I’ve never found pen rolls to be very practical. Beyond the allure of traditional materials and a certain ‘laying out the tools’ ritualism, they just seem to have too many compromises.
Most annoying for me is the simple thong that keeps a pen roll shut. All that wrapping and tucking takes precious seconds, and I’m never sure if I have fastened it securely enough that it won’t work open in my bag.
I’ve always been paranoid about my pens getting dirty, scratched, or touching each other when in a case. For that reason I’ve always demanded full length slots and a zip closure. But many of the tool rolls I’ve used have shorter slots with a flap that covers the tops of the pens, stopping them falling out when the case is turned upside down, too. But I’ve always found the flap gets in the way, and it means you have to fully open the roll on a table to get access to the pens.
Add all this together with some padding and you end up with a case that’s often bulky, too.
Until now the only case I use with any tool roll design elements is the Nock Brasstown, which solves many of these problems by making the rolling part with the pen slots into a tongue that flops out from a zip-up case. But even that case, for all its ingenuity, is bulkier and slower than I’d like.
Well, I think I’ve found a pen roll that I approve of, at last: the Rickshaw Hand Roll.
Instead of a thong that you loop round and round, it has an adjustable elastic strap that hooks over itself in a second, keeping the case under perfect tension with no hanging bits, tucking or knotting.
It doesn’t have a flap or any overlapping fabric at all, so it’s compact and nothing gets in the way.
It uses Rickshaw’s furry ‘Coozy’ liner, for the full length of each slot. No stitching or other roughness touches your pens.
This material has the miraculous property of holding any size pen with plenty of padding, tightly enough that you can shake the case upside down without pens falling out, while still making it easy to pull a pen out with your fingers.
Rickshaw offers this case in different lengths, and to be honest I’m not sure what I’ve got here. But I’ve had no problems using giant pens like the Penlux Masterpiece Grande or Leonardo Furore Grande, or small pens like the Esterbrook JR or ystudio Portable. Even big cap bands and clips slide in with no problem.
Although there’s no flap, the design of the case helps to seal off each pen slot so that the pen is more or less hidden from view. In this case, the only thing that pokes out is the strap of my ystudio Portable.
I’m not afraid of dust or dirt intruding. But if I loosen the elastic and dig my fingers in, I can still grab a pen without having to open the whole case up.
So the functionality to me is way better than most pen rolls. No flaps, no bulk, no fiddly ties. Just six protective slots and a quick elastic loop to tie them up into a really compact bundle.
And of course since it’s Rickshaw, if you don’t like the standard pattern offerings, you can design your own. It comes in eight different lengths (including for the Schon P6!), from six to 12 pens, in a zillion colour combinations, for around $40, made in the USA. Rickshaw sent me this one to review in a rather fancy tweed pattern fabric.
This is really a smart design and I’ve been using it literally every day alongside my Nock Burton for toting pens around the house. I think it’s great. You can get yours here.