As a commuter in New York, I’m very familiar with the challenges that come with moving your bagpipes from A to B. Crowded subway trains and sidewalks make it difficult to get around especially if you’re carrying a pipe case over your shoulder or in your hand. The Bagpipe Skin pipe case is designed to be a comfortable way to transport your bagpipes while ensuring they are well protected from the scuffs and bumps associated with travel.
The backpack style straps and padded back make long commutes on foot a breeze and the optional side strap allows for shorter commutes where you’re regularly picking up and putting down the case. At a price point from $99-$109 (depending on the website you visit) it’s also one of the cheapest cases on the market.
My initial impression of the Bagpipe Skin was that it seemed quite solid. There is a hard plastic in the lining around the side of the case that offers good protection from damage. The bottom of the case, or the part that is on your back when carrying it like a backpack, is very well padded. The top, or lid, of the case is soft and offers very little protection. This, to me, was a little disappointing as I think some of the same hard plastic used in the sides would have served well here too. Overall, the case offers good protection to your instrument as you travel around. I would not, however, use this case if I were checking my pipes on an aircraft (something I never do anyway).
Inside the case, the hard plastic is nicely hidden behind a soft lining. There is a mesh pocket running most of the way up the side of the case for accessories (hemp, corks, etc.). On the inside of the lid there is an area to hold your chanters and brushes. An elastic material forms 5 loops to hold the top and bottom of the item you’re putting there and a raised pad offers protection where a pipe chanter would be narrowing. I liked this feature but would have preferred a different method of holding the items in place. The elastic relies on stitching which I can predict is going to deteriorate over time. A Velcro attachment may have been better here. Again, the soft lid was a bit disappointing here as some rigidity to the lid would have been nice, especially when the additional weight of chanters is added.
I found the case dimensions to be a little bit tight. I find myself having to maneuver my bag and stocks a bit in order to get them to fit best. I also don’t carry a lot of accessories, so for those who want to carry a lot of extra gear, I’m thinking in particular about pipe majors, they will struggle with space. An extra inch in height, inch in depth and maybe 2 inches in width would be nice. This would also allow for a second pocket to be added inside the case which would also be a plus. If a pocket could be added to the outside of the lid for additional storage I think this would be beneficial as well.
The additional bag that attaches to the front of the case was a great idea. I can put a couple of music folders in here and it allows me to access my music without having to open the case. The backpack style straps and padding on the back of the case make carrying the case on your back very comfortable and the straps can be hidden away if not being used. There is an optional sides trap that can be attached if this is your preferred way to carry the case. There are also handles on the top and side of the case which appear to be very tough and durable.According to the website, the case comes with a rain cover that can be removed from a pocket at the bottom of the case and pulled over the entire case to keep your instrument from getting wet in the rain.
Unfortunately, I didn’t receive this with my case so I can’t comment on its effectiveness. I think, at this price, you get great value for money.
I’d recommend this to any piper who is looking for a cost-effictive, durable, pipe case that can traverse any urban setting with comfort and ease!
Shane Culleton hails from County Wicklow in Ireland. He began learning to play the bagpipes at the age of 10 with his local Arklow Pipe Band and was competing with them in Grade 3A by the age of 13. Since then, the bagpipes have afforded Shane numerous opportunities including playing in Stormont Castle, the Waterfront Hall in Belfast and for Irish President Mary McAleese in Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin.
Shane was part of the competition band when Arklow won the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow in 2007 and has been competing in Grade 2 with Arklow since. Shane moved to the New York area in late 2014 with work in the aircraft industry. He is looking forward to making this season a successful one with New York Metro. Shane is a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin and is an avid runner and golfer who is also learning the uilleann pipes