This Just In: Nock Co. Lanier

Nock Co LanierNock Co. started life on Kickstarter with a series of pen (or pencil) cases over three years ago. They recently returned with a new Nock Co. product category, a briefcase. I backed it at the early bird level ($80) in late September and it arrived in May. It missed the April estimated delivery by a few days, which qualifies as on time for Kickstarter.

When Nock Co. started they made all their cases in-house. Now the Lanier, and many other cases are made by other manufacturers (still in the U.S.). Brad and Jeff still oversee production and quality control. All my original cases are still in fine shape and I expected the same quality in the Lanier even if it wasn’t technically manufactured in-house. I do expect the Lanier to take more abuse than my other cases.

What attracted me to the Lanier was its light weight and simplicity. It seemed perfect as a way to carry my supplies for the day. My current day bag is the Staad Attaché by Waterfield Designs. While I do love that bag it’s mad of woven canvas and leather which makes it on the heavy side. It also has a lot of room, which can actually be a negative, since I have a tendency to put things in it just because I can and I might need it. This makes the bag even heavier. So besides using lighter material the Lanier should provide some constraints so I don’t carry stuff just because I can.

When the Lanier first launched on Kickstarter there were numerous requests for a shoulder strap along with a couple requests for more padding. Both of these would have ruined it for me. It would duplicate the Staad and add bulk that I’m looking to avoid. I quickly backed the project but made a note to check back before it funded so I could cancel my pledge if these changes were made. But it soon became clear, both in the backer comments and Brad’s comments on the Pen Addict podcast that the design was pretty well locked in, and these changes wouldn’t happen. Not only would this keep the bag design what I wanted, but it would (hopefully) avoid any delays due to last minute design changes.

I picked the green version, which is an olive exterior and a lime interior. The exterior is water repellent (via a coating) 1000D Cordura. The interior is 400D pack cloth. There’s also 1/8″ interior foam padding. Full specs are on the Nock Co. website where the Lanier is now available.

A matching A5 pouch is included. The pouch fits in the front pocket of the Lanier. The pouch has two pocket notebook sized interior pockets.

Nock Co Lanier A5 Pouch contents

First Impressions

The first thing I noticed is how comfortable the nylon handles are. My Staad Attaché has leather handles. The stiffness of these handles, along with the seam location, can make the bag uncomfortable to carry for anything more than a short time. While nylon can be uncomfortable that’s not the case here. The handles are 1″ wide nylon and are stitched to the bag so that there’s an arc to them and they are flat in my hand when I’m carrying the bag. My hand doesn’t get tired carrying the bag around. While I’m sure the lighter weight is a factor, I consider the strap design the main reason that the Lanier is comfortable to carry. The straps are a subtle design element that Nock Co. got right.

The Lanier is exactly what I hoped it would be. Some folks complained the color didn’t match the photos on Kickstarter. I didn’t pay that much attention. I figure between differences among monitors along with dye/variances between prototype and production I wouldn’t be surprised by some differences. The bottom line – I really like the color. I like green in general and I really like both the olive and lime greens used in this case. No complaints about the color from me.

I bought the case for my 12“ iPad Pro along with my analog tools. My 13” MacBook Pro also fits but other than to check the fit it hasn’t been in the Lanier.

My Typical carry includes the iPad Pro, a large notebook, a Franklin-Christoph Penvelope 6 and my Travelers Notebook in the main compartment. The notebook is a large notebook of 8 1/2“ X 11” Staples sugarcane paper, although the wire binding and thick covers adds about an inch to those dimensions. A Kindle also fits although it’s usually in the front zipper pocket.

Nock Co Lanier contents - Staples Sugarcane Notebook, iPad pro, Travelers Notebook, A5 Pouch

The front zipper pocket doesn’t have any straps or pockets of its own. What it does have is a matching A5 sized zippered pouch that fits inside. The A5 pouch has two inside pockets appropriately sized for pocket notebooks. The pockets are a bit loose and won’t hold items securely. This isn’t a problem for larger items like pocket notebooks, but smaller items may work their way out of the pocket while being carried. Personally, I would have liked a couple pen slots but I admit this would go against the flexibility designed into the Lanier. Three-pen cases do fit in the pocket, at least all the ones that I have. Nock Co’s own Sinclair, Lookout, Hightower and Fodderstacks (regular and XL) all fit. My Visconti 3 pen case is the tallest case that I have and it just barely fits. I can close the zipper when the case is in the pocket, but just barely. The fit is fine if I don’t put it in the pocket. The Visconti case is about 6 1/4″ high. It would be nice to have the Nock Co cases in matching colors.

