- Buyer's Guide
Drive By :: Nock Co. Pen Cases
I didn’t think much of it when Lincoln asked if I wanted to check out some pen cases. The next day, I received a package with two pen cases which I immediately cast aside when I spotted the note. The paper was very some very nice Rhodia and the ink was a nice purple. The handwriting was very elegant and neat, clearly put to paper with a fountain pen. You see, when you’re a pen geek like myself, you notice these things. I have about three dozen “nice” pens and just as many “cheap” ones. I even had a custom cabinet built for them, by a woodworker in England. The last thing I noticed on the note was it was signed Brad Dowdy, which is a name I am all too familiar with.
Mr. Dowdy runs an excellent pen blog called The Pen Addict. He also had a stint as the official blogger for Jetpens, which is my favorite online pen store. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I learned he started his own pen case company and is trying to get it launched on Kickstarter. He teamed up with Jeffrey Bruckwicki, bagmaker for Alter MFG. Jeffrey sent the first prototype to Brad a year ago and this premier line is their foray into the pen case world.
There are seven cases, with varying sizes and shapes, in three different colors. I was sent pre-production copies of The Lookout and The Brasstown. Yes, they have funky names and I’d love to find out the inspiration some day. The Lookout looks sort of like a pocket protector and it comfortably holds three pens. The spacing is quite generous so it would have no problem holding a thicker pens such as certain Monteverde or Pilot fountain pens. Similarly, a Sharpie or dry eraser marker would fit just fine. Both cases were the mandarin/mango colorway which is quite pleasing to the eye, not to mention, is easily locatable in the bottom of a backpack or briefcase. The Lookout is constructed from a durable nylon fabric that has been DWR treated. It also feels like there’s very slight padding around the pen slots, which is a nice addition. The closure is a simple flap. When I asked Brad about using velcro of magnets, he answered replied:
Leaving off any additional closure mechanism on the Lookout was a conscious choice. Most people we shared the design with felt any additional snaps, magnets, or Velcro would get in the way and possibly damage the pens. There are future case designs that will include closures.
The construction on The Lookout is quite good and I couldn’t tell it was not the final model. What I liked best was how snug the pens fit, while still leaving room as to not be too tight. Also, I like how I was able to use the clips to secure it to the case. Many pen cases put too much material in the front and it stretches/bends the pen clips. There is minimal branding by way of a tag, which is unobtrusive and actually pretty nice looking.
The second case I received was The Brasstown. Now, this is a much larger case and it operates like a pen roll, I’m sure you’ve all seen before. It holds six pens and is also made of nylon. The interior part that actually rolls out is made of a stiffer and thinner material to make it easier to roll. The stitching here could be better. Brad promises me that the final pieces will have this cleaned up. I wish the case was a little smaller and more compact but he said he purposely designed it so you can store extra items:
… we reduced the bulk after our first prototype to a place where not only can you roll in the tongue easily but can add additional items like you mention. For example, I load 6 pens in the tongue slots, the carry three or four more in the pouch, plus a pocket knife, iPhone cable, and varying other items. So yes, it was designed so there was extra space to fit more things. I imagine we will come out with a pen wrap which will cover the tight roll aspect down the line.
One cool feature I like about The Brasstown is the bottom is flat so you can sit it on a flat surface. Other pen rolls kind of just “roll” over to the side. I am looking forward to a pen wrap in the future for a more tighter roll. One change I’d like to see is a way to designate orientation on the bag. Right now there are dual zippers and the bag is perfectly symmetrical. I don’t like unzipping it only to find out all my pens are upside-down.
Pen cases are not new. There a few brand, mostly Japanese, that produce similar rolls. However, I think the ones by Nock Co. represent an important addition to the industdry. First of all, they are produced in the United States. They also have a real “Pen Addict” behind them. Brad has been blogging about his love of pens before there was any business aspect to it. The fit and finish of the product is first class and the pricing is quite fair, in my opinion. If you have some pens to carry to class or work (like me), and want them organized and easy to transport, consider backing this project on Kickstarter!