The Best Bow Case for Compound and Recurve Bows
By MTB, Contributor
Modern bows are marvels of science and works of art, and if you've got one you want to keep for a while, a bow case may be a good asset. In this post, I'll go through:
- Why a bow case can be a good idea, whether you may want to consider a soft case or a hard case, how to store your bow if you're taking a break, and items you may want to stash in your case;
- What I consider to be the best compound bow cases, and I divide them up into two categories: soft cases and hard cases; and
- What I believe to be the best recurve bow cases, and I divide them up into two categories: soft cases and hard cases.
So let's start at the beginning:
Do I Even Need a Bow Case?
There are plenty of folks who don't have bow cases, and that can be fine. They may have a storage place for their bows, or a rack, or something like that, and shoot on their property. For those of us who travel with bows, though, a bow case can be a good investment, for a couple of reasons:
Transportation. If you're going to be relocating your bow in any way, a case is the safest way to do so. The only situation that I can imagine where you wouldn't need a bow case would be if you owned a lot of land and you have your own range, and you'd be taking your bow from your shed or garage and walking it to your range.
In most circumstances, though, you'll need a case of some kind to get your bow from Point A to Point B. Even if you're in the suburbs and you want to jump in your car and go to the range, you should still have your bow in a case, because a strung bow bouncing around in the back seat seems like a liability.
And—from what I've seen and read, archery (particularly target archery and 3D archery) is becoming much more popular in city environments, and if you're an archer in an urban environment, you will MOST DEFINITELY want a bow case. Say, for example, you're visiting a friend in New York City, and you want to go to Gotham Archery in Brooklyn. Would you hop on the F train with your bow? You could, but the conductor might have some questions for you (such as, "Would you come with me, sir?").
Point is, there are archery ranges popping up in all sorts of urban environments, and if you want to stop renting equipment and eventually buy some gear, getting the best bow case you can find can be important.
Storage. This is just as important as transporting a bow, for two reasons: the health of the bow, and the health of the people around the bow.
- The Health of the Bow. I mentioned this above, but recurves and compounds are stored in different ways—recurves are unstrung, whereas compounds usually stay strung. Either way, leaving a bow exposed leaves it vulnerable to nicks, scratches, dents, and so on. Some folks use a bow stand and leave their bows out, and if that works for them, that's fantastic. But in my house, if it's left out, it's getting dinged up! If you want to protect something, you have to guard it, and that's what a case is for. (One note: Some people leave their takedown recurves strung after use, but I'm not a fan of that. When your bow is strung, it's taut, and there is potential energy being stored in the limbs, and that energy is working against the structural integrity of the bow. Bows—particularly recurve bows and even more particularly wooden recurve bows—have a definite and particular life span, and the more rigors you put that bow through, the shorter that life span becomes. Modern compound bows are a bit different, and many can remain strung for quite a while.)
- The Health of the People Around the Bow. As you can probably assume, a bow in the hands of someone who doesn't know what he or she is doing is a dangerous thing indeed. If you live in a small apartment, or with unruly roommates, or with small children (or larger, irresponsible ones), or a curious spouse, or even pets who roam around your abode, you're going to want to keep that bow tucked away someplace safe. People who don't know how to handle a bow could dry fire it, hurt themselves or others with an exposed arrow, or, God forbid, fire a projectile by mistake and hit someone. A bow, in a case, stored in a safe, hard-to-reach spot, can be a very, very good idea.
There are two other notes about storage I should mention:
- Compound bows and recurve bows are a little different when it comes to storage: a takedown recurve bow should be unstrung after every use, whereas compound bows remain strung after use (partially because it takes so long to get them strung correctly in the first place).
- If you're storing a bow for a long time—weeks or months—you want to do so in an area that is not extremely hot and not extremely cold, and not damp or wet. Bows degrade over time, and you don't want to return to you bow to find out that it's diminished in strength or form, or worst case scenario, dangerous to the user).
