RTIC Hard Case: Waterproof Protection for an Unbeatable Price

This is one of the good ones. RTIC’s Hard Case perfectly hits the mark between affordability and quality.

Hard cases are one of those products where there’s no room for error. Whether you’re carrying backpacking tent, camera parts, weapons, drone gear, or musical equipment, the gear itself is likely many magnitudes more valuable than the case you’re putting it in.

Unfortunately, putting your trust in a poorly made hard case can result in thousands or more in damages.

Luckily, this RTIC Hard Case offers both waterproof and bombproof durability for a price that’s near-impossible to beat.

Is RTIC Hard Case Watertight?

The Lowdown

RTIC reps the slogan, “OVERBUILT. NOT OVERPRICED.”

Outdoor adventure journalist Owen Clarke using RTIC hard case
Owen Clarke testing RTIC waterproof hard case

Surprisingly, this is the first of their products that I’ve owned, at least in this hard case that slogan isn’t just flashy wordplay.

The RTIC Hard Case is designed from a lightweight polypropylene copolymer with o-ring seals that offer waterproofing when submerged up to 3 feet underwater.

Also, the case sports an air pressure-release valve, to avoid pressurization at high altitudes. I verified that this feature works, taking the case from 6,000 feet where I’m based in Colorado up to above 12,000 feet.

RTIC Hard Case Features

The spring-loaded latches are easy to pop off and on, and there are dual padlock slots on either side of the carry handle to secure your gear. The case I have is the 16″ version (RTIC also offers 14″, 18″, and 43″ sizes).

Waterproof Testing

I went off-road with binoculars and some camera gear stashed in this waterproof case on a mountaineering trip last weekend. Not only did the case took a beating, but the gear came out clean and secure. I also dunked it into a stream and checked for water inside the case.

No water leakage. It works.

RTIC Gear Storage Capabilities

One thing to note before buying is that this is a deep case (7″). It has a convoluted foam lid supported by two layers of pick and pluck foam in the main compartment. If you want to create custom molds to fit your gear, then you can cut out the foam. A thin flat foam layer rests on the bottom for extra security.

RTIC hard case 16foam cell inside
Custom fit your gear by cutting the foam in RTIC hard case

For example, if you’re looking for a case to store a single pistol, then this RTIC waterproof hard case may be bigger than you’d prefer. Still, it’ll get the job done, but it’s on the bulkier side.

Even though its the smallest offering, the 14″ hard case, is still 6.5″ deep. It’s not really a downside, but be aware of this, if you’re looking for a compact case for a single and smaller item.

Hard Case Sizing & Measurements

Another key point before you buy, is that the standard of measurement differs for these cases based on the size, which can be confusing. Let me explain…

For example, according to the RTIC measurement graphic, their 14″ Case is 14″ from corner to corner (diagonally) but only 13.5″ long.

Meanwhile, the 16″ Case that I have is actually 17.5″ corner to corner (not 16″, as you would expect). The 16″ in the title apparently refers to the length for this case. Then, the 18″ Case is actually 18.5″ long, and 20″ from corner to corner.

So the name (14″ Case, 16″ Case, 18″ Case, etc.) doesn’t refer to a clear, consistent measurement and varies by case. This isn’t really a bad thing either, because RTIC is completely transparent about the case dimensions on the site.

If you’re looking to fine-tune a fit for your equipment, then be sure to check out the dimension graphic on the website for each RTIC hard case size before you buy.

Any downsides?

Honestly, for the price, there aren’t really any downsides to this RTIC hard case. My 16″ version is tough, rugged, and gets the job done. At $79.99 for the 14″ Case and $89.99 for the 16″ Case, it’s an absolute steal. Even the 43″ Case will only run you $179.99.

For a “Made in the USA” product, it’s extremely impressive that RTIC can offer prices like this.

The only thing I would’ve liked to see is larger padlock holes. As mentioned above, there are twin holes on either side of the handle, but the holes are quite small. Although, they’re large enough to fit TSA luggage locks, perhaps. Neither, a standard padlock nor will a cable lock fit through these holes.

RTIC hard case 16 at Roaring Fork River, Colorado
Heading out for a day at Roaring Fork River, Colorado

I’ve practiced lockpicking/locksmithing as a hobby for most of my life, so I prefer to secure my gear with heavy-duty locks. Unfortunately, there’s no room for that here. Just something to keep in mind if you’re like-minded.

Is RTIC Hard Case Worth It?

The Verdict

It’s not a perfect case, but the build quality is comparable to other high-end brands like Pelican (which are going to run you well into the $100s, $200s, and above for similarly-sized cases, easily).

All told, for the asking price, you simply can’t beat RTIC’s Hard Case. You’re getting top-of-the-line build quality for an extremely competitive price and with a limited lifetime warranty and the satisfaction of a Made in the USA product.

What more could you ask for?


RTIC gave us this product to try, however, the review is of the writer’s own opinions.

Owen Clarke is an American action sports and adventure travel journalist, with a particular focus on mountaineering and adventure motorcycling. Among other roles, he is a Contributing Digital Editor for Climbing and Gym Climber magazines and a lead writer for the adventure film company Benegas Brothers Productions, the producers of ESPN Adventure.

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