Sunday, August 2, 2020

PEN CASE REVIEW: LOCHBY TOOL ROLL

I'll let you in on a little secret: together with the Field Journal that I reviewed a couple months ago (HERE), the relatively 'new' brand Lochby (previously known as BOND Travel Gear) gets a perfect two for two score with the Lochby Tool Roll. The latter obviously being the topic of today's review.

Even though I previously admitted that the ruggedized EDC styling of Lochby's products isn't immediately my first pick, there's just too much to like about their products. Let me elaborate...
The Tool Roll starts on the outside with very similar styling as the Field Journal: brown waxed canvas, reinforced stitched edges, and a massive metal hook to keep it securely closed. On the inside, I'm happy to see the honeycomb-stitched, warm yellow ripstop fabric make its return. I really appreciate the color scheme and the way it's laid out on all Lochby products, keeping with an overall very work-appropriate look on the outside, but a bit more festive inside. BTW, Lochby also introduced a new colorway for its entire product line recently: a super-sleek black outside, with a strongly contrasting sand-colored interior - it looks amazing! 
Besides the attention to detail for aesthetics, Lochby's products are also excellently put-together, with neat stitching all around. The rugged fabrics give a durable impression. I've been using both the Tool Roll and Field Journal extensively for the past six months, and they both still look like new!

With a history in more EDC-minded products, it makes sense that Lochby named this product the Tool Roll. Even though the rebranding to Lochby is supposed to be more focused on writing accessories, the 'Tool' roll isn't just meant to carry around pens. The multi-purpose functionality reflects in the many different pockets and elastic loops on the inside. There's a lot of space to put a wide variety of pens, artist's supplies, tools, etc. 
Extra-wide elastic loops hold pens and other tools neatly in place
The four smaller elastic loops on the left are ideally sized for pens, three slightly wider slots are perfect for oversized and very wide pens (the Opus 88 Omar, for example). Only the two extra-wide slots in the middle aren't necessarily meant for pens (although, if you don't mind, two pens can cozy up in a single slot for sure). For a more EDC-minded kit, those middle slots fit a multitool without issues (In the images I used a smaller Leatherman Squirt, but it also comfortably fits a full-size Leatherman or Swiss army knife). One thing that doesn't fit is an unsharpened (or relatively new) Blackwing pencil It's nice to have a lot of options, but I'd like to see the option for a roll with 12 (or maybe 11, with three of the medium-sized loops like the ones on the far right in this case) slots, dedicated to carrying pens.

UPDATE: Apparently Lochby already thought of the changes I suggested... before I suggested them! If you go to the product page, you'll see that the Tool Roll now has the two wide slots replaced with four small loops, so it can fit 11 pens comfortably without having to put two pens in a single space! - Awesome!
But wait, there's more! Cleverly hidden behind the pen loops, are three wide pockets that run the entire height of the case. It's the perfect size for a pocket notebook, or even a smartphone or something else that's larger but relatively thin. One downside: there are three pockets so you could technically fit three notebooks, but that does make it borderline impossible to properly wrap the case closed without bending the notebooks too much (one or two notebooks works just fine though).
And lastly, to the left of the 'main compartment' there's also a zippered mesh pouch to store small paraphernalia (I put an eraser in it, but I'm sure you can think of more exciting ways to put it to good use!). It can even hold additional pens if you really want to get the most out of your case
The Tool roll measures 20 by 40 cm (8” x 16”) when opened up, and it comfortably takes pens or other 'tools' up to 16 or 17 cm in length (6.7"). That's plenty of room for even the largest pens. Rolled up, it's more or less a cylinder that measures 10 by 20 cm (3.93" x 7.78").
Together with the wide elastic loops, the protective flaps on top and bottom cover almost the entire pens, so they have little opportunity to bump into each other. The flaps can be folded over and tucked underneath so you can display your pens while the case is on a table or something. 
Sorry Blackwing, you'll have to go!
The case holds closed by the metal clasp, that can be attached to one of four loops. The clasp itself can also be tightened or loosened on its own strap, so together that gives plenty of adjustment to choose if you want to keep the case slim and compact, or packed to the brim. Filled with pens, it does bulk up considerably, like a well-stuffed burrito (yes, that's the analogue I'm going with).
Now, one remark I have with pen roll cases in general, is that they tend to be less padded (The Lochby Tool Roll isn't padded at all), and less protective than a hard case with individual slots. I'm not the kind of person to put super-expensive pens in this kind of case and throw it in my backpack. But... that's just me and my obsessive OCD of course, because you definitely could. 

While it may not be the most protective pen case option out there, it does offer decent protection at a more compact footprint (Compared to a Dreamtouch case from Visconti with a similar 12-pen capacity, this certainly offers an easier form factor to put in a bag or backpack). I do like the Tool Roll for a more casual everyday carry for work or travel, which of course brings us back full-circle to the concept this case was built for - EDC. I guess that's a sign of thoughtful design!
Thoughtful design or not, obviously price is an important decisive factor in making a purchase decision. If this was in the same price range as more 'premium' and protective leather case from Franklin-Christoph or Visconti, it wouldn't be much of a choice. BUT, the Lochby Tool Roll is only 39$, undercutting even the most affordable options from competing products that can hold a similar amount of pens! I must say, it's quite hard to beat at a price like that.

NOTE: This product was provided by Lochby, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.

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