When it comes to the stuff for my stuff I’m pretty choosey and quickly recognize the flaws in everything. When I get something I like I tend to keep it a long time, but all good things eventually pass.
Several hundred years ago (plus or minus a few) I bought a brown leather pen case from Levenger. It was designed to hold four pens and had a pocket in the middle that was supposed to hold refills and random bits (a technical term). It had slots for four pens.
That led to the first problem. Because the slots weren’t staggered, pens pushed against each other making the case wide and hard to close.
Also, the case was badly stitched in one random spot at the bottom and putting a pen in the slot put pressure on the bad stitching. I also never liked that it couldn’t open fully. I ended up putting pens in the slots on one side and between the slots on the other. It also had room for an EDC flashlight.
Over time the leather got a great patina but eventually wore out and I had to replace it.
Because it was difficult to find a leather pen case that met my standards (lots of slots, less than the cost of a new car) I opted for a Maxpedition Mini Pocket Organizer. The Mini had the requisite slots and was the right size for large pens and a flashlight. The problem was it had lots of dangly bits, including a loop handle I never actually needed. It had a large velcro rectangle and a mesh pocket on the front. It had molle webbing on the back. Overall, it had a tactical look more at home in Afghanistan than Japan.
It also had to be loaded carefully or it would bloat out and be too thick to carry comfortably. Like all Maxpedition organizers it had a key hook attached to a strap that did nothing but take up space and make it more difficult to load.
Eventually I discovered Kickstarter and my next pen case.
I ordered what was then the complete line up of goods from Nock Co. The cases were designed by an actual Pen Addict for other pen addicts. Once I got them, I settled on the five slot Sassafras for my everyday carry.
The Sassafras folds but doesn’t zip closed. it has a pair of flaps that serve as pen protectors and which help keep the pens in the case as it gets jostled around. I’ve had it flop open but have never lost a pen. It’s well staggered and doesn’t get too thick when it’s carrying a lot of pens. That said, I’d love to have a zippered version of it. (I’ll do a proper review of all my Nock Co stuff another day.)
The Final Choice:
As much as I like the Nock Co cases, I still prefer the look and feel of the old leather case. The Maxpedition was khaki and after a few months it started getting grungy which is a lot different than the patina on leather. The Nock Co is dark blue and doesn’t show grunge as easily but it will eventually begin to fray and fall apart without having a “this looks awesome” phase as it does.
My goal now is to convince the Nock Co people to make a leather version of one of their cases or find someone who can make a leather version I can afford without selling pens.
I’ll also keep looking for a good leather case.