The Best Pens to Grace Your Desk With in 2020


Illustration for article titled Get Back to the Basics With the Best Pens, According to Reviewers

Photo: Jordan McMahon

Top Product: Uni Ball Jetstream RT | $27 | Amazon

Got an idea that needs jotting down? You’ll have no trouble finding an app that’ll get all your thoughts saved before they escape your mind’s grasp. Even so, sometimes the screen’s not the best place for letting ideas flow. In those cases, a good pen and paper should do the trick, and if need be you can always type them up later.

Your average office pen will get the job done, but you’ll probably be subjecting yourself to ink that doesn’t always flow evenly, and they aren’t the most comfortable to hold, either. Getting a better pen isn’t easy, though, between all the varying categories, tip sizes, and types of ink. What you pick will depend on your needs and what’ll make you look forward to your next brainstorm session, rather than dread having to hunt down a pen two minutes before your meeting.

A Nice Pen Without the Commitment

Illustration for article titled Get Back to the Basics With the Best Pens, According to Reviewers

Graphic: Gabe Carey

If your hands are begging you for a pen that’s comfier to hold, or you know you’d lose a nicer, more expensive pen if you had one, Uni Ball’s Jetstream RT ballpoint pen is tough to beat. I’ve been using it as my go-to “fine if you lose it” pen to jot down notes on the go for the past couple years, and it has yet to let me down.

It’s thicker than the slim doctor’s office pens you’re used to, and it’s easier to grip since it’s thicker and has an embossed shell that won’t slip around in your hands. Unlike many comparable pens, like say the Pilot G2, the Jetstream RT’s ink is quick to dry, and it doesn’t bleed through your paper, so your notes won’t look too messy after a long day of scribbling. Actually writing with it is a joy, too, as the pen offers little resistance when you glide it across the page. Oh, and even though you buy them in packs of up to twelve, the ink’s replaceable, so if you end up loving it, you won’t have to keep buying more and piling up the waste. Just grab a few replacement packs and save the rest of your pens for backup, just in case.

A Fancier Pen With a Little More Pop

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Graphic: Gabe Carey

For more seasoned pen enthusiasts, as well as those who want a pen that’ll reliably dish out ink as needed, a fountain pen may be a better option. I’m still extremely new to fountain pens, but I’ve been using the Lamy Safari for about a month now, and I’m absolutely in love with it. Fountain pen tips are weird to get used to, but once you get the angle right, its ink flows smoothly without any blotches, and you hardly have to apply any pressure while writing.

You can get it in a variety of colors, like orange, purple, yellow, and there’s a few candy-themed special editions right now; they all look delightful. Its triangular design might be a bit polarizing, and there are definitely pens out there with better grips, but the Safari is an excellent pen for anyone starting their journey into fountain pens. Be sure to snag a few refill packs, though, so you aren’t left high and dry when you need your pen the most.

Change It Up

Illustration for article titled Get Back to the Basics With the Best Pens, According to Reviewers

Graphic: Gabe Carey

If you’re prone to color-coding your notes, you might prefer a few extra options. You could get different ink cartridges for a fountain pen, but that’s still a commitment, and swapping them around can be a huge pain. Don’t get one of those funky multi-cartridge pens with the sliders, either; they’re the worst of all worlds.

Instead, grab a pack of pens with different color inks, and see which ones work best for you. I usually stick to black and blue ink, so I don’t have too much experience here, but Amazon reviewers have great things to say about the Pilot Precise V5. Reviews note that the pen doesn’t provide much resistance as you’re writing, the ink is quick to dry and doesn’t smudge, and the tips are fine enough for tiny writing if you need to scribble in the margins before your next book club Zoom.

This pack comes with five colors: black, blue, red, green, and purple, which should cover all your bases. The shells all have colors to match, too, so you’ll never be surprised when you put pen to paper. Oh, and they’re refillable, too, so if you like what these pens are putting out, you can keep the ink flowing without tossing more pens into the dump.

The Grab-and-Go Option

Illustration for article titled Get Back to the Basics With the Best Pens, According to Reviewers

Graphic: Gabe Carey

If you’d rather just have an arsenal of pens at your disposal, and not have to worry about losing every other pen you scribble with, grab a box of BIC Round Stick pens. They don’t produce the best ink, and they aren’t exactly reliable or comfortable to grip, but they’re cheap to buy, even in large quantities.

This pack comes with 120 black ink pens and 120 blue ink pens, giving you 240 total pens for about the same price as one Lamy Safari, without committing to a single color. You won’t get all the niceties of the Safari, but you also won’t have to worry about dropping another $30 on a pen every time you leave one behind at the doctor’s office.




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