There are some simple rules to live by that will minimize cracks, stripping, warping, and so on. There are three situations that put your gear in danger: transporting them, setting them up, and, of course, playing them. Percussion instruments are pretty sturdy instruments.
However, they are far from invincible. Bass drums are particularly vulnerable because they are often fitted with wooden hoops and are large, heavy drums. If you are carrying your bass drum in a case over your shoulder and you drop it, chances are the hoop will crack. Considering this, a hard plastic case is best suited for your bass drum even though this will make the drum considerably more bulky. As stated earlier, cars are problematic, too.
In addition to theft concerns, you need to worry about the weather. If the weather is really hot, a parked car becomes a greenhouse. Leaving drums in an extremely hot car could cause plastic veneers on your drums to peel off and crack. Packing your drums in a car or in storage without cases can also be a problem; the most obvious reason being that drum shells could get nicked up. However, carrying your drums around without cases can also be perilous for your bottom snare drumhead. This head is ultra thin and a bass drum spike or cymbal stand can easily pierce through the Mylar, rendering the drum useless until you buy another head.
So if you plan on taking your drums en route, get cases. Humes & Berg makes great bags called Tuxedo Bags. They also make lightweight vulcanized fiber cases that are more durable than a gig bag. Anvil Cases offers the most durable case of all. These are virtually indestructible and are great for drummers who need to take their gear on airplanes, and the like.
The downside is that they are very heavy. While cases are necessary for the working drummer, they can be a bit hazardous to bass drum pedals and hi-hat stands. Hardware, for one, is very heavy.
As you drive, items tend to shift around. For this reason, incorrectly storing bass drum pedals and hi-hat stands in hardware bags can cause the footboard stabilizer rod on the bass drum pedal and the foot pedal linkage rod on the hi-hat pedal to crack if you don't unclip them before placing them in the case. The worst feeling is showing up at a gig and realizing that something is broken, so make sure you're careful. It's a good idea to put your bass drum pedal on top of all the other stands in your hardware bag or case. This will protect it from getting crushed by heavier, double-braced cymbal and snare stands, and the like.
The way you set up your drums also promotes or prevents damage to your equipment. One common mistake is placing your snare drum too close to your 12" rack tom-tom. Since this tom-tom hovers over the snare drum at a slightly higher level, the rim of the snare drum, if too close, will rub up against the tom-tom as you play.
Heavy playing will cause your whole drum kit to shake a little. If your snare drum is touching the 12" tom-tom, it will scrape the varnish off the drum and even cut into the wood of the drum itself. When playing, always be sure to watch for this, back up your snare drum immediately if you see this occurring.
Eric is using ATA cases for his Bass Drums, and Marching Drums. Eric is also an active Drum Forum member at Drum Solo Artist where he is answering drum related questions, and helping drummers with tips and advices.