Review by Tina Koyama
I have been looking for waterproof, write-on-anything markers that are less stinky than Sharpies. As a secondary issue, and perhaps I need to lift more weights, but am I the only one who has difficulty pulling caps off of some Sharpies? I usually end up marking myself somewhere due to the violence necessary to pull them off! Some caps also feel dubious when replaced – they appear to be on, but when substantial force is used, it finally closes completely with a sluggish thud. I might be spoiled by Japanese pens with caps that are removed and replaced easily, but I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. Anyway, it was time to give Staedtler Mars Lumocolor Permanent Markers a try.
I picked up a wallet-enclosed set of four basic colors in point size medium (4/$10.80). The Lumocolor is also available in extra fine, fine and chisel points in sets of four or eight colors ($21.60), and black is available individually ($2.70).
Containing an alcohol-based ink, the Lumocolor does have an odor, but I find it less offensive and not as strong as Sharpie. In addition, the Lumocolor gets major points for having a cap that pulls off easily and is replaced with a satisfying, audible click – as you’d expect from any decent pen. Yay!
The Lumocolor’s medium bullet point looks smaller than the Sharpie’s fine point, but its written line is broader. I tested it on three notebook papers (from top) against the Sharpie: Hobonichi’s Tomoe River, Field Notes’ 70-pound Strathmore Cambric and Col-o-ring Oversize. I also show the reverse sides in the same order. The Lumocolor bled through slightly more than the Sharpie did, but it’s also a broader nib.
I also tested the Lumocolor on a glass jar and its metal lid. It writes very well on both. The ink did not budge with vigorous scrubbing.
For the cap alone, I was ready to switch to Lumocolor as my waterproof, permanent marker of choice. Reading the fine print on the barrel, however, piqued my curiosity in a different way: It says that the pen is refillable. What?
According to JetPens’ product description, the pen is not refillable. I tried unscrewing the end cap, expecting to find a removable cartridge inside, but nothing unscrews. A little Googling led me to Staedtler’s site, which confirmed that the Lumocolor is, indeed, refillable! In fact, it’s refillable in a way that is familiar to all Desk readers: The ink comes in a bottle similar to fountain pen ink, and it refills through the nib (with the bottle’s “refill station”). Bonus points for being more environmentally sound than most toss-away markers!
Less stinky, easy cap, less plastic to toss – all reasons to use the Lumocolor.