Tag Archives: EDC

Review: Osprey FlapJack (OriginalVersion)

For my final year of graduate school I realized I needed a smaller bag, my Brain bag was simply TOO big. I only had 2 classes, and only one of which met regularly in the city. Additionally, I didn’t need to cart around quite so much stuff. I established what I’d be carrying on a regular basis.

  • My tablet and keyboard
  • A notebook
  • Pencil case
  • Phone
  • Assorted daily items
  • Clipboard with printed articles (roughly 25 to 100 printed pages depending on the day.)

Obviously, my daily carry for classes had changed over time and had dramatically reduced. I wanted a backpack with an integrated laptop sleeve for my tablet and keyboard and enough room for my stuff plus occasional purchases and removed outer layers.ospreyflapjack

With this purchase I was far less concerned with the longevity of the bag and more concerned with it being cost effective and comfortable. With this in mind I checked out the bags carried by some of my peers and searched Amazon for something about half the size of the Brain Bag. The Osprey FlapJack fit the bill. I purchased the olive green.* The FlapJack includes several replaceable straps for the closure and sternum strap. These are easily replaced with a little oomph applied.ospreyflapjack

Inside the bag are two large compartments divided by the integrated laptop pocket. The pocket furthest to the back is slim and doesn’t hold much at all, only a few notebooks. I used this mostly to hold a clipboard with printed articles, or my tablet depending on the day. The integrated laptop pocket will hold up to a 15″ laptop and was plenty deep for my 10″ tablet and keyboard. The largest pocket, furthest to the front of the bag has a small mesh pouch that is not overly useful but will hold a water bottle to the side of the bag. The large compartment can hold several books and notebooks as well as an assortment of other items. There is a side pocket that is long and slim.It is perfect to hold a waterbottle, and on several occasions I’ve used it to corral a wet umbrella. The flap has a small pocket that is accessible when the bag is closed. This pocket is only big enough to hold keys, chapstick, and a few other things. This bag is not big, it has a slim profile that can be snugged down even more slim with the use of the straps. The flap can be used to secure a jacket or other loose items.ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack

There is no suggesting that this is a big bag, it’s just big enough for someone who needs to carry a few books and a laptop or tablet, maybe a few other things. This is not a bag for a long weekend trip or even a student in need of a lot of things. You aren’t going to pack this bag with things for more than 2 classes, and even then, you won’t fit all the books for 2 classes in it at a time. No, this is a bag for when you don’t need a lot of stuff with you. It is a perfect bag for grabbing and going to the cafe to work, or to the library for research.ospreyflapjack 20160528_133525 ospreyflapjack

The bag was very comfortable when packed full or packed lightly. The straps are very comfortable and the back utilizes mesh as well as foam to create air channels that help to keep your back cool. I found this very comfortable. I did find that the sternum strap did not adjust quite low enough for me and in several positions I felt as if it were strangling me. On the lowest position it worked just fine. The sternum straps are secured to the shoulder pads via a button and buttonhole type attachment. There are only 4 options for attachment. The zippers are smooth and work incredibly well.ospreyflapjack

I purchased this without expecting it to last past the school year, but even after repeated use and abuse the bag looks good and still works well. I’ve found that some types of foam flatten out with use and are less comfortable over time. The FlapJack does not suffer from this issue. The straps are just as comfortable today as they were a year ago at the day of purchase. I expected to toss this bag into the recycling bin at the end of the school year, instead I’m reaching for it again and again when I walk to the cafe or to the library to work on this blog. This is a high quality bag that I expect to use for years to come. For a backpack that I spent roughly $60 on, this has worked extremely well.

