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!

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!