Soft Landing: Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Ballpoint

Thank you to JetPens for supplying this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Ballpoint pen for review. I was not compensated monetarily or in any other way. I am allowed to keep the pen. This review reflects my personal observations and experiences with the pen.

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

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Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

I probably told this story before— how years ago I picked up a pack of Jetstream Sport ballpoints from one of those office supply stores, ripped open the package in my car, scribbled on some scrap paper, and heard the angels sing. THIS was the ballpoint experience I’d been looking for my whole life.

This is not hyperbole.

In junior high, I’d squirrel away lunch money to buy pens from the school’s bookstore, always to be disappointed by the tepid performance of my purchase. I scouted the aisles at Woolworth’s for new and promising offerings. For awhile Papermate pens satisfied my desire for something that wrote better than the light streaky ink in the ubiquitous BIC line of pens. The quest continued throughout college and beyond, with only fair to middling results.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

And then, decades later, I found the Uni Jetstream. Hallelujah.

Uni Jetstream ballpoint

The oil-based ink in the Jetstream line hits the ballpoint pen trifecta of darkness, smoothness, and solidness. In short, pure ballpoint joy. There’s no drag, and very little white space in your writing (really, none to the naked eye). The 0.7 mm tip glides across paper and lays down a wonderfully dark, tight line. There’s nothing remotely wimpy or washed about this ink. Other very good oil-based inks have since hit the market, but my heart belongs to the Jetstream. Because—you know— angels singing. You don’t easily forget that moment.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip

So we’ve established that the ink in this Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is superb, but here’s what make this particular model so special. Two words- GEL GRIP.

Holding this pen is like coming home and putting on your comfortable clothes— broken in jeans, your favorite sandals, a soft t-shirt. Clothes that make you say, “Ahhhhhh.” Clothes that soften the hard edges of your day. The addictively squishy grip on this Jetstream provides perfect comfort, as well as traction, for your fingers. It’ll make you wonder why all pens can’t be this comfortable.

Brushed metal body

The body is made of brushed metal—black in this case—which gives the pen a polished and classy look. The knock is solid with absolutely no wiggle, and there’s not a hint of rattle from the 0.7 mm refill. It’s a very solid, well-made pen. The clip—perfectly springy and tight—complements the matte look of the pen. There’s not one misstep here.

Disassembled

Jetstream branding and clip

One thing to note— the gel grip attracts dust and tiny fibers so the pristine look of that beloved grip doesn’t last long. BUT, there is a simple solution. I periodically clean the grip on my pen with a strip or two of scotch tape. Fast and simple. Works like a charm.

Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel

The world can be a hard place. Your pen doesn’t have to be. The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint pen gives your fingers a soft landing while you experience the luxuriously smooth and dark Jetstream ink.

Yes— you, too, can hear the angels sing.

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The Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip ballpoint is available at JetPens for $16.50. Along with the black body/black grip version reviewed here, the pen is also available with a pink or silver body. Both of those versions feature white grips. Refills are available in black, blue, and red for $1.55. JetPens offers free shipping for all orders over $25.

Everyday Carry Giveaway: Revisiting Ian Schon’s “The Pen Project”

I’ve been thinking of revisiting some of the pens I reviewed in the past to see how my original opinions and experiences have held up. Ian Schon handed me the perfect opportunity to do just that by sending along one of his aluminum “The Pen Project” pens.

Since I already own one of Ian’s pens (I backed his Kickstarter project) and it’s still going strong, THIS pen will end up in the hands of one of my readers. Yes, this is a follow-up review AND a giveaway. (Thank you, Ian.)

My EDC tools
My EDC tools. (Mmmmm…lobstah!)

When Brad Dowdy (Sir Pen Addict) recently asked for EDC pen recommendations, I tweeted “The Pen Project” without a moment’s hesitation. I reviewed this pen back in October 2012, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s been in my front pocket almost every day since I received it. And on the odd day when I forget to carry it, I feel a little bit undressed— like when I forget my watch or earrings. Shudder.

