What To Look For In A Good Pen

Pens are one of those items that have become rarer and rarer as we race toward a future dominated by technology. Of course, they’re always around, not that you can recall how the last one you used ended up in your possession, however, they’ve never been celebrated as a worthy addition to your everyday carry. You wouldn’t type on a dodgy keyboard or pirate some risky software. Why write with an average, unreliable pen? Here’s what to look for in a good pen.

Appearance

Ultimately, you won’t know the worth or use of a good pen until you pick it up. There’s obviously a range of aesthetic variation and preferences but what really matters is pen-to-page interaction. But outer colour, style of pen, among a myriad of other factors can contribute majorly to your final decision.

Feel

Before you touch any pen to paper, this is the first thing you’ll notice. And if you want to invest in a good pen, it’s important. Some opt for lighter pens while a stronger hand might prefer a more solid and weighty piece. I personally prefer pens on the longer side.

Smoothness

Perhaps the most important factor, one must determine whether or not their pen of choice glides nicely or digs in erratically on the page. The mark of a bad pen is whether it feels like scratching on a page as opposed to writing. One of the cornerstones of what to look for a in a good pen.

Smudging

It may not seem important as you write, but some smudged notes or even worse, a smudged signature can absolutely detrimental. Many high-end pens will have issues with the steadiness of their ink supply which results in a wet page and undoubtedly smudged words.

Bleed-Through

Another negative effect of pen pouring out its ink. Some pens tend to bleed through the page, rendering the use of the page as redundant.

I won’t say that the pen world can get as dramatic and varied as the watch world, but it’s certainly an industry of its own. Therefore, I’ll just stick to the basics. Here are some recommendations for gels, ballpoints, rollerballs, felt-tips, and fountain pens.

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Gels

Gel pens utilised a water-based gel as opposed to traditional ink, making the ink ‘stick’ especially well to the page. Because of its ease of manufacturing, this is the pen that has flooded the market and can be found on the floors of cars or in between desks at the office.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a gel pen that doesn’t come in packs of 50+. But the PENTEL TRL92N-A GEL PEN TRADIO ENERGEL 0.7MM gives fair competition to the pricier members of this list.

Ballpoint

Ballpoints are just that – pens that use a ball nib instead of the sharper tips of other kinds. This can result in a more pleasant and free writing experience but may also lessen accuracy. If you’re that pedantic.

The Jarrah Ballpoint Pen is a nice ode to the native Australian Jarrah tree, often utilised in construction. If it can hold a house it can hold your words.

Rollerball

As opposed to a ballpoint pen, rollerballs use liquid ink creating an often-smoother writing experience. And just as the name suggests, the ball rolls…

The Baron Fig Squire is an excellent and fairly-priced pen, moving fluidly and effortlessly across the page and it ticks all the boxes in regards to what to look for in a good pen.

Felt-Tip

Fortunately for us, the guys who named pen types kept it pretty simple. Felt-tip pens use a conglomerate of tightly-packed felt strands. If you want to feel like you’re painting, the felt-tip is a good choice.

Certainly the cheapest member of this list, the Prismacolor Premier is simple done well.

Fountain Pen

Fountain pens are characterised by their oddly shaped nib, which is reminiscent of days when a feather and parchment was the communication method of choice. Rooted in history, these pens are traditionally finely made and expensive.

Although Montblanc has been making excellent strides in the watch-making world, they literally forged their names in the books of business with their exquisite pen-making. The Meisterstück Great Masters James Purdey & Sons Fountain Pen is an unequalled example of pen-making, inspired by expertly-made rifles. This is everything and more of what to look for in a good pen.

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Jay is a writer and content producer for The Versatile Gent.

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