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I’m about halfway to being a pen guy. Probably most pen guys don’t think they’re all the way to being a pen guy, so it’s possible I’m deluding myself. But let me explain.

I used to carry around any old pen I happened to have. I like to have a writing implement available at all times, so having a pen in my pocket essentially in perpetuity became a part of my daily habit. These pens were usually retractable pens, since for whatever reason these tended to be the type I most frequently had around.

Two ruined pairs of pants later, I decided this strategy needed updating.

The problem was, the pens would deploy while in my pocket, and the ink would leak out into my pants. And while I was very comfortable in my role as always-carries-a-pen guy, I was not particularly happy with the role of ink-stains-on-trousers guy. I decided that I would solve this problem by only carrying pens with caps.

The problem was, most pens are remarkably bad as everyday carry items. I had found a couple of retractable pens — the Zebra Sarasa, and of course the venerable Pilot G2 — which were generally quite reliable. But it took me quite a while to find a capped pen that I liked.

For a while, about once a year I would go to JetPens and order about $20 worth of pens. I’d test each one, honing in what I liked and didn’t like. I discovered that I liked extremely fine-point pens — the finer, the better — and that gel pens were as a rule superior to the other technologies.

Once I found a pen I liked, I would carry it around in my pocket all day, every day. I would expect it to write first time, no matter what.

Eventually, I found The Pen. It’s a Pentel EnerGel 0.35mm needle point. They’re available in black, blue, and red, but I’m exclusively a black ink guy.

These are not the cheapest pens in the world, but they’re certainly not expensive. A box of 10 will last me several years. I do also use the Pilot Precise V5 extra fine, though I wouldn’t carry one of those around with me. I’m overall pretty good about not losing pens, so most of the time I will use a pen until it’s either run dry or too beat up to function anymore.

(I did once lose my favorite pen of all time, which I’m still gutted about to this day. But that’s a story for another time.)

In any case, I hope this explains my initial statement: I’m not the sort of pen guy who uses a fountain pen or spends tens or even hundreds of dollars on a single writing implement. But I do care deeply and specifically about pens and have very exacting requirements for the ones I use.


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