Here at Unsharpen we talk about pen cases fairly regularly, but what about pencil cases? These are their own thing, with unique sizes and needs.
For this guide we’ll be focused on wooden pencils and colored pencils as mechanical pencils are sized like pens and generally work will in pen cases. In order to optimize for wooden pencils we’ll be looking for cases that are at least 17 cm (6.7 inches) long.
Pencil Case vs. Pen Case
Most people might not bother to distinguish between the two, but it’s worth taking a few moments and sorting out the differences.
Under many circumstances pen and pencil cases will be interchangeable but if you are using wooden pencils or colored pencils, things aren’t so simple. A standard pen is about 14.5 cm but a wooden pencil might 17.5 cm. That exact 3 cm (about 1.2 inches) might not seem like a lot, but with pen cases normally being as small as possible they may be specifically designed not to accomodate a full-size pencil.
In other words, some of our favorite pen cases, like the Lihit Labs Compact case will not fit a full size unsharpened pencil.
Also, pencils don’t have clips. That means that cases that rely on strips where you clip things onto are relatively useless with pencils. Pencils usually use a pouch-style case as opposed to something designed to stabilize the pencils, which you’d generally see with a case aimed for nicer pens.
Best Pencil Cases
Lihit Lab Single-Zipper Case
One great, sub-$10 option is the Lihit Lab single-zipper case. This case is widely available, highly affordable, and built to last. At 9.4 inches long and about 2 inches wide it will fit any pencil and it will fit a lot of them. There is a side pocket for accessories and while it can hold some pencil lead or an eraser, it’s not good for much else.
This case comes in a number of attractive colors — including black, red, and blue, and has a tough nylon outside that is rip- and scruff-resistant. There is a single internal separator that can be used to stop pencils from sliding back and forth as well as creating a dedicated space for erasers and sharpeners.
Sunstar Delde Sliding Case
The Sunstar Delde is what is known as a sliding case because when it is opens the top slides down and it becomes a standing case. This means you can have a long case for traveling but a short, stable case at your desk. Also, when used as a a standing case, you can actually see all your pencils and pens, as they will be poking out of the top of the case.
This case, which holds up to 35 pencils, is about 13.0 cm when open, but over 18.0 cm when closed. This means you have enough room to store pencils.
Kokuyo ShellBro case
Also one of our best pen cases, the ShellBro is a really nice case for pencils. This pouch-style case is designed to sit on the desk horizontally, where it opens like a clamshell. The polyester exterior is scruff-resistant and good looking, coming in colors like black but also a very stylish purple.
The case is larger than it looks in pictures — it’s an impressive 7.9 x 4 x 2.1 inches. There is a single primary compartment which means your pencils will bounce around, but there is a pocket at the top for erasers and sharpeners.
We don’t really love hard cases at Unsharpen, but we know some people do. This hard plastic case has two closures, so it’s nice and secure, and it has three internal compartments so you can keep your colors or pencil brands separate. It’s really long so your delicate pencil points will likely not survive a trip, but that’s a downside of a hard case.
This case comes in at an extra large, but still portable, 12.4 x 4.9 by 1.8 inches.
Mechanical Pencil Cases
Mechanical pencils to be shorter than their wooden counterparts. This means you can use a shorter case but you’ll have to make allowances for the pointy pipe at the end of the pencil.
Kokuyo Will Stationery Actic Case
Kokuyo’s standing Will Actic case has a strange name, but it works great. This slim pencil case measures in at 1.97 x 6.69 x 1.18 inches, so it’s a bit short for a wooden pencil, but the standing design is super useful and convenient. At 17 cm in length, this case is just on the border of being an OK case for wooden pencils as well. This case is good for up to 10 pencils.
The price on this case is high, but you are mainly paying for the standing design and the tough polyurethane plastic exterior, which is going to last you basically forever.