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July 31, 2006 12:43 PM   Subscribe

MoleskineFilter: Can anyone recommend a non-gel ink, commercially available pen to use with my pocket Moleskine?

before you snark, I did run a search. Previous answers mostly involved artsy-indie fountain type pens, gel pens, or specialty items I'd have to order on Ebay/Amazon then wait a week or so to receive.

I really just want to go to Target or the local art supply tonight and buy something affordable that works, plus I'd like to buy a couple to keep backups around for if when I lose the original.

Black ink, medium to medium fine point works best. Nothing fancy, just a smooth writing pen with non-smudgy, non-gloopy ink that doesn't skip. Does such a thing exist?

I'm mostly writing in my Moleskine but I also do some pen sketches from time to time. I dislike the way gel ink 'feels'. Slender metal barrels or 'micro' pens won't work as I can't grip them properly. I tend to destroy felt tips within about a week.

thanks everyone.
posted by lonefrontranger to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Pilot V Ball 0.7
posted by Dr.Pill at 12:46 PM on July 31, 2006

My favorite pen, for years, has been the Sanford Uni-Ball Micro. I hate any line thicker than Micro, so can't recommend a Medium or Medium-Fine tip from my own experience. But my understanding is that the Uni-Ball product line includes a Medium point as well. You ought to try that.

I strongly recommend Uni-Ball pens.
posted by jayder at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2006

Not sure what you mean by non-gel but I use Bic GripRoller (fine) and buy them at the drug store for a buck. They're black and come in packs of two where I am.
posted by dobbs at 12:52 PM on July 31, 2006

Oh, and yes, I use mine in Moleskines.
posted by dobbs at 12:53 PM on July 31, 2006

I second Dr.Pill's suggestion.
posted by penchant at 1:04 PM on July 31, 2006

Damn do I love me my Fisher Space Pen, both for writing in moleskines and in Rite in the Rain "tactical memo books."

The space pen is available in most decent office supply stores, not just on-line. I'd have to imagine that some place in Boulder carries them.
posted by dersins at 1:04 PM on July 31, 2006

I use Staedtler Pigment Liners.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:08 PM on July 31, 2006

I third Dr. Pill's suggestion - I've used this pen in my moleskines for years.
posted by meerkatty at 1:12 PM on July 31, 2006

More Uni-Ball love here. I use the Vision Elite, Vision, and Deluxe models in all the line widths. I don't have a smudging problem with them, but the ink is a bit heavy for the thin paper moleskines (doesn't bother me, though). I'd say they'd be better suited for the sketchbook moleskines.

On preview, I'll also vouch for the space pen. I got mine at Office Depot.
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:13 PM on July 31, 2006

The uni-ball's are *fantastic*.

What's a moleskine? :-)
posted by baylink at 1:14 PM on July 31, 2006

I was going to suggest a Japanese brand, but I see you want something commonly available. I've relied on the Pentel R.S.V.P. model for a couple years. It's a pretty cheap, basic, consistent ballpoint.

ITOYA Xenon Aqua Roller!!

I mean, uh, I didn't say anything.
posted by evil holiday magic at 1:20 PM on July 31, 2006

I like Sakura Pigma Micron Pens, which should be available at most art supply stores. The ink is permanent and archival quality, doesn't blob, and you probably can’t find a finer point. They also make a brush-tip if you want to get fancy with your sketches.
posted by ijoshua at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2006

What the deuce... ITOYA's not Japanese at all... sorry about that.
posted by evil holiday magic at 1:22 PM on July 31, 2006

The whole Uniball line is good. Just a matter of figuring out which one is exactly best for your writing style.

Office supply stores often have the basic Uniball pens in 12-packs, for the economy-minded.
posted by jellicle at 1:38 PM on July 31, 2006

Sakura also doesn't smudge. It's like a really posh, solvent-based felt-tip. Those are great.
posted by evil holiday magic at 1:41 PM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: A lithographer friend of mine got me hooked on these Zebra pens. Now I'm frustrated when I have to use anything but.
posted by Brian James at 1:43 PM on July 31, 2006

Woops, forgot the link.
posted by Brian James at 1:44 PM on July 31, 2006 [1 favorite]

Like jayder and baylink, I'm in love with my Uniball. I use the Onyx Micro.
posted by irregardless at 1:51 PM on July 31, 2006

I second the notion of Zebra pens
posted by Number27 at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2006

Moleskine=little black notebook.

posted by sulaine at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2006

I'm lost without my zebra zeb-roller 2000. I buy 'em by the boxfull at my local Office Depot.
posted by pasici at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2006

I'm unfamiliar with Moleskine paper, but if it's any better for regular ink than standard-issue copy paper, Pilots should work well. They've been my favorite for many years and I keep trying other kinds from time to time.
posted by furiousthought at 3:06 PM on July 31, 2006

Third-ing the Sakura Pigma Micron. There's a variety of widths and colors, but I personally like the .25mm tip.
posted by suedehead at 3:20 PM on July 31, 2006

Another vote for Uni-Ball, specifically the Uni-Ball Vision Micro. the regular ("Fine") is far too wide for me, the Onyx tends to skip a lot when I use it.

