Just a few years ago, the portable fountain pen market was pretty bare. On top of that, finding something made of metal was even more difficult. Today, there are so many options available that it can be tough to make a choice. The latest of these that I've had the pleasure of using is the XS Minimalist Pocket fountain pen from ensso (stylized as ēnsso).
If you've ever used a pocket fountain pen before, the XS Minimalist will be very familiar. Unlike most of the pocket pens I've used, however, the XS uses a friction fit cap instead of a threaded cap system. To aid in the fit, there are small o-rings on the grip section and back of the pen to provide additional friction for the cap. It's always important that you can trust the cap will stay on a pen meant to go in your pocket or bag, and the XS delivers that secure fit.
The multi-faceted barrel adds even more visual interest to the pen, and also provides a nice grip when handling it. My particular idiosyncrasies mean that I always make sure the facets line up properly when capping the pen, but it looks fine when they don't line up as well.
The top of the cap and the bottom of the pen barrel both feature a nice convex dimple that reminds me of a metal spinning top. It's a visual feature that shows off the attention to detail that the designers put into this pen.
The only visible branding is a very small ensso logo on the rear of the barrel. It's tastefully done and doesn't detract from the overall design at all.
The most direct comparison I can make regarding the size of this pen is the Kaweco Liliput. The pens are roughly the same length and diameter when open and closed. Where the Liliput is completely round, the faceted barrel of the XS sets it apart. Still, if you've used a Liliput, you can use that experience to determine if you'd enjoy the XS since the size and writing feel is so similar.
The XS rocks a steel Bock nib with a black finish. It matches the rest of the aesthetic perfectly. The EF nib on my pen is smooth and reliable, putting down a nice line with plenty of ink delivery. The great thing about using Bock nibs is that you can easily swap out the nib with another unit from ensso, or you can even replace it with other Bock nib units of the same size.
The XS takes a short international cartridge, and I haven't even experimented with seeing what converters might fit just because of the minuscule size of the barrel. There are a couple of converter options, but not worth the hassle for a pen of this size and given the easy nature of cartridges. This is a pocket pen, after all — the ability to quickly throw in a new cartridge is part of the ideal use case.
The ensso XS Minimalist Pocket fountain pen is a beautiful little pen that stows away easily but opens up to be a completely useful fountain pen. The subtle aesthetic lends itself to the daily carry category and can also stand up to the various levels of abuse that everyday objects have to endure.
The aluminum finish and brass innards mean that this pen will last. Along with a sample cartridge, ensso include a couple of extra o-rings in case the installed rings come off or break over time. It's clear that ensso intend this pen to be used, abused, and cherished as it comes along with you everywhere.
The XS Minimalist is available in the black finish featured here or a silver version. The XS is priced at $59, which is a fair price for the materials used and the great aesthetic it delivers. If you're a fan of brass pens, you can also buy the XS in a completely brass model for a few bucks more.
(This pen was purchased with my own funds via the Kickstarter campaign.)
Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.
Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!