The nicest pen is of no use if you don’t have it nearby when you want to write. That Montblanc sitting on your desk will only be used, well, at your desk. For all the impromptu scribbling you’ll encounter on a daily basis, consider something small and portable. These are the mini pens that get our stamp of approval.
Mini Brass EDC Pen
For true portability, this guy is tough to beat. Of course, with the compact size comes a bit of a challenge. The Mini Brass EDC Pen takes a little getting used to; it doesn’t extend far enough to reach the crook between your thumb and index finger, so writing feels different with it. Once you have a handle on it, however, you’ll wonder how you did without having such a durable writing instrument with you at all times. The 2” long pen attaches right to your key ring and, since it’s machined from brass, can stand up to daily torture. Ink goes quick (obviously), but you can drop a basic Cross Matrix refill in there to get it writing again. Length: 2” Weight: 1 oz.
Like a Transformer, the Lamy Pico is more than meets the eye. The slim, capsule-like design features a push button back that both extends the writing tip and expands the overall length of the pen. It’s almost a full-sized pen in a mini pen’s body. We also happen to dig the aesthetics of the lacquer or matte finish on each of the colorways. It could use a clip for easier transport, but, overall, it’s an addictive and smooth little writing instrument. Length: 3 ⅝” Weight: 1.8 oz.
All-Weather Trekker Pen
Looking like a mini Kubotan, the All-Weather Trekker Pen is just as rugged. Designed to write in the elements, the keychain pen can handle impromptu campsite note-taking or fleeting thought reminders on the run to the subway. The metal pen will even write in extreme temperatures and the ink won’t ever leak or explode in your pocket. While slim, at 4” long, it is on the larger end of the spectrum for this list. Still, it can handle situations many of the others can’t. Length: 3 ⅞” Weight: 1 oz.
Kaweco LILIPUT Ballpen Brass Wave
Our pick for the finest in the LILIPUT line from Kaweco is this Brass Wave model. The textured body adds grip to the small memo doodler. It’s actually a feature that others should think about adopting, because, without it, smaller pens can feel unstable in the hand. The untreated brass body allows the mini pen to take a beating. Would a clip have been nice? Sure, but we do like this German-made little writer. Length: 3 ⅞” Weight: 1 oz.
Compact Bolt Action Pen
The largest pen we considered for this list is also one of the most impressive. While the overall length (4 ⅜”) is double that of others featured here, the machined aluminum body is gorgeous, strong, and surprisingly light. It also happens to be the only pen on this list that doubles as a serious self-defense tool. The bolt action is addictive and the clip makes it portable. Overall, while it blurs the line between mini pen and full-sized pen, it’s small enough for us and gets our stamp of approval. Length: 4 ⅜” Weight: 1.4 oz.
Valiant Concepts Keychain Pen
The slim body and titanium build of the Valiant Concepts Keychain Pen make it suited for life on your keychain. And since each features a pressurized Fisher ink cartridge, the pen can write at any angle, in extreme temperatures, and it won’t leak out in your pocket. Extremely compact, incredibly durable, and perfectly useful at all times. Some method of disconnection from your keys would be nice, but, if you don’t have a mess of keys, it isn’t that big of a deal. If you don’t already have this Valiant Concepts pen on your keychain, we’d advise you to consider changing that. Length: 2 ½” Weight: .235 oz.
The QDC Mini Pen
While slightly larger than most on this list, The QDC Mini Pen gets a lot of things right, and we felt it was deserving of a place on this list. The keychain attachment is inspired by an industrial air hose female quick disconnect. To release the pen, you simply pull the cap back. To reattach it, you do the same. The smart mechanism keeps it strongly attached when not in use and easy to access without having to write with your keys in your palm. A diamond grip keeps the pen secure while in use, and the brass body welcomes pain. Bulkier than other keychain models, but rugged and smart. Length: 4 ⅛” Weight: 2 oz.
The Move Pen
After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Move Pen is now available to purchase (although it was sold out at the time of writing due to popularity). The clever little pen has an integrated keychain/lanyard loop meaning there’s no chance of it falling off whatever you attach it to. It also features a bolt-action mechanism that eliminates the fear of it opening in your pocket. Durability is thanks to the aluminum or titanium body, and finishes are all tough and eye-catching. Best of all, it’s super light and super compact—two features that are fairly important when it comes to a mini pen. Length: 3 ½” Weight: 0.36 oz.