Up until this past year, I was firmly in the “pen case” camp. While I had a few fabric pen wraps, most were handmade, small batch products made by friends and acquaintances that I used to transport un-inked pens to local pen meets and pen shows. For casual carry these are fine, but they don’t offer enough protection for the rigors of everyday commuting, especially when the pens are sitting in my bag with a laptop, briefcase, binders, and who-knows-what-else.
Pen wraps and rolls, however, have a couple of distinct advantages over pen cases. First, they can take up much less space in a bag. If you’re someone who regular carries five or six pens, a roll is much more compact and can slide easily into the corner of a briefcase, whereas a comparable fabric or leather pen case with hard sides and a zippered or snap closure typically takes up more space. Second, a properly designed pen roll can better protect your pens from dings and scratches, provided the interior uses a soft enough liner and leaves enough space between slots so that the pens don’t touch.
San Francisco-based Rickshaw Bagworks makes the best pen roll for my personal needs. Specifically, I’ve been carrying this “Deluxe” six pen roll that I picked up at the Los Angeles Pen Show in February, which is a special edition collaboration with LA-based artist Joey Feldman and retailer Vanness Pens. Rickshaw also has collaborated with Leigh Reyes on a previous edition, also sold through Vanness. These Deluxe Pen Rolls feature a durable Cordura exterior with a plush interior to protect your pens. (The liner is referred to as “Royal Plush” on the Rickshaw website, and it feels like microfleece.) I like how the Deluxe Pen Roll has an interior flap that keeps your pens from sliding out the top, and all Rickshaw pen rolls feature an elastic cord with adjustable “cord lock”, which keeps your pen roll closed much better than fabric or leather ties.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
This year at work has been quite busy on multiple fronts, meaning that space in my briefcase is a premium. For that reason I’ve found myself carrying my Rickshaw pen roll more frequently, to the point where it’s become a fixture in my bag. I’ve even thrown Joey’s crazy art out into the center of a conference room table at work, but didn’t get any reaction. Apparently I’m no longer a novelty and people now expect these things from me. Sigh.
If you’re interested in the Joey Feldman collaboration, Vanness still has several of these limited edition Deluxe Pen Rolls in stock, along with some standard pen rolls (no interior flap) and utility pouches. Otherwise you can visit the Rickshaw Bagworks website to design your own. Prices start at $50 for the Joey Feldman/Vanness limited edition and $49 on the Rickshaw Bagworks website.
Note: For more information on large-capacity pen storage, including album-style cases and and pen display boxes, check out this post here.
Disclaimer: Vanness Pens is a sponsor of this website, and I received the Deluxe Pen Roll featured in this review at no charge. (Well, not really at “no charge,” since I paid with my own blood, sweat, and tears behind the table at the 2019 LA Pen Show. You can read about that experience here.)