Nitty gritty details at a glance:

  • 1 large compartment divided in two
  • Zippered laptop compartment, fits 15″ laptop
  • Mesh organizer pocket inside main compartment
  • 2 small organizer pockets at front of bag- largest with organizing pockets, one with a key leash
  • 1 side pocket that fits a 1L water bottle or umbrella
  • Large flap keeps contents dry
  • Small pocket on flap
  • Sternum strap
  • Hip Straps
  • Holds 25Liters

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Review: Bullet Pencil TT

Recently I purchased a used Bullet Pencil TT (BPTT) made by Metal Comb Works. It was highly funded on KickStarter and something I was not able to back. I heard some murmurs on the ‘net shortly after people received theirs that it was not well balanced when used as a pencil. Once I got the BPTT in  hand, I was able to see that the  BPTT is really well and  badly designed.BPTT

First, let’s start with the good about this pencil. It is amazingly pretty, simply a gorgeous modern take on the classic bullet pencil. It’s all sleek lines and perfect tolerances in how it is machined.* The bullet pops in and out of the tube smoothly and with a nice suction noise. The experience of opening and closing this pencil is fantastic. It feels awesome in this part of it’s use.BPTT

I also love that it uses the Palomino erasers. While the Palomino erasers really suck, they look great in the pencil, and are super easy to find if you use Palomino pencils regularly. They also work well enough for the occasional use one might need them for when using the BPTT.BPTT

Now  the bad. The balance on the Bullet Pencil TT is god awful. It is pretty clear to me that this was designed with the ST, stylus tipped, in mind. That is that when it is in hand and held as a stylus  it feels perfect. When it is used with the pencil deployed it is top heavy and strains the hand when used for more than a few moments. That is unless the pencil is very short. Which defeats the purpose of having such a lengthy tube- it holds a seriously long chunk of pencil, but that chunk is unusable at it’s full length for any period of time. It is kind of ridiculous if you want to use the BPTT as a pencil extender, a serious use for most bullet pencils.BPTT

The BPTT fails, spectacularly in its main function but it does so beautifully. I am very tempted to take a hacksaw to it and make it work but I wouldn’t want to destroy it’s oh so beautiful clean lines.BPTT

Of course I had to compare the BPTT to the BP Twist. The Twist looks like a classic BP and I love it. It wins in the comparison because it is usable for not only quick notes but also longer writing periods. The Twist only loses in one category and that is speed of deployment. The BPTT is ready to use in seconds while the Twist needs to be unscrewed and screwed in, while it only takes moments longer, it is longer.BPTT

Finally, let’s talk price. The BPTT and BPST ranges from $35 to $40 for US shipping and depending on the color. You have two choices- silver or black. I do not see tips sold separately. The Twist starts at $37.50 and you can buy tips and clips and caps separately.

Anyway, I know which BP I reach for over and over again, and it isn’t the BPTT.

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Review: Koh-i-Noor Thermoplastic Eraser

In one of my last CWPE orders I added the $1.75 Thermoplastic to my cart. It was a whim, as if I needed another eraser. I ordered the teal, because I really like teal. Anyway, I was looking for a pocket eraser that would stand up well without needing protection from the wear and tear of pocket carry.KINH

Anyway, this hexagonal teal eraser is a nice size and shape for both pocket carry and using as a fidget and worry stone. It is a decent general eraser but it doesn’t do as good a job as the Sakura foam. It cleans well enough for writing but it is too hard and stiff to really get deep into the fibers of the paper, so a little bit of graphite remains. It does a decent enough job for quick notes and notebook use. I was happy with how well it did with the majority of my pocket notebooks.KINH

The hexagonal shape allows for many corners and edges for detailed erasing and getting into single lines for erasure. It wears well and for a quick eraser doesn’t leave a ton of crumbs on the page. It does leave crumbs though, so be aware you’ll be dusting off your page and desk after useage. It isn’t gritty so it is gentle on the surface of your page. It isn’t as aggressive as a Pearl or other silica containing eraser.

Overall, it’s not a bad eraser. It feels nice in the hand and is gentle on the paper. Granted it doesn’t remove all the graphite but that isn’t really needed for notes and writing. It is worth the price, plus it is a  really really pretty teal color.

