Seal the Deal: Exploring the Best Watertight Cases for the Elecraft KH1

Well before I actually had a KH1 in hand, I noted the dimensions of the radio from the preliminary spec sheet and started exploring the world of compact, watertight cases.

Why a watertight case?

This Pelican 1060 case houses a complete Mountain Topper MTR-3B field kit including a throw line and throw weight.

I like to have a watertight case option for pretty much any QRP radio I take on SOTA (Summits On The Air) activations.

It’s reassuring to know that if I stumble and fall on my pack, the case will prevent me from crushing the radio. In addition, a good case keeps my radio dry if I get caught in heavy rains or (even more likely) slip on a rock and fall in a river/creek. In fact, many of these watertight cases will float with the KH1 inside so if it goes overboard while kayak mobile, it’ll be easy to retrieve. (For the record: I don’t want to test this theory.)

With one exception, all of the cases I explore here cost somewhere between $25-$40. I consider this cheap insurance for a $500-1100 radio.

My requirements

I searched a few manufacturer’s websites and tried to find interior dimensions that would accommodate the KH1 and all protrusions: 1.4”H x 2.4”W x 5.6”L (3.5×6.1x14cm).

I primarily searched two watertight case manufactures: Pelican and Nanuk. I trust products from both of these companies and both offer compact watertight cases. There are more manufacturers out there, but but both of these companies offer quality products. Pelican cases are even made here in the USA. Many Nanuk models are made in Canada, but not their Nano series included here.

In the end, I was searching for two case sizes:

  1. A compact case to only hold the KH1 “Edgewood” package: the KH1 with paddle attached, Cover/Logging Tray, Whip Antenna, and 13′ Counterpoise. There also needed to be enough room for a pair of earphones.
  2. A slightly larger case that would accommodate the KH1 “Edgewood” package along with earphones, a throw line, throw weight (or rock sack), and a simple random wire antenna.

The idea with the second, slightly larger, case is that it would give me the option to use a wire antenna during an activation and would be fully self-contained (meaning, everything needed for the activation included).

The contenders

I took a total of eight cases to a local park and spread them out on a picnic table for this test. This made the process of comparing the cases quite easy. I actually made a video of this whole process–you’ll find the video further below in this post.

Here are the cases I tested in the order you find them in the video (any Amazon links here are affiliate and support

Hint: many of these cases are available in multiple colors–prices can vary greatly based on the color. A red case might cost as must as 30% less than a black case, for example.  Always check the pricing of color options, but make sure you don’t accidentally select a different size case in the process (this is easy to do).

Again, you’ll see a lot of detail in the video below, but let’s look at each of these cases with my notes:

Pelican M40

The M40 was my preferred case because it had the smallest exterior dimensions of any of the other cases that might fit the KH1. It also didn’t have any of the rubber bumpers found on the Nanuk Nano cases which I feel bulk them up unnecessarily.

As you can see in the photo above, the M40 accommodates the KH1 perfectly, but the telescoping whip (which wasn’t included in the spec sheet dimensions) is a millimeter or two too long when attached to the KH1 whip clips.  This is the thing about watertight cases compared with, say, a padded nylon pack: they are unforgiving. It either fits or it doesn’t!

Fortunately, when the whip is removed from the clips and placed diagonally across the case, it fits perfectly.

Pelican M40 on Amazon ($35)

Nanuk Nano 320

I also wanted the Nanuk Nano 320 to work but unfortunately, it simply couldn’t accommodate the KH1 whip.

Unlike the M40, the 320 lacked enough depth to accommodate the whip even when placed diagonally across the case.

I do think the Nanuk 320 will fit some of my smallest QRP transceivers (MTR-3B, for example) but I don’t think there’d be enough room in the case to fit an antenna, throw line, battery, and earphones as well.

I returned the Nanuk Nano 320.

Nanuk Nano 320 on Amazon ($29.50)

Pelican 1060

I knew the venerable Pelican 1060 case–a favorite in the QRP community–would accommodate the KH1.

The interior space leaves room for a throw line, log book, pencil, earphones, and antenna, too.

This yellow 1060 case came with Ruby (my KX1), but I own another that now houses my MTR-3B SOTA kit (see photo at top of post).

Pelican 1060 on Amazon ($38)

Nanuk Nano 330

The Nanuk Nano 330 easily accommodates the KH1, with a little bit of room to spare.

If you like Nanuk’s latching mechanism and the silicon/rubber organization net inside, this might be your choice watertight case. I don’t believe the interior is quite spacious enough to hold a throw line and wire antenna too, though.

Nanuk Nano 330 on Amazon ($39)

Evergreen 56

The Evergreen 56 is roughly the same size of the Pelican 1060, so it will easily accommodate the KH1 and extras.

Evergreen uses a rotating round latch to prevent the case from opening up accidentally. They even include a small plastic key to lock the round latch on the front. I feel this is unnecessary, so I actually tuck away the key elsewhere.

