Battle of the Boxes: AluBox vs Zarges

The average Overland style trip requires considerable planning and organization due to the tyrannies of time and distance involved. Too much or too little gear and provisions can negatively impact the success of any trip, and your load plan will be tested by rough terrain, inclement weather, and critters. And with our limited time off from work being so valuable, what’s the absolute best way to stay organized, avoid loss, and prevent the trip of a lifetime from being derailed?

We believe that hard cases provide a superior level of organization and accountability. Weather resistant and capable of being stacked and tied down, they ensure peace of mind when exposure to the elements is a risk factor and are a top choice for storage of gear and provisions inside or outside of any vehicle. Useful for long term storage with easy portability to and from camp or job site makes all-metal cases like the AluBox line an easy choice .

Recently we had the chance to put our trail tested and trusted Danish made AluBoxes up against their German rivals from Zarges.

Our subjects for this review are the AluBox 42 L and 60 L, and the Zarges K-470 series 40568 and 40678 boxes. These cases are nearly identical, yet inherently unique. Here’s what we learned researching them online and using them in the field when comparing both brands side by side in our “Battle of the Boxes”.

Yes, there’s a story somewhere about something between the Danish box and the German box companies but we won’t bore anyone with rumors or hearsay about industry politics. They’re both incredible products with some subtle features that differentiate them, so read on to learn more.

In this corner…

AluBox is a small, family-owned company based in Denmark and marketed in the U.S. by Equipt Expedition Outfitters. AluBox specializes in aluminum boxes, cases, and containers, and offers a wide-range of standard box sizes to customers around the world for use in defense, industrial, emergency services, transportation, and recreational use. AluBoxes are made of 1 mm thick 5754 (AlMg3) aluminum alloy. This aluminum is a mid-strength material, non-hardening alloy that offers excellent corrosion resistance against seawater and industrial polluted atmospheres. It is widely used in the food and chemical industries, vehicle construction, ship building, architecture, and interior design with 17 total sizes available that range from a modest 20 L to a massive 415 L option.

AluBox 42L kitchen

And in this corner…

Zarges was established by Walther Zarges in Stuttgart, Germany in 1933. Distributed in the United States by Charlotte, North Carolina based Zarges USA, their Tech Center offers in-stock cases, customization and rapid, custom cushion fabrication. The ZARGES K470 universal case is their classic design, constructed of 1.5 mm thick 5005 aluminum alloy which has a high corrosion resistance. These sturdy cases have been tested to withstand temperatures from -238 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit, with 25 sizes available and capacities ranging from small 13 L boxes to 829 L behemoths.

Zarges boasts three K470s that are listed as “bear resistant”; #40810, #40568, and #40678. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification means that certain National Parks, including Yellowstone National Park, will allow campers to bring their food supplies into the park when stored in approved K470 cases.


The AluBox 60 L and the Zarges K-470 #40678 are both advertised as weighing in at 5kg/11 lbs on their websites. Despite the differences in advertised material wall thickness (1mm vs 1.5mm), in my opinion the heft and construction appears identical with each box weighing in at 11 lbs.

NOTE: Both AluBox and Zarges have received Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification, but tested or not we still wouldn’t leave any of these boxes all alone in bear country while we’re away from camp. We do recommend that you store your camp food in your (insert brand loyalty here) box and hang the entire box from a tree or a bear pole. Please remember to follow the proper guidelines at all campgrounds and campsites in bear country as they may differ from by region and state. Here’s more info about camping in bear country.

Zarges K-470 series 40568 outfitted as a camp kitchen


AluBox versus Zarges

Zarges corners versus AluBox corners. The differences are subtle. The four AluBox rivet heads are exposed, Zarges are counter-sunk. Some say the Zarges corners stack better. Both are robust, both stack well, and the two brands can be intermixed for storage and stacking if you happen to own both.

Zarges on left, AluBox on the right.
Zarges corner, latch and handle details

Handles. Virtually identical. Both super strong with the same number of attachment rivets in the same locations. Both use springs to stay in the down position. Zarges handle is slightly longer.

Locking Latches. Virtually identical in form and function. Style points to Zarges for their branding.

Hinges. Both brands feature sturdy piano hinges.

Zarges piano hinge

Zarges Dividers and Accessories. They have a good selection of internal accessories for organization.

Weather Seals. Zarges places the seal in the lid, eliminating any risk of damaging the seal during heavy use. This seal may be hard to replace if damaged though because it’s a foam material that’s applied with adhesive. That said, AluBox uses a rubber seal on the box which is inserted into a channel and easily replaced if needed. I’ve yet to have an issue with that.

Zarges K-470 series 40678 with aluminum divider. Note foam seal in lid.

