Protection Racket was formed by two surfer buddies Dean Bowdery and Nick Nethercot, who quickly established themselves making covers for surfboards.
Being musicians too, they quickly realised there was potential for quality, yet affordable cases for musical instruments. After nearly 20 years in the business, these surfer dudes are riding the crest with a wave of new products to add to their already mammoth selection of soft and rigid protective cases.
"The hardware case feels stable enough to take any likely gigging environment in its stride"
Though PR also makes cases for guitarists and leisure, much of its catalogue caters for drummers, with models for acoustic and electronic drums, percussion, cymbals and accessories.
Until recently there were three basic ranges: pro-level AAA rigid cases, the classic PR semi-rigid Proline and their entry level Nutcases. However, due to be launched Easter this year is the amusingly named Headcase, sitting in between Proline and Nutcases as their new 'intermediate' line.
We have a five case selection for review, all of which are new for 2012. Two cases are from the aforementioned Headcase range with a 14"x5½" snare, a 12"x9" tom case and a newly designed long and low Proline hardware case, said to facilitate better weight dispersion.
Lastly are two drum cases from the Proline range suitable for a 14"x5½" snare and 10"x8" tom, but, have a unique white with a black trim finish - these models will be strictly limited and only available for a couple of months in the summer of this year.
One common element, employed throughout the PR range since 1994, is the predominate use of Racketex for the external fabric. This 600-denier polyester is completely waterproof, resistant to scuffs and able to offer protection no matter what the weather has to throw at it.
It may seem a strange choice to have white material for a case but, as Dean explains, it was "originally made as a custom job for Ben Thompson of Two Door Cinema Club because everything on their tour was white. But on uploading photos of them to Facebook, the feedback we had was insane so we decided to do a limited run!"
Beneath the Racketex sits a thick dual-foam layer of impact resistant 'Propadd' creating a semi-rigid structure, helping to dissipate any potential knocks. While the interior of each of the Headcases has a shiny nylon lining, the Proline models (with the exception of the hardware case, which is lined in Racketex), feature a plush inner layer of Propile.
This is a soft cosy layer that adds additional protection and gives ultimate drum comfort. Each section of the Proline cases is joined by tough webbing, which is bonded as well as double-stitched at each seam.
Fastening of the new Headcases is via a single buckle, whereas the Prolines have a spiral nylon zip with two zinc-plated interlocking pulls, which for additional security will allow a luggage lock to be fitted if necessary.
All models feature carrying handles formed by 'wraps' of Racketex, held in position by strips of Velcro and display the familiar Protection Racket goatee logo and model designation labels made from flexible silicon. Again, the Proline models also have inbuilt owner labels on each and every case.
Lastly we have the newly designed 'long and low' Proline hardware case which features a sturdy retractable steel handle to enable it to be pulled along with ease on its set of chunky wheels. Conveniently placed grab handles are fitted to either end, and side straps will ease the lifting burden - but, fully loaded, this will certainly be a two-man lift.
Inside, (as previously mentioned), the interior is lined with Racketex, which oddly has a zip running almost the entire length inside, but once unzipped shows the extra foam padding and additional strengthening ribs inside the base.
Up into the two white Proline cases go a 10" tom and 14" snare, which fit comfortably into each case. The long, large zip pulls make it quick and easy to fasten-up each model and the drum is sealed away from the environment.
With the hardware case fully loaded and each item strapped in position, the case takes charge of each piece of my hardware with ease - up onto the wheels it feels stable enough to take much of any likely gigging environment in its stride. With the lid down on each Headcase and the single buckle clipped together, it is surprising just how secure this makes the lid by hiding the buckle out of harm's way.
Trust in a single buckle shows a great deal of confidence in the overall design. While lacking the extra rigidity of its Proline cousin, once the drum is in situ, the case becomes surprisingly rigid and the drum securely protected.