and security straps. As said above: ideal for short travels to any location nearby.

Cabelas All-Weather Bow Cases

Cabela's All Weather Bow Case

Cabelas All-Weather Sturdy Bow Case


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If you are searching for a heavy-duty bow case that is extremely rugged by design, then the Cabelas All-Weather Bow Case is worthy of a second look.

This bow case is molded of impact-resistant resin and features locking pillars that prevent damage from crushing blows.

Additionally, the Cabelas All-Weather Bow Case can store up to 12 arrows at any given time. When checking out Cabela’s All-Weather Bow Case, I was quite impressed.

This bow case felt solid in every conceivable manner and appeared far more robust than most similar cases on today’s market.

I was especially impressed that the Cabelas All-Weather Bow Case featured an integrated gasket seal, perfect for keeping water and dust intrusion at bay.

Cabela's All Weather Bow Case Inside look

Premium Protection by Cabelas


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Specs:

  • 46″ x 18″ x 7″ (interior dimensions)

Pros:

  • Impact-resistant resin shell
  • PillarLock supports protection
  • Rubber gasket seals out dust, rain, and snow
  • Fits target shooting bows up to 43″ ATA

Cons:

  • Higher investment needed

Cabelas

This bow case by Cabelas is impact resistant, and a rubber gasket seals rain, dust, and snow. It´s a premium product, therefore more pricy. Compared to the Plano Protector, it is bigger, giving you more room to store stuff.

There was one thing that really impressed me about this bow case – there is a seal around the edge of it to make sure water and dust can’t get in.

SKB Double Bow Cases

Premium Double Bow Case by SKB


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The SKB Double Bow Case is perfect for any archer who travels with more than one bow at their disposal.

This hard-sided case is constructed of high-impact HDPE and includes a quality gasket seal that is impervious to moisture, dust, and solvents.

The SKB Double Bow case also features four heavy-duty metal latches and a set of built-in wheels for trouble-free transport.

The SKB Double Bow Case would be ideal for those who enjoy traveling to various hunting destinations, as this unit is designed to be airline compliant.

Additionally, this case features a significant amount of padding, which will cushion any inadvertent blows sustained in transit.

Due to its expanded capacity, the SKB Double Bow Case will also save space, using an individual case for each archer’s compound bows.

Specs:

  • 46” x 18” x 7.5” (interior dimensions)
  • Weight: 18 pounds

Pros:

  • Easily converts from single to double bow case 
  • Constructed of high-impact HDPE
  • Plenty of room!
  • Airline compliant Gear

Cons:

  • The picture is misleading. It´s either two bows or one bow, plus the accessory tray! Not two bows + the tray …

If you need more room

This is the real deal for anybody who wants to travel with more than one bow—an airline-compliant bow case.

The SKB Double Bow Case offers more room than the other cases on my list. Well, it is for two bows, so …

The picture is a little bit misleading. It’s either two bows or one bow and the accessory tray.

I found the SKB Double Bow Case to be perfect. This hard-sided case is made of high-impact HDPE and includes a quality gasket seal that is impervious to moisture, dust, and solvents. The SKB Double Bow case also features 4 heavy-duty metal latches, as well as a set of built-in wheels for easy transport.

Best Crossbow Case – Plano SPIRE

Plano SPIRE Crossbow Case Basspro SHop

Plano SPIRE


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The Plano SPIRE Compact Crossbow Case is durable and sturdy for protecting today’s compact, high-performance crossbows.

It features foam padding and lashing straps to secure the crossbow in place, padlock hasps, and heavy-duty latches for added security.

