Here is a blast from the past. The Pack and Roll* was an essential piece of equipment (luggage) for drummers of the 1960s and 1970s. The idea was that you could put all of your hardware, cymbals, sticks, snare drum and other accessories in one case on wheels. Simply stack your bass drum and toms on top and your load in now becomes 1 trip instead of 12. It's never that simple, but the Pack and Roll (PNR) had it's day and most drummers of the rock era owned one.
Here is my Pack and Roll. Her name is Cupcake. The box of a PNR of this vintage is usually built out of a fiber material which helps keep the weight down. The box sits on a wooden foundation. The PNR has a handle on each side, some nice casters and two seat belt type straps which hold the lid on. This is a pretty strong design as long as you don't over load the case with weight. For anyone who has owned one, you know that it is pretty easy to over load it. When this happens, usually the lid breaks first followed by the internal structure. At that point, your case was usually in serious need of duct tape or a dumpster. The straps wrap around the bottom which means you can use them to help lift the case but it is best to use the handles and the straps. Actually, the best thing is to lift from the bottom of the case, but who wants to do that. I usually use my straps to hold other things, like a carpet, tight against the lid.
It was common to accessorize your PNR with stickers, your name stenciled on the side in orange paint or, if you were super classy, a bitchin' air brushed picture of banditos riding their steel horses across the desert while being chased by the fuzz. This last picture matched the one on the side of your van. I do not use my PNR on drum set gigs. I use mine in percussion situations and often, it doubles as a table. I put a black towel across the top and place accessories on the lid. This saves me from having to carry more gear. I like to keep my case as clean as possible. As bad ass as a portrait of guys riding their steel horses can be, it doesn't really look great on the concert stage.**
The PNR has a tray on the inside which can be used to hold many different things. Most people use it to store hardware. The trouble with this is that a lot of modern hardware simply isn't made for easy travel. If you've got a set of flat based stands, this tray is golden. If you are packing Ludwig Atlas boom stands...good luck. I use a set of light weight Yamaha stands and they won't fit in the tray without taking them apart.
There is a small slot for cymbals I carry my cymbals in a case so they don't get damaged but if you don't care too much about your plates, they fit nicely here. My hand doesn't fit in the space allowed so it's a struggle for me to get cymbals out of this space. There is a small space next to the cymbal space. I have no idea what is supposed to go here.
Underneath the tray are two larger compartments. You can put all kinds of things here. As I mentioned, I don't use this case for drumset gigs so when I use this case, I typically have small drums or accessories in these compartments. A snare drum should fit in this space but mine won't because I keep all my snare drums in padded bags.
The Pack and Roll isn't something you see very often these days. Sadly, I think they lost footing in the case wars when people stopped driving vans. It's hard to fit one of these in your Toyota Prius. In addition, modern stands are made differently so this case is sort of out dated. It's simply not a practical case for hardware anymore. However, it is really useful in a lot of other situations, especially if you work as a percussionist and need to travel with an eclectic setup.
If you really want one, there are several companies who make their version of a PNR. These are made of heavy plastic and have better engineering all around, if you like that sort of thing. For me, I'm going to keep my PNR. If you find one of these older models, grab it. I think you'll fall in love just like hundreds of drummers before you.
*I'm going to bet that the Pack and Roll has an actual name. It's probably something like "Trap Case" or "Hardware Case on Wheels." I honestly have no idea what these things were called but the old guys I grew up playing with called them a Pack and Roll. I'm sticking with Pack and Roll for this post. If you've got something better, drop it in the comments.
**Says lame violin players. Jealous.