Trekpak. I used this for organizing the interior of my AluBox kitchen box. They were bought out by Pelican awhile back, this stuff works GREAT if you can find it in stock, and if you can stomach the ridiculous price. You’ll have to cobble it together piece by piece to fit your project but once assembled it is a stellar option that looks good too.

Trekpak insert

Let’s get some pros and cons for BOTH brands settled.


  • Drop dead gorgeous. Your family and friends will be jealous. Guaranteed.
  • Completely weather proof. No water (or dust) intrusion is happening.
  • Timmy the Trash Panda will need to seek his entertainment elsewhere. 100% critter and bug proof.
  • Latches on both brands can accept small locks to keep honest people honest.
  • Very light weight given their size and capacity.
  • Durable. Will not warp or crack in the sun.
  • Cases can withstand EXTREME temperatures.
  • Will not rust.
  • Will not shatter upon impact if dropped like some plastic cases.
  • Stackable.
  • Square shapes with vertical walls enable maximum use of available square inches.
  • AluBox rubber seals appear to be easily replaceable if damaged.
  • BOTH brands have received the coveted Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification which means that certain National Parks, including Yellowstone National Park, will allow campers to bring their food supplies into the park when stored in IGBC approved cases.


  • Sticker shock! The AluBox 42 L and 60 L (MSRP $290 and $295), and the Zarges K-470 series 40568 and 40678 boxes (MSRP $293 and $299) are a serious investment.
  • They may scratch easily in the field. Patina happens so embrace it.
  • Dents are possible. It hasn’t happened to me, but it’s a concern.
  • Metal gets hot. If you stack these boxes outside in the sun, wear some gloves.
  • Top plates (see Goose Gear) are an option hard requirement for overland use, and an added cost to consider if you want to use one as a step stool or table. Available for AluBox.
  • Top plates (see above) not available for Zarges at the time of this article. I do hear that Goose Gear may produce some soon.
  • Zarges foam seals on lid are well protected, but appear to be affixed with adhesive and may be hard to replace if damaged.
  • If you leave food in one of these and forget about it, you’ll enjoy an excellent science experiment and green cloud when you discover your mistake.
  • Ursus Maritimus can likely open all of these cases. Because Polar bears do what whatever they want.
Weather change while you were sleeping? No problems!
Sand and seawater resistant!


So, which one is better? Like Jeep versus Toyota, which one is better really depends on who you ask. Each brand has it’s finer points and legions of fan boys who will argue them online. I will say that I am extremely impressed by the quality and customer service associated with both companies and can recommend both brands here with supreme confidence. Yes, they are expensive options as far a storage is concerned, but I always say buy once, cry once because you really do get what you pay for.

These timeless designs will be the last box you will ever need to buy.

Sadly, there are knock off boxes out there from companies like Swiss Link – so just say no to cheap Chinesium copies and buy the real deal from a reputable company like Equipt Expedition Outfitters or Zarges USA. They’re both pinnacle products that will be around a generation from now when your descendants find them in the attic or garage while marveling at your camping gear from a bygone era.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The AluBox products, Goose Gear top plates, and Trekpak featured here were purchased privately by the author for his personal use. The Zarges products featured here were provided at no cost to the author by Zarges for the purpose of this gear review.

BTB: Equipt Expedition Outfitters

Editor’s Note:  Over the last year, we’ve dropped in on a number of companies in the adventure travel industry to see what life is like behind the Employees Only doors at the companies that make and sell the products we use day in and day out.  Over the winter we’ll be sharing our experiences with you so if you can’t get out and play, we’ve got some cool new content to tide you over until the springtime.

Apparently there’s some big thing happening with the sun and the moon today, but despite the fact that thousands of people are positioning themselves along a very specific path across the country, I’m slightly more focused on getting to a certain address in Salt Lake City, Utah.  My destination is Equipt Expedition Outfitters, and I’m going to spend a few hours learning all about the one of the most well-known and respected companies our industry. Many folks know Equipt Expedition Outfitters because they know Paul May.  But I have a confession to make: I don’t know Paul very well. I’ve certainly had the chance to chat with the man over the years at Overland Expo, where I’ve appreciated his hospitality (the man knows how to make a proper drink), but I’m honestly feeling like I’m not the most qualified guy to be writing the profile on a company whose Founder and Owner is so well known.

Pulling into the parking lot, the first thing that you fixate on are the rigs.  Just like that feeling you get pulling into a Rendezvous, Overland Expo or walking into SEMA for your very first time, you can’t help but feel just a little bit giddy parking next to these well-built, and more importantly well-traveled rigs.  On this Monday, the Equipt crew is just getting back from “product training” (Read: A weekend adventure with friends and family trying out new gear and learning more about current gear.) so there’s plenty of that familiar Utah dust on the rigs in the parking lot.

