Five Pens to Try – August 2017 Update

Almost two years ago, I put together a list of pen recommendations based on the 25 reviews I’d done up to that point. Now with over 100 reviews under my belt, it’s time to update it once again. So let’s get to it. Here are five pens that you should try:

1. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, get yourself a Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

At this point, it’s fair to say that I’m a  Retro 51 Tornado addict. If I’m counting correctly, I believe I have a dozen of these pens, and I’ve bought a handful more to give as gifts. Tons of different designs are available, and it’s a great option if you’re thinking about upgrading your writing experience. And while many nicer pens go for $100 or more, you can get a Tornado for as little as $20. It also might be worth checking out the Slim Tornado line, which the company has been expanding lately.

2. Need to fill up your pen cup? Place an order for the Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

There are many great gel pens on the market, but the Pentel Energel is arguably the best. It’s durable, it’s comfortable, it has great ink, and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. This is really a great pen to have laying about in your work area, and it comes in a variety of colors and tip sizes. And if you really like this pen, you can get a stainless steel version for under $10.

3. For when you’re on the move, grab the Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

If you need a compact pen that can write in variety of situations, the Fisher Cap-O-Matic is the way to go. The pressurized Space Pen ink cartridge will write upside-down or on wet paper, if you need it to. Though, I still really like my Tombow Airpress, the slim, metal body of the Cap-O-Matic makes it a bit more pocket friendly.

4. For your everyday writer, you’ll want the Foray Stylemark

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I’m constantly using porous point pens because they produce crisp and clean lines that make anybody’s handwriting look a little bit nicer. My new favorite: the Foray Stylemark. Its soft grip and good-quality clip are features that other porous points pens don’t typically have, making it the best one out there. But if you can’t find a Stylemark, the BIC Intensity comes in at a close second, and the Sharpie Pen will do in a pinch.

5. If you’ve been thinking about fountain pens, check out the TWSBI Eco

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Fountain pens are typically perceived as finicky, old fashioned devices, yet there’s still a large market for them because they provide such a unique and interesting writing experience. So if you or someone you know is looking to try one out, you can’t do much better than the TSBI Eco. It’s about $30, which is rather inexpensive for a fountain pen, and it looks great, writes great, plus it’s easy to use. It’s available in various nib sizes and styles, though I have to say that the stub nib is pretty killer.


So there’s a handful of pens for you to check out. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at atb@pensandjunk.com or just leave a comment below.

Review: Foray Stylemark, Porous Point, 0.5mm

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Ever since the Sharpie Pen began to grow in popularity, it seems like porous point pens have eaten up more and more shelf space. This, honestly, comes as no surprise to me; porous points, even the super cheap ones, tend to write very crisp and clean lines. They make handwriting noticeably nicer and neater.

The Foray Stylemark is definitely among the better porous points out on the market. It has a plastic barrel and cap, but comes with a sturdy clip and a rubber grip. It looks nice, but it’s nothing flashy. Still, it’s a step up from its competitors, which often have short caps, crummy clips, and no grip section to speak of.

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In fact, I think I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Stylemark has ousted the BIC Intensity to become my new favorite porous point pen. The only issue: Foray is an Office Depot house brand. So you’re unlikely to find it outside of that company’s stores. But if you are a fan of porous point pens then it might be worth making the trip.

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Extra Links

Notes on Neon Ice Pop Field Notes

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It’s seems like an odd marketing choice for Field Notes to create a special edition “just for kids,” but that’s exactly what they did with the Neon Ice Pop edition in early 2010. Rather than the standard Kraft brown cover stock, Field Notes and Crewcuts (J. Crew’s children’s line) partnered together to give the children something a little brighter in the form of fluorescence; each 3-pack contains one green, one yellow, and one orange notebook.

Inside each notebook there are 48-pages of 50# white paper with a bright “Summer Sky” blue graph ruling, and a kid-friendly “Practical Applications” list that includes some uninspired items such as “Chores,” “Addresses,” and “Wish Lists.” Besides that, these notebooks aren’t any different from your typical pack of Field Notes.

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If you’re looking for a bright set of Field Notes or just looking to collect one of their older editions, then you’re in luck. Though these Neon Ice Pops have been out of print for some time, they tend to show up frequently in secondary markets (like eBay or Facebook). And, often, I’ve seen them available for little more than J. Crew’s original $14.50 price tag.

The Neon Ice Pop edition isn’t among the best that Field Notes has created, but it’s hard not to like them anyway. They are simple and fun… even for an adult.

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Additional Notes

  • As I mentioned above, the Practical Applications list is a lot less clever and wry than typical, but if I had to choose the best ones, I’d say “02. Parent Traps;” “04. Tomfoolery;” and “27. Mysteries Investigated.”
  • At some point, late in 2010, Field Notes also made this edition available on their website for $11.95, and they also included a set of matching pencils!
  • Is it the Neon Ice Pop Edition or the Neon Ice Pops Edition? Their website has used both – with and without an “s.” Well, according the the inside-back cover, on the very bottom, it should be the “Neon Ice Pop” edition. No S.

 

Review: Sunacme Classical Press, Gel Ink, 0.5mm

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I’ve used many pens in the past that are nearly identical to the Sunacme Classical Press. It’s a pen that falls into a category I refer to as “premium plastic.” These premium plastic pens typically have clear bodies, black trim, use gel ink, and run in the $1-$2 price range. Think Pilot G-2, the BIC Gelocity, or the Zebra Sarasa. You’ll find no shortage of premium plastic pens at any convenience store, drug store, or big box store. In fact, I have plenty of these premium plastic pens floating around my apartment, but I was still driven to pick up a pack of these Classical Press pens because their slick, curvy design caught my eye.

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Besides aesthetics, the Classic press has a comfortable, rubbery grip, and gel ink that produces a respectably dark, low-smear line. Unfortunately, this is all undercut by the fact that the refill skips out much, much to frequently. When using a classic press, a scratch pad and patience for re-writing letters/words are both must-haves. I had initially hoped it was just one bad refill – a dud – but all the pens in the 18-pack I bought have this same problem.

At 60 cents per pen, the Classical Press was significantly less expensive than most other premium plastics, but it’s still not worth it for what is ultimately a frustrating writing experience. If you want a nice gel pen in the 1 or 2 dollar range, you’re better off just sticking with the Pilot G-2 or, even better, a uni-ball Signo 207. Just be sure to steer clear of the Classical Press – a slick design is no substitute for a poor refill.

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Notes on Portland Field Notes

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When Field Notes released their Chicago Edition pocket notebooks in 2016, they weren’t marketed as the first in a series. Because the company is based in Chicago, it seemed more like something the Field Notes employees made as a fun little side-project. But fast forward a year, and now we have the Portland Edition, which is the second in what Field Notes is now referring to as the “Hometown Series.”

This Portland edition, like the Chicago edition before it, uses the same 80# cover stock and 50# graph-lined inner-paper as the standard Kraft edition. The only significant difference is that these notebooks have Portland’s municipal flag printed on the cover, adjusted so that the four-pointed star is centered underneath the Field Notes logo.

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Portland has a really great flag design, so I like these pocket notebooks for that reason alone. But they’d mainly be great for anyone who likes the standard Kraft Field Notes, yet wants something a little more interesting than the “packing paper” brown cover. So far, the notebooks in this Hometown Series aren’t “limited” and don’t cost any more than standard Field Notes. So even for someone with no personal connection to Portland, they still might be worth buying over the Kraft books. And for any proud Portlanders (or Portlandians?), these notebooks are literally made for you.

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Additional Notes