Fisher pressurized refill

I wrote the rough draft of this review in my sloppy, “just get it down” handwriting on plain old office supply cabinet paper because this is a pen primarily designed to be used on the fly— when you need to sign for a delivery, make a quick note in your pocket notebook, or jot down some directions. This pen shines in its ability to remain unobtrusive until you need it, then work without fail, thanks to the Fisher pressurized refill. I’m probably not going to sit down, pull out my best paper, and write a letter with this pen (the refill is quite good but not my hands down favorite), but for my “throughout the day” needs, it’s simply perfect.

Brass set screw

As noted in my original review, Ian’s pen is compact, but extends to a comfortable size for writing when the threaded cap is posted. It’s meant to be used, not babied. Mine is starting to pick up some fine surface scratches and dings— a bit of character— from living in my pocket with coins and keys and a tiny Leatherman tool. That said, the pen has held up extremely well considering the length of time I’ve been carrying it. (If only I looked so good.)

Posted pen

Ian now offers three versions of his pen, which he describes as follows:

  • Aluminum (DSGN #0001)– $58.00; Machined and finished in small batches with a high level of precision and care from American sourced materials. These weigh 1 ounce.
  • Black Anodized (DSGN #0001B)– $64.00; These aluminum pens are anodized by a local (MA) vendor and have a very  uniform look and smooth feel.
  • Titanium (DSGN #0001T)– $320.00; These are made from domestically sourced grade 5 titanium, which is precision machined and finished by hand. The set screws are made by one of the oldest screw manufacturers in Massachusetts and are hard gold plated. These weigh 1.8 ounce. LIMITED RUN of 200 pens. 

Take a peek into Ian’s website and workshop HERE. (I always enjoy Ian’s videos.)

My original review, which includes details for changing the refill, etc., can be found HERE.

Machined detail
Machined detail

The minimalist/timeless design, quality materials and workmanship, and perform-through-anything refill makes this my go-to EDC pen. That was true in 2012, and it’s still true now.

My pen and the giveaway pen
The well-protected giveaway pen and my well-used pen

Now for the fun part…the GIVEAWAY!! YOU can win one of Ian’s aluminum pens (DSGN #0001)!!

  • Open to US and International readers!
  • Leave ONE comment on this post—maybe tell me about YOUR favorite EDC tools.
  • The contest closes on Wednesday March 19th at 11:59 pm.
  • All names will be placed into a New England Patriots cap (these ARE Massachusetts born pens, after all), and my impartial husband will pick the winning name from the hat on Thursday March 20th.
  • The winner will be contacted by email and will have one week to respond with a mailing address. In the event that there is no response within a week, a second name will be drawn from the same hat.

May the EDC pen gods be with you!

Ian Schon graciously donated the pen for this giveaway. I was not compensated in any way, and this review reflects my own experiences with Ian’s pen. 

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EDITED TO ADD: WINNER ANNOUNCED!

A name has been pulled from the New England Patriots cap and it is……

jmreekes

“I would love to win this. My EDC pen is a Kaweco Al Sport rollerball & at work lately it’s been a Render K. Work EDC varies between a Render K & one of about 7 Retro 51 Tornadoes”

I’ve contacted the winner by email. Should I not receive an address within one week, an alternate winner will be selected.

Thanks to all who commented!

Little time, little pen: Monteverde’s Poquito

Monteverde Poquito pair
My pair of Poquitos

We’re cranking through chores (will the dusting never end?!!) and food prep for Thanksgiving, so time is at a premium, but I can’t let myself break my chain of weekly posts. It makes sense, then, to write about a little pen when I only have a little time.

Poquitos
One is a bit worn, the other’s still in tip-top shape and is in reserve.

I’ve owned the red/black version for quite awhile (thus the dings), and amazingly won a door prize at the DC Pen Show which turned out to be the metallic purple version. I’m especially glad to have two of these adorably teeny pens because it seems inevitable that I’ll eventually lose one. The Poquito is THAT tiny.

How tiny? Well, I could list the dimensions, but it’s easier to just show you. Here’s the Monteverde Poquito along with an Uniball 207 and my VW car key—

Size comparison
Itty bitty pen

For all of its smallness, the Poquito is a very handy pocket pen. Need to jot a quick note? You’re covered. The 0.7 mm D1 refill is quite nice— smooth and fairly solid. If you click on the photo below, you can see some white in the line, but it’s not very noticeable on the actual page. And let’s face it, you’re probably using this for notes and in quick bursts, not for extended writing. It’s pocketability is key.

