pocket pen!
October 10, 2012 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a sustainable pocket pen solution (for a girl)!-- I need suggests/recommendations/ideas for a pocket pen that is thin in diameter and short. It needs to either be extremely cheap and easily replaceable, or easily refillable (fountain pen ink, pencil lead, or non-proprietary refills). I would ideally like to carry this in my pants pocket, and will probably carry it all the time. I can't spend more than 20 dollars on this, and really, less than 10 is even better.

also, I live in Toronto, and would appreciate info on where to find such a pen. And I am a girl, so you know, the pen needs to be no more than about 3 inches. I am an experienced fountain pen user so that's a possibility, too.
posted by atetrachordofthree to Shopping (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm guessing that you mean three inches WIDE, as three inches long is a very short pen, and even someone with small hands might have trouble with it.

Grand & Toy used to sell simple Shaeffer fountain pens for about $6; you had to buy cartridges for them (5 for about $3), or invest in a separate refillable cartridge. They had tight lids and rarely leaked, but I did have trouble getting for cartridges as they didn't last long and were relatively expensive and hard-to-find.

My husband has taken the massive number of pens solution: Bic Ultra Round, 20 for a few dollars. They are better than the cheapest Bic, but still cheap enough that you didn't care about losing one.
posted by jb at 6:00 PM on October 10, 2012

I think the OP probably did mean 3 inches long, since she says she wants to be able to carry it in her pants pocket. Plus, I'm not sure how you would write with a pen 3 inches wide.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 6:02 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah I definitely meant 3 inches long. I have ridiculously small hands, so that's not a problem. I've had such a pen before, but I lost it on a trip and could not find them again on the market.

As for cartridge fountain pens, I have everything it takes to refill the cartridges myself, so that's actually a easy option. I'll definitely look in to G&T.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 6:07 PM on October 10, 2012

Perhaps the BIC Mini Grip mechanical pencil would suit you. The squishy rubber grips are removable if you prefer an unadorned pencil. (I used them for fieldwork: the squishy grip was great for cold, numb fingers, the pocketability was a great boon, and the bright colours made them hard to lose.)
posted by pont at 6:09 PM on October 10, 2012

I had a fisher space pen in my wallet. It's around the right length, and the top half snaps on the bottom half to make a full length pen. OfficeMax and the like carry them, so you can see them in person yourself.
posted by zug at 6:14 PM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Jetpens carries a whole selection of mini and micro pens. They also ship to Canada. A lot of these pens are made in Japan though, so if you have any Japanese book stores nearby or better yet, a stationary store, they might carry these too.
posted by Aliera at 6:42 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been having trouble finding them lately, but Pilot Petit pens are awesome. I have about half a dozen, with a bunch of cartridges, but mostly I fill them with other inks. If you can find them, they're cheap, about $3.50, and they're very small and surprisingly nice, they are my most reliable fountain pens, even after sitting for weeks and weeks, they start right up.
posted by upatree at 6:47 PM on October 10, 2012

I do a diy/mod route with those ubiquitous Bic Ultra Round pens so that there's always one on my keychain. I pull them open and cut them with a utility knife so that they are a little more than 3 inches in length when reassembled, without the cap. The cap gets a split ring so that it'll stay on my keychain. The nice thing is that these pens are cheap and everywhere, easy to cut down to any size, and have never leaked in my pocket or elsewhere as a result.

I did briefly carry a pen from a Victorinox Swiss Army knife in my wallet. These are normally nested in the handle, are maybe about 3 inches long. I think they are pretty inexpensive, but are basically like a pen refill that's been sealed off so as not to leak. They are really too think for me to write comfortably with. But they are out there.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:51 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for really short pens, I've seen some in dollar stores. Some have caps that extend the pen when writing so that it's more like 5 inches, but then 3 inches in your pocket. (I'm a girl/female too, but I can't write with a pen under 4 inches long or else my fingers hurt).

But I mostly lust for the Fisher space pen. Those things are so awesome.
posted by jb at 7:14 PM on October 10, 2012

I'm a full-blown F-701 user myself, but I've always liked the styling of the Zebra F-301 Compact. You can find them with blue bodies too.
posted by carsonb at 7:23 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Two gel pens to check out, though they are both slightly longer than the 3" you asked for. First, the Cross Ion. Looks like it is getting hard to find. Retails for about $25, but is refillable -- my Ion is probably ten years old and still going strong. Has a unique "pull to open" design and is about 3.5" long. Second, the Pilot G2 Mini, a retractable gel pen. About $1.50 each, these pens are aout 4.5" long.
posted by kovacs at 7:27 PM on October 10, 2012

I absolutely love the Inka Pen. It's about three inches long and can be pulled out of its sheath and used as a tiny pen that can write on anything. Or, a 10-second process can combine the sheath with the tiny pen into a perfectly weighted full-sized pen. Comes in blue or black and the whole thing attaches to a keyring. It rocks!

