I've been on a small pen kick recently, and I've been using the Zebra SL-F1 for the past couple of weeks. It's an interesting little pen that has a unique open/close mechanism, and it is certainly a solid performer with plenty of refill options for stowing in bags, cars, purses, and other odd places where you might need a pen in a pinch. But, similar to other small pens I've used, it just isn't sensible for normal use.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed a mini mechanical pencil (also from Zebra), and I had the same complaints. I have many small and uber-portable pens that I love, but it seems a killer (not the good kind) combination is a short pen with a very slim profile. There just isn't enough to grip! One thing my favorite portable pens share in common is a short size, but normal width.
Even though the Zebra SL-F1 Mini isn't practical for an everyday note-taker, that doesn't mean it's unremarkable. If you approach this pen with the mindset that I believe Zebra designed this pen for, there's a lot to like and enjoy. This is another of those pens that falls into a specific category for me: backup situations. After all, a short, slim, uncomfortable pen is better than no pen!
Being as small as it is, this pen can really fit anywhere and go unnoticed. The clip is strong enough to keep it stowed on a pocket or interior bag flap, and the color options make it stand out against dark backgrounds if you want. Even the black model has chrome trim that easily catches what little light is available.
The aspect I enjoy most about this pen is the open/close mechanism. It's very similar to the Lamy Pico (which I can't recommend enough), and it's equally as enjoyable. To open the pen, simply pull on the two ends of the pen. The pen expands and the refill pops out of the front. To close it, simply push the two ends together and the refill disappears. It's an incredibly smooth action with a satisfying click on both ends. And, unlike the Fisher Bullet, there's no cap to lose.
Possibly one of the most attractive aspects of this pen is the refill type it uses. I'll be honest: the refill that comes with the pen isn't that great. It's a 0.7mm Zebra ballpoint with a dull black ink. It works great for what it is, but it's no gel ink. But, if you want to swap it out for a gel, your options are vast since it takes the popular D1 size. The D1 is known for it's diminutive size but excellent color and tip options. It's a popular choice for multi pens, but many small pens use it as well for the size advantage.
As a backup pen to stow in areas or pockets where you might need a pen in a pinch, the Zebra SL-F1 is a great option. It's incredibly affordable (less than $5), incredibly small, and incredibly flexible given the refill compatibility. It's available in black, navy, silver, white, light blue (featured here), and pink. All colors use the same 0.7mm black ballpoint refill. Pick up a couple to stow away for when you need a pen.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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