Poquito D1 refill
The diminutive D1 refill

The stylus is a good one and has been coming in especially handy lately. Why? Well, because of the cold weather, I’m constantly slathering my hands with lotion, and lotion + iPhone/iPad screen is a messy combination. Using the stylus on the Poquito keeps my screens clean and smudge-free. I’ve also been cooking more lately (Thanksgiving!) and trying to answer texts and emails with messy hands is a pain. Again, the Poquito stylus to the rescue!

Poquito stylii

The stylus responds quite well with just a bit of pressure. In all honesty, it’s one of my favorites, and certainly the most portable. The writing tip deploys with a little twist of the pen body. It’s all very convenient.

Writing tips

As you can see from the above photo, the Poquito spends its days in my pocket (yes, that’s pocket lint), ready for action. It’s unobtrusive and a great EDC tool.

The Monteverde Poquito— a little pen that I like a lot.

P1030146

Local Fare: More Pens by Bob

Now that the holidays are approaching and we’re entering the hardcore craft show season, Fred and I are making the rounds of the area shows. A few weekends ago we stopped at a nearby firehouse in hopes that my favorite local pen people would be there— Bob and Virginia Lenhart of RJL Enterprises. You may recall that I happily stumbled upon Bob’s handmade pens back in April at the same firehouse. Those pens remain favorites—the magnetic caps are STILL fascinating to me—so I was hoping that they’d be there for the fall show. AND THEY WERE! (Were you in suspense?)

Magnetic pens
My April purchases

Why I didn’t take pictures of their table is beyond me. (Next time, I swear!) I guess I get so flustered by the pens! What’s cool is that Bob displays acrylic blanks next to some of his finished pens so that you really get to see how much the acrylic is transformed by the talents of the penmaker. While we were chatting, a woman stopped by the table and marveled at all of the choices and colors and styles. She ultimately walked away with a magnetic capped rollerball pen, much like the one I purchased last time. Good choice, wise lady!

Even though I love the magnetic pens, I wanted to pick something different this time, so a pen decision had to be made. Trying to pick out one of Bob’s pens is like going to an animal shelter and trying to pick out ONE kitten. YOU JUST WANT TO TAKE THEM ALL HOME. They’re all so colorful and polished and obviously made with great care and  love. (The pens, I mean, not the kittens.) Did I want wood? Or a colorful acrylic? Something with a stylus? Ballpoint? Rollerball Fountain pen? Hmmmmmm.

What to choose. What to choose.

Honduran Mahogany pens

I eventually settled on a rollerball and fountain pen pair made from Honduran Mahogany. The pens are identical twins when capped, and are highly polished and coated so that they look and feel like fine furniture. SMOOTH.

Chrome accents

Honduran Mahogany Rollerball and Fountain Pen

Trimmed with chrome and black accents, the look is simple but eye-catching. The grooved grip area makes the section much grippier than a plain metal section, and the clip is great-looking and wonderfully springy. The rollerball takes a Schneider Topball 850, or a Staples brand Avant gel refill, while the fountain pen takes a standard cartridge or converter. Both write like champs. Bob obviously loves what he does, and wants to share his handiwork and love of pens, so his prices are more than fair. I paid $44.95 for this pair, which is a super deal.

Acrylic ballpoint

I also walked away with a gorgeous acrylic ballpoint that takes Parker-style refills and has been to and from work with me every day since. The acrylic is a summery swirl of yellow/orange and green and is a real mood booster. As the days get colder and darker, it’s nice to have some things that bring warmth and sunshine to mind, and this pen does just that. With a Private Reserve EasyFlow 9000 refill (my favorite—thanks, Mike Dudek) installed, it lays down a smooth dark line that’s pure ballpoint joy.

Shimmery acrylic
Shimmery acrylic— even better in person

We saw a lot of really cool crafts that day—from wooden jewelry boxes to soft fleece pillows to leather belts—but my heart will always go with the pen guy. Maybe that’s because Bob puts so much heart into his pens.

