My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

I love the thought of going away. Seeing friends, having new experiences, taking in fresh scenery, enjoying a break from home and work routines. Finally a chance to exhale.

But travel itself, especially when flying, is fun and draining at the same time. The packing. The security rigamorole. Timing airplane bathroom breaks appropriately. Not losing any of your stuff. There’s always some point along the way where I kind of wish I was home. Just an inkling of homesickness creeps in along the way.

I miss my things–my husband (if he’s not with me, as on this current trip), our crazy pups, my own just-so pillows, a well-stocked refrigerator, ice on demand.

I swear, I have an easier time deciding what clothes to pack than picking out which pens to bring. I always miss the ones that aren’t with me. I stock my Nock Co. Brasstown with more pens than a sane person needs, then typically swap things in and out until zero hour. There’s so much mental chatter in my head about my pen selections that it makes me feel like I must be going off the deep end. But what a deep end it is!

Part of me wishes that I could embrace minimalism–pick ONE pen and use ONLY it for the entire trip. Maybe someday. Right now that thought gives me what is technically called the heebie jeebies.


So here I am in California, oh so far from home, with new and old pen favorites. For this trip (a conference), I brought along:


Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger fountain pen. Nice fine point for note taking. Replaceable should the unthinkable occur.


Karas Kustoms Two-Tone Retrakt outfitted with Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill. Great pen in my favorite color.

Ti2 Techliner Red Alert and Orange Crush. The Red Alert is outfitted with a uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 mm black ballpoint refill while the Orange Crush holds a uni-ball Signo 207 0.7 mm gel refill…both excellent options.


Amy Grigg’s Apex Kickstarter pen with a Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Great on the Levenger Circa Vivacious paper in my notebook. Smooth. Dark. Gorgeous wood.

 
Bigidesign’s Ti Post Raw Pen + Stylus
, also with the Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Do I need to carry two pens with the same refill? Nope. I never said any of this was reasonable.

Retro 1951 Lift-Off with a Schimdt P8126 refill. It’s my newest Retro so why shouldn’t it travel with me to California?

I also have my Lamy Scribble tucked into the Hightower, should I need to do pencily things. I have not tired of this mechanical pencil. It’s a gem.

There’s no need to carry this many pens across the country. Technically I could survive with a few of the Bic Stic Queen Mary pens the hotel provides. But these pens and pencil (and pen case) make me feel secure. They’re unique, well-made, and reliable–comfortable to hold and top-notch performers. They remind me of the connections I have with the folks who make and sell them. We’ve exchanged everything from brief messages to emails to long letters. Pens aren’t just pens. They’re the people behind the pens.

And that feels like home.

—–

This post was composed and photographed entirely with my iPhone, so excuse the lack of links (too cumbersome) and any formatting and lighting oddities. Fun fact– the photos were taken on the desk President Eisenhower used while aboard the Queen Mary. I’m sharing his suite with a friend. Pretty cool.


A Class Act: Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus by Big Idea Design, LLC

Full disclosure: The pen reviewed here was sent to me by Chadwick Parker of Big Idea Design, LLC. I was not otherwise compensated and this review reflects my observations and experiences with this pen, as well as my previous interactions with Big Idea Design via two of their Kickstarter projects.

Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus
Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus

I’m currently snarled in a couple of Kickstarter projects where the creators appear to have gone AWOL, and that’s disheartening. I’m frustrated enough by these bungled projects to vow that I’ll only back projects by creators who have proven themselves to be seriously committed to delivering quality goods. That list is a short one and includes Chadwick Parker and Joe Huang of Big Idea Designs, LLC.

Big Idea Design titanium pens
Big Idea Design titanium pens: Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus (2014), Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus (2012), Ti-Click Pro (2013)

I backed their Solid Titanium Pen & Stylus in 2012, then a follow-up model in 2013, the Ti-Click Pro: Titanium Click Pen + Stylus. Chadwick and Joe love their titanium and they consistently deliver products that ooze quality and attention to detail. Their 2014 offering, the Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus is just as good as its predecessors— actually, it’s even a little better. That’s what I love about this team— they take the lessons learned from each project and apply them to the their next one— always improving their products, always fine-tuning the details, and always available to provide support in the rare case that it’s needed. I’ve been 110% impressed with their products and how they conduct their campaigns. Chadwick and Joe are the real deal.

And so are their pens.

Posting comparison
Cap posting comparison, 2014 pen vs. 2012 pen

Chadwick graciously sent a Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus my way and it’s another beauty— great looking, great in hand, and a great writer. The pen is solid TA2 titanium with a scratch-resistant finish. I’ve been using this pen for a couple of weeks and so far it looks brand-new. At 36.5g (cap 9.5g, body 27g) this pen has heft, but is well-balanced in hand, whether posted or unposted. The cap posts deeply onto the body, which is a well thought out improvement over the 2012 Solid Titanium Pen which featured a shallowly posting cap that resulted in a pen that felt a little too long. Like I said, they listen, then make improvements.