Can't find a good link to paste from my iPhone, but googling will get you some good purchasing options. Seriously, it's an amazing pen.
posted by bluejayway at 7:30 PM on October 10, 2012

Best answer: For 3 inch long pens, I have two types - for super thin ones (1/8") to have in my wallet, I buy 3-packs of PDA replacement stylus-with-built-in-pen. I think you can also get Nintendo DS stylus if you want slightly thicker.

For full sized ones, most supermarkets and department stores in the USA will carry collapsible pens that are 3" in your pocket then telescope out to a full size pen.
posted by anonymisc at 8:14 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe Office Depot sells boxes of a dozen mini gel pens, which are fantastic, cheap (I believe around $10 for the dozen) and perfect pocket size. I've used a ton of different small pocket pens, and these work just as well as the expensive ones, but you get a dozen of them, so you don't need to worry about finding expensive refills.
posted by markblasco at 8:41 PM on October 10, 2012

Came here to recommend the Zebra F-301 compact, as carsonb did above. I always have (at least) one of these in a pocket, on my lanyard for my work badge, or just clipped someplace convenient. I've also used the Zebra Telescopic in the same way. Both are available in most office supply stores in the US (and UK, for that matter).
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:05 PM on October 10, 2012

Seconding the Pilot G2 Mini. Has been my standard pocket pen for years. Cheap enough to be considered disposable, but also built well enough that I've actually refilled them and run the refill out completely as well. Small enough to be unobtrusive in the front pocket (slacks or blue jeans), but just large enough to still be comfortable in my largish hands (octave plus two on a piano.) I work at an office supplies retailer, so I wind up trying a lot of pens. For me, the Pilot G2 is the smoothest-writing, most comfortable gel pen out there.

Pentel, an entirely different brand, sells the Excalibur rollerball pen, a nice-looking and nicely-weighted pen at an attractive price. Our unofficial policy is to rip out the Pentel cartridge and put in a Pilot G2 refill. The G2s really do write that well.

Was also going to suggest the Fisher Bullet Space Pen, already mentioned above. The Space Pen cartridges are pressurized, which often leaves them with a little "ink booger" right on the tip. The Space Pen refills also have a very distinctive feel to them which seems to be somewhat polarizing; customers either love them or hate them. They feel a little scratchy and skippy to me, but I prefer gel pens.
posted by xedrik at 10:39 PM on October 10, 2012

The Zebra Telescopic is a nice pen with a decent cartridge in it. I had to stop carrying one in my pocket when I noticed my pockets were getting marked up with ink. The sliding sleeve has a tendency to not stay put, exposing the ballpoint tip, which can lead to ink stains. Very solid-feeling pen with a good clip on it, if a little topheavy when extended. We sell quite a few of them. Cartridges are rather short-lived, ink-wise.
posted by xedrik at 10:43 PM on October 10, 2012

A lot of these pens are made in Japan though, so if you have any Japanese book stores nearby

This. I have a little ~4in stainless steel retractable ballpoint (I think it's a Pilot Birdy; it's very similar to the Zebra Mini T3) I bought for about $8 at a Kinokuniya. My only gripe is that after a year or so of living in my pocket, it picked up enough lint or something that the retraction mechanism is a little balky. It's a good size for a pocket or for being clipped into a small notebook though.

I've also used the Zebra F-301 and I liked it, but it's a full-diameter pen, which makes it a little bulkier, if easier on the hands. The Birdy is maybe half the diameter of a typical pen.

Another thing you could do, come to think of it, is get a box of pencils and saw them in half.
posted by hattifattener at 12:11 AM on October 11, 2012

Best answer: I like my Marvy Petite, it's a good weight and feels solid, and fits just right in my hand.
posted by mgar at 5:04 AM on October 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks all! The Zebra F-301 is indeed an excellent pen, although anaonymisc's suggestion of stylus was ingenius. And mgar-- Marvy! That's the one I had but lost! Thank you so much.
posted by atetrachordofthree at 5:07 AM on October 11, 2012

If you're still looking for options, the Ohto Tasche is about four inches when closed, and expands to just under six inches with the cap on the end.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:20 AM on October 11, 2012

I am not sure if you are still looking, but get a Space Pen.
posted by Silvertree at 7:11 AM on October 11, 2012

Aww, I bought the Marvy for the stylus, but I just discovered that it doesn't work on my Samsung Note. :( It's still a great tinypen, so I'm demoting the Mini RSVP I was keeping in my wallet in its favor.
posted by mgar at 8:21 PM on October 11, 2012

Sounds like a Zebra Expandz or MiniExpandz might do the trick, see http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Zebra_Expandz.html#a2977 and http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Zebra_Mini_Expandz.html.

The OHTO Capstick might also be a good choice; but be aware, in a pocket it has been known to unscrew; see http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/OHTO-Capstick-Compact-Pen-NBP-680CS.html. [using Cult Pens site's links for convenience; shipping costs would, I think, make it unviable for your purposes]
posted by davemack at 6:59 AM on October 12, 2012

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