- Buyer's Guide
LOCHBY: Bringing Heritage Vibes to EDC
Over the few shorts years BOND Travel Gear has been on the carry scene, they’ve captured the attention of EDC enthusiasts across the globe. And with their tough, functional organization pieces, it’s not hard to see why. So fans might be a little surprised to discover that BOND rebranded to LOCHBY in September 2019. But don’t stress, LOCHBY still offers rugged, thoughtfully designed daily carry items, but now there’s more of a focus on stationery and notebooks. Not to mention a distinct new vibe that leans more towards heritage.
So why the shift? Eager to find out, we asked founder Chris Elfering for the low-down on LOCHBY…
First and foremost, the question on everyone’s minds. What prompted the rebrand?
Honestly, my interests changed a bit. When I started, travel was always on my mind. The reason I started BOND Travel Gear was because I wanted to make gear for myself that I couldn’t find in the marketplace. Over time, that evolved into daily carry items. Those were the products that I wanted (and still want) to focus on. This shift also created two customer groups: travelers and folks that care about what they carry on a daily basis. While there’s some overlap, communicating to two different groups would’ve led to confusing branding.
How has the transition been? Any hurdles along the way? Have you stayed with the same manufacturing partner that you used for BOND Travel Gear?
It’s been going well. Fortunately, lots of folks who liked BOND Travel Gear stayed on for LOCHBY. There was probably some confusion along the way, but we’ve tried as best we can to communicate as much as possible. We stayed with the same manufacturing partner to maintain the same high production standards. We just upgraded from nylon to waxed canvas.
Your time spent in the US military and traveling afterwards helped inspire and shape BOND and its low-key, functional products for organizing EDC and travel gear. What personal experiences or values have shaped LOCHBY and its offerings?
I fell deep down the fountain pen rabbit hole as a reaction to my expanding digital life. I was constantly distracted by pings and notifications, so I sought out analog experiences. Pen and paper forces me to slow down, which has a meditative effect. It also helps my memory.
Writing with a fountain pen is a completely different tactile experience compared to ball points or pencils. The pen glides and tends to be more expressive. There are more choices for ink colors. It turns an ordinary activity like journaling into a satisfying ritual.
Is there any particular significance or meaning behind the name “LOCHBY”?
LOCHBY roughly translates to “lake town”, which is a nod to my hometown of Minneapolis, MN, the City of Lakes.
What would you say makes LOCHBY special and sets it apart from other brands with an EDC/stationery carry focus?
Quality and functionality. For quality, it’s everything from the paper in our notebooks to the fabric and stitching. Fountain pen users know that writing on cheap paper can be troublesome. We use Tomoe River paper in our notebooks, which is famous for how well it behaves with all writing instruments, especially fountain pens. Waxed canvas is rugged, weatherproof, and ages well. Everything is sewn to last a lifetime, with double stitching and bar-tacking throughout.
In terms of functionality, it’s the same philosophy we had with BOND Travel Gear. I design the products around the items I carry. I love to have everything in its place, so organization is key.
The rebrand from BOND Travel Gear to LOCHBY carries over similar design elements of EDC that BOND was known for. However, there’s quite a shift in aesthetic, from a more tactical nylon style to a heritage feel with waxed canvas. Was this a deliberate distancing from BOND’s aesthetic? How does it shape the LOCHBY brand and what you want it to convey?
This was also a case of personal preference. I’m still a fan of tactical nylon, but I also like items that have a classic look and age well, which is why we upgraded to waxed canvas. As a material, it’s quite a bit more expensive, but it has advantages over nylon, like hand-feel and individuality. Because of the scratches and scars it shows, no two pieces made of waxed canvas are exactly alike. I initially thought about leather, because of those same advantages. In the end, I went with waxed canvas because of its benefits over leather (lighter, thinner, better in rain, etc.).
We’d love to learn a little more about LOCHBY’s customers. Are you welcoming a lot of new customers? Are BOND customers seeing the EDC appeal and purchasing LOCHBY products?
Yes, lots of fountain pen folks are coming over. I don’t have to explain our paper choices to them or why we set up the notebooks the way we did. They just get it.
BOND customers still support us, fortunately. Some folks who missed out on the BOND products are getting a second chance with LOCHBY.
Which LOCHBY product is your personal favorite and why?
For me, it’s the Field Journal. I use it every day as a planner, sketchbook, journal, design vault, brain dump. I’d be lost without it. I know there are digital apps to help stay organized, but I prefer pen and paper.
Looking across the stationery niche, do you have any particular favorite notebook or stationery pieces? If so, what do you love about them?
My favorite notebooks are light and thin. Thicker, larger notebooks are heavy to carry and I get anxious when starting one as a journal or sketchbook. I don’t want to mess up a nice, hardcover notebook with mistakes. I also prefer modular notebooks that don’t lock me into a particular format. Sometimes I like the freedom of a blank sheet of paper. Other times I need more structure to write in straight lines.
That’s why we went with the cahier-style refills for our Field Journal in dot grid, ruled, and plain. You can have up to six refills in the Field Journal to create a modular notebook that can do anything you need it for.
Could we get a peek at your current EDC setup (a photo would be great!)? What do you carry daily or regularly?
Absolutely! I always carry the Field Journal with a fountain pen in my bag. The Visconti Homo Sapiens and Lamy 2000 are my current personal favorites. I carry some type of art kit, usually pencils and/or a travel watercolor set in the Tool Roll. I’ll also have a pocket knife and flashlight in there. I use the Pocket Journal as a wallet and to have pen/paper on me at all times in case I need to jot something down quickly.
Do you have any tips or tricks for staying motivated or getting inspired, either in your work or downtime?
For work, I find that our customers motivate me. When we mess up, they’re usually understanding. Also, a lot of folks give suggestions on how we can improve our products and we’ve implemented a lot of them. It’s great to have that open dialogue. It helps push me to make better products.
A cliche (but good) tip is to do what you like. I know that’s not always easy or possible. I’ve had terrible jobs in the past but since I started doing something I like, I’ve never dreaded going to work. There are frustrating days for sure and it’s hard work, but motivation hasn’t been a problem.
For downtime, finding fountain pens inspired me, actually. I’m drawing and sketching again, which is something I haven’t done since middle school. It’s a great hobby that has inspired changes in the business.
What can we expect for LOCHBY for 2020 and beyond? Do you have new products or projects on the horizon?
We’re always working on new products. Testing usually takes a long time, but we’ll definitely have some new stuff this year. We’re also hoping to bring over some of the old BOND Travel Gear products. There’s still some great demand out there, so we’ll revamp them in the new aesthetic.
This article is sponsored by the kind folks at Lochby. Thanks for the support!