Exploded view
Exploded view

The pen ships with a Uniball Signo 207 0.7mm Black Gel Ink refill and I’ve been so happy with it that I haven’t swapped it out. But if you prefer a different refill, you’re in luck. The Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus takes many, many refills. Check out this list:

•Avant Pen Refills (0.5mm)
•Bic Velocity Gel 0.7mm (Medium)
•Cross Gel Rolling Ball Refill 0.7mm
•Dong-A Fine Tech RT Pen (GRC-43 refill)
•Duke Rollerball Refill (Medium)
•Faber-Castell Ceramic Rollerball Refill 0.5mm
•Foray (Office Depots Brand-USA) Replacement Refills
•Mont Blanc Fineliner Refills
•Mont Blanc 163 Rollerball Pen Refills (M) & (F)
•Monteverde Rollerball Refill (Mont Blanc Style Replacements)
•MUJI 0.5mm Refill
•Ohto Ceramic Rollerball Refill (C-305P, C-307P)
•Pentel ENERGEL BLN105 pen (LRN5 & LRN7)
•Pentel HyperG Retractable KL257 Series (LR7 & KLR7)
•Pilot B2P Bottle to Pen Gel Ink Pen Refill 0.7 mm
•Pilot Frixion Ball pen BLS-FR5 (LFBK-23EF-B refill)
•Pilot G2 (America’s #1 selling ink gel pen, 0.38, 0.5, 0.7, & 1.0mm)
•Pilot G2 Pro
•Pilot G6
•Pilot Hi-Tec-C “Cavalier” (Same performance as the regular Hi-Tec-C, but with more ink)
•Pilot Juice Gel Ink Refill (LP2RF, .05mm)
•Pilot Precise V5 RT/V7 RT, named Hi-tecpoint V5 RT/V7 RT in Europe
•Pilot Q7 Needle Point Refill 0.7mm (BLS-GCK-7 / LHKRF-8C7)
•Pilot V ball RT (BLS-VB5RT)
•Pelikan Roller Refill 338 Rollerball
•Schmidt Safety ceramic roller 888 Fine
•Schneider Topball 850
•Staples Classic Grip Pen 0.7mm Gel (#31581)
•TUL GL1 Gel Pen Retractable Needle Point Fine 0.5mm
•Uniball Impact RT 1.0mm Bold (Signo UMR-80)
•Uniball Signo RT Gel 0.38mm & 0.5mm (UMN-138)
•Uniball Signo (UMN-152)
•Uniball Signo 207 Gel Refill 0.7mm (UMR-87, UMR-85)
•Uniball Jetstream 0.7mm (SXR-7) & 1mm (SXR-C1)
•Visconti Rolling Ceramic 0.7mm (AA40)
•Waterman Rollerball Refill
•Zebra Sarasa Clip Pen Refill
•Zebra JF Gel Ink (JJ2; JJ15; JJZ15; JJ21; RJF5 pens)

Surely there’s something there that’s a favorite. As I said, I’ve been happy with the refill it shipped with so I haven’t explored this aspect as yet, but it’s nice knowing that I can go to my big box of refills and find something that fits perfectly.

Prior to stylus installation
Preparing to install the optional stylus

With stylus installed
With stylus installed

The pen also ships with an optional stylus. If you don’t need one, no worries— just leave it in the box. But if you’re someone who switches between analog and digital worlds, it’s a snap to install. Just unscrew the slotted back plug from the end of the pen and screw the stylus in in its place. Now you’re free to take notes on paper OR on an electronic device. All bases are covered.

Grip area
Groovy grip

There is a decent sized step down from the pen barrel to the grip area, but the grip is long enough that I doubt this’ll cause an issue for anyone. The grip is nicely tapered and features three grooves to add a bit of traction. I’ve haven’t experienced any issues with my fingers slipping as I write.

Clip profile evolution
Clip profile changes. (Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus is the topmost pen.)

The clip is solid and springy, with an improved profile over the two earlier models. On those pens, the end of the pen curved inward towards the body of the pen, whereas on this pen, the end of clip is curved away from the pen body. This improvement makes the Ti RAW POST Pen + Stylus easier to slide into a pen case or pocket. It’s another example of how Joe and Chadwick take the details seriously.

Ti branding

Branding is super subtle— just their characteristic “Ti” logo on the pen’s clip. It’s branding that’s clean and simple and doesn’t interfere with the pen’s industrial good looks.

After their Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus pen shipped, a niggly problem cropped up for some of us where certain refills stopped working, possibly because they were hitting the inside of the cap. As the feedback rolled in, Chadwick and Joe jumped to action, remade the front section of the pen, and shipped it out to anyone who was having a problem, myself included. They listened and they acted quickly and decisively— simple as that. This is a team that builds trust AND great pens.

Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus
Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus

The Kickstarter project for this pen has been completed, but you can order the Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus, or any of their other offerings, at bigidesign.com. Note that they offer free worldwide shipping along with a zero risk, 14-day 100% money back guarantee.

Ti POST RAW Pen + Stylus
A felt pen sleeve is included.

This is a fine pen brought to you by a fine team. They are, simply put, a class act.