Review by Laura Cameron
Several weeks ago I was browsing JetPens and saw the 4-pack of Zebra Zensations ($9.75) and thought I’d give disposable fountain pens a try.
Zebra Zensations are plastic bodied disposable fountain pens. They come in a variety of colors including: red, green, blue, turquoise, black, purple and pink. My 4-pack included black, blue, purple and pink. All pens contain a 0.6mm nib that writes surprisingly smoothly. I would put it somewhere between a fine and medium nib.
The pens themselves are lightweight, coming in at 13g, but it’s about what I would expect for a disposable pen without filling mechanisms. In contrast the Papermate Inkjoy Gel comes in at 13g, Marvy Le Pens come in at a tiny 6g, and the Uniball Signo 307 comes in around 10g.
The pens are a nice length ranging between 4.9″ to 5.5″ depending on whether they are capped or posted. The pen also has a plastic clip that seems fairly sturdy.
The final feature that I really like is that each pen has an ink window on the side so you can see exactly how much ink you have left.
The Zebra Zensations wrote very smoothly and started up right out of the box, which was a nice surprise. I had a few issues with skipping, but I am left-handed so I don’t know whether that was the fountain pen or me; I’m inclined to think it was my writing style. The ink is quick drying – as you can see from above, swiping a fingertip over it just after writing only yielded a bit of smearing on the final few letters. I was also concerned that colors might run together if written over (i.e. the pink pen because it is a light color might drag the black ink along with it) but that didn’t seem to happen at all. Overall, I thought these pens wrote pretty well. Honestly, my biggest nitpick on these pens is that the logos and nibs weren’t lined up in every pen. In some cases a top view showed the nib inline with the logo, whereas some had the logo skewed or on the bottom. This isn’t a big deal, but for a Type A person it was something I noticed.
When I was in high school I had a teacher who used to refer to rule 37C which stated “there is a proper time and place for everything.” Sometimes a disposable pen is just what you need, and if you’re looking to try a disposable fountain pen I think these do an admirable job!
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
7 comments / Add your comment below
Laura — can you comment on how the Zensations compare to the Pilot Varsity for another disposable option?
How I wish the Sailor Ink Bar pen was still available…
Thanks — Kevin
I actually haven’t used the Varsity so I can’t compare. I should pick one up though!
If you do, please let us know. I’ve used Varsity for years but would be interested in another option for disposables when needed.
Hi Kevin — I use both. I like the Zensations on paper that might bleed more, or when I want a finer liner. I would say Z is fine, and Varsity is med or even thick line. Both start up as I soon as I start on paper — very nice! The turquoise of the Zebra is a little less green than the Varsity, but again, I like both. Sometimes I imagine the Varsity sheens red, but I could be pretending. Lots of ink in both. I should note that on the same paper, my black Zensations writes a thicker line than the turquoise. I’m still on my first of each, so maybe they’re all like that, or it won’t happen again. At any rate, I like the thinner line of the Zenzations for some uses, maybe more uses than the Varsity. I have two empty Varsitys, and am going to use Kenneth Lee’s vacuum-refill method for the Varsity. I did that already for my black “disposable” Tradio — with Noodler’s Eel Blue. The two inks mixed to give a lovely mallard blue. Hope that is useful!
Thanks for the update! I’m a fan of medium nibs and up, so maybe the Varsity is the right one for me. I might have to pick up a Zensations for my wife to try out, though…
A competitor for what I think is the best of these dispo-FP, the Pilot Varsity.
Another small cheap FP pen I like is the Pilot multi-color set of mini-FP (I forget the name). They are clear plastic, small, and have a snap cap, and a cartridge. So you can refill these things, and they post well so the pen is normal sized in use, and the snap cap is anti-drying, like some more expensive pens.
I wish I could remember the name because they are very good, and cheap.
Do you mean the Platinum Preppy (https://www.jetpens.com/search?q=Platinum+Preppy+Fountain+Pen&v=2)? Or the Pilot Plumix (https://www.jetpens.com/search?q=pilot+plumix&v=2)? Both are good options and both are refillable.