The pouch is curved on one corner to make it easier to get in and out of the Lanier’s front pocket. Right now I’m carrying miscellaneous items in the pouch. A portable battery charger (and associated cables), a Retro 51, a couple mechanical pencils, corded headphones, screen/glasses wipes and usually a granola or snack bar. The pouch is big enough for my Seven Seas Writer (or Crossfield) although I don’t have any need to carry those notebooks when I travel. While the pens do clip to the pocket, they do work loose.

Nock Co Lanier with A5 Pouch

The biggest complaint from people may be the lack of a shoulder strap. My Staad Attaché does have a removable should strap and I kept it attached all the time. It’s main benefit was that I could carry the bag and have both hands free. That bag was bulky and heavy(ish) so it was difficult to juggle the bag with just the handles. It was also slightly more comfortable than the handles for an extended carry. The Lanier is lighter and less cumbersome so I can juggle it with other items when I have to. I haven’t missed the shoulder strap.

The padding provides enough protection for my needs. It’s not going to protect my iPad from crushing abuse but it’s enough protection for my daily carry. I wouldn’t carry the bag on an overnight trip, but I would pack it in whatever bag I did use, then use it once I arrived.

The material does have a tendency to attract some dust, which can be seen in the photos, but it can be easily cleaned off.

Summary

I’ve been using the Nock Co. Lanier for about a month. It’s what I use when I need a bag or briefcase when I head out. The A5 pouch works well for the items I always want to have with me such as headphones and some writing implements. The simplicity of the bag makes it easy to quickly pack the other items I need for the day. The light weight makes it easy to carry.

The bag provides a lot of flexibility while also limiting my ability to pack everything except the kitchen sink. The bag is designed to be an easy carry during the days activities and suits that purpose well.

Nock Co Lanier with A5 Pouch 2

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What I Use: Nock Co. Fodderstack XL

Nock Co Fodderstack XL with two Vanishing Points

Rather than a regular review I’ve decided to start talking about the things I use regularly and why. The things I use regularly will be written about in the What I Use category.

I’ve been using Nock Co. cases since their Kickstarter campaign to launch the company. They’re pretty much the only soft cases that I use. Since I started working from home exclusively I’ve had to carry fewer pens and I’ve gravitated to carrying the Fodderstack XL since it arrived as May began.

I ordered the Steel/Blue Jay version. I like the color but there’s one unanticipated trait that I didn’t expect. It tends to highlight dirt and dust. Like all Nock Co. cases the material has a texture to it and this can hold on to dust and dirt. This is unnoticeable with other colors, such as my orange cases, but it’s very visible in this darker color. The clips from the pens can also discolor the material. None of this is permanent and can be brushed right out, but it doesn’t stay pristine for long. I don’t mind when the things I use show evidence of use, and I rather like it. So while I don’t necessarily want things to look dirty, this doesn’t particularly bother me. In the photos the case was brushed clean about a day before. The way I carry this case, in many varied environments, probably doesn’t help keep the case clean.

Like every other Nock Co. case that I have the build quality is first rate.

Nock Co Fodderstack XL with a KarasKustoms Ink and Pelikan M805The Fodderstack XL is big enough to hold two good sized fountain pens. They do touch, which also doesn’t bother me. I have only a few pens where I’m worried about damage and those don’t get carried out and about in any soft case. Other than from each other, the case provides good protection to the pens. It’s a soft case so it won’t protect against aggressive abuse but there is padding from the material. Obviously there’s no protection for the part of the pen sticking out of the case.

The material is a bit thick so pens with tight clips take some effort to insert. I have a couple KarasKustoms Inks, which all have a stiff clip, where the clip is too close to the body to use with the case. They could probably be made to fit, but only after a bit of a fight.

The Fodderstack XL is sized for Nock’s DotDash Pocket Notebooks. This means that most standard pocket notebooks will also fit. This includes Field Notes and Doane Small Utility Notebooks, both of which I’ve used. Two DotDash Pocket Notebooks can be made to fit but it’s a tight squeeze and eliminates the ability to quickly remove and insert the notebook. A Field Notes Ambition and a DotDash Pocket could also be carried but it was also a tight squeeze. I don’t find the extra effort worth it just to have a second pocket notebook.

