Posts filed under Top 5

Top 5 Pens - October 2014

Everything goes in cycles. At least that is what I tell myself regarding the pens, paper, and inks I use. It has been six months since my last update to my Top 5 Pens list, and in the past three months or so I have noticed a big change in my usage pattern. My fountain pen carry has dropped from up to 10 at a time to a rotating 3 max, and my gel, ballpoint, and drawing pen carry has gone way up.

There is one pen I am blaming this on: The Ti2 TechLiner. I'll never forget the first time Mike Bond showed me this pen. I didn't "get it" and was convinced I wouldn't like it. I've never been so wrong in my life. My Gonzodized Ti2 from Kickstarter arrived a couple of months ago and I've been hard pressed to leave home without it. And when I do forget it, I get upset. That's when you know a pen is a good one.

Notes on the rest of the list:

-- If someone has just found this blog and wants to dip their toes into the water of awesome pens I always recommend the Uni-ball Signo DX (UM-151), usually in the 0.38 mm tip size. That is a good reason to make it my #1 overall pen.

-- The TWSBI 580 is still the best bang-for-buck fountain pen going, and stays a solid #2 on the overall list. The Retro 51 Tornado also cracks the Top 5 overall once again. I use this pen more than I realize.

-- There isn't much new to be found in the Micro Tip Gel and In The Store lists. The top of those lists are solid with only a couple of tweaks towards the bottom.

-- I'm always juggling fountain pens, and that shows up in both the No-Brainers and Some-Brainers list. Don't look for those lists to settle down any time soon.

-- Same thing goes for the Fountain Pen Ink list. Blue black inks still are a priority but there has been some shuffling in the rankings. Also, is it fair to continue to list discontinued inks like Sailor Sky High?

-- Top 5 Roller Ball pens is a new addition. Also, is it rollerball or roller ball?

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions leave a comment or get in touch via Twitter or the Contact page.

Posted on October 27, 2014 and 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.