Harbor Freight Apache Case Review - Budget Pelican? [2022]

Disclaimer: The Apache cases were purchased by the author.

Apache Case Featured Image

Everyone loves a good deal, but only if the goods are well, good. The Harbor Freight Apache cases seem like a budget alternative to Pelican, but are they a good deal, or a stinker?

What Are The Harbor Freight Apache Cases?

The Apache case line are plastic cases, made for transporting or storing goods. Most of the designs are copies of Pelican designs, differing in that these are not made in the US like Pelican cases. This may seem like an unfair comparison, but Harbor Freight themselves list the comparable Pelican models on the Apache product pages.

Much like Pelican, the Apache cases come in a range of shapes, sizes, and materials. They also run the gamut of prices, from about $13 up to about $165 for the largest cases. They claim to be weatherproof, watertight, dustproof, and crushproof cases, which is a tall order for a budget product. The standard cases come with pull-and-pluck foam for packing your goods, and the clear case comes with a rubber liner. Pressure knobs are standard on all of the normal cases, as are big handles.

Apache Case Pile
A pile of cases.

I've personally bought a bunch of the Apache cases over the years. I wanted Pelican, but didn't have the cash to buy them. Now that I've gotten a little more financially stable, I've been replacing my Apaches with Pelicans. That being said, I've gotten a ton of use out of my Apache cases. Which ones have I used, and would I recommend them?

Choosing The Correct Apache Case

I'm of the mentality that you should decide what goes in a container before you buy said container. Doesn't matter if it is a hard case like these Apaches, a hiking pack, or an EDC bag. Well, I've used quite a few of the Apache cases over the last five years:

The 550 Clear Case is a bit different than the rest, as it is a clear plastic case. I've used mine for battery storage over the years, as I have a ton of batteries on hand. These cases might be the best bang for the buck, as they are some of the cheapest ones, despite working very well.

Apache Case Stack
An Apache stack.

The 2880 has been my camera case since early 2021, only recently being replaced. It has traveled with me a lot, and has held up great. It was a tad bit small for my Canon Eos Rebel T7 with spare lens, but it worked well enough.

The 3800 Cases are the ones I've used the most. One has been my shooting range case for handguns, and the other has been my checked case for flying with firearms. My "flying" one has been used for about a dozen flights, but has been no worse for the wear.

Bringing up the back are the 4800s. These are the largest Apache cases that I have used, and my two hold my two different "gear sets". Each case can pack a ton of gear, with loads of magazines, a chest rig, IFAK, and more fitting in well. Mine have done many trips, in and out of the car, and tossed out in the field. No complaints from me.

Crushproof & Weatherproof & Waterproof, Oh My!

Well, I've flown with the Apaches, and they have held up to being crushed. Honestly, this was no real surprise to me. I've also used them in dusty environments, and have never had sand or other debris get into the cases via the seals. However, I had not water tested any of the cases with a full submersion. How did it do?

Full disclosure, the smaller cases such as the 550 should do better in water testing, but I am happy with the results. How often do I plan to fully submerge any of my cases? Well, literally never, but knowing that they do fairly well is always nice.

The Verdict

I think that for the money, the Apache cases are a pretty good deal. They are a fraction of what the Pelican cases cost, but offer a lot of the same capabilities. I do not think that they are professional grade, but they are nearly there. When you get that monthly coupon from Harbor Freight, maybe think about picking up one of these cases.

About Paul Whaley 196 Articles
Paul Whaley is a guy with an interest in practical and defensive pistol shooting techniques with an eye for quality gear. He has received training from Holistic Solutions Group, John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research, Darryl Bolke, Cecil Birch, and Chuck Haggard. When not trying to become a better shooter, he can be found enjoying a Resident Evil game or listening to Warren Zevon.

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