In the market for versatile, low-cost pen and writing/art supply storage, Lihit Lab remains a popular option. I don't know much about the company - information is sparse but it's been around since 1938 and is based in Osaka, Japan. Their cases rarely top $15, come in a standard - if a bit uninspired - range of colors, and are good enough quality to hold up to the demands of most people's daily use. About a month ago, I acquired two Lihit Lab cases to plug some holes in my daily carry arsenal. One was a huge hit; the other a major fail.
Lihit Lab Bag-in-Bag
I love portfolios. I consider them to be one of the most practical bags to carry on a daily basis. I've had several in the past, but I tend to wear them out so quickly I have a hard time spending money on nice cloth or leather options. Enter the Lihit Lab "Bag-in-Bag." The purpose of this case is twofold. The Bag-in-Bag can serve as a standalone portfolio, holding a computer and/or tablet, one or two writing pads (up to legal size), your phone, chargers, notepad, and a few pens. Basically, anything you need for an afternoon of business meetings or a morning working at the coffee shop. It can also serve as an easily swappable insert for a backpack or briefcase, which comes in handy if, like me, you're someone who regularly rotates between the two.
At the $13-15 price point (depending on the color you select), this is really a no-brainer if you're looking for a portfolio and don't mind canvas over leather. The material isn't as nice as the cordura used by companies like Nock Co., and this Lihit Lab bag probably won't hold up forever, but it's good enough for my needs right now. The one draw back is that it stains and shows dirt very easily. Whatever material they use isn't coated and is highly absorbent, so the case has picked up dust, dirt, etc. when I've worked at coffee shops and outside on my patio. With the brown version this probably won't be as much of an issue, but be warned if you're considering lighter colors such as the orange or light green. For those of you who like oversized fountain pens, take note that the pen slots on this case are fairly tight and shallow, so big pens don't fit.
I use the larger 10" x 13.8" (A4) version ($15 via Amazon), as opposed to the smaller 7.1" x 9.8" (A5) case ($11 via Amazon). The larger bag-in-bag easily holds my 12" Macbook and/or my iPad Pro, which is a necessity for the kind of work I do. This case has become part of my daily carry.
Lihit Lab Double-Sided Pen Case
As much as I love the Lihit Lab Bag-in-Bag, I simply can't recommend the second case I reviewed, which is the double-sided "Teffa" pen case ($10-12 via Amazon). I can give you a quick overview regarding the build and setup, but I can't speak to durability, practicality, etc. because I couldn't use this product. Why? The smell.
This pen case emits a horrifically strong chemical odor. I would compare it to oil or gasoline but I (and others, from reading the Amazon reviews) find it much more offensive. I assume that they used some sort of petroleum-based glue to hold parts of the case together. Within minutes of opening the packaging for this case I had a splitting headache.
This pen case is a great idea, in principle, and should be one of those products I can wholeheartedly recommend because it looks nice and can be had for a bargain. For things like markers, gel pens, ballpoints, and any other pen you want to store in bulk and don't mind touching, this case should do the trick. The back section has pockets to store pencil sharpeners, erasers, post-its, scissors, you name it. I just couldn't get past the smell. Fortunately, Amazon refunded me (and didn't even want the product returned to them).
Where to Buy:
You can buy Lihit Lab cases from either Amazon or Jetpens, which carries a wider range of products other than the cases. I purchased mine from Amazon because I have a warehouse near me in Tennessee and they qualified for free Prime "same day" shipping. I ordered them in the morning and they were at my front door by 4:00pm. Pretty cool.
One more thing: I get a lot of e-mail about the pen cases I use, and what I consider the "best" pen case. While I'm working on putting together another "Top 5" list, it's been hard, in large part because everyone's needs are different. There are far more than five solid options out there right now, with more cases coming to market every day.
DISCLAIMER: I purchased the products featured in this review with my own funds, for my personal use. This post also contains affiliate links. All Amazon prices and availability are subject to change, and only current as of the time of publication of this review.