Many of you reading this, and the guy writing it, can’t justify spending money on what we affectionately refer to as “Rolex class pens.” Those are your Montblancs, Krones, Tibaldis, etc. Spending a couple hundred dollars on a writing instrument that, let’s be honest here, you’re probably going to lose anyway, is ridiculous. Save all that extra money for something less pretentious (like beer) and pick up one of the pens from our list of approved writing instruments.
1. PHX Pen – $29
In the world of Kickstarter pens, there’s BigIDesign and everyone else. Their products are elegant, functional, downright pleasurable to use and most importantly, consistently delivered on time. Throw down the extra $3 for the screw-on back because having a place to stow the cap when you’re writing checks your ass can’t cash is a blessing.
2. Lamy Safari Rollerball – $30
At first glance, it would be easy to mistake this pen for something far more expensive. That’s good, but the design, utility and color are better. It’s made of plastic, available in more colors than pretty much every other pen on this list and the molded grip makes it quite comfortable to write a novel with. Be warned though, refills aren’t cheap.
3. PicoPen – $20
The biggest selling point of the Pico pen is also its most diminutive attribute–size. At just over 3″, the Pico Pen plays David to the rest of the pens Goliath. Ultimately, though, the little pen that could has a quality, rollerball style point, fits on your keys and, in a pinch, also serves as a tiny ruler.
4. Pen Type-A – $150
This pen did so well on Kickstarter that another design firm stole the idea and started marketing it as its own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this pen is definitely worth imitating. It’s not cheap and the Hi-Tec-C refill isn’t for everyone, but if you can get over that and the fact that it isn’t very portable, this pen is fantastic for sketches, doodles and all those important notes that require a level of detail that, quite frankly, the rest of these pens can’t deliver. Plus, it’s built so damn well that it will end up being an heirloom.
5. Hexomatic Ballpoint Pen – $29
The Hexomatic Ballpoint Pen is one of only two “clicky pens” on this list and it’s for good reason. We love pretending like we’re Boris in Goldeneye as much as the next guy, but that normally leads to a worn out mechanism and one more pen in the trash. This is not the case with the Hexomatic. The clicky mechanism is built in the same industrial, Apple-ish style as the rest of the pen, so it won’t wear out before you accidentally leave it somewhere or have to pass it on to your grandkids. The faceted metal barrel is eye-catching, the rounded grip is comfortable and the pocket clip is actually functional. Even if you’re only working on the guidance systems you won’t have a problem doing it with this pen.
6. Bullet Space Pen – $26
The joke goes that Americans spent millions to develop a pen that could write upside-down in space and the Russians just used a pencil. It’s not true, but the engineering marvel that is the Fisher Space Pen remains just as awesome. Then that refill gets packaged in a real .375 caliber bullet because, well, why the hell not? Who doesn’t want to write with a bullet? Oddly enough, writing with a .375 caliber bullet is much more comfortable, and awesome, than you’d imagine.
7. Kaweco Liliput Fountain Pen – $55
I expounded on all the reasons to own this pen in a review for The Pen Addict, but suffice it to say that this is one of my favorite pens ever. And honestly, how many people do you know that still write with a fountain pen? That cool factor alone makes this pen worthwhile.
8. Messograf Caliper Pen – $28
This pen is an engineer’s (armchair or otherwise) wet dream. In no particular order, this pen has: a vernier caliper rule, ruler, thread scale and a tire tread gauge. It also writes, right. The unique shape of the pen—and the presence of the caliper—take a little getting used to, but it’s worth it to be able to take measurements in metric, imperial and rubber while still taking notes in the boring meeting you’re probably stuck in right now.