Since Muji has only a handful of retail locations in the United States, I make sure to visit whenever I’m in proximity to one. So when I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, I hit up their SoHo location and picked up a few fresh Muji pens, including this $1.50 gel. If you know Muji, then you’re probably familiar with the company’s “no-brand” products. Unlike your BIC Cristals and Pilot G2s, this pen doesn’t really have a name, but it’s simply referred to as a “Smooth Writing Gel Pen.” Though there’s a little bit more to it than that.
Unlike the standard Muji gel pen I sometimes see in the wild, this pen is retractable and has a handy spring-loaded clip. It has a good, dark gel ink that doesn’t smear too much, and as the name suggests, it is a smooth writer. It is also a reliable writer, so you wont be bothered by ink that skips out. If you’ve ever used a Zebra Sarasa Clip, this pen will feel very familiar (in fact, it’s likely that Zebra clandestinely produces this pen for Muji).
My only complaint with Muji’s Smooth Writing pen is that I don’t really like the grip section – the rubber grip has an odd “pencil eraser” feel to it. Though, admittedly, this doesn’t bother me so much as to make me stop using the pen.
If you’re going to be at a Muji store any time soon, then maybe grab one or two of these on your way to the check-out. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a decent gel pen with a spring loaded clip, then it’ll probably be easier to find a Zebra Sarasa Clip instead. You’ll hardly notice the difference anyway.
Earlier this year, my girlfriend and I took a short trip to Manhattan where, completely unintentionally, we happened upon a Muji store. If you’ve never heard of Muji before, it is sort-of like the Japanese’s answer to Crate & Barrel. It’s a store full of household items, clothing, and stationery products, though all of it is unbranded. It’s trendy and cool, and it’s difficult to walk into a Muji store without buying something. Short on time during my New York vacation, I settled on this simple Hex Oil pen, which cost about $1.50.
The name “Hex Oil” does a pretty good job of describing the pen itself. It has an all-black, hexagonal barrel – like a cross between a pencil and a Signo RT1 – and it uses ballpoint (oil-based) ink. As you might expect, the pen itself feels very much like a pencil in hand. Even though it lacks any sort of grip, the hexagonal shape does a good job of making it fairly comfortable to hold.
The ballpoint ink, on the other hand, isn’t very good. It feels sluggish, so your hand is bound to get tired if you plan on writing a lot. Also worth noting: the ink also has a minor blobbing problem, the clip is fairly flimsy, and the refills cost a dollar each, which is way overpriced.
Perhaps a recovering pencil-addict will get enjoyment out of the barrel, but better pens exist that cost less money. Check out the Skilcraft U.S. Government Pen or the Paper Mate Inkjoy 550RT instead. They may not look as unique, but you’ll have a better writing experience.
Muji, a Japanese retail company, has been slowly entering the United States from the coasts, with stores in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and California. From across the Ocean, the company has brought its sense of frugalness, selling “no-brand” items like this gel pen that has no proper name, logo, or any such marking, aside from a “0.38” tip-size indicator located on the top of the cap.
This Muji gel pen is lightweight, thick-barreled, and made of a soft plastic that makes it fairly comfortable to grip. On the other hand, the plastic body feels fairly cheap, and even though the cap secures and posts well, it comes with a very flimsy clip. Overall, the style is similar to the Sakura Gelly Roll and the Baoke Simple.
But one very good feature of this Muji gel pen is its ink. It flows out clean, and it barely smears. It also produces a satisfyingly dark black, and, considering its 0.38mm tip size, it flows out fairly smooth.
This pen is certainly not the best gel you’ll find – I’d consider it middle of the pack. But if you’re a fan of fine-tipped gel pens and happen across a Muji store, it’d be worth your while grab a couple. They are fairly inexpensive, and, if nothing else, it’s different enough from the typical gel pen found in American stores to at least make it interesting.