When you’re searching for travel gun cases, one that frequently comes up is the Tuffpak. It’s been around for over 25 years and is well known in the safari hunting community. The Tuffpak is made from a rotational molded high-density polyethylene. The unique shape of the case allows you to pack up to 3 scoped rifles or 5 shotguns with room for extra gear. I recently had the opportunity to use and travel with the Tuffpak case and afterwards I wish I had known about it sooner- especially when I used to compete.
The first thought I had after seeing the Tuffpak out of the box was “this does not look like a gun case.” And that’s one of the best parts about it. It looks more like a golf club carrier than anything. Being low-key means less unwanted attention. If you’ve ever traveled through an airport with a traditional looking rifle case, you notice the stares. I experienced first-hand how discreet this case looks when I moved in August. Loaded up with 3 rifles, 2 pistol cases, and my shotgun, the Tuffpak sat among boxes and furniture in my apartment waiting to be moved. When the movers got to the case, they asked me if I wanted my golf clubs loaded in the car instead. I also took the Tuffpak to the park to take photos and two different people asked me if I had fishing poles. It’s nice having confirmation from strangers that it doesn’t look like a rifle case.
The Tuffpak is surprisingly light-weight for its size coming in at 18 lbs. empty. Far less than some other popular plastic and metal hard cases. The edges of the case are rounded and smooth, making it snag free and car-friendly. I’ve had the corner of my metal travel case rip a whole in my leather seat when I wasn’t being careful. The top of the case has built-in molded grip handles that make it easy to load and pick up. It has a lockable slip-top cover that’s held in place with an adjustable nylon strap and has a comfortable rubber grip handle. The model I received has solid wheels mounted on an axle that’s molded into the base. They remind me of roller blade wheels and seem very durable. I also like how the case surrounds and protects the wheels from travel damage. To test the durability, I laid the empty case on the ground while I bounced up and down on top of it. I am happy to report the case did not break or flex much at all under my 225 lb. frame. Baggage handlers would have a hard time breaking anything on this case. The lock, handle, and strap are reinforced with rivets and molded into the case for extra protection.
My case also came with an optional Tuff Sack and Ammo Box . The Tuff Sack is a bag shaped to match the inside diameter of the Tuffpak, making it easy to pack and take items in/out of the case. It features a draw string opening at one end so that TSA can easily access any firearms or gear from the top. The Ammo Box allows you to keep your ammo contained in the Tuffpak and easy to transport.
• Exterior Dimensions: 13″ x 12″
• Inside Diameter: 10″
• Outside Height: 52″
• Inside Height: 50″
• Weight: 18 lbs.
• Lock: Tubular steel key lock
• Capacity: 2-3 full length rifles or up to 5 shotguns in soft cases + clothing, boots, etc.
• Color: Black
• MSRP: $399
First Time Use
My first time using the Tuffpak was opening weekend of deer season. We were headed to a ranch in southwest Texas for 3 nights of deer and hog hunting. I went through my gear and laid out the following:
• Rifle with 26” bbl + scope and soft case
• AR-15 with 16.5” bbl + scope and soft case
• 1911 + Holster
• Ammo Case + Ammo
• Spotting Scope
• Jacket x 1
• Pants x 2
• Gym shorts
• Long sleeve shirt x 1
• Short sleeve shirt x 2
• Underwear x 3
• Socks x 3
Yeah, it’s probably overkill for a weekend at the ranch, but I also wanted to see how much I could get into the case. The rifles and pistol were all in soft cases and the ammo was in a separate, Tuffpak Ammo Box. After seeing it all out and ready to be loaded, I thought it would be impossible to get it to fit. On my first attempt, I removed the Tuff Sack from the case and stuffed it full with all my goods. Surprisingly, everything fit and I felt confident it was going to work. When I started to load the sack, immediately my size 12 boots got stuck. I rearranged my packing and tried again, but still couldn’t get it to go past my boots. So I removed the sack, all the contents, and started over.
This time I loaded both my rifles in the sack first and slid the end of the sack and rifle cases into the Tuffpak to get it going. Both rifle cases I chose for this were not ideal. They were soft cases, but I could have chosen a better one for the application if they weren’t packed away in storage, giving me more room to work with. I filled in the spaces with my binoculars, spotting scope, tripod, and pistol. I laid clothes between the cases and around the sack as best as I could. As I filled up the sack, I slid it further into the case making sure it was all going to fit properly. Incredibly, I was able to get the lid to latch shut, and lock. The only thing I couldn’t fit were my boots. If I had my other rifle cases, I bet I could have gotten my boots in there too. Thankfully this case has a handle and wheels, because it is heavy with all this gear.
Loading it into my car wasn’t a problem. However, it is a large case so I had to lay down one of my rear seats to allow my rear hatch to close. The skate-like wheels the case to easily slide into the cargo space. I kept thinking I was forgetting something because all I had in my SUV was the Tuffpak, cooler, and a small backpack for the blind. It is nice being able to consolidate everything into one bag. When we got to the ranch, I wheeled over the rocky gravel path with ease and into my room. In a single motion I pulled everything out of the Tuffpak thanks to the Tuff Sack. Just like that I was unpacked and had access to all my stuff again.
I could have really used this when I was traveling all the time for shotgun competitions. For you 3-gunners, imagine packing all your guns and equipment into a single case that you can easily travel with- all while not even looking like a rifle/gun case. I currently have the Tuff Sack loaded up with all my hunting gear in my closet ready to go so all I need are my rifles for my next trip. Now I understand why the Tuffpak is the go-to choice for safari hunters. Having the ability to load up your rifle case with more than just your rifle could end up saving you extra baggage fees too.
- Crush proof design
- Size- This is one of the larger cases I’ve handled, but also allows you to carry so much more than just 1 rifle
- Lockable lid
- Wheels and handles for easy transport
- No sharp edges or corners
- Size- Although this is also in the Pros list, the size can also make it cumbersome to maneuver in tight spaces or load into a smaller trunk
- Can be considered expensive
- Not waterproof – not a deal breaker for me. Unless your Tuffpak is thrown into the river, your stuff will stay dry
The Tuffpak was convenient and gave me confidence my firearms were protected. There is a slight learning curve to figure out the best way to load the case, but it’s easy once you figure it out. Because of it’s size you can pack a surprising amount of gear along with your firearms. Having the ability to pack one bag and go is really appealing to me. It can be difficult to load the case without it butted up against a wall to keep it from moving. Overall the superior protection, unassuming looks, and capacity make this rifle case a no brainer for those who travel often. They make several different accessories for it, including a lockable mount for the bed of your truck. It meets all the requirements for firearms cases as outlined by the TSA and you should have no problems flying or going anywhere with the Tuffpak.