A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Levenger Bomber Jacket Unifier

I mildly (I think) bashed Levenger the other week for the inconsistency of its paper quality across various of its products, but I mentioned at the time that I am a happy owner of other Levenger products. This is one of them, and my most recently acquired: the Levenger Bomber Jacket Unifier:

My stocked Levenger Bomber Jacket Unifier
My stocked unifier, with my rocker blotter in its assigned spot just in front
I've had my eye on one of these for quite some time, but they're a little pricey: $155. So, I kept my eyes peeled at the Levenger outlet on eBay and picked this one up for about half retail, and I'm quite pleased with the purchase.

It really lives up to its name (unless you're expecting a product that unifies your bomber jackets): almost everything I use in the way of stationery each day is now "unified" in one spot. I love having a selection of papers to choose from every time I have to jot something down and knowing exactly where to find it.

And, it's managed to do something for me that most people who know me might have thought impossible. It actually makes me look organized, at least in one little corner of my desk. (I moved it to the conference room to take these pictures; my desk is NOT this clean.) I'm hoping that its organizational aura will radiate out from it and get the rest of my desk squared away. So far (about two weeks in), though, that hasn't happened.

Even without that effect, though, it helps. I no longer have to look through drawers or under stacks of paper on my desk to find my pens, notebooks or pads. Not only are they all in one spot, but they stay that way because I like the product so much that I always put the pens and pads back! I've written before about how nicer products have this effect on me, so maybe I should consider an entire desk made of bomber jacket leather  . . . maybe bomber jacket wallpaper, flooring, and upholstery for complete office organization. (Geez, what would that cost?)

Holds a ton!

The unifier holds quite a bit. In the picture above, it's holding:
  • front left compartment:six  fountain pens, a rollerball pen, and a Sharpie marker;
  • front middle compartment: six large highlighters and five slim highlighters;
  • front right compartment: two Rhodia no. 12 pads, a Staples mini legal pad, and a pocket Rhodia Unlimited notebook (with a Zebra Mini T3 ball point pen stuck in it);
  • in the center compartment: a hundred or so 4 x 6 cards, a Levenger junior notepad, and a Rhodia no. 16 pad;
  • in the back compartment: an extra large Moleskine Cahier notebook, a Levenger letter-sized pad, and a Rhodia no. 18 pad. 
And it really isn't even a tight fit:

Still room to spare
Heavily stocked, with room to spare
I know the front right compartment might look a little stuffed, even in this closeup:

that's a lot of paper in just one section

But it's not. Every one of those items slides out quite easily.

In case you really need to plan what you can put in this, here are the inside dimensions of the compartments. The two large back compartments are each about 11-7/8 inches end to end, and 1-1/2 inches front-to-back. The front compartments are likewise about 1-1/2 inches front-to-back, but vary in their other dimension. The two outside compartments are 3-34 inches wide, but the center compartment is only 3-1/2 inches wide.

The unifier arrives with two removable foam inserts -- one in each outside front compartment -- each with 8 pre-cut holes for keeping your pens upright. I really like the way the foam insert keeps my pens apart and safe from banging into each other and getting scratched:

I love how it keeps my pens safe

As you can see from some of the above photos, I opted to remove one of the inserts and use the right front compartment for small pads instead.

Some of my fatter pens tend to bring the insert along a little way when I try to remove them because they are a snug fit, but I suspect that will decrease and eventually end as the insert gets broken in. If it really bothers you, you can stick to thinner pens or glue the insert in, I suppose. You could also move the insert to the slightly smaller front middle compartment. I tried it, and the tighter fit kept the insert firmly in place even when removing my fattest pen, despite the fact that the fit of the pen is necessarily tighter, too.

I have just one beef with the product, and that is the color. I still like it, it just doesn't match my expectations. The bomber jacket leather is a darker brown than it appears from the catalog or online photos. (On my monitor, the leather looks truer to its actual color in my photos than in the catalog or online photos.) When I first opened the box, the leather looked almost black but I'm sure that was my mind overreacting to the difference between the actual color and my expectations. After a few weeks, it now looks brown to me, just a much darker brown than the catalog would suggest. That might vary from lot to lot, but keep it in mind if you're trying to coordinate with other desk accessories (or trying to match some pens in your collection . . . but no one would do something that ridiculous . . . then again . . . hmmmm . . . note to self . . .).

So, am I happy with it? You bet! I'd probably be happy with it at full price, too, but it probably would have taken a few years for me to talk myself into spending the money.

Which brings to mind a side comment on Levenger's prices. I used to think they were ridiculously expensive. Then I started looking at Filofax and Franklin Covey leather goods, as well as products form other leather products vendors, and realized that a lot of Levenger's prices are not out of whack after all. I would include this product as one that strikes me as reasonably priced.

More photos in the Flickr Photo Set.



  1. I love the photos, especially the close ups of the fountain pens. I wish I could expand my collection beyond the three I have, but I've got to find ones I can afford first:) Don't worry,you're quite a bit more organized than any of the attorneys I've worked for over the years.:)

  2. Very nice! I love the Fountain pens

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