The new trio
Still life with pens and Nock Co. case

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Though you may not be lucky enough to have a “Bob” in your backyard, Bob’s pens can come to you. Check out his website at pens4youonline.com. There’s free shipping within the USA!

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy repeat customer.

Ballpoint Bliss: A Pair Of Ballpoints by Retro 1951

Retro 1951 ballpoints

My husband isn’t really into pens, but he was a great sport at the DC Supershow and even tracked down a great deal on some Retro 1951 pens. Pen Boutique had a 50% off deal running on all of their Retros so a purchase or two was a no-brainer. Their selection wasn’t huge (wish that they had the Ace Tornado, but alas, they did not), but I still managed to walk away with the Limited Edition Numbers Tornado as well as a pair of ballpoints- an Original Vintage Mickey Deluxe (Jubilee model) and a Harley-Davidson Hex-Pathfinder.

Retro 1951 ballpoints

I own a number of Tornado rollerballs (soooo collectible!), but no ballpoints, and while I loved the look of these pens, I had my doubts that the refill would be anything but average. A bit of scribbling at the Pen Boutique table instantly erased those doubts. The Retro 1951 branded Easy Flow 9000 refill (probably a Schmidt) is dark and super smooth. At 1.0 mm, it IS fairly broad, but it’s so crazy smooth, that I don’t mind the thicker line. In fact, THESE are the new pens that have nudged their way into my daily carry since I’m back home and back at work.

Retro 1951 Easy Flow refill

So we have a great writing refill coupled with Retro 1951′s flair for cool design. There’s so much fun and quality packed into these pens that they’re impossible to resist. While the Harley-Davidson pen is simply boxed (possibly a missed opportunity there), the Vintage Mickey tube would look at home in an antique shop. Covered with classic comics featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto, the packaging and pen can’t help but make you smile. It’s a fun mood booster. While I’m not really a Harley fan, I love the sage green hex barrel on the H-D pen, and the branding is not at all in-your-face.

Harley-Davidson Retro 1951

Vintage Mickey Retro 1951

Both pens are twist action. The tip of the Harley-Davidson pen is extended by twisting the H-D branded end cap, while the Vintage Mickey twists at the pen’s center band. Both feature distinctive clips that integrate perfectly with the look and theme of each pen.

Harley-Davidson clip

Vintage Mickey clip

It should be noted that the refills DO sometimes “click” a bit when the pens are held in a certain position. I can tone this down by making sure that the pen clip points away from my hand. Not sure why this helps, but it does. Also, the refills are so glassy smooth that I feel like my handwriting suffers a bit. It’s as if the pen gets away from me a little. The Vintage Mickey pen is quite wide and hefty, so it’s possible to feel a bit of hand fatigue during long writing sessions.

Despite these quirks, I’m very pleased with both of these pens, and I’m grateful that Fred tracked them down in the vast sea of pens at the pen show. Super deal. Super pens.

Harley-Davidson Retro 1951

Vintage Mickey Retro 1951

The end(s).

Most Improved: Lamy 2000 Ballpoint (Makrolon)

Lamy 2000 Ballpoint
Lamy 2000 Makrolon Ballpoint

The Lamy 2000 Makrolon Fountain Pen remains one of my top tier pens…solidly in my top three…so I suppose that it was inevitable that I’d take a look at the other offerings in the same line. I found this ballpoint on Amazon, for a nice price, and decided to go for it. I mean, Makrolon.

Lamy 2000 Ballpoint packaging
Presentation

Because I already own the fountain pen, I knew I’d love the spring-action clip and super subtle branding…

Knock & clip

and the imperceptible break in the body for changing the refill. The design is just stunning in its simplicity.

Imperceptible break in body
After changing the refill, twist this closed, and the break disappears

I knew I’d love the feel of the material, which is smooth, yet very finely textured, and warm to the touch.

Makrolon body

The knock, a ballpoint-specific feature, is rock-solid and offers just the right amount of resistance when pressed to extend or retract the ballpoint tip. The very end of the knock is shiny and reflective, while all of the other metal trim sports a brushed finish.

Knock
See the reflection?

