Guest Review: Sherpa Pen

(This is a guest post by Andrew Young)

I’ve had a Sherpa pen holder for a couple of years, but have not written a review of it yet. I recently purchased another one and decided to write it up.

First some background (from the Sherpa website):

The Sherpas are a well known community that have helped make history by guiding several adventure seekers to the top of Mt. Everest. Sherpas have the unique ability to withstand high altitudes and its effects. This community has acclimated itself throughout the years to the unusual conditions that occur while climbing a massive mountain. Just as the thrill seeking hiker needs a guide to climb Mt. Everest, the Sherpa pen guides your writing instrument to the next level.

Introduced in 2008, the Sherpa is a unique pen shell that holds a variety of disposable pens and markers including Sharpie, Pilot pen, uni-ball pens and Accent highlighters as its refill. Sherpa comes in many different styles for you to enjoy. Each Sherpa is designed with an innovative cap to keep the color of your marker or pen bold and fresh every time.

My first Sherpa was “Mr. Pinstripes” which wasn’t my first choice, but was on a close-out sale from Neiman-Marcus of all places. The Sherpas are ostensibly meant to hold the Sharpie markers, and they do ship with one included, but their real value lies in the other pens which fit the holder.

My favorites are the Paper Mate Liquid Expressos and the Uni-Ball Vision Elites. The Vision Elites are some of the smoothest rollerballs in the world, and available in many vibrant colors, in either F 0.5 mm or M/B 0.8 mm point. They also have airplane-safe / fraud-proof liquid ink. The Paper Mate Liquid Expressos a.k.a. Liquid Flairs are also available in many colors in either X-Fine or Med point.

The Expressos/Flairs are of particular interest because they are fiber-tip (aka felt-tip), which is my second favorite type of writing instrument next to fountain pens. My third favorite pen type is liquid ink rollers such as the Vision Elites. The fiber tip writes on all types of paper without hesitation or complaint, and has a smooth feel with gentle feedback. I use the X-Fine (needle) tip Expressos/Flairs usually in blue or purple, and their purple is a deep rich color, not too light like some of the violet colors around. I’ve found the tips to be robust and the ink supply long lasting. If you have a heavy hand you’d probably prefer one of the rollerballs, but if you’re a fountain pen user, the fiber-tip should not be a problem.

One consideration with the Liquid Expressos is they fit a bit better – less force to reinstall the section – if you trim about 1/4 inch off the end. (See picture) Perhaps this is the reason they’re not listed on the Sherpa site (although the identically-shaped Accent Liquid Highlighter is listed). They fit in stock form, but the small trim helps.

Midnight Sherpa disassembled, with my favorite “refills”

My new Sherpa is called “Midnight” and is all black. Given the durability of my 1st Sherpa after years in my pocket, I figure the stealthy black one will also hold up well. I know that durability of the matte black finish has been a concern on other pens such as the Pilot Namiki Stealth Vanishing Point, the Lamy Dialog 3, and the Monteverde Invincia Stylus, so time will tell how the Sherpa holds up. The surface finish is a satin matte black, with titanium-like polished accents at each end, the logo-ring, the section, and clip. So far I’ve only seen a bit of the clear-coat flaking off on the section, but the underlying color remains. This is probably due to clicking the cap on & off.

Sherpa Midnight

Recently at an art supply store I happened upon some fiber tip pens called Y&C Liquid Stylist, which nearly identical in size and ink to the Liquid Expressos (the caps are even interchangeable). The offer some alternative colors such as brown.

The construction is quite solid, with good weight and balance. The body and cap are brass. The grip section is plastic with a titanium-like finish, and there is a plastic insert in the cap which prevents ink evaporation and clicks nicely onto the section. That firm and smooth click adds to the overall sense of quality. There is a spring inside the main body which provides a bit of tension on the pen to accommodate slight differences in length and prevent rattling around.

Sherpa Midnight and Mr. Pinstripes

The grip section is ergonomically shaped for those who hold the pen close to the tip. Those who hold it further back, like me, will be on the logo ring and may find the pen a bit fat for prolonged writing. I adapt to it.

Overall this is a well-made and versatile pen, unlike anything else on the market. The price may seem a bit high for a Sharpie, but I think it’s fair if you consider it as a fine roller ball (Vision Elite) or fiber tip (Liquid Flair) pen. In some ways I think of the Sherpa as an economical alternative to the Parker Ingenuity pens with “5th Technology”. You get the convenience of a refill, the functionality of a plastic or fiber tip, but the pen and refills are small fraction of the price. 

Ink Samples

Posted on July 30, 2012 and filed under Guest Post, Pen Reviews, Sherpa.