I typically carry one pocket notebook and two pens in the Fodderstack XL. I usually pick two pens for the day and carry those pens throughout the day. (And honestly, it’s been the same two pens all this week, so they don’t change every day.) One pen is a extra fine or thinner pen and the other is a fountain pen and ink suitable for regular writing sessions, so it can be a wider nib. This week I’ve been carrying my two Vanishing Points, one with a XXXF nib and Pilot black ink while the other is a left oblique nib with Pilot blue ink.

Nock Co Fodderstack XL with two Vanishing Points with the Doane Small Utility Notebook in front of it.

Lately I’ve been carrying the Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebook but have carried a Doane Utility Notebook in the past. I like the DotDash design but I’m finding a standard (meaning bound on the left) notebook suites my current usage more. My current pocket notebook carry is a mess and the notebook will change on occassion, but that’s another topic.

A typical day has me almost exclusively using these pens until the evening, where I may switch to a different pen if I do any writing. The exception is if I want an ink that’s not in one of the two pens, such as red. Since I work at home I’ll carry the case around the house if I change locations (office desk, patio if the weather is nice, or a chair by the big patio door if the weather isn’t nice but I want to see the world and daylight). This way I always have a couple pens and notepaper handy.

I also grab the case whenever I head out. It fits in all my shirt pockets. While it’s a little bigger than I prefer for a shirt pocket, it is very light. Little weight is added beyond the pad and paper. It also fits in my jean and trouser pockets, but I only carry it there if my hands and shirt pocket are full and I’m going to a nearby location, such as my car, where I then pull it out. It also slide nicely into my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter so I can carry it in my mobile office.

I like having it with me so I did develop a habit of leaving it in my car at times, although now that hotter summer weather is here I carry it in a pocket more often with my preference being a shirt pocket, even if I’m heading into a store where I’m unlikely to need it. The notebook pocket is also nice for holding receipts, business cards and other scraps of paper collected throughout the day.

I do have to pay attention to the pens I carry. Two KarasKustoms Ink fountain pens do fit, but they are heavier than my preference for a shirt pocket carry, even without the case.

I like the style so much that I recently bought the smaller original Fodderstack, but I have different plans for this one which I’ll write about in a future what I use, article assuming I do use it. The original Fodderstack is smaller and can only hold one pen (unless they’re really thin pens) and it’s designed for the Nock Co. index cards.

What would I change? Nothing really.

While a different color wouldn’t show off dirt and dust I got this color because I wanted to carry it in my shirt pocket and I didn’t want anything bright, so I’m happy with it. It’s a business friendly color.

I sometimes wish it held three pens but that would make it thicker and heavier, and therefore less useful for me. Three pens in my shirt pocket annoys me even without the added case and notebook. I’ve gone back to carrying a Kaweco Sport with red ink so that gives me a pen to use with bright ink if I need to mark something up.

Bottom Line

The Nock Co. Fodderstack XL works for me because it’s light and easy to grab and carry. I got it intending to have something I could easily toss in a bag or briefcase but I’ve found it’s something I use and carry all day. While I’ve always been happier carrying more pens, I’m finding that the right two pens works well for me and is easy and light to carry. Plus, it works throughout the day in any environment.

Additional Reading

Write Analog (pre-production review)

 

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Quick Look: Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards

Nockco opened their online store this week. Even though I already reviewed the remaining Kickstarter pen cases I thought it would be good to post a quick look at their 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards since Nockco is more than just pen cases. I received this pack of note cards when I won the Pen Addict 100th podcast giveaway.

I’m not a index card type of guy so I don’t have a regular use for these (or any other) index cards. I keep index cards at my desk for occasional use (preferring notepads) but consider them one level above scrap paper. They end up in the trash within days, if not hours.

The DotDash name comes from the lines of the grid pattern printed on the cards, front and back. The lines are a subtle orange made up of dots and dashes. I typically don’t like grid paper but these are subdued and I like them. Similar to Doane Paper, the grid doesn’t dominate the card. According to the Nockco website the cards are 80lb. (216 GSM) cover stock, the grid is 4.25mm and the color is Pantone 143.

My only niggle is that the lines aren’t exactly perpendicular to the edges. There is no true back and front, but based on the way I took the cards from the package I didn’t notice the skewing on the front. Then I turned the card over and it was obvious, much worse on the back. And then I couldn’t stop myself from noticing it on the front too.

