Traveling With Pens: A Case Study (or a study of a basket case?!)

I’m attending a conference in Indianapolis, IN this week. But before I traveled here, I spent a god awful amount of time mulling over which pens to bring with me. Clothes? Easy. Pens? Not so much.

Right up until the last minute I was swapping pens in and out of my Nock Co. Brasstown case. The case, at least, was pretty much a given. Even though I schlep three or four Nock Co. Pen cases to and from work every day, I knew I only wanted to travel with one, and the Brasstown quickly made the cut. With its roll-up, multiple pen holding “tongue” and space to carry some ink cartridges and a small ruler, the case was an easy pick.

When it was time to leave for the airport, I had to STOP with the pen swaps and go with what was in the case. Here’s the final line-up:

Fountain pens
Lamy AL Star Blue-Green (fine nib) with Lamy black cartridges
Lamy Vista (extra-fine nib) with Lamy black cartridges
Pilot Knight (medium nib) with Namiki Blue/Black cartridges

Rollerball pen
Retro 51 Betsy Tornado Rollerball

Gel pen
Nock Co./Karas Kustoms exclusive Render K with 0.5 mm black G2 refill

Ballpoint pens
Fisher Space pen (matte black bullet model)
TactileTurn Shaker with Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 black refill

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I’m a couple of days into the conference now and have a few thoughts about my choices. The Lamy Vista is great. The EF nib is perfect in my Clairefontaine notebook and I especially like being able to monitor the ink level. The fine nib on the Lamy AL Star is a little broad, while the medium nib on the Pilot Knight is wonderfully smooth and lays down a precise fine line as it’s a Japanese medium.

The Fisher Space pen has been particularly handy for filling out entry forms at today’s trade show. It’s easy to carry and completely reliable. Maybe not my favorite refill of all time, but great when you just need a pen to do its job whenever and wherever.

I haven’t used Betsy or the Shaker as yet, though both are favorites when I’m home. I think I’ll work them into tomorrow’s sessions. Could it be I have pen A.D.D.? Is that a thing?

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A couple of other Nock Co. products have really performed well on this trip- the Fodderstack loaded with the DotDash 3×5 cards paired with Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Exclusive G2 Render K. The pen looks and writes great. I love the playful trio of colors, and loaded with a 0.5 mm G2 refill, it’s been perfect for taking meeting notes AND for keeping track of action items that are popping up at work and at home. By jotting down tasks on the DotDash cards, I’m able to concentrate on what I should be concentrating on- the conference.

Someone on Twitter suggested that I should travel with only one pen as a challenge, and I considered that for a little bit. Obviously, I didn’t go that route since I have a stupid number of pens with me. But really, I’m having fun swapping pens from day to day…or even within the same day.

And, I must admit, pens are something of a security blanket for me. I feel better when they’re with me.

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There…I admitted it.

Written and photographed on my iPad and iPhone with poor hotel lighting. But written nonetheless!

Lighten Up: Three Lamys

Lamy Trio

Remember how when we were kids, the summer was long and our task list was short? We awoke to wide open days, and warm months that seemed to go on and on. Now it’s just the opposite. Even though it’s summer, there’s so much to do, and the days and months zip by. One minute it’s Memorial Day, then suddenly it’s Labor Day. What happened to those lazy hazy days??

Even though summer might not be as magical and carefree as it used to be, it’s still pretty awesome. Grilled food, shorts & t-shirts, patio time, and maybe even a vacation. (Like the DC Pen Show?! Yup!)

Since summer is a time to eat lighter and dress lighter, I figure it might also be a good time to lighten up on the daily pen carry. Especially since I’ll be hitting the road soon. Here’s what I’m taking along– a trio of Lamys.

My three Lamys

Lamys are a bit rough-and-tumble, as ready for the road as the office. Light weight, sturdy, and easy to maintain, these are pens that won’t weigh you down and can take a bump or two. They’re as ready for an adventure as you are.

I’ve loaded the white Safari with Iroshizuku kon-peki, a refreshing combination. The azure blue ink reminds me of the ocean, while the body of the Safari conjures up images of my pale, pale legs at the beach. Yup. Pure white. Just like the pen.

White Safari
White Safari, F nib

The orange Safari is filled with Iroshizuku fuyu-gaki, a pleasant well-balanced orange that’s bright and fun, but not blinding. This pen and ink combination is a real mood-booster, and I find myself looking for excuses to use it.