That stuff’s all great (better than great), but what REALLY surprised me was the included M16 ballpoint refill. My complaints about Lamy ballpoint refills are well-documented. I’ve always found them to be washed out looking and very “draggy.” So when I ordered this pen, I was fully prepared to swap in a Monteverde Lamy-style refill. But when I tried the pen as is, WOW…what a difference! This black refill writes dark and smooth and much faster. Not “hybrid ink fast,” but sooooo much better than before. It’s so improved that I decided that the refill swap wasn’t needed. The Lamy M16 refill does the job and does it quite well. Color me shocked.

M16 ballpoint refill
Not a hint of rattle in the refill

Lamy M16 refill

But was this particular refill a fluke, I wondered? (Always the skeptic.) Yesterday another new Lamy ballpoint arrived…the Matte Black AL-Star Limited Edition (thoroughly reviewed here, by Mike Dudek). Would my refill bubble burst? Heck, no. The refill in the AL-Star wrote just as impressively as the one in the 2000. Proof enough for me.

I present Exhibit A…
Writing samples
Writing samples. [Correction: The Matte Black pen is an AL-Star, not a Safari]

Is the Lamy ballpoint refill perfect? Well, it’s no uni-ball Jetstream or Pentel Vicuna, but it’s leaps and bounds better than it used to be. I’d love to know if the actual ink formula changed or if I’ve just received fresher refills. Whatever the case, the improvement I’m seeing in the M16 refill coupled with the classic styling of the Lamy 2000 body has me reaching for this pen every day.

Fountain Pen & Ballpoint
Sibling Pens: Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen & Ballpoint

When a pen looks like a million bucks, feels this great in hand, AND lays down a solid dark line, it’s impossible to ignore, even for this fountain and gel pen lover.

Now, Lamy, how about a better refill for my Balloon Roller Ball? Please?

Moods & Options: Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus
Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (or Ti, for short)

I regularly prowl Kickstarter for interesting pen projects, and try to get in as early as possible to get an Early Backer Reward. When I saw the write-up and introductory video for the Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (clunky name, sweet pen) by Chadwick Parker & Joe Huang, a couple of details grabbed me right away. (I just accidentally typed “write away,” which, maybe, is what I SHOULD say.)

#1: Titanium. Titanium through and through- from tip to tail (as long as you don’t count the tip of the refill and the stylus end). I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about titanium when I backed this project, but I knew that this pen would be strong and a bit hefty. Which it is. It sure is.

#2: Bead-blasted finishes. I love a matte finish on a pen, so seeing this pen offered in bead-blasted matte black and matte silver, as well as highly polished chrome (potentially too fingerprinty for me), drew me in a little deeper.

#3: “Most refill friendly pen ever!” Once I read that, I knew I was a goner. The number of refills that fit into this pen is as long as your arm (so to speak), and that was truly intriguing to me. I’m a bit of a fickle pen person, and my pen mood swings wildly from day to day, and sometimes, even within a day (or an hour). Knowing that I could swap in a bunch of my favorite refills (from Pilot’s Frixion, G2, and Hi-Tec-C Cavalier gel refills, to the hybrid ink Jetstream, and even a Montblanc Fineliner) meant that one pen body would last through my many pen mood swings.

#4: Bonus–> Stylus! I’m on some sort of iDevice a million times a day and having a great stylus sounded awesome, if only as a way to cut down on smudgy, fingerprinty screens. And if I could use it to draw and jot “handwritten” digital notes on my iPhone and iPad, all the better.

So I backed the project, and waited a few months while Chadwick & Joe updated us throughout the entire pen manufacturing process. Their dedication and unwillingness to settle for anything but a superior product became evident as they documented their progress and even fessed up to the occasional hiccup. The project was delayed a bit when they noticed that caps and bodies bead-blasted in different machines were not perfectly color-matched, which caused them to refine the process to correct the problem. “Good enough” is not good enough for this team.

So the pen arrived a little bit late, but who cares? The Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus delivers, which is all that matters.

The pen came loaded with a Pilot G2 0.5 mm refill, but I swapped in a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Cavalier 0.4 mm refill and wrote away. Then I decided I wanted to try a Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill, and that fits perfectly and writes great, too.