Specs:

  • 39″ x 24.5″ x 12.25″ (interior dimensions)
  • Weight: 18 pounds

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • Foam padding for extra protection
  • Padlocks + latches
  • Quiver storage included

Cons:

  • Check dimensions before purchase! Not all crossbows will fit

Crossbows that will fit:

  • Centerpoint Sniper XT390
  • Jaguar CR-013 Series Crossbow
  • Ten Point Viper s400
  • Barnett XP 385
  • Centerpoint 430
  • Barnett Whitetail Hunter Str
  • Barnett Raptor FX

This case will fit any crossbow with outer dimensions less than the interior dimension of 39″x24.5″x12.25″

Source: https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/plano-spire-compact-crossbow-case

Crossbow Case

The unique design allows it to stand for easy transport and storage. The case also includes quiver storage in the base. It features interior dimensions of 39″x24.5″x12.25″ and exterior dimensions of 41.22″x27″x12.25″.

Bow Cases Comparison Table

ProductInterior DimensionsMaterialPrice
Plano Protector Compact41.5” x 14.75” x 5.25”Hard Casecheck
Plano Ultra-Compact40″ x 13.75” x 4.5″Hard Casecheck
BlackOut 1.042″ x 17″ x 4″Soft Casecheck
Cabelas All-Weather Case46″ x 18″ x 7″Hard Casecheck
SKB Double Bow Case46″ x 18″ x 7.5″Hard Casecheck
Plano SPIRE39″ x 24.5″ x 12.25″Hard Casecheck

What is the difference between the Plano Protector and the Plano Ultra-Compact Bow Cases?

The Plano Protector and the Plano Ultra-Compact are hard cases that feature Plano’s crush-resistant PillarLock® system, integrated arrow storage, and foam padding.

The main difference between them is their size and weight. The Plano Protector is larger and heavier than the Plano Ultra-Compact, making it more spacious and durable.

The Plano Protector can fit most bows and has interior dimensions of 43.25″ x 19″ x 6.75″.

The Plano Ultra-Compact is smaller and lighter than the Plano Protector, making it more portable and convenient.

The Plano Ultra-Compact is designed for smaller bows and has interior dimensions of 41″ x 15″ x 4.75″.

Top-Tier Compound Bow Storage

You spend a fair sum of money purchasing and outfitting a new bow. That´s why your bow case should be sturdy and reliable to protect your expensive investment.

Whether it is traditional hard cases or soft cases, I have reviewed some of the best cases on the market today, so you can find one that suits your needs perfectly.

Let me know what bow case you prefer by leaving a comment below. I am also interested because my favorite has been Plano Protector Compact, which I have used for more than ten years, but many others could also work.

FAQ

How Much Does A Bow Case Cost?

Bow cases can vary in price, starting at around $50, and can go up to several hundred dollars depending on the features and materials used.

How to choose between a hard case and a soft case for your bow?

Hard and soft cases have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs and preferences. A hard case protects your bow from impacts, moisture, dust, and solvents. A hard case is also more suitable for airplane travel, as it is more likely to comply with the airline’s policies and procedures. A soft case, on the other hand, is more lightweight, compact, and easy to carry. A soft case is ideal for storing your bow at home or taking it to a nearby range or woods. However, a soft case does not provide as much protection as a hard case and may not be accepted by some airlines.

How to travel on an airplane with your bow and arrow?

Traveling on an airplane with your bow and arrow is not impossible. You must check with the airline you are flying with for their specific policies and procedures regarding sporting equipment. You must also pack your bow and arrow in a suitable case that meets the airline’s size, weight, security, and durability requirements. You must also declare your bow and arrow at the check-in counter and pay applicable fees or charges. You will also need to follow the laws and regulations of your destination country regarding bow hunting or shooting.

What Is The Best Budget Soft Case For A Compound Bow?

 If you are looking for a budget-friendly case for your compound bow, you might want to consider the Blackout 1.0 Soft Case. This is a soft case but still durable, padded, and secure. It´s priced around $50.

Is it necessary to have a bow case?

A bow case is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended for any archer who values their bow and wants to keep it in good condition. A bow case can protect your bow from damage, dirt, moisture, theft, and loss. A bow case can also make transporting your bow and accessories easier without hassle or risk. 

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