If you didn't dislike felt-tips, I would also recommend the (Yasumoto/Y&C) Stylist -- a fine pen, despite the tendency for you to run out of nib before you run out of ink.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:39 PM on July 31, 2006

Evil Holiday: Itoya is the American off-shoot of a Japanese company. And the Xenon pen rocks! I use mine in my Moleskine - no smudges. I get compliments from people every time I lend it out - only 3.00 pen that's ever happened with!
posted by dbmcd at 3:54 PM on July 31, 2006

If your notebook's in your pocket, you'll probably sweat on it and want an ink that won't run when it's gets wet. At work (where I often end up almost soaking wet from sweating) I use a Parker ballpoint cartridge in a cheap pen body that came from a dollar store. Writes perfectly with no skipping and they're available almost anywhere where there's office supplies. Parker has permanently changed my previously low opinion on ballpoint pens.
posted by cropshy at 4:09 PM on July 31, 2006

Best answer: artsy-indie fountain type pens

Fountain pens are artsy-indie? Or is that a particular genre of fountain pens?

I draw the line at letting hipsters claim the fountain pen. You hear me hipsters?

Anyway, I did this (taking the ink cartridge from a Mont Blanc and putting it in a Pilot G-2 shell) and it works great, writes well, and is cheap enough to replace if I lose it.

Nicest pen I've ever had, short of my artsy-indie fountain pen. :)
posted by Hildago at 4:23 PM on July 31, 2006

Response by poster: hi everyone, thanks for all the input.

I ran by Office Despot on the way home where I picked up a couple of the Pilots, and a couple of the Zebras. I like them both so far, time will tell which ones end up getting used the most.

also thank you for the link Hildago, I may just try that Montblanc hack as well. die hipsters! die! die! die!

Pentel pens have never been good for me. The ink in RSVPs is waaaayy too gooey for my liking.

I've been out of decent pens altogether since I moved house and somehow misplaced my art supplies case. it's somewhere, probably in the storage locker, which I'm too lazy to investigate.

oh and cropshy, good point but my moleskine lives in my Chrome bag, which is waterproof. Unless I do something even more stupid than usual and spill something inside the bag, dampness isn't an issue.

Those Sakura pens look great, all except for the part where I'd probably ruin the nib in no time. If the ink isn't very, very smooth flowing from a rollerball type feed, I wind up mashing down. it's a bad habit but that's just how I write. mom (an architect) never let me use her Rapidographs for this reason.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:51 PM on July 31, 2006

I tend to lean towards the extremes in pens. I like the 12 for a dollar bic ball points (fine and medium tip). But I also like the $20 a pop Rapidiographs.

I tend to have tried a lot of different pens when attempting to find what works best for doodling.

The moleskin paper is a bit odd to me. Ink seems to sit on top of it a little longer than I like.
posted by alikins at 7:31 PM on July 31, 2006

I don't own a Moleskine, but if the paper isn't porous enough, this could leave a fair amount of smudge time for liquid inks. The Pilot V Ball was my weapon of choice for about three years, but the smudge factor made some of my more heavily revised notes illegible. The final straw was when a small notebook went through the wash, which drove me toward the oil based rollers. The 0.7 is a great pen, though, otherwise.
posted by evil holiday magic at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2006

I'm very fond of the Pitt Artist Pen, and then come in four widths. Around US$2 retail, and last a very long time. Their only "flaw" is that they have a cap, rather than being retractable. They leave the Pigmas Microns in the dust--though for a very narrow line, Microns rule

Ditto on the Onyx and Zebra Sarasa.
posted by Sassenach at 8:54 AM on August 1, 2006


On the advice of a post from moleskinerie (great site, btw - no affiliation), I bought a box of Uni-ball 207s. 0.7mm ball giving an 0.4mm line in black to write in my treasured notebooks. They are rubbish. The ink spreads, seeps through the page almost immediately and takes an age to dry. Not recommended and $25 wasted. I have gone back to the ever-trusty Uni-ball Eye micro - brilliant with none of the above problems and a great, really really fine line.
posted by mooders at 12:36 PM on August 1, 2006

I have washed a moleskine (left it in a pocket) in the laundry, and it is still quite legible. I used a Pilot G-2 0.5 pen. If you want proof, I can post pics of the laundered text; it looks normal, but the paper it's written on has been dyed slightly darker.

I can't recommend any other pens because I'm loathe to repeat the experiment.
posted by Eideteker at 1:34 PM on August 5, 2006

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