While many love large pens, not everyone is willing to carry them in an accessible fashion every day. When it comes to filling unexpected forms, making quick notes, or doodling, the best tools are the ones you actually have with you at all times. Luckily, pen lovers today have a selection of quality instruments that fit in a purse or pocket without constantly reminding you it’s there.
The smallest of pens tend to be ballpoints, as they don’t require feeds or filling mechanisms – even the nib itself is pin-point by definition. They are sometimes called wallet pens as they can conceivably be clipped inside the fold of a wallet or small purse. Simple, elegant examples exist aplenty by most pen brands, such as the Monteverde Poquito, and others by Zebra and the like.
For fountain pens, there’s the Cross Classic Century and Sailor Chiana. Both are very slim, but considerably longer than the wallet pens mentioned above.
Pocketable Fountain Pens
For fountain pen lovers, things start to get interesting in the category of compact, durable pens that you can carry all day, yet still deliver the joy of luscious ink flowing through quality nibs.
When talking about pocket fountain pens, the Kaweco Sport often comes to mind. The original Sport-Series has been around for over 100 years, with little change in its compact design. Today, the Sport is available in a variety of materials and finishes to suit every taste (and budget).
The design of the Sport is essentially a very short body when capped, but extends to a practical size when posted. Each houses a steel no.5 nib and uses international short cartridges. You can also use converters to use your own ink, but few fit in the short body other than the squeeze converter by Kaweco themselves. There’s also the Kaweco Liliput, which is much slimmer with a smooth round body.
These pens don’t come with a built-in clip, however. You need to get the slip-on clips separately, but they truly complement the design and are available in silver or gold to match your nibs.
Regarding the variety of materials and finishes, the options are indeed considerable. The basic plastic models come in many colors, including some transparent ones, and are a great value for less than MYR100 (USD25). Going up the range, you have metal bodies with various finishes, including a stone wash that gives it a pre-stressed look. The solid brass model is particularly sought-after – reassuringly heavy, and develops a unique character with use due to brass patina.
TWSBI is a relative newcomer to the scene, but has been making waves with well built pens at affordable prices. Their pens are piston or vacuum fillers, which are features that don’t usually come cheap. With these, you don’t have to worry about cartridges or converters – they are meant to hold a large amount of all your favorite bottled inks. They are also demonstrators, which means you can see all the ink and mechanisms in the pen at all times.
Both filling systems are available as miniature versions in the Diamond Mini and Vac Mini, fulfilling the pocket pen criteria. Although mostly made of plastic, they are not super lightweight, and certainly don’t feel cheap. The Vac Mini, in particular, actually has a bit of heft to it.
As you see in the article’s header, my own daily carry is the Kaweco AL Sport in matte black. For me, the Kaweco is a classic pen, built to last. But with that, comes the trappings of typical fountain pen ‘issues’. The short body means dealing with the tiny squeeze converter, or manually refilling cartridges, both with a rather small capacity. While two of my Kawecos came with excellent nibs out of the box, another one needed a bit of nib work to write smoothly. If you enjoy tinkering with your pens, the Kaweco can be very rewarding. Mine is now setup with matching gold plated nib and clip, and writes beautifully.
The TWSBI’s, on the other hand, seem to be great value buys. They offer large capacity, practical design, and work straight out of the box. A strong workhorse, with no fussing with cartridges or converters. If you love your inks at least as much as your pens, the TWSBI minis are an excellent platform to use and showcase your collection. It’s already on my list as a second pocket pen; just need to decide between the piston or vacuum filler.
Where to buy:
The full range of TWSBI, Kaweco, and Monteverde are available at:
pengallery.com.my (For Malaysian customers)