When recently asked “What pen do you reach for most often?” my less-than-pen-nerdy husband answered, “Whatever is at hand.” Oh, my aching pen geek heart! I succinctly told him that using “any old pen” when you’re married to a pen nerd is akin to me getting business cards printed at Kinko’s. No offense to Kinko’s but my husband is a premium letterpress printer and I would never dare to tarnish his reputation or sensibility by carrying a less-than-fabulous card. That said, I’m on the hunt for pens that are not “fancy-pants” fountain pens but not a disposable plastic pen either. The catch is that he genuinely likes the writing quality of the Uni-Ball Vision and similar gel/rollerball pens.
This conversation synced with thoughts I have been having about the upscale (non-fountain) pen. Like most pen geeks, I have a deep-seeded respect for the writing quality of the gel/hybrid rollerball pens but I just don’t want to carry around a plastic pen. One of the things I like best about the fountain pens I use is that they are aesthetically appealing and endlessly refillable.
In looking for a suitable pen for Bob (and continue my own search for a good non-fountain pen), I went to the most successful Kickstarter pens. Most of these are well-designed pen body that utilizes the most favored refills (either the Pilot G2-sized refills or the Pilot Hi-Tec C-style refills).
I immediately went back to my well-loved Karas Kustoms Render K which tends to be my go-to pen at work. It is loaded with a Pilot Hi-Tec C refill (in green, of course). It looks professional but will write on any surface I might be faced with in the average meeting (photocopies, 3×5 notecards, post-it notes or my own notebook). I’m considering adding a Render K that accepts the G2-style cartridges to the mix as well to expand my refill options.
Another pen up for consideration is the Ishuja’s Eco-Essential Pen ($55) which is a bamboo outer casing with aluminum interior and hardware. I really like the look of this pen. Its a clean, simple design and is available for either the Hi-Tec C-sized refills or for the G2-sized refills. The mix of silver metal and warm bamboo wood is gorgeous.
The Big Idea Design’s Solid Aluminum Pen + Stylus ($59) is also a possibility. It has an all-aluminum body with a titanium clip and is the less expensive sibling to the solid titanium version that was originally a Kickstarter project. This pen also includes a touch-sensitive tip for digital devices on the end. This can be swapped out with a flat screw for a cleaner look that ships with the pen. The pen accepts the G2-style refills too, of which there are lots of refills to choose from.
As a temporary solution to my husband’s lack of appropriate pen, I gave him my Karas Kustoms RETRAKT in brass ($65) with a standard G2 black refill in 0.5mm. Hopefully, he’ll resist the urge to just use “any old pen”, especially in front of clients.
He has a Fisher Space pen, a Sherpa and an Acme pen, all of which he’s misplaced. Maybe I shouldn’t have given him the RETRAKT after all?
Do you have a favorite pen that accepts standard rollerball/gel refills? Let me know in the comments!