Posts filed under Top 5

The Worst Pens I Have Ever Reviewed

As a follow-up to my Top 5 Pens update, several readers have asked me to name names when it comes to the worst pens to come across my desk. Never one to shy away from a challenge, here are a handful of the worst pens I have ever reviewed:

Dude! Sweet! (Image via JetPens)

Dude! Sweet! (Image via JetPens)

Ohto Fine Fountain Pen / Ohto Dude Fountain Pen

The Ohto Fine was a nib disaster, and I was still new enough to the fountain pen game to where I didn't have the knowledge or skills to figure out what was wrong with it. I gave Ohto another shot with the Dude, but instead of getting a decent pen I doubled-down on terrible. An Ohto fountain pen will never grace these hands again.

Pentel Sliccies

The hype was big for this one - finally a competitor for the Pilot Hi-Tec-C! I enjoyed it at first and gave it a solid review, but the problems appeared soon thereafter. First off, the ink cartridges come out at an angle. Not an "if you turn it to the right angle in the right light" angle, but an obvious one like you dropped the pen and bent the tip. Secondly, the cartridges do not write nearly as sharp as the single cartridge model. That is a big feature of the standard Slicci that did not carry over to its multi pen counterpart.

TUL Ballpoint

I am a fan of the TUL pen lineup from Office Max, except for the ballpoint. The original design was flat out terrible and the new model is better in barrel alone. Writing performance is a blobby mess, doing everything it can to keep the Uni-ball Jetstream at the top of the ballpoint pen heap.

Bic A1 Gel

I didn't expect much from a Bic but the A1 gel was a new kind of terrible. There are no redeeming qualities to this pen, leaving me no choice but to end the review with "This may be the single worst pen I have ever reviewed."

Caran D'Ache 849

I wanted to like this pen so badly but the refill was horrible. The barrel is excellent though, leaving some room for improvement. Still, it was a poor overall experience.

Well there you have it! Those are some of the worst pens I have ever reviewed. I'm sure I have forgotten several others but these stick in my brain like a Justin Bieber song that I want to scrape out with a spoon.

What are some of the worst pens you have used?

Posted on April 28, 2014 and filed under Top 5.

Top 5 Pens - Spring 2014

It has been six months since my last Top 5 Pens update and I have learned many things during that time. For example:

-- My fountain pen love and knowledge continues to grow.

-- I have a serious fountain pen ink problem.

-- There is a lack of innovation in office supply stores. (I guess I've always known this)

-- Good pens stay good.

-- I'm perpetually behind on reviews

Seeing a bunch of new pens listed makes me happy, although many old standbys still can't be beat. The fountain pen lists saw several changes, and I added new lists for blue black fountain pen inks and multi pens by reader request.

Read the introduction at the top of the page, explore the list, take it all in, and let me know if you have any questions!

Posted on April 25, 2014 and filed under Top 5.

Top 5 Pens - Fall 2013 Update

There have been many changes to my Top 5 Pens list since the last update, mainly in the fountain pen area. I say lists plural because I have broken things down a bit differently to better address the fountain pen market related to what I am using. There are now two fountain pen Top 5 lists: One I am calling the "Easy To Buy Division" and the other I am calling the "Hard To Buy Division". Let me explain what I am trying to accomplish with these two lists.

With the Easy list, I have included more common, readily available fountain pens. Pens you will find easily at most online retailers or in local pen stores. This list also encompasses some of my most recommended fountain pens for beginning and moderately experienced fountain pen users.

The Hard list is a bit of a misnomer. These pens aren't hard to come by or hard to use. There is just something extra you need to take into account with each pen on this list. It could be price, it could be availability, it could be a different nib style. These are pens I would recommend to more experienced fountain pen users, or at least people who know what they are getting into when buying one of these pens.

I think both lists are valid and necessary to relay the information I have learned over the years. The only thing I don't care for are the names of the lists. If you can come up with something better to describe what I am trying to accomplish with the two lists I'm all ears.

I have also added a brand new list of my Top 5 fountain pen inks. This was the most requested list since my last Top 5 post and was fun to put together. Look for constant change in this one.

There were a few minor tweaks to other lists, namely the Overall list and the Micro Gel list. I also added a running list of my favorite Field Notes editions on my Field Notes Collection page so be sure to check that one out as well.

Lists are fun and I enjoy putting them together. If you have any feedback please let me know!


Posted on October 15, 2013 and filed under Top 5.

Top 5 Pens

And the crowd shouts "Finally!"

It has been since last summer that I have updated my Top 5 Pens list and boy have I heard it from many of you. Since I have been so slow to update my list, I have instituted a change that will hopefully help me keep it more up to date.

See that sidebar over to the left? It now contains a link to a page I created for my Top 5 Pens. And it is not just a regular Top 5 list, but rather a grouping of Top 5 lists that many of you have asked for in the past. I thought having one overall list, plus several underlying lists with a more specific focus was a great idea and I have tried to implement some of the most popular lists you have asked for.

Since this page is a continual work in progress, I will be adding more images, features, commentary, and even more lists. If you have any suggestions for the future please let me know!

Posted on March 25, 2013 and filed under Top 5.

Top 5 Pens - Summer 2012

Pilot Vanishing Point Close-up

(Click the link in the top navigation bar to see my latest Top 5 Pens.)

It has been too long since I have posted an update to my Top 5 Pens list, and honestly, I am not sure what has taken me so long. I think part of it is that I have gone through such a huge turnover in the types of pens I use on a daily basis (I’m looking at you fountain pens!) and wanted to be sure any new favorite gets a nice, long usage period. There is no doubt that this list marks a big change for me.

For those of you who are new to this list let me explain what it is and what it isn’t. This list represents a current snapshot of the pens I am enjoying and using the most, not what I think are the best pens of all-time. It is also not a list of pens that I think are the best for you and your writing needs. Everyone has individual requirements and this group is currently suiting my requirements very well.

1. Pilot Vanishing Point

Was there any real question? If I am going to spend this much on a pen I am certainly going to be using it a ton. It took me a year of reading and researching to finally pull the trigger on this pen and it was worth it. I use this pen every day at work and it has lived up to all expectations.

2. Moleskine Classic Roller Pen

My initial reaction to this pen was shock and amazement at how much I liked it and those feelings haven’t changed. I liked it so much that I now also have the Metal Roller and the recently introduced Click Roller. Are these pens overpriced for what they are? Absolutely. But the gel ink cartridge is one of the best I have used and that is what makes this pen work for me.

3. Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3 mm Grip Black

A long-time favorite, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I keep one at work, one in my backpack, one at my desk at home, and a few more stashed away in the closet as backup. If you like ultra-fine gel ink lines and can put up with a small amount of finickiness you should try one too.

4. Sakura Pigma Micron 03 Black

Like the Pilot Hi-Tec-C above, the Sakura Pigma Micron has been, and will always be, a favorite of mine. The plastic tip provides a nice change of pace from my various metal-tipped pens, and the archival ink properties certainly come in handy. I have worn the lettering off the barrel on more than one of these.

5. Kaweco AL Sport Fountain Pen

This has been a go-to pen of mine for a while. Now that I have discovered the greatness of the Kaweco EF nib and how easy it is to change out the nib I am using it more than ever. Between this pen and the Vanishing Point I am having a tough time giving other fountain pens a fair shake.

Posted on June 14, 2012 and filed under Top 5.