My Favorite Pens: 2021 Edition

It’s been a while since I’ve done something like this. So here is a shortlist of my current favorite pens.

  1. If love was a pen it would be the Jotter. I love the jotter, there is so much history and so many imperfections contained within each pen. After more than fifty years Parker has come upon the closest thing to perfect that is possible in this plane of existence: the Parker Jotter XL. The original jotter has everything I love in a pen without the size. I have big hands. The Jotter XL takes everything I love about these pens and makes them all fit my big meaty claws.

2. Even before I came to know Parker I knew Rotring. This German brand does not have as large a catalog as its competitors but it beats their quantity with quality. Rotring was one of my first loves, and I have never left it. They have so many good pencils and pens. Nearly all of them are built on the same design and each one of them is great for its own reasons. Rotring is one of the few brands that can make both a good pen and a good pencil.

3. Michael’s Fatboy was a pen I didn’t know I needed. When I first got into this hobby I was buying pens left and right. Now I have a solid core collection of pens that I use on a regular basis and another group of pens that I just like to have. Michael’s Fatboys were an outlier. I never knew I needed one until I signed a receipt with one at Bittner Pens. The experience was brief but it stuck with me. The Fatboys have a distinctive appearance and a pleasurable writing experience. Other pens might be better for long writing sessions, but nothing can beat the look of a Fatboy on your desk.

4. Kaweco is a brand that I have ignored for too long. From what I have seen they have an extensive collection of fountain pens. I only know them from their mechanical pencil; the kaweco special mechanical pencil. It has everything you would want in a pencil; ease of use and a comfortable feel.

5. I just can’t get away from LAMY. Especially the LAMY 2000. I only have the ballpoint. I have nothing bad to say about this pen, except that they use a proprietary ink cartridge. But the feel of using this pen…it’s an instant classic. If LAMY didn’t insist on a proprietary ink I might have made this pen number one. It got just the right amount of girth and the ink flows smoothly.

So that’s my top five pens of this year so far. What have you been writing with?

Everyday Carry: My Five Favorite Pens

1. Jotter XL

I love Jotters. I love the simple design, the refill options, the affordable price, and the history. Parker has been making Jotters since 1954, meaning there are plenty of variations on the classic design for anyone who just isn’t happy with the standard. But despite my great love for these pens they sometimes feel a tad small in my hands, so when the Jotter XL came out I was ecstatic. The XL takes the same refills as a standard jotter and shares the same design language, but according to Parker’s website the pen is 7% larger than the standard model. This may seem like only a small change but makes a huge difference in how it feels to hold. For me it creates the perfect ergonomics for what was already an almost perfect pen.

2. Rotring 800 Ballpoint Pen

Rotring’s ballpoint version of their 800 mechanical pencil was something I waited awhile for. Their industrial aesthetic and sturdy build quality make them easy favorites, even if the price can be a little eye-watering. Even the box has a great design. All the writing utensils in this series come in a slim triangular box that immediately sets it apart from other pens. My one complaint is that sometimes the barrel feels a little too small in my hands, but the knurled grip greatly offsets this.

3. Lamy 2000

In some ways Lamy seems to me like the Apple of pens. Their products are well built, fun to use, but sadly proprietary. Lamy ballpoint cartridges are a pleasure to write with but are not the parker-style refills that come in most of the pens I have. That said, Lamy makes some of my favorite pens like the Lamy 2000. It’s got a simple design and hefty feel and comes in several variants if you’re someone who needs a multipen or just likes having the complete set.

4. Cross Tech2

A lot of pens nowadays come with a built in stylus that I’ve never found much use for. But I am a sucker for finishes that Cross puts on their pens and the stylus point on the end looks good aesthetically. It’s just a good, quality pen with a nice feel and a great finish.

5. Pentel Energel

I love to see variety within a product line, it helps to satisfy my urge to collect. And Pentel’s Energel line does the job splendidly. The pens come in multiple colors, nib sizes, and price points. You want to just spend a few bucks on a pen to take notes with in class? Energel has got it. You want a fine point for scribbling in the margins? They’ve got that too. They even have a more upscale model with the same refill if you need something that works as a gift or looks good in meetings. Like the Pilot G2s or parker-style refills, this is a line that has a lot of versatility, with a well-made cartridge that can be used in a wide number of formats to suit your use-case and preferences.

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