A few things I've noticed about small organizers:
- they're either way too specific or not specific enough
- way over built or too flimsy
- super masculine or overly feminine
I've been looking for a way to hold my travel writing utensils as well as a few small EDC tools--items I don't need often, but want near by. After searching the web for quite some time, I see-sawed between small 'pocket' organizers, compact make-up cases or pencil cases. I've put pocket organizers in quotes, because no girl's pants would ever fit a 'pocket' organizer. These are for men's pockets--pockets that work and are functional as opposed to merely ornamental. Women's trousers are more fitted than mens'. Even cargo pants for women are odd with pockets placed in silly areas--at the knee in some cases--making them cumbersome if not dangerous to move in.
Here's a hilarious picture (for women at any rate) of a 'pocket carry' pouch:
So, for women, that typically puts us in a spot--we have to carry more items off-body. Off-body = purse or backpack (or messenger or attache).
I have two backpacks that I like, but each sits at home. They're heavy to carry and cumbersome at work. We have a small cabinet for employee bags: maxes out at four. So I'm back to using my old college messenger-style bag. Heavy-weight canvas with a couple good-sized external pockets, a few internal pockets and zips. It's a bit big--but more narrow than that backpack, easier to stow behind my work area & it doesn't look sloppy.
A guy I work with has a Maxpedition organizer, either the mini or regular size. Looks like this:
Measures approx 5x7, about 1.5 thick empty. There's a mini version that is 4x6:
Thanks to edcgear.co.uk for the comparison pic: surprising how hard it is to find a good size-comparison image.
Lots of similar pouches:
Triple Aught Design Op1 pouch (TAD gear):
Fantastic organizer, great for backpack, too large for most other 'carry' at 7.25x6.75", pockets, loops, elastic, zips all over this thing. I have one & love it, but not for my EDC.
(BTW, Military Morons is an amazing site with great gear review--really detailed pics of many items that are often better than what you'll find on the manufacturer's sites. I've used them for excellent information about backpacks in particular. They're really good about showing items in context--either on people or loaded. Well worth checking out.)
Spec Ops brand pouches:
More stream-lined than Maxpedition, 7.25x4.25" with fewer loops--which personally I find to be a drawback.
County Comm has their version, the Diplomat Organizer, sliiiightly smaller than Spec Ops:
They all organize gear well, with a price-range for anyone.
Pros: lots of tabs for gear, slots for mini notepads, clam-shell opening for fast viewing, velcro for moral patches, tactical colors
Cons: overall tacticoolness
Anymore, I feel a little ridiculous when I pull out bags with molle or PALS systems on them. Sure they look awesome and work great! But though I work in an industry where such things are not out of place, for personal use, they feel a little overbuilt. Great for military/rough wear conditions. I feel a little butched-out with it, like I'm trying to be all operator/tacticool, as opposed to actually being able to find a "form follows function" organizer. The usual color suspects: black, OD, Foliage, FDE, various cams, I'm not behind enemy lines, nor am I living off the earth where bright colors may identify me to The Enemy. I want rugged, functional and not intimidating looking to the average civilian either. Since I'm an Urbanite, sometimes military-use items attract curiosity. I'd rather blend in and look like the harmless little girl you think I am...
I did really like this Maxpedition insert--seemed like it had great posibilites, not just as an addition to a bag, but as a slender, stand-alone sleeve for light carry items:
Frankly, this would be ideal for the small carry items I'm trying to organize: little Leatherman Juice, mini-pry-bar, small pocket knife, couple of glow sticks--but it doesn't have enough room for the various pens/pencils I also carry--and I really do want a one-stop-spot for this stuff. But the sleeve really does appeal--so versatile. Also--you have to check out MilSpecMonkey for not only cool gear, but for a good selection of moral patches. I just picked up this one:
Little bit of an in-joke here. Apparently I lack a certain amount of class, according to someone hardly qualified to judge--which of course has turned an off-the-cuff criticism into a longer-lasting funny.
I thought this patch might help me try to remember to 'stay classy'. Apparently I need all the help I can get.
I sure don't care, but it's taken on a life of it's own, so...there it is.
Okay--so there are a lot of great items above, really solid, useful gear--love that in most cases you get a quick overview of all your items at a glance--fast ID is extremely important. Less so for my purposes, but certainly critical when under duress. But, again, I'm not a big tacticool gal, not even really tactical. And the gear above, while really solid, just doesn't fit in, in my circles--and standing out isn't my goal.
I tried a variety of make-up bags, or rolled up shaving kit bags--the idea's similar: lots of storage, minimal space, quick overview of items--easy access. But where the above tactical organizers were perhaps to masculine and warrior for my circumstance, the shaving kits/makeup bags were uniformly too...girly. There are so many colors of pink and violet and things with flowers...these too are oddly out of place on me--and the goal was organization of pens/pencils + light gear/tools--and the fabric of makeup bags just wasn't tough enough for repeated use & carry--nor were the small pockets the right size for writing utensils. I'd hoped that pockets for makeup brushes and applicators would translate to pens, knives, flashlights...just didn't work well.
The shaving kits/roll up kits were less girly/cheesy--but took up a ton of space when unfurled--and again, the spaces therein just didn't work for the odd sized (and odd collection of) items I wanted to carry, compactly and neatly. But A+ for thinking outside the box!
The above are okay: just either too looooong & not enough small spaces--or too clear. And I really don't want someone checking out all my crap. The clear pockets are pretty brittle--you can tell they'll be prone to cracking over time. They're both also pretty big--certainly way larger than a 'pocket' whether that's in your pants or the flap on a messenger bag/rucksack. Just a total wash. There's a lot of animal print out there in the makeup world, BTW. Zebra is especially popular in a variety of colors.
Ugh. Zebra. What is it with animal prints and girls? Is there an equivalent animal print with men? I don't think so--and that's odd, because men traditionally hunt more. OH....wait. I get it.
Be that as it may, I did opt for something more civilian friendly/girly: the pencil case. And here's another interesting finding: US pencil cases suck. They're usually just a large flap of fabric, with no compartmentalization. While this may be okay for elementary school, (frankly, I feel it is not. I remember as a child wishing my pencil case could separate more items better) it's not okay for people who write a lot & use several different tools.
Enter: Japanese pencil cases. Yes, the Children of the Sun have done it again with amazing, well-thought out, intelligent designs. There are so many different styles of pencil cases, it's difficult to narrow down the search: but all were based upon specific writer needs--and designed to solve storage, transportation and usage issues.
Why can't the US do this? Why do we default to a sloppy one-size-fits-all mentality? We're a Super-Nation, theoretically full of unique individuals, and yet we keep cramming ourselves into increasingly smaller and less adaptive solutions.
All the above pics are from insidious pen site: Jetpens Don't go there if you're a pen/writing fiend. You've been warned. My Nomadic pencil case is the light blue version shown above, but these cases come in several different colors--grey, green, pink, orange, etc. I like how high-viz it is: easy to find pens & the case itself. Very happy. I got two versions of Nomadic cases--one for writing utensils and one for a variety of computer cables, flash drives and misc. small tools. Am satisfied with them both for now. We'll see how they fare over time.