Should I Choose a Hard Case or a Soft Case?
Soft cases are a great option if you're staying local. If you're toting your bow and equipment around town or around your property, a soft case will usually do you fine—although, if you're the kind of person whose possessions seem to always get dinged up—and that describes me—a hard case can be a good investment. I just take my bow to the range and back, but I got a hard case, just because I know that whatever I buy tends to go through a lot of wear and tear. Any extra protection I can get, I get!
Hard cases are usually the best option if you're going to travel with your bow, and almost always if you're going to fly someplace for a hunting trip. While I've never tried to do so, I'm prrrrrrrrretty certain that you cannot stowe a soft case (and even if you could, your bow might get bent or crushed under the weight of the other packages). If you're buying a hard case, make sure it's airline-compatible (that is, make sure the manufacturer says it's airline-approved), and call the airline to make sure you can check your bow and arrows in the case you have. If you have your own private jet, I guess you could skip the case altogether, but if you own your own private jet, you can probably make decisions on your own. I'll leave that to you.
What to Pack in Your Case
This is a matter of personal choice, really, but here's what I have in my bow case (and just for the record, I've been shooting a takedown recurve):
- The riser and the two limbs;
- Six Carbon Express Predator arrows;
- Two spare arrow rests;
- My bow string and some wax;
- A Selway Limbsaver bow stringer;
- An OMP arm guard and glove;
- An Allen wrench and a pair of nocking pliers; and
- My bow sight.
I can't figure out a way to jam my bow square in there, so it looks like I may need to buy a bow square that fits in my case.
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, let's jump to the reviews. First up!
Best Compound Bow Case
Here are my votes for the three best soft cases for compound bows:
The Mossy Oak Compound Bow Case
The Mossy Oak Compound Bow Case is just a sturdy, simple, no-frills, zip-up case. Nothing fancy—no internal pockets or storage compartments (although there is room for a few small accessories), simply a sleek, streamlined soft case that'll help you transport your bow from Point A to Point B.
This is a nice size, too, at 48 inches long and just about 17 inches tall. If your bow is on the smaller side, this might not be the ideal case, it may shift around inside the case as you carry it around. Also, keep in mind, there's no storage compartment for your arrows, so you'll have to get a separate case for arrows. Many people do that, and it works out just fine for them.
Here's the only problem with the Mossy Oak bow case: it's camo, so if you leave it outside, you may never find it again. Gotta be careful!
The Allen Gear Fit Pro Compound Bow Case
The Allen Gear Fit Pro Compound Bow Case is a little fancier, and it has oodles of pockets: seven of them, in fact, where you can stash arrows (including broadheads), and a few small items like a bow stringer, an Allen wrench, and so on.
This model is 42 inches long (so it should fit a bow up to about 35 inches axle to axle), and it's about 17 inches tall. It's another zip-up model (as most soft cases are) and it fits most popular bows you can think of: Bear Archery Cruzer, the Diamond Infinite Edge, the SAS Rage, the Mathews Halon, the Hoyt Defiant, and so on.
It's a pretty simple-looking piece—no colors or camo or anything—and I kind of like that. When people look at my bow case, I don't want them thinking that I've got a really valuable bow inside it!
The Allen Gear Fit X Compound Bow Case
The Allen Gear Fit X Case is another Allen product—I actually really like that company—and it's supposed to be a step-up from their Fit Pro Compound Bow Case. It's got more pockets (10 in all), a strap so you can hoist it over your shoulder, and it's 42 inches long by 18 inches high, so it can fit any bow with an axle to axle up to 38 inches.
It's got a decent amount of room for smaller gear—arrows, arm guard, stringer, wax, that sort of thing. Plus, it's got velcro straps on the inside to keep your bow in place, which is a nice touch—even if your bow is a little smaller, it won't be shifting around inside as you move about.
