(Updated 10/14/2013)

I get asked what my favorite pens are all of the time. While that is generally an easy question to answer, what the reader often means is "what pen should I buy?" That is a much more difficult question because of the sheer number of variables involved.

With my Top 5 lists, I try to capture what pens I am currently using the most in each category. Not what pens are the best of all-time, or what pens you should rush out and buy. Everyone has different requirements for their writing needs. These lists are the pens that suit my current needs the best.

Use these lists as guidelines. Do your research. Ask questions. Test them out if at all possible. Only then will you find the pen that is the perfect match for you.

Pilot Falcon Nib

Top 5 Pens - Overall (Updated Oct. 2013)

  1. TWSBI 580 - Hard to beat the value and versatility.
  2. Sakura Pigma Micron - My go-to Field Notes pen.
  3. Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38 mm - Vibrant, smooth, and consistent.
  4. Ohto Graphic Liner - Still amazed how good this pen is.
  5. Uni-Ball Jetstream - The pen of the people, and me if it is 0.5 mm.

Top 5 Micro Gel Ink Pens (Updated Oct. 2013)

  1. Uni-Ball Signo DX 0.38 mm - More consistent than the Hi-Tec-C.
  2. Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3 mm - The finest, crispest lines going.
  3. Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.4 mm - Super sharp lines, great clip. Needs more love!
  4. Pentel Slicci 0.25 mm - A pen this fine shouldn't be this smooth.
  5. Pentel Energel Euro Needle 0.35 mm - Another sleeper pen. You have to try it to believe.

Top 5 Pens In The Store

  1. Uni-ball Jetstream - Stay away from the 1.0 mm.
  2. Uni-ball Signo 207 - "But what can I buy at Staples that is good?" This.
  3. Sharpie Pen - Would be #1 if it was more durable.
  4. Pentel EnerGel - People swear by their EnerGels.
  5. Pilot Precise - The only liquid ink pen to consider.

Top 5 Fountain Pens - No-Brainers (Updated Oct. 2013)

  1. TWSBI 580 - TWSBI should be Taiwanese for "Great value."
  2. Lamy 2000 - The perfect combination of style, performance, and price.
  3. Pilot Vanishing Point - An elite writer, especially on the fine end of the spectrum.
  4. Kaweco AL Sport - The pocket fountain pen king.
  5. Lamy AL Star - I always have a Lamy inked up and handy.

Top 5 Fountain Pens - Some-Brainers (Updated Oct. 2013)

  1. Pilot Custom Heritage 91 - The best 14k nib pen no one knows about.
  2. Pilot Falcon - The flex nib is a life changer.
  3. Edison Beaumont - I thought I was a Pearl man. I was wrong.
  4. Pilot Custom Heritage 912 - The big brother to the 91, and the owner of the PO nib.
  5. Pelikan M405 - It's hard to explain a Pelikan in words. You have to feel one for yourself.

Top 5 Fountain Pen Inks (Updated Oct. 2013)

  1. Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai - Blue Black inks are my favorites, and this one tops them all.
  2. Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa - I swap inks a lot and this one always makes the rotation.
  3. Lamy Blue Black - Simple, cheap, effective...and beautiful.
  4. Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki - Bright blues are another vice of mine. Beautiful shading.
  5. Noodler's Apache Sunset - My orange of choice. Load it in a flex nib and go to town.

Top 5 Plastic Tip Pens

  1. Sakura Pigma Micron - The Heavyweight Champion. Everyone can use a Micron.
  2. Copic Multiliner SP - Beautiful and refillable...and expensive.
  3. Kuretake Zig - One of the biggest surprises I have tested.
  4. Sharpie Pen - Readily available and solid choice.
  5. Uni Pin - Solid entry level drawing pen.

Top 5 Paper Products

  1. Doane Paper Idea Journal - Beautiful, durable, and portable.
  2. Rhodia Dot Pad - My favorite fountain pen paper.
  3. Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration - As good as Rhodia and more portable, but costs more.
  4. Field Notes Memo Books - Love the seasonal releases.
  5. Doane Paper Utility Notebook - More fountain pen friendly than Field Notes.

Top 5 Ballpoint Pens

  1. Uni-ball Jetstream 0.5 mm - Sharp, fine and solid lines. Elite, but not for everyone.
  2. Pilot Acroball 0.5 mm - More like a 1A with the Jetstream.
  3. Pentel Vicuna 0.7 mm - A big surprise with its pitch black ink.
  4. Pilot Dr. Grip 0.7 mm - The best of the traditional ballpoints.
  5. Zebra Surari 0.5 mm - 0.5 mm or nothing for the Surari.

Top 5 Pen & Pencil Cases

  1. Nomadic PD-04 Roller - My all day, every day pen case.
  2. Doane Paper Leather 4 Barrel Holster - If it's not in the PD-04 it's in here.
  3. Alter Manufacturing Mod.02 - Durability at its finest.
  4. Nomadic PE-10 Tri-Fold - Love this case for extra storage.
  5. Kokuyo NeoCritz Transformer - Perfect for students or cube jockeys.

Top 5 Kickstarter Pens

  1. Render K - Hard to beat the simple beauty of the Render K.
  2. Now & Then Eco-Essential Pen - Bamboo pen done right.
  3. Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus - Refills galore fit the Ti.
  4. Pen Type-A - The one that started it all. Not a portable option.
  5. Premier Pen P1 - Sleek elongated bullet style looks great.

Top 5 Extreme Weather Pens

  1. Tombow Airpress - My pressurized refill pen of choice.
  2. Uni-ball Power Tank - Writes great, could use a more durable barrel.
  3. Fisher Space Pen - The classic, but not the best writer.
  4. Tombow Airpress Apro - Smaller, slimmer sibling of the Airpress.
  5. Pilot Down Force - Solid clip and barrel, average writer.