I had a total fan girl moment at the San Francisco Pen Show when I saw Mark Dwight of Rickshaw Bags walking the show floor. I wanted to run up to him and tell him how I’d followed his company since he first launched it in 2007 and I had a very early Moleskine notebook cover and several Zero messenger bags but I chickened out as I saw other people approach him. The moment had passed. I sighed. Sometimes, my shyness and general fear of making an idiot of myself gets in the way of telling people what an impact they make on my life.
I proceeded to berate myself all day for not being braver and going over to talk to Mark. Then on Sunday, fate worked in my favor and Mark came back to the show so I took a chance and worked up my courage to approach him. I told him what I had been too shy to say days before and he was kind, polite and as humble as you can imagine. And surprise! Like the rest of the pen community, he was generous too! He asked if I’d like to try out some of his new pen sleeves and give him some honest feedback. Mark pulled a Solo Pen Sleeve ($12) out of his giant messenger bag in the perfect shade of neon pink to match my Caran d’Ache 849 Fountain Pen.
The Solo Pen Sleeves are available in an array of colors, with matching plush lining. They are also available in a few different configurations like short, skinny, long and variations of these to fit some different pen styles. I’ve put several other pens into the regular sized Pen Sleeve with no issues, even if the sleeve was a bit long for it and then just pinched the bottom to get it out like a pen Go-Gurt. Since the sleeve is plush lined, even a snug fit isn’t worrisome so I’ve put slightly larger diameter pens in the sleeve as well even if they weren’t as perfect a color match. However, the 849 pretty much lives in the sleeve. It’s the perfect pocket companion for me.
A few weeks after the show, I received a lovely package in the mail with the WALDO Field Case Model 3($30) in the matching neon pink to test. This case has three pen pockets under the flap plus a larger pocket to hold a pocket notebook and business card sleeve. There are two other configurations of this case available where the front pocket stitching is rearranged to hold one pen and a business card sleeve or divided in half to allow pens and/or tools to be stored in the front pockets.
This particular case features the Cordura outer fabric which is pretty stiff. Over time, I am sure it will soften up but it will take some work to do so. Laura ordered the FPD WALDO Field Case ($30) which is made from polyester canvas which is a bit softer fabric and makes it a bit easier to form it to your pens, pocket, hand, etc.
My biggest issue with the WALDO case is the Velcro closure. I am often in meetings where the “RIP!” sound would be unwelcome and distracting. Even the sound of my obnoxious MacBookPro keyboard gets me the hairy eyeball. Hello, quiet-as-a-mouse paper and pen! So, being the person with the “RIP!” Velcro pen case is just not the way to go. I keep looking at the case trying to figure out how to re-engineer it. String-and-button closure? Snap? Just a real button? Anything but “RIP!” Velcro!!
(Side note: Totally amused to discover just how many pink fountain pens I actually own!)
Because inside of it are features I really like. The pen pockets are plush lined like the pen sleeve which I love. I also like being able to carry a few pens and a pocket notebook. I also like the plastic business card sleeve in the back pocket to hold cards, receipts and paper ephemera. It makes it easy to slide things into the pocket and then get it back out.
And finally, the included in the package was the Efficiency Supply Dots+Plus notebook ($5). It’s an interesting combination of reticle and dot grid. The pages are numbered and have arrows at the bottom. At the top is space for a date and a topic or title.
I tested an array of different pens to see how it handled fountain pen, rollerball, felt tip and other writing tools. The paper definitely soaked up fountain pen ink giving my line quality a mushy look. Finer nibs and rollerball performed better and, of course, pencil was a champ.
From the reverse, there was definite bleed through with the wider fountain pens and a little show through with the others. But the form factor is very unique so if you are more inclined to carry rollerballs or mechanical pencils in your EDC, it might be worth grabbing a Dots+Plus in your next order from Rickshaw to try one out.