This is one of those cases that makes me feel like a stone-cold professional—all black, all business. A great option.
Here are what I consider the three best hard cases for compound bows:
The Plano Protector Compact Bow Case
Plano is kind of a big deal when it comes to bow cases, and I've found the Plano Protector Compact Bow Case to be a pretty fantastic model. It's hard like a turtle shell, and has decent space inside for bows, arrows, sights, and so on on, and it's got a hard foam floor where you place your bow and use straps to tuck it in. In other words, a great storage unit.
It's got exterior measurements of about 43 inches tall and 19 inches long, and it's a fit for most of the parallel limb bows you'll find.
PLUS—here's the most important thing in a hard bow case—it's airline approved. If you're flying somewhere for a hunt, this may be a great option.
Honestly, my favorite thing about this one? In addition to being a fantastic compound bow case, it's shaped like a taco. Not important, but fun.
The Plano Bow Guard Pro
The Plano Bow Guard Pro has a number of fantastic features: it has space for a medium-sized quiver, and that's not always the case with hard cases; it has a removable box for accessories (kind of like a tool box); and it's got space for a dozen arrows. It's got some pretty broad dimensions—on the exterior, it's 44 inches long and 20 inches high, and if you're looking for a unit with a lot of space, this is a good option.
There are bow cases that are a little simpler, and bow cases that are a little fancier, so this is a nice middle-of-the-road option.
Last up for the hard cases for compound bows:
The Plano AW Bow Case
The Plano AW Case. I think this one is a BEAUTY.
If you're accident-prone, or you drop things, or if you're the kind of guy or gal who literally likes to throw things in the trunk and get moving, this may be a good fit.
It's thick-walled, weatherproof, and crush-resistant. It's air-resistant, dust-resistant, and water-resistant. If you're going to find yourself out in the muck and mire (or are traveling to a place where there will be muck and mire), it can be a good option. It's airline approved, so you can get where you're going.
The dimensions are pretty generous: 48 inches long by 20 inches high, so you can pack a decent of gear inside it. It's got room for a loaded quiver and other items you may want to stash: gloves, armguard, scope, and so on. I'm a big fan of the Plano—it's is a top-notch bow case, and it provides a very impressive amount of protection.
Best Recurve Bow Case
Here are what I believe to be the three best soft cases for recurve bows:
The SAS Recurve Takedown Bow Case
The SAS Recurve Takedown Case is an excellent recurve bow case for beginners, and while I don't have any proof of this, I'm guessing they created it specifically for the Samick Sage, which is a great bow for people new to archery.
This has two pouches on the inside of the case: one for your riser and one for both of your limbs, which should fit snuggly together (you might actually want to put each limb in a cloth, so they don't rub together and scratch each other). It's much smaller than compound bow cases, because after all, a takedown is made to be taken apart (you "take it down"), so the dimensions here are 26.5 inches long and 10 inches high.
There's a pouch in the front that holds a few accessories, and it's manufactured in a bunch of different colors (usually black, blue, and red), which is a nice feature that most hard cases don't include.
Note: there is NOT room for arrows in this case, so you'll have to get an arrow tube holder. Here's another nice feature, though: there are actually loops on the back of this case for exactly that purpose, so if you've already got an arrow tube, you should be in good shape.
The Takedown Recurve Case
Finally, another camouflage case! The Takedown Recurve Case is an excellent zip-up model, with a soft cushiony foam on the inside of the carrier to keep your bow safe. This is a good fit for most 62 inch bows (so if you're using something larger than that, you might want to keep looking).
Like most soft cases, this is not meant to hold arrows, so you'll want to also look into an arrow holder, but it's got some good storage room for gloves, extra bow strings, wax, and so on.
One nice feature about this model is that it has separate pockets for each limb, so they don't rub up against each other and scratch / mar / mess each other up. That's a nice touch that many soft recurve cases overlook.