Review: Nock Co Fodderstack XL

I backed the Pen Addict Kickstarter this past spring and received a Nock Co Hightower in dark green and yellow. It was fabulous, but after a few days of testing it out, it simply didn’t suit my needs. I sold it and bought myself a Fodderstack XL, which is basically a cordura nylon sheath for a pocket notebook and a pen or two.

I bought mine in the midnight and blue jay color way, which is a deep navy blue outside and bright blue inside. The stitching is slightly lighter than the exterior canvas, which I quite like. Looks wise, this is a pretty simple concept, in line with the DDC Stuff Sheath, but nylon and vegan for people who care about that sort of thing. I’m not vegan but I was looking for a lighter weight alternative for my summer notebook carry. My One Star Leather goods cover is heavy and seems to cause excessive sweating in my rear pocket.FXL

The Fodderstack XL (FXL hereafter) fit my needs better than the Hightower. It fits into my back pocket, carries up to 2 notebooks and my Metal Shop CT Twist bullet pencil, and either a pen or other writing tool. Lately I’ve had a Field Notes BIC Clic in there. Currently, I’m using a Field Notes and a Nock Co Yellow flap notebook. Now that I’ve been using the FXL steadily for over a month, I can’t imagine my carry without it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll go back to the leather cover at all. The FXL is smaller, lighter, and simply works for me. FXL

Now that I’ve professed my love for the FXL, let me tell you a couple of issues that my FXL exhibits. At least one of which is nit-picky and the others… Less so. First, my tag is stitched on slightly crooked. This annoys me but does not alter the functionality of the FXL. The bottom edges are not heat sealed. This meant that until I turned my FXL inside out and singed the edges with a lighter, little frayed bits of nylon kept finding their way out of the bottom.* This greatly annoyed me, it also lowers the longevity of the piece. If the bottom continued to fray, eventually it would tear out. *GNASHES TEETH* My final issue is that some of the stitching was both loose and poorly done. I used my sewing skills to pull a loose thread through, tie it off and then heat seal it. In fact I went over every end stitch and sealed it with a flame. Had I not done this my FXL may not have made it the month.FXL

I’m looking at these issues as aberrations because the Hightower did not have any of these flaws. Especially, not the stitching flaws. I think the basic design of the FXL leave the bottom seam open to fraying, and a wonderful solution would be to heat seal the edge after sewing the bottom. That would keep the bulk down, but stop the fray. Perhaps Nock Co should also look at upping their quality control. The loose stitching was apparent the moment I put a pencil into the case.FXL

Now keep in mind my FXL sees daily hard use. I walk relatively long distances with it in my back pocket. I keep it in my back pocket and sit on it. In fact I had a class and sat on it in a warm classroom in Cambridge, MA, for two long weekends. I use it to give my FN support while I write. I’m not gentle with it. I toss it around and generally give it hard use. As I said above. I know that in one quick grab I can have all my notebook and pencil needs taken care of and be out the door. Te FXL has helped me to simplify my carry and through it’s use I’m able to worry less about “Which notebook do I need to take?” Rather, I have 2- one for my general junk notes (Nock Co Flap) and one for my more formalized use (FN.)

Anyway, the FXL is part of my daily carry, and I think if you are trying to simplify yours, it can be that cover.

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Friend in Need

Well folks, I just learned that Jay of Huckleberry Woodchuck’s home burned down. He’s part of the duo that brought us the awesome Twist Bullet Pencil. He’s a nice dude and Jon Fontaine is trying to raise some cash for him to help him through this troubled time.

This is from Jon:

As you now know Jay [Huckleberry Woodchuck] lost his home and shop in a fire the other night. I’m hoping to raise some funds to help him out through a raffle of one of our prototype bullet pencils. After the first prototype we made 6 other for the Kickstarter photos. These are slightly different than the production ones. Biggest difference is the eraser end is not threaded so it will not hold the pocket clip & cap system we have. It also only accepts the white erasers (I’ll include a bunch).

So the raffle is for the pencil shown with all four bullets. A bunch of erasers and some Blackwing 602 pencil nubs. Thanks to Cliff Gillies we also will include a Northerly Edition single.