As with the Nanuk cases, the Evergreen has a silicon/rubber hammock inside to help with organization. The Evergreen 56 will easily accommodate the KH1 and I’m sure you could squeeze an antenna and throw line/rock sack inside too. With the interior rubberized padding removed, it’ll hold much more. You’ve seen this case before in one of my QCX-Mini field reports and videos.

Evergreen 56 on Amazon ($33)

Pelican 1050

The Pelican 1050 is a great choice for holding the KH1, throw line, throw weight, earphones, and wire antenna.

Its capacity is similar to the 1060 overall, but it’s a shorter, deeper case.

This is one of my preferred options for the larger KH1 field kit. It’s also one of the more affordable “larger” compact cases!

Pelican 1050 on Amazon ($29)

Pelican M50

As I mentioned in the video, Amazon accidentally sent me the M50 when I initially ordered the M40. They gave me a return code if I decided to send it back, but instead, I’ve decided to keep it as it easily accommodates the KH1 and extras. In fact, I believe this may also be a great case for my KX1, KX2, and other field radios.

It’s very similar in size to the Pelican 1060, but a little deeper.

Certainly a great option!

Pelican M50 on Amazon ($40)

Pelican Ruck R40

I really wanted the Pelican R40 Ruck Case to work because I’ve always liked this particular case series for its internal organization.

The R40 features a lift-out tray with Molle-like attachment points and a silicon hammock/net in the lid.

Sadly, the case simply isn’t deep enough to accommodate the KH1 with the interior tray in place (see above).

It quite easily fits with the KH1 (with room to spare) when the tray is removed, but I feel like the other options above are better fits, are less bulky, and can be purchased at a much better price than the R40. I do believe the larger Pelican R60 might work, but it’s quite a large case and beyond what I need for the KH1.  I returned the R40.

Pelican Ruck R40 on Amazon ($68)


In this video, I demonstrate how all of these cases compare and how they might work with the Elecraft KH1:

Click here to view on YouTube.

My choices…

I really like the Pelican M40 even though I have to remove the whip to store it inside. At the end of the day, this is really no inconvenience because I have to remove the whip from the KH1 side clips to put this radio on the air anyway. The M40 perfectly accommodates the full KH1 “Edgewood” package and earbuds. The Nanuk Nano 330 also works well, but I personally prefer the less bulky Pelican line.

For the larger kit that can accommodate the KH1, earbuds, throw line, throw weight/sack, and a random wire antenna, I like the Pelican 1050, Pelican 1060, and Pelican M50 best. They’re all great options.

Thank you for geeking out with me!

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit of a pack, case, and organization geek. I loved making this video and report and hope it can help others who are looking for a good watertight case for the KH1 or other radios.

Of course, I’d also like to send a special thanks to those of you who have been supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free, I really appreciate the support.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me!

Cheers & 72,

Thomas (K4SWL)

7 thoughts on “Seal the Deal: Exploring the Best Watertight Cases for the Elecraft KH1”

  1. Thanks Thomas, I love these kinds of posts! My KH1 should arrive on Tuesday! So I better get to Amazon before those M40s sell out. Lol.

  2. That Evergreen 56 looks suspiciously like a Seahorse 56. I recently picked up the Seahorse as I noticed a nice 3D printed insert for this case that secures a KX2 with the KXPD2 attached. I have my case ready to go, but I am still waiting on the KX2 😉

    Here is the link for the Seahorse 56 KX2 insert :



  3. Scott & Thomas… man oh man, if I’m to justify getting a new KH-1 (under the radar and likely!), I’d need to sell a radio or two. That leads to a hard question: which one(s)?

    Like the question: “If your house caught fire, what would you grab?” Well that’s easy, my KX2, my dog, and my Harley. Oh, and my XYL, her too.

    As far as a watertight case, I happen to love the way the Elecraft soft case fits, looks & functions. As you mentioned Thomas, you’d only need a 28.5’ wire element, counterpoise and binding post, or a K6ARK’s random wire. Yahtzee! Throw it in a dry bag if you need too.

    I have a collection of watertight cases. Each purchased for a radio in mind, and each time, it seems, I eventually opt for a soft padded case. With the KH-1, bulk & weight is counterintuitive.

    Great post. Things we all consider… 72 de W7UDT

  4. There are cases that are watertight and there cases that are hard-sided. You seem to be equating the two.

    Yes, a hard-sided, if also strong, offers mechanical protection, but a soft case can be much more compact and watertight. And the water protection can be “stronger”: put too much force on a hard-sided case and the watertight aspect is usually gone. Soft cases bend ra5her4 than immediately break. Yes, maybe your radio gets bent a little or a lot, but stays dry.

    That said: Hard-sided cases are more likely to float than are soft cases.


  5. Great article. Very helpful. Would the Edgewood package, the radio in its bag, fit straight into a Peli 1060? Just curious. I like the best of both worlds.

  6. I bought the M40 micro case for my KH1 but cut a small corner of the rubber protector so the whip can be stored at an angle, along with the 40m extender. Fits good!

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