The Samick Sage & Spyder Takedown Recurve Soft Bow Case
This is another great option, in my humble opinion. The Samick Sage & Spyder Takedown Recurve Soft Bow Case is a fantastic comes-with-it-all option: the kit comes with a pocket for your riser and a separate pocket for your limbs (and again, you'll probably want to wrap them individually in a cloth or handkerchief, so they don't knock against each other), but it also comes with a large pouch for gear and accessories, as well as expandable tube for arrows, and two straps to which you can secure the arrow tube. (Expandable arrows tubes is such a brilliant idea—that's the kind of super-simple idea that made somebody very wealthy, and I feel like I totally could have come up with it.)
All-in-all, this is a great soft case, and Southwest Archery is a fantastic company—I've ended up buying a lot of stuff from them over my archery career.
Here are what I consider the three best hard cases for recurve bows:
The Plano Bow Max Recurve Case
Most people imagine that Plano only sells cases for compound bows, because those cases are so incredible, but they also sell cases for recurves, and I think the Plano Bow Max Recurve Case is a fantastic option.
It's 36 inches by 10 inches tall, and can fit larger recurves up to 66 or 68 inches. It's got an interlocking foam interior, which is a great feature—it should keep your limbs and riser from shuffling around inside the case while you're moving around—and it's got some extra space for you to place some gear—bow strings, bow waxes, armguards, gloves, tabs, etc.
There's no place to store arrows, and that's the main drawback for this bow case (and the fact that it doesn't have a strap for an arrow tube), but it's still an excellent starter kit for a new archer.
The Vista Traveler Takedown Case
If you've purchased a Samick Sage (and if you've read a couple of my other posts, you know I'm a big fan of the Samick Sage), then the Vista Traveler Takedown Case can be a great option, because it fits a Samick Sage very, very well.
The case is rugged, and has got a lot of holding capacity: it can fit a dozen arrows easily (and maybe more if you've got plastic vanes and aren't worried about them brushing together); compartments in the front of the case to store strings, gloves, wax, field points, and so on; and separate folds in the foam for your riser and each limb (plus, as a nice little bonus, it has two small holes to hold the large screws that keep your limbs in place).
This is a very popular model, and chances are you've seen it at the range or the club. It's 37 inches long and 11 inches tall, so it's a decent size, and it can fit bows up to 62 inches (which is probably why it's popular—that's a pretty common bow size).
My only beef with this model is that the sight needs to be removed before you can stash your riser—but that's true of most hard bow cases that have a foam bottom, so I guess I can't complain.
Before we finish up, let's be honest: this is the longest review of bow cases you've ever read. If you're still here, you're REALLY serious about bow cases, and I really appreciate that. That's why I've saved the best for last:
The SKB MIL STD Injection Molded Recurve Bow Case
Our last option, the SKB Corporation Injection Molded Recurve Bow Case is, far and away, the fanciest bow case I have ever seen. If you're traveling with a recurve bow, of if you just want to make sure that it's very safe, this can be a great option.
It's 45 inches long and 17 inches tall, and fits a dozen arrows up to 32 inches long. It's got plenty of room for gear, and from the looks of it, it's built to withstand the apocalypse. It's dust-proof and water-proof, its hinges are made from stainless steel, and it's got four ultra-secure latches for traveling. Plus, as an added bonus, it stores two sets of limbs.
Also—it has wheels! That makes it perhaps the most reasonable traveling archery case you're going to find. I'm old enough to remember when luggage didn't have wheels on it, and I'm still surprised when I see that some archery cases that are specifically used for travel don't have wheels. Just another nice touch on this model.
If you're of the mind that your case should be as good as your bow, this can be a great pick.
That's It For Bow Cases!
I think I've exhausted my knowledge about bow cases, so hopefully there's something here that helps you out. If you have any questions, drop me a line below, and I'll do my best to answer them. Good luck, and safe and happy shooting!