Each raffle is $5 paypal friend and family to jon@gosimracer.com I was originally targeting 3/31 but may extend a bit to raise more.

There are a bunch of great things that will be given away in this raffle, so even if this isn’t a 503c charity with tax exempt status, Jon and Jay are great guys, and Jay could use some help. Buy a raffle ticket and be entered to win one of the many great prizes.

Practical Carry

You can see my Twist on the right next to my Kershaw Chive knife.

 

Review: Clips for Pens and Pencils

When I was a kid my grandparents had a pen and pencil cup near their phone in the kitchen. This cup held an assortment of pens and pencils they had accumulated over the years. Some had come from their work places and others as freebies from companies they had done business with. Later as they traveled on their vacations to state fairs outside our area and state the cup began to acquire new never-before-seen exotic writing utensils. One of these I remember clearly was a pencil with a clip. I don’t remember anything but the clip. I remember thinking, “Duh, that makes soooo much sense! I’ve got a clip on my pen, why not on a pencil.” Then the pencil with a clip disappeared* and while I often thought it would be cool to have a clip on my pencil, I never gave it much thought after that. Well until I checked out PencilThings.com.pencil clips pencil clipsPencilThings has an assortment of of clips that you can add to pencils. The clips I ordered remind me of old school pen clips. It’s a really simple design where the clip is springy and attaches to a band that wraps around the pencil. I found that all of my clips were a little loose on my pencils but a little gentle coaxing with a pair of pliers made them fit super snug. This squishing of the clip also served to make the actual clip more springy  and have a tighter clip onto whatever I clip the pencil to.pencil clips pencil clipsThe clips are made of spring steel. According to PencilThings they are made in the US. They aren’t exactly the best example of US manufacturing, as they are quite cheaply made. Given that they retail for about 50 cents each, this isn’t surprising.  I’ve only had them for a few weeks at this point and can’t really say anything about their durability, but they seem to clip snugly to the cover of my planner and my notebook. So far I’m very happy with them.pencil clips pencil clipsPriced at $6 for 12 or $3.25 for 6 they aren’t a bad buy. When Shipping is factored into the cost I think they are around 75 cents each. Which isn’t bad and pretty cheap considering they are reusable. Continue reading

Review: Kum Ellipse Pencil Sharpener

KUM Ellipse       I am excited to report that AC Moore stores are carrying KUM brand sharpeners and the prices are fantastic. I spotted my favorite KUM Automatic Long Point for about $6. Even though the long point is $6 on Jetpens, getting it locally for $6 is worth it because there isn’t any shipping. The other thing about AC Moore is that they offer monthly coupons. These coupons can be for 40%, 50%, and even 55% off. Taking any of those percentages off means that the price of the sharpener is even lower. They carry other KUM sharpeners. I snagged an Ellipse in orange. They are available in pink, yellow orange, green, and blue.

The Ellipse is a small smooth sharpener. The caps fit onto the sharpener securely on each end. inside is a small KUM wedge sharpener. The sharpener is plastic with a quality KUM blade secured with a screw, which makes it replaceable. (You can get replacement blades here.)KUM Ellipse

KUM Ellipse

The sharpener gives a medium sized point, somewhere between a small blunt point and the KUM long point. The point is good for writing and drawing. But it does leave the point with a long needle point that breaks off, so you have to keep a close eye on the point to prevent over sharpening. It sharpens quickly and easily. A few twists in this sharpener and the point is sharp and ready for action.

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The long smooth curves of this sharpener along with the secure caps make it ideal for pocket carry. It won’t poke or gouge into your thigh when carried in a pocket. For that matter it’ll be really great to carry in the pocket of a backpack or bag. It’s a terrific compact pencil sharpener.

KUM Ellipse

Mine was purchased with a 55% off coupon for $1.70, which is a great deal on a good pocket sharpener. While this isn’t the best KUM sharpener (that would be the KUM Long point) it’s a good one for daily carry.

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