Ti G2 0.38 mm refill writing sample
Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill in use

The clip is sturdy (titanium, too!) and just flexible enough to clip the pen to your pocket. I’ve been doing this for weeks without an issue. The branding is super-subtle- just a a small, boxed Ti on the clip.

Ti clip
Ti clip and branding

Here’s a peak at the stylus, which, by the way, is the best stylus that I’ve used to date. Not too squooshy, not too stiff, and very responsive. I love the pen almost as much for the stylus end as I do for the pen end. Should you not WANT a stylus, the stylus can be replaced with a flat end cap, but really, why would you want to do that?!

Stylus
Just right

Here are a couple of shots of the pen posted and unposted…

Posted pen

Unposted

With the cap posted, the pen is WAY too long for me, so I always use it unposted. Not an issue for me, but something to keep in mind.

The “grip” area features three grooves, but quite honestly, I can’t really feel them when I hold the barrel. Personally, I don’t find the barrel to be slippery, but, again, something to consider.

Ti grip area
Ti’s grip

It’s getting late so let’s sum up…

Pros:
Titanium
Hefty! (38 g, when loaded with refill)
Excellent stylus
Choice of finishes…matte AND polished
Wide, wide range of compatible refills
Sturdy clip

Cons:
Very long when posted
Ummm…nothing else, in my opinion.

Want one? Even though the Kickstarter campaign is over, they’re now available at bigidesign (as are the aluminum and pint-sized counterparts). This is not a sponsored post. Chadwick and Joe only know me as Backer # whatever. I’m just really impressed with this pen.

Finally a pen that has as many refill options as I have pen moods. And THAT’S saying something.

Kudos: Handcrafted Pen Made From Exotic Wood by David Allred

Exotic Wood Pen
Exotic Wood Pen made from Zebra Wood

David Allred’s pen was a Kickstarter first for me. While the majority of Kickstarter projects come in weeks or even months later than originally projected, David’s pen arrived EARLY…significantly early. Though I wasn’t expecting to receive my pen until January 2013, it surprisingly arrived on November 23rd, 2012. Wow!

Though David’s Kickstarter project has closed, you can read about his pens here. In short, he can create pens with a variety of exotic wood (desert iron wood, padauk, purple heart, cocobolo, goldfield burl, etc.) and metal components. The hardest part is picking a wood/metal combination because there are so many intriguing options. All pens are twist-style and take Parker-style refills.

Exotic Wood Pen

After much hemming and hawing, I chose Zebra wood and the black metal trim. (David calls this “gunmetal,” which is different than my idea of gunmetal, but I settled on this choice after a few back-and-forth emails with him to clarify the various color options.) The pen is hefty, but not unwieldy, and is very well-balanced. It arrived with a Parker-style ballpoint refill, which wasn’t bad, but I recently swapped in a Moleskine rollerball 0.5mm refill, which, I think, elevates the pen yet another notch.

Zebra wood pen
Zebra stripey

You can see a sample of the wood/metal combinations available on David’s Kickstarter page. And though, as I’ve said, his project is now closed, I encourage you to contact David if you’re interested in getting your own “exotic wood” pen.

Exotic pen w/ David's info
How to contact David

I can personally attest to his impressive workmanship and work ethic.

Kudos, David. Kudos.

Pleased To Meet You: TUL Pens by OfficeMax- A Review AND a Giveaway!


Meet the TUL family

Our local OfficeMax store closed a number of years ago, and since then, I’ve lost touch with the brand. So when a representative offered to send me a set of the latest generation of TUL pens, I jumped at the chance, especially because the offer included an additional set to give away. I’ve been test-drivingwriting them for most of the week, and can wholeheartedly endorse the TUL line.

Here are the players:


Medium point, black ink


Medium point, blue ink


Medium point, black ink


Fine tip, black ink

To be honest, in the past I’ve shied away from store-brand pens because of performance issues, but OfficeMax’s TUL line changes that. All of the pens in this line are stellar performers, and easily match the quality of comparable Uniball, Zebra, Pilot, and Sharpie pens. TUL pens ARE the real deal.


See?

