(This is a guest review by Ben Dahl. You can follow Ben on Twitter @TheBenDahl)
Between show reviews for Lost in Concert, posts for Cool Material and a general desire not to forget any brilliant ideas (upon reexamination most of them are anything but, but I wouldn't know that if I didn't write them down), my list of demands when it comes to pens includes everything but a jet fueled and waiting on the tarmac.
It has to be convenient enough that I won't mind carry it all night, but durable enough to take a beating without it also serving as a paperweight. Reliable enough that I don't have to worry about turning it into a Shake Weight in the middle of a performance. Comfortable enough that I won't mind filling a few Field Notes with chicken scratch over the course of a day. Other bonuses include, but aren't limited to: not having a cap I have to hold and/or lose, not looking like a weapon (you'd be surprised how anal retentive security guards are), affordable and good looking. In other words, I'm asking for a lot in a single writing implement. When Brad suggested a fountain pen I thought he was crazy, but the Kaweco Liliput Al delivers.
The first thing everyone notices about the Liliput Al is its size. It's tiny. Closed, it's about as long as a standard wallet and only slightly longer than a cigarette. With the cap screwed onto the end for writing purposes it's barely longer than an iPhone. It fits into every place I can think of to put a pen: pockets, bags, pen slots, cups and office organizers. In fact, I'm having difficulty thinking of a place that this pen won't fit. That's fantastic, but it's also the only real flaw with this pen. If you're not careful, there's about a 75% chance you will lose this pen. It's ended up in the washer on more than one occasion simply because I didn't realize it was still in a pants pocket. Obviously it's tiny, but what about everything else?
In case a few trips through with the dirty laundry isn't enough of an inclination, the Liliput Al is built like a tank. The full aluminum body and stainless steel nib (F in this case) make it all but impervious to trips down stairs, being thrown at a wall (What? I had to test it!) and getting stepped on. I did everything short of running this thing over with a car and none of it even marred the gorgeous matte black finish.
You can beat it up however you want and nothing bad will happen, but there's only one real way to write with it. If you don't screw the cap on the back of the pen it's about as comfortable and easy to operate as a stylus on a Palm Treo. It's as fun as Calculus so not at all. Once you put the cap where it belongs, though, writing is a breeze. There's no drag on the page, no tearing and no ink seepage. Once the ink's on the page, it doesn't bleed and dries quickly enough that you don't have to worry about everything turning into a blob if you use a notebook that closes. It's not beer resistant, but that's to be expected with liquid ink (standard cartridge).
All things considered, the Kaweco Liliput Al is a fantastic little fountain pen. I would happily spend $55 on one of these pens and recommend it to anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary. You can take it with you everywhere without worrying about it, and you'll always know it's ready for service … as long as you don't lose it in your pocket.