The cards are fountain pen friendly. The only noticeable feathering was with MB Racing Green in a wet stub nib. There wasn’t any bleed or show through with any of my nibs. Drops of Franklin-Christoph Black Magic did bleed-through. But that stuff bleeds through every paper I’ve used it on with anything thicker than an Japanese extra fine nib. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a glass dip pen (which is wet and puts down a thick line) did not bleed through, although there was just a little show through when the pen had been newly dipped and there was extra ink. I was surprised that swabs of Syo-ro and Infinite Grey did not show through.

Nockco has also designed the unique Fodderstock pen and index card case. This is not for me, the non-index card guy, but it’s a cool design for those of you who aren’t me.

If your like me and consider index cards to be borderline scrap paper then these probably index cards aren’t for you due to the price. But if you want fountain pen friendly index cards, or just want a change from the horrid blue grid lines, then these Nockco 3 X 5 DotDash Note Cards are highly recommended.

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Review: The Rest of the Nockco Kickstarter Pen Cases

Nockco should be launching their store soon. (If they haven’t already launched – this post was written last weekend and scheduled for today.)  launched their store yesterday. They’ve already announced additional products so there should be plenty to choose from. Now seems to be a good time to review the rest of my Nockco cases.

I reviewed the Nockco Hightower (the cases are all named for mountain peaks in Georgia) back in May and it remains my most used Nockco pen case. My most used case overall, if I  only consider a case used when pens are put in and taken out. I pledged at the “All the Cases” level when they had their Kickstarter campaign and these are the rest of those cases. And as an aside, it’s nice to see a Kickstarter campaign used to launch a business, and a business that makes their own products, rather than just be a storefront.

The red-white-blue flecked Grand Huron is over 6.5″ long so doesn’t fit in most pen cases but is shown in some photos for reference. The Edison Collier, Lamy Safari, and Pilot Vanishing point are also used (and fit) as a reference for all the cases and should provide a good cross-section of know pens.

Most cases are orange because I picked that as the color for the cases I expected to carry in a bag. This was to make them easy to find. Plus, I like orange.

The Lookout

I expected this three pen holster to be the case I used most but a change in my daily carry bag changed that. Three pens are an ideal carry for me so it does get used.

Like all the cases it’s well made with even stitching and no loose threads. The lining is soft and won’t scratch my pens. I’d consider it a “normal” size case that can accommodate most pens. The material is heavy and protects the pens quit well. Like many cases the sides are open towards the top of the case. I feel more comfortable with my heavy leather Franklin-Christoph Penvelope case bouncing around in my bag if there are heavy objects sharing the space with it. It may be psychological but I feel the leather would provide better protection against being crushed. But as far as cloth bags go, the Lookout provides excellent protection. There is padding and I can’t foresee anything ripping through the material. This the only one of the cases that has the extra padding.

Some people have noticed a Field Notes book fits under the strap and carry one there but I haven’t tried it.

Large Chimney Top

I ended up using this for computer/phone cables, a wireless hotspot, batteries, headphones, thumb drives and more. Thanks to the hotspot and large(ish) brick battery it can be tight at times but a lot does fit in.

The case is unlined but the interior is still smooth. There’s no padding. Again, good construction with even stitching.

The case is about 7″ long so it doesn’t fit full size wood case pencils.

Nockco large chimney top

Small Chimney Top

This case is as long as the Large Chimney Top but narrower. I use this to hold my Vac 700 with its extra nibs. It’s my ink testing case.

Broken record here – good construction with even stitching. Like the large version there’s no lining and large, new wood case pencils just don’t fit.

Nockco small chimney top

The Maryapple

This is a bi-fold case with a notebook pocket on each side. Pens fit too, as long as you don’t mind that they touch. This one is lined. I’ve yet to find a regular use for this case. My particular case is the Steel exterior with Blue Jay interior.

Guess what? Quality construction with even stitching.

Nockco Maryapple

The Maryapple with a Field Notes 3 pack on each side

The Sassafras

This is the pen version of the Maryapple. It’s a bifold case with five pen slots, three on the left and two on the right. The slots on the right can easily hold multiple pens if you don’t mind touching.

Yet again, even stitching and solid construction.

I’ve used this on occasion but it hasn’t gotten a lot of use.

The Nockco Sassafras

The Brasstown

The Brasstown is the most ingenious design of all the cases. It’s a six pen roll that fits in a zippered case. It holds six (or more) pens in a six pen roll. More pens or other small items can fit loose in the case. That’s a lot in a small area.

