Fountain pens are traditionally the most elegant pens on the planet, so it comes as no surprise that many Bullet Journal enthusiasts want to incorporate the use of fountain pens in their journaling.
The fountain pen in terms of this article, is not a calligraphy pen. The nib is your standard fine, medium or broad-point that you’d use for everyday bullet journaling.
Cheap vs Expensive Fountain Pens
One of the first things to consider is how much you want to invest in a fountain pen, and what it’s going to give you in return. You know that the saying goes “you get what you pay for,” but I’ve found that many of the “cheaper” fountain pens work just fine when used daily.
The first thing you want to consider is how you’ll use the pen. There are usually two ways for how people use their fountain pens:
A Desk Pen
Desk pens stay at your desk and don’t get moved. These would usually be your more expensive or keepsake pens that you don’t want to ruin by putting into your backpack or purse where they’d get banged up by keys, spare change or whatever else you have floating around in there.
Desk pens also are better if you happen to be instagramming, vlogging or blogging your bullet journal journey, and want some really nice, lavish pictures that get a lot of likes.
General Purpose Pens
Fountain pens that you’d take with you have to be sturdier and tougher to getting jostled about. These will usually be the less expensive pens because if they break, you won’t be shedding tears on your way back to the store to get another one.
This post will focus on the general use pens only
The Nib Is Everything
On fountain pens, the nib creates the whole experience for you. If you have tried fountain pens in the past and found that they were unreliable, didn’t write well, or leaked, then it’s the nib’s fault 99.9% of the time.
The nib controls the flow of ink, and at the same time, the size of the nib at the point determines your line. If the nib flows a lot of ink, but it’s a fine tip nib, then you may experience great writing, but some excess leakage. If you have a nib that flows just a bit of ink, but the nib point is broad, then you might experience “starvation” where you lose the line because ink can’t flow fast enough.
New fountain pen users generally should start off with a medium or fine tip to learn control. They also will teach you how to write better because the lines that a fountain pen creates are not as forgiving as gel pens or felt tipped pens.
Types of Ink Matter Too
Many new fountain pen users get hooked on the idea that they can use different types of inks. Some inks work better than others in Fountain pens. Some other inks are made for just one purpose that might not include your fountain pen. Make sure to read everything from the ink manufacturer if you are going to be using a custom ink from a company like Noodler’s, for example to make sure that you use the right ink for your fountain pen.
For those that really don’t want to mess with custom inks, just get the cartridge inks. These are prefilled with the correct ink and usually come in blue and black at the very least. Usually the ink will last a couple weeks under daily writing conditions, so make sure to pick up enough that you don’t have to order all the time. If you plan to take your pen with you where ever you go, go with the ink cartridges rather than a refillable. It’s much easier to change the cartridge when you run out of ink, and you can store a couple backup cartridges in your backpack or purse.
General Use Fountain Pens for Bullet Journaling
1. Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Best 1st Pen for New Users
The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens are some of the best to get started on. They require almost no maintenance and use ink cartridges. These pens have aluminum barrels so they stand up to the rigors of daily use and they come with a lot of really nice colors and designs too.
The Metropolitan is available in both fine and medium nibs and generally cost between $12 and $30, so you’re not going to go broke buying a pen. They come with two ink cartridges to start, and a pack of 12 refills is about $5. As far as refills are concerned, there are a lot of color choices. Black, Blue, Red, Purple, and Green are most popular.
2. Lamy Fountain Pens
If you prefer the refillable fountain pen, then the Lamy Safari is an excellent choice. These pens do require a bit of maintenance from my experience so you can’t just fill it and forget it. I generally need to clean the nib once a month to ensure the nib flows ink well, but on the flip side, for the price that these pens come in at, the writing experience is truly enjoyable.
These pens are offered in extra-fine, fine, medium and broad tips, so you have a lot of selection to choose from. Additionally there are many colors available. The Lamy Safari can be found in a price range of $28-$50 depending on color and nib. Beware: This is one of the most popular pens to fake. There are tons of fake Lamy pens out there that are crap quality. If you find a Lamy under $28, you might want to question whether its real or not.
You can also get replacement ink cartridges if you prefer not to hassle with trying to refill the pen. This does make the pen considerable better to carry around too.
3. Platinum “Preppy” Fountain Pens
The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens are cartridge-based pens that are ideal for carrying in your bag or backpack because they’re made a lot more like regular rollerball pens. Using these pens also feels a lot more like using a gel pen as well, so if you want to use an inexpensive fountain pen that really writes well daily, look into the Platinum Preppy pens. They go for about $6 each or a pack of 7 for about $33. You can also get refills here.
4. Pilot Kakuno Fountain Pen
The Pilot Kakuno is another fountain pen that’s really easy to work with. Virtually no maintenance needed on this pen, and all you have to do is replace the cartridges as needed. It comes in a few different colors, with either fine or medium nibs. The cost of these nice little pens runs between $9 and $15 each.
5. Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pens
If space is an issue, the Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pens are what you want. They’re oh, so small and cute, but most importantly, they’ll fit in small purses and handbags. The Petit1 comes in a variety of colors and refills are available. The pens are about $8 each or a set of three for about $10.
6. Pilot Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens
For those that really don’t want to have anything to do with changing cartridges, or if you’re traveling and don’t want to worry about losing your good pens, the Pilot Varsity is the perfect pen to have with you. They’re disposable so you just toss it away (recycle it) when your done. They don’t leak and the writing experience is pretty decent. The price ranges between $10 and $20 depending on quantity and colors.
Featured image credit: Kim Werker