Orange Safari
Orange Safari, F nib

And because there’s always work to be done, even in the summer, I’m keeping my matte black AL-Star, filled with Monteverde Black, close at hand. This pen is cool and stealthy. Monteverde Black has recently become a favorite and is as deep and dark as my post-vacation mood. Which is pretty dark.

Matte Black AL-Star
Matte Black Al-Star, EF nib

Three Lamy nibs

Summer’s here. I’m packing lighter. I’m packing Lamys.

Lamys on vacation

ROAD TRIP!!!

Okay: Lamy AL-Star Pearl

Lamy AL-Star Pearl
Lamy AL-Star Pearl, new for 2013

I had a Saturn sedan in this exact color (and the Goulets have TWO Pontiac Azteks in the same color). It’s not really what I would call “pearl.” Pearl, to me, is just a touch off-white with a distinctive shimmer or sheen, and this isn’t that. I don’t mind the color (obviously, since I bought the pen), but it isn’t “pearly” like nice teeth or the gate(s) leading to heaven. What it is is Saturn gold, or Aztek gold, don’t you think?

Lamy AL-Star Pearl
Posing

No worries, though. Despite the naming issue, I like this pen just fine– quite a lot actually. Coupled with the black EF nib (an option when you order from The Goulet Pen Company) and Montblanc’s Toffee Brown ink, it’s really grown on me, and I’ve been using it daily since it arrived. (For my “home” lists. For my “work” lists and notes the Lamy 2000 remains my soulmate.)

That Lamy grip
That Lamy Grip. Love it or hate it. Take it or leave it.

The contoured grip area makes the Lamy AL-Star, Safari, and Vista a no-go for some because it tends to dictate how you hold your pen. This doesn’t really bother me, so I’ve built up quite the Lamy collection without even really meaning to. (Hmmmm….mind control?) And while this 2013 color isn’t what a lot of folks were hoping for, it’s good for those looking for a “neutral” pen- one that doesn’t clash with the color of your ink.

Lamy branding

Iconic clip

The aluminum body of the AL-Star sports the same branding, iconic clip, and porthole ink window as always. Why mess with design features that are immediately recognizable and function well.

Pearl? No. Exciting? No. But I’m okay with that.

Lamy at work

Inspired: Lamy AL-Star Ruby Red Limited Edition Fountain Pen

Lamy AL-Star Ruby Red
New to me

This pen popped up for sale on Twitter, via Dan Smith, one of the FPGeeks. The price was right, and I had a hankering for a red pen, so I asked Dan if it was still available. It was. Done deal.

I recently posted a review of the Limited Edition Apple Green Lamy Safari, and the AL-Star is basically the same pen, but with an aluminum body, so I won’t rehash the details found in that review. I did neglect to mention a couple of features, though, so this is a chance to make that right.

Neglected detail #1: The ink window. Found on the Safari and AL-Star models, this body cut-out gives you a peek at your ink supply so that you’re not surprised by an empty tank.

Ink window
Time to re-ink?

Neglected detail #2: The grip. The contoured grip. Some people love it, some people hate it, because you’re forced to hold the pen in a very specific way. If it works for you, you’re golden. If not, you might want to steer clear. Personally, I don’t mind the way the grip (transparent plastic, in this case) dictates where your fingers are placed, as it’s helped me achieve a more consistent writing grip. I don’t find it annoying, but others do.

AL-Star triangular grip
Love it or leave it

Aside from the sweet price and color, I was intrigued by the 1.1 mm stub nib. I usually go fine, and have a growing collection of mediums, but no broads, and no stubs. I’m a true novice. Time to change that.

1.1 mm nib
Breaking out of my fine nib rut

Inked with J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir, this pen and its juicy nib inspired me to write more than my usual pen-testing scribbles. The nib is so smooth, and so…um…NOT fine, that I had to write something more substantial than my name and the dogs’ names.

Tao Te Ching
Test driving the stub

Man, I love how this feels, and how it bumps up my handwriting a notch or two. And I love how words seem more substantial, more meaningful.

I’ve had a less than stellar work day, and I think I did the opposite of everything the Tao says. I worked with effort. I made the easy difficult. I thought of the small as large.

I’m tired, but still inspired. Inspired by a red pen with a stub nib. Inspired by blue ink. Inspired by those words.

Unposted

Yup, inspired.