I appreciate TWSBI as a company. They aren’t afraid to experiment and do things other companies don’t, or can’t. Does that lead to issues sometimes? Without question. TWSBI had many quality issues in the early days that turned customers off their product completely, and rightfully so. But they keep pushing forward and innovating, and have improved the quality of their products as the years pass.
The TWSBI Vac Mini is a prime example of their innovation. What other company is able to manufacture a pen like this, or even want to? A vacuum filling mini fountain pen? “Not possible,” I imagine most companies saying. And for many reasons, not only technical. TWSBI is positioned well the sub-$100 pen market, with only Lamy and Kaweco as real threats. Most companies don’t compete here, which has allowed TWSBI to do things no one else would consider.
But enough of why I like TWSBI as a company, let’s get into this pen. If you have never used a vac filling system in a fountain pen, here are some things to know before purchasing:
- It is simple to fill.
- It is difficult to clean.
- It can be sealed off for travel.
- It needs to be open when writing.
It is far from hard to use, but beginners need to keep these things in mind. It is a different animal than a cartridge/converter pen. I wouldn’t recommend this pen as a first fountain pen for example. But for a fun, unique fountain pen I am all over it.
In comparison to the TWSBI Mini, which I am also a fan of, the Vac Mini is longer, including a longer grip section, and has a larger ink capacity. I’ve never had an issue writing with the regular Mini unposted and the added length of the Vac Mini makes it even better for me. For those who like to post their pens, the cap screws on the back to give you a more full length pen writing experience. The nibs are the same size, but the nib units are not, so it will take more effort than unscrewing to swap nibs.
On the negative side of the ledger, the only issue I have is with the clip. It wiggles too much and I would worry about it eventually breaking if I carried it clipped to my pants pocket. In a shirt pocket or a pen case it’s fine, but for a portable pen the clip needs to be stronger.
I don’t see the $60 price tag as a negative, but that does put the TWSBI Vac Mini in a strange place amongst the rest of TWSBI’s lineup. If you have never owned a TWSBI and are looking for the best pen of the brand, I would recommend the 580AL, which is their full length piston filler and is the exact same price. For beginners, the TWSBI ECO is the clear choice at half the cost. The standard Mini runs between $50-$55 depending on the nib, but I would pay up for the slightly larger and more ink capacity in the Vac Mini.
To me, the Vac Mini is your second TWSBI. You’ve bought a 580 or an ECO, enjoy the style and performance of the pen, and want to add something a little different to your collection. This is that pen.
(Goulet Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)