I would have expected to use this case more but find I usually pick another. If I need less than six pens then it’s the Hightower. If it’s six pens then it’s the leather Penvelope. Because of this I’ve started to use it for my Retro 51 accumulation and spare refills.

The case is lined. New wood case pencils won’t fit in the roll out sleeves but they do fit loose in the case. My Edison Huron Grande won’t be completely wrapped in the roll out sleeve, but it does fit in the case.

And yes, even stitching and overall quality construction.

 

Review: Hightower Pen Case by Nock Co

Photo of the closed Nock Co HightowerI already had more pen cases than I needed but that didn’t stop me from backing the Nock Co pen cases on Kickstarter. I backed at all the cases, along with 472 others, and this has proven to be the most used case of the bunch in the month and a half I’ve had them. It’s the Hightower Pen Case in the Kickstarter LE colors, Peacock exterior (a blue-green) and a Midnight Blue exterior (a navy-blue).  There’s slots for three pens on the left, covered by a flap. The right side has a pocked sized for Doane Utility Journals, Field Notes or similar pocket notebooks and fits three comfortably. A fourth can be squeezed in put it requires a bit too much effort to be practical. While multiple notebooks can be held it does bulk up the case and keep it from being flat when it’s closed. I find anything more than two notebooks and the case doesn’t close flat enough for my taste.

For the record, my iPhone 5S and a Nokia Lumia 920 fit in the pocket (not at the same time) but are not secure and bulk up the case. It seems inevitable the phone would slide out and head to the floor.

The exterior is made of heavy nylon with a durable water repellant (DWR) coating that feels very cloth-like. The interior is pack cloth that is very smooth and is unlikely to scratch any pens. I say unlikely to scratch because there are no guarantees, but I’m certain all my pens will be scratch free.

Personally, I prefer using my Franklin-Christoph Penvelope 6 case for transporting pens in a computer or other bag. The heavy leather and heavy cloth gives the pens more protection, in my opinion. Since the Hightower material is cloth I’m paranoid the pens could be crushed or cracked if the bag was thrown around and a heavy object shared the space with them. That said, the material does seem very strong and would protect the pens against keys and other objects. Another concern is that the case doesn’t snap closed so something could work it’s way into the case. I’m too paranoid to use this case in my daily computer bag, since it doesn’t have it’s own pocket to secure it and would bounce around. The Hightower is not the case I use for my everyday carry, but it still gets used. If this case closed securely, with a zipper for example, it would probably replace my Penvelope and be nearly perfect. It does get used to keep my current favorite writers and active notebooks handy. I have a habit of leaving them around the house and end up having to search for them. Keeping them in the case avoids the problem. It does leave home and travels occasionally and keeps the pens well protected.

The case is about 6 3/4 inches tall and about 4 1/4 inches wide when closed and 8 3/4 inches wide when open. I haven’t had the case long enough to really test the durability but the case is well made. The Nock Co cases are handmade in Georgia. I expected to find some hanging threads or mis-cut corners but can’t find any on my case. This, along with the tight stitching, bodes well for the long term durability.

I keep three pens in the left side, usually three different inks in thin nibs, suitable for writing and note taking. There’s one, sometimes two, pocket notebooks on the right along with some business cards. I primarily use it to keep handy around the house so I don’t have to go hunting for pens or the current notebooks. But it does travel with me on occasion.

At 6 3/4 inches the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 either doesn’t fit in the case or just barely fits, depending on your point of view. It comes right up to where the flap is sewn onto the case so the flap doesn’t lay flat when the pen is in the case. On the other hand, the case can be closed and the pen will be protected. But in my opinion, the pen is too big for the case. All my other pens fit fine. The pen slots are about 4 3/4 inches deep and the flap seam is about 1 1/3 inches above the slots.

Nock Co is a venture of Brady Dowdy and Jeffrey Bruckwicki. You can read about them here. The Nock Co Kickstarter cases are almost all shipped out. They’ve said they’ll need to build inventory after the that and then will open their online store. Currently you can sign up to be notified when the store opens or read additional information about their products. Brad has mentioned (either on the Podcast or twitter) that they expect the store to open in June.

Additional Reading

Reviewed at The Well -Appointed Desk

Reviewed at The Clicky Post

Reviewed and then a motorcycle test at No Pen Intended

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