Once you start collecting a few pens, it doesn't take long to realize that you also need a convenient to store and transport multiple pens at a time. Luckily, there are many such options available to stationery nerds today. These options can vary as far as design and materials, but most are made of nylon fabric, plastic, metal, or leather. And, the Frara Road Pen Roll happens to be in the leather variety.
Frara Road is a small company based in Cape Town, South Africa that specializes in unique stationery goods. From James and Jesse, the owners, their mission is simple:
We set out upon Frara Road™ with a simple goal to make lasting products that are beautiful to look at and most importantly, practical to use. To make nothing that is unnecessary and to make things that we personally want. Their shop is small, but focused. It's nice to see a small business that is selling a few goods they really believe in as opposed to a shop selling lots of different things that they may not personally vouch for. In the case of Frara Road, the stuff they sale are curated by the owners.
Back to the Pen Roll — it's gorgeous. Made from full-grain upholstery leather, it has a luxurious, soft feel and tantalizing smell. The leather is a medium brown color, and ages quite well with use. It's bound to pick up a few nicks and scuffs, but that makes leather goods look better with age. Inside the case, there's more leather that forms the pen slots, but it also features a flap that folds down over the pens to protect them each other when the case is rolled up. The back side of the leather is unfinished, which gives it a super soft, carpet-like feel. I definitely don't worry about my pens when they're in this case — they are well-protected.
The Pen Roll has six pen sleeves, which are separated with stitching. In fact, there's a lot of stitching on this case, and it's well-done. I haven't noticed any stray threads or sloppy lines. After several months of use, it's held up really well. But, I'd expect as much from leather goods!
Due to the soft interior leather, pens slide in and out of the sleeves with ease. It can sometime take some fidgeting to get the clip over the edge of the leather, but it's a minor thing that you'll experience with most pen cases, sleeves, etc. Once the pens are in the sleeve, they don't budge. Even if your pen doesn't have a clip, it is held securely in the sleeve. And, once you fold down the inner flap and roll up the case, they're not going anywhere.
Like most pen rolls, it can take some practice to find the best way to roll up the case efficiently and securing the straps. In the case of cloth pen rolls, the process is easier, but it takes more effort to secure the string or straps to ensure the case doesn't come loose and open in your bag. With the Frara Road Pen Roll, you have to pay more attention when rolling the case shut due to the thickness and stiffness of the leather. While the stiffness does go away after some regular use, it's still a thick material. Once the leather breaks in, it becomes incredibly easy to roll the case up. The leather falls into a groove and tends to retrace its own steps when it's time to pack up. That's one of the delightful thing about leather goods. They're unique and take on a life of their own with time.
After the case is rolled up, there's a single strap that secures it. The strap wraps around the case, feeds through a small slot, doubles back, and stays tight without any need for knots or extra tucking. I was skeptical that it would be this easy, but it works really well. Feed the strap through the top of the hole, pull it back under itself, give it a tug to tighten it down, and you're set. The friction of the leather is enough to keep this roll secure, no matter how long or short the journey. When you arrive and it's time to get out the goods, a simple tug in the reverse direction will loose the strap and allow you to quickly open the case. This is truly the first closure system that I've enjoyed in a pen roll or pen wrap style case. It's great!
Obviously, there are other cases available that hold the same number of pens, have more features, cost less, etc. When it comes down to it, this is a well-made leather stationery accessory. You already know if you're keen on leather goods. If you're one of those people, there's a good chance you'll love this case. If you're not, lucky you! There are so many other choices out there. To me, this case is worth it alone based on aesthetics, but it's also a great functional case.
When first using the case, one downside in my mind was how bulky and large it is once rolled up. But, after comparing it with a fully loaded Brasstown, I was surprised to find that it was a very similar size. It's a bit fatter, but not as tall length-wise. Also, being made of leather, it's pliable when you pack it in a bag. It might look a bit chubby in some ways, but it's still very space efficient and easy to pack.
Overall, the Frara Road Pen Roll is a great intersection of beauty and functionality. For storing and transporting up to six pens or pencils, this is a top-notch option if you prefer leather over nylon or plastic. At $75, it's a bit pricey when compared with other cases, but (again) it's made from leather and looks fantastic.
(Frara Road provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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