If you need to store a lot of pens or pencils and you want to protect them properly without taking up a huge amount of space, a pen folio is generally the best option. But these tend to be surprisingly fancy and, often, fancier than they need to be.
What Is A Pen Folio?
A pen folio is basically a folder for your pens. These products safely hold 4 (or so) to 96 pens in a folder-shaped case that offers adequate protection and is easily transportable.
Folios aren’t bags or even pen cases because the pens aren’t loose (as they would be in a bag) and the shape is flat, where a pen or pencil case is normally more of a pouch shape.
Folios always open so you can display at least half of the pens at a time and the pens always have individual holders, so they aren’t bouncing into each other.
Folios are often more formal than other pen storage products, and are commonly sold in leather or leather-like materials in black or another dark color.
If you could imagine the product that a traveling pen salesman of yesteryear would use to hold his pens, then a folio is likely what would come to mind.
The Problem With Pen Folios
The issue with pen folios is that they tend to be expensive. A nice, leather folio from a luxury pen brand might cost you $100 to $200, depending on the size and brand.
For example, a popular option is the Leather Zippered 40-pen folio from Galen, which sells for $95. It’s nicely made and offers great portability and protection to a pen collection, but it’s certainly a luxury good. Luxury fountain pen maker Visconti has a leather 6-pen holder that sells for $200+ and Esterbrook has a 12-pen “nook” that goes for about $140, so the Galen is a relative deal, but it’s still an expensive acquisition.
If you have 40 $100 pens then it’s not crazy to think you might be OK to have a $200 folio to house them, but if you simply want the organization without the luxury, you’ll have to find more affordable folios.
Best Cheap Pen Folios
If you are looking for affordable pen storage, here are three best picks.
Erofa 48-pen Folio
The main folio I am using these days come from the Amazon brand “Erofa” who sells a 48-pen folio for just $20. This would be a crazy good deal if the folio was even a little good… and it turns out that it is quite good.
This leatherette folio safely and securely holds 48 pens, including larger fountain pens, like a Platinum 3776 Century or Lamy Safari. The pens are close, but rarely touching and the loops hold the pens tightly without making them hard to insert or remove.
The outer coating is a faux leather that is grippy and easy to clean, plus it’s tough enough to handle travel. The pens are well protected thanks to padding inside the covered, a felted interior, and a middle flap that protects the 24 pens on one side from the 24 pens on the other.
The main downside with this folio is that the pens are a little close to the edges, so there isn’t the best possible protection against drops on the sides of the case, but you can simply not use the last slots on the sides (turning this into a 40-pen folio) and get better protection… or just put cheaper pens on the edges.
This case is only sold through Amazon which means you get free, fast shipping if you are a Prime member, but it won’t be as appealing if you aren’t into the no-brand products.
Monteverde 36-pen Zipper Case
Monteverde is well known for offering affordable alternatives to highly sought after pen products, like Lamy and Montblanc pen refills. They do the same with pen folios with their 36-pen folio which sells for about $26.
This case is made of faux-leather (which is basically the only type of leather you’ll get for under $100), it measures in at reasonable 13 by 9.75 by 1.2 inches, and it has the same elastic-band and velvet-type material construction you seen in the products in this price range.
Rockler 24-pen Zippered Pen Portfolio
Rockler, the popular woodworking and tool website has a section that wells equipment for pen-turners (people who make pens from wood). Part of their offerings is an $18 folio that carries 24-pens.
This folio isn’t much different then the others here in its build, but rather than being big and thin, its short and stocky. The case is about 2 inches thick and internally it’s structured as pens-pens-flap as opposed to pens-flap-pens. It actually offers better protection and more padding then the Monteverde or Erofa cases, but it’s less space efficiently.
The leatherette on this Rockler case is more plasticy than the Erofa, but’s just as sturdy and easy to clean.
Overall this case is of slightly higher quality then the other cheap pen folios here, but it carrier few pens and takes up more space per pen, so it’s a fine choice if you have a lot of room or you don’t need the full 48-pen load. And it’ll be little bit more expensive to as, unless you have a nearby Rocklet store, you’ll likely have to pay for shopping with this one. Even so, it’s a great deal and offers excellent pen storage.