Over the years of collecting new gear and trying new things for carrying my various possessions back and forth from home, I never thought I would come across a bag or pouch that I couldn't find a use for. While not entirely useless, I've been perplexed when trying to find a permanent spot for the Lihit Lab Smart Fit B6 carrying pouch.
The Smart Fit B6 pouch touts a familiar format. It's a folio or notebook cover with a zipper around the entire exterior, which allows you to secure everything that's inside. Along with a notebook, there are several pockets and pockets for items of various sizes. It even has a single pen loop. While there is an abundance of pockets and places to store things, it's the B6 that has caused me the most grief, but let's focus on what this carry pouch gets right.
The cordura nylon exterior is well-constructed with a trendy camouflage pattern. The interior color is a soft orange that contrasts perfectly with the camo exterior. The zippers aren't bulky YKK zippers, but they're quiet, smooth, and feel reliable. All of the stitching is good considering the price point, and the assortment of pockets seem fairly well thought-out.
Starting at the front of the pouch exterior, there's a single slash pocket with a zipper for storing larger items like a phone or Field Notes notebook. When I've used this pouch, this has been the pocket that I store a power brick or my Kindle.
Around the back, there's another large slash pocket that is secured with a single snap closure. The snap is strong and secure, but it does leave the rest of the pocket open. This isn't a pocket for storing small things, but storing notebooks and flat items that take up the majority of the space do well. Lining the slash pocket are two plastic D-rings that you can use with a shoulder strap, effectively turning this pouch into a small messenger bag.
Inside the front cover, there's a flap that lays over the interior storage. this flap has a stretchy mesh pocket that is accessed with a zipper. There's no dimension to this pocket, but the mesh does allow you to store plenty of smaller items like cables, headphones, pens, shorter pencils, erasers, etc.
When you fold this flap over, you can see the interior of the case. There's one large slot with a vertical opening that runs the height of the inside of the pouch. This is also useful for larger items like a phone, small tablet, or other notebooks. On top of the large pocket are two additional pockets that open vertically. The smaller pocket on top is good for flash drives, small cables, and other small items. The larger pocket on the bottom is just large enough to hold a standard 3.5x5.5 notebook. Since these pockets all open toward the left side of the interior of the case, things should stay secure in these pockets as long as you carry the pouch zipper side up. Otherwise, these little slash pockets don't hold things in place very well.
On the back interior cover, there's a strip of cordura material the provides the slot system for a B6 notebook cover. This keeps the notebook secure when in the case, and I haven't noticed any problems with the notebook wiggling out during transport. This strip also has a couple of small slash pockets that have horizontal openings. The top pocket is perfect size for business cards, while the bottom pocket is perfect for 3x5 index cards. Finally, there's a large pen loop on the upper-right side of the back interior. As long as your pen has a clip, this works fine. I find it odd, though, that this is the only real organization reserved for writing instruments. Since it's just a loop, it offers no real protection from other items in the pouch, and since other items do tend to come out of their storage areas, there's a very real possibility of different things jostling with your pens. As such, I have only used plastic gel pens with this case, or other pens that have clips and that I don't mind getting nicked a bit.
The case is functional enough, though the internal organization does leave plenty to be desired. Moving on from the actual case though, there's also a small notebook included with the pouch.
The notebook is a 30-page B6 spiral-bound book with decent lightweight paper and frosted clear covers. The paper handles fountain pen ink reasonably well, though the ink does show through to the back of the page quite clearly. Gel pens and ballpoints perform excellently, however. It's lined paper and it's great for writing notes and drawing quick sketches. Interestingly, the plastic spiral binding opens up with a little effort. The marketing for this notebook touts the ability to rearrange pages without tearing them out. This is a nice feature, but the spiral binding is a little tricky to work. I've found it more trouble than it's worth. This type of binding is a great idea in practice, and if you're interested in picking something like this up, try the various options from the Kokuyo Campus line. They work well and come in a few other color options and sizes.
Frustratingly, Lihit Lab does not sell a replacement notebook for this pouch. I guess that once it runs out, you need to find another B6 notebook to take its place if you want to continue using the pouch as intended. But that's where we hit the killer problem. B6 is not a common notebook size at all. On JetPens, there are less than a dozen compatible options for this pouch. Life seems to have the most variety as far as paper lines go, but it's still minimal. I don't understand why Lihit Labs chose to use this size over something more common like A5, A6, or even B5 Slim. Unfortunately, there just aren't many options for B6 notebooks.
Overall, this is such a cool concept for a carrying pouch or notebook case. If not for the odd size decision and the abundance of slim slash pockets over pen/pencil slots, this would be a great option for carrying your favorite notebooks. I can only recommend this if you primarily use B6 notebooks and already have a favorite notebook in mind for this case. 30 pages just don't go very far!
Aside from the Camouflage featured here, the Lihit Lab Smart Fit B6 Carrying Pouch is available in Houndstooth, Orange, and Navy.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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