I’ve been particularly taken with the smooth dark line of the retractable ballpoint, which is tricky to get right, judging by the number of so-so ballpoints that are on the market. The super-affordable TUL ballpoint is the one that I’ve been reaching for since it arrived. The ink is just that good. The smooth rubber grip makes it easy to hold, and I really like the clean and simple lines of the pen. It’s minimalist in looks, but certainly not in performance.


Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The fine-line marker pen, with its clear cap, dimpled black grip, and simple branding also appeals to me. No gimmicks, just a precise line that doesn’t feather or bleed. Very nice. The fiber tip feels quite sturdy, like it’ll easily hold up for plenty of sketching or note-taking.


Top to bottom: Marker, Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball

The retractable gel pen is very simple looking, with a black body matching the extra-long smooth black grip. Again, the gel ink writes great. No skipping. No smearing. No complaints. Same goes for the capped rollerball…the black liquid ink is perfect making bolder lines and bolder statements.

Lest you think all of this pen goodness comes at a premium price, check out these links to OfficeMax.com for the good news:

Ballpoint
Gel
Rollerball
Marker Pen

Superior performance AND pricing. Great looks and super smooth inks. That’s TUL, by OfficeMax. Check them out at your local OfficeMax store or online.

My only disappointment is that it doesn’t appear that the boxed set featured in this post & giveaway is available for purchase. (Hint, hint, OfficeMax!)

I know what you’re saying…yeah, yeah, yeah, but how do I WIN a set??!! It’s as simple as the design of the TUL pens:

1) Leave a comment on this blog by 11:59 PM Wednesday 10/31/12 (Halloween!). One comment per person, please!
2) Each comment will be assigned a number based on the order in which it was posted.
3) A random number generator will be used to select the winner of the set of all four TUL pens. The winner will be announced on this blog the evening of November 1st. OfficeMax will ship the pens to the winner directly.
4) US residents only, please.
5) GOOD LUCK! Hope you win this Halloween treat!

TUL pens, I AM pleased to meet you. This looks like the start of something good.

Disclaimer: I received the TUL products mentioned in this post from OfficeMax in order to facilitate my review. The items featured in this giveaway are also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

EDC: The Pen Project

I’m strangely fascinated by EDC (everyday carry) photos…those pictures of the daily “essentials” that people carry in their pockets or bags or purses. I’m ESPECIALLY drawn to the ones featuring pens and notebooks (as opposed to knives and phones and watches), which is not the least bit shocking, I know.

So when I stumbled onto The Pen Project (by Ian Schon) on Kickstarter (love his video), I signed up in a nanosecond. Well, quickly, anyway. Ian is an engineering student who designed the perfect EDC pen. Mine arrived a few weeks ago, and it truly is carried every day. I have one of those “all other duties as assigned” jobs, and folks are always passing along issues while I’m running around. I FINALLY learned to carry an index card or two to jot down these “on the fly” notes, so having a pen AT ALL TIMES is essential. This pen has been a godsend. It’s with me, but it’s not in my way.


Ian Schon’s pen and my Leatherman Micra…both EDC

Designed and machined in Massachusetts, the pen is 100% USA made, including the Fisher Space Pen refill (which is made in NV). I was immediately drawn to the minimalist look, and impressed with the thought and work that Ian put into the design. It’s as impressive in hand as it is in concept.

The closed pen measures just shy of four inches…nicely compact…but extends to just under six inches when the cap is screwed onto the back of the body, making it full-size for writing.


Transformed for writing

The body is made of an aluminum alloy, and features a brass setscrew, which is removed to replace the Fisher refill. (I use my little Leatherman to do that.) Because the body is fully sealed, there’s no risk of the pen coming apart, or uncapped, in your pocket.


Brass setscrew. Nice accent and functional.

Popping in a new refill is as easy as removing the setscrew, pressing down on the tip of the old refill to loosen it, then replacing the refill and the screw. And because the pen takes the Fisher Space Pen refill, I can take notes in zero gravity, upside down, and in extreme cold and heat. In case, you know, there is a need to do so. This is a refill that you can rely on, no matter WHAT your day throws at you.


Disassembled

Ian’s pen is made to be used AND to last. And last. And last a little longer. How rare that is, and how refreshing.

Do you have an EDC pen? I’d love to know.