Step through the front door and you’re greeted with a showroom full of awesome gear.  Pictures of vehicles in epic locales cover the walls and unique decorations hold down the shelves – this is clearly the haunt of people who love to travel and explore.  I’ve barely had a chance to walk through the showroom when Raquel Donati (Equipt’s VP of Sales & Marketing) ushers me back into the warehouse, nicknamed “Big Toy Room” because it is also the place where you can play with nearly every product that Equipt sells.  But playing with things can wait – I’m here to learn more about the company, so Raquel and I sit down so she can bring me up to speed on everything Equipt.

Equipt Expedition Outfitters is the exclusive US Importer of Eezi-Awn, National Luna, Alu-Box, Escape Gear, and Kariba.  They also sell a number of other choice brands like TrekPak, MaxTrax, and Four Wheel Campers.  As Raquel puts it, “Equipt is a one-stop shop—you can find pretty much anything you need here, but regardless of how robust our product selections are, we are still highly selective about what partners we bring aboard, and which products we will carry. Our motto is Built Better, and that sentiment is the backbone of Equipt. We only offer the very best selection of gear, stuff that has proven to stand the test of time. There may be lighter options or something cheaper out there, but if you want gear that you can trust around the globe and back again, this is where you’ll find it.”

Equipt is the result of Paul May’s chance backcountry meeting with Eazi-Awn founder Jack Stuhler in the Utah desert circa 2004, where a common love for the outdoors and overlanding solidified an opportunity for Paul to become the exclusive Eezi-Awn importer in the states. Over the last 12 years, Paul has grown Equipt into the company that it is today.  I find that I really appreciate Paul’s approach to doing things, which is also something Lola Barron the Fulfillment Specialist, points out to me:  over the thousands of feet of space, there are tons of products setup so customers can come and put their hands on actual products before they buy them.  Playing with the products on the company’s rigs is also something that the crew is happy to entertain, and as long as you’re okay with getting a little dusty, you can check out real gear to your heart’s content.

Kristin is Paul’s niece and Equipt’s Chief Everything Officer and she tells me that over the last eleven years of working at Equipt, she has come to recognize the value of a relationship-based sales approach.  Customers come back to Equipt time and time again because they know that Equipt and the brands that Equipt sells stand behind their products and will go above and beyond to take care of their customers.  Integrity is also a key piece of the business model here, and I can’t think of a better way to relate that then when Paul told me that Equipt doesn’t put product on sale.  Equipt’s approach is to offer their best price to everyone, everyday.

Back in the shop, Paul is working with Craig to install a K9 Rack on Project Tundra.  These two work together like old friends and it’s clear to me that Paul spends time wearing many different hats for the company.  While the guys are putting holes in my truck, Raquel is showing me some gear from Eezi-Awn and talking about what it’s like day in and day out at Equipt.  She explains it like this:  “We have what big companies strive for.  As a small company, we do this to support a lifestyle, not to make business our lifestyle.”  As if I needed any more convincing that what Raquel is telling me is the truth and not canned-PR tripe, a bottle of champagne and some eclipse glasses suddenly materialize – because there is something pretty damn cool happening in the sky today.

The whole Equipt crew stops what they’re doing and meets out back behind the warehouse.  The eclipse is nearing it’s greatest occlusion of the Sun, and so bottles are uncorked, and eclipse glasses are donned.  It’s 11-something O’Clock on a Monday morning, and I’m watching a group of folks who are clearly happy to be together and happy in life take a minute to experience something that doesn’t happen every day.  It’s clear to me that what Lola told me is true as well – the folks at Equipt have a great time working together.  Craig is a retired electrician, but he’s here because he wants to work with Paul and the crew at Equipt.

Coming into my morning with Equipt, I have to say that I had expectations, because so many different folks over the years have told me what an outstanding guy Paul is.  While I will say that Paul is everything I’ve been lead to believe, I can tell you that he has also built a great team and a company at Equipt Expedition Outfitters.  Everyone who works at Equipt is exactly who you would want to spend time around a campfire with – and as it turns out campfire time is a big part of product training and testing.  A company can tell you a thousand tales of why they are the best or how serious explorers rely on their gear in extreme conditions, but when every single person who works at the company enjoys their work as much as the crew at Equipt does, you’ve found a great company to do business with.  Oh, and happening to sell really awesome gear helps too.

Learn more about Equipt Expedition Outfitters by visiting them at, or give them a call at +1 866-703-1026.  The folks at Equipt are all great people who are more than happy to chat about whatever project you’re working on, and share their expertise on everything from gear you need for the trip of a lifetime or weekend getaway, to where to find outstanding BBQ in SLC.

Equipt has been a long running sponsor of Expediton Overland, and on January 20th, 2018 at 7pm they’ll be hosting the Season 3 Wrap Party at Equipt HQ in Salt Lake City. Head here to sign up for an invitation and get the details.