Kickstarter continues to be a place for new and innovative pen designs. I reviewed the Tactile Turn Gist a few weeks ago, which is an impressive fountain pen built for everyday carry. This week, I have the pleasure of offering a sneak peak review of The Pen, an ambitious everyday carry Kickstarter pen, created by the folks at RIIND. RIIND provided several pens, at no charge, for the purpose of this review.
The Pen is intimidating, at first glance. It's larger than most of the pens that I own, and I initially expected it to be heavy and hard to use. Despite my initial concerns, The Pen is incredibly light. The body is made from anodized aluminum, which is very durable but lightweight. Even though The Pen is longer and thicker than the Retro 51 Tornado Slim that I traditionally carry, it actually feels lighter in hand.
The Pen's twist mechanism is easily the most interesting part of its design. A half-turn in any direction extends or retracts the tip. While it's easy enough to twist the cap with a thumb and index finger, the mechanism stays firmly in place, with a satisfying click. I do wish that there was less play in the twist mechanism, since it wiggles with pressure, but it's well designed and stable overall. The twist nob has a knurled finish (scoring), which allows fingers to easily grip and twist. This design is shared by The Pen's grip and does an excellent job of preventing finger slippage. While the design provides excellent grip, it doesn't protrude enough from the barrel to be painful or leave marks on the hand. I did notice some finger fatigue after longer writing sessions; however, the writing experience was pleasurable overall. I traditionally prefer slim grips, so I was surprised by just how comfortable The Pen is to hold.
I have a confession to make; I hate pen clips. They're a necessary evil but often seem to be afterthoughts in pen design. The Lamy 2000 is a pleasant exception to this rule, but I don't love the clips on my TWSBI 580 nor Tactile Turn Gist. I say this so that the next sentence carries more weight. I simply love The Pen's clip. The asymmetrical clip design fits in well with The Pen's overall machined look, but also serves an interesting mechanical purpose. Unlike some stiff-as-nails clips, the clip is easy to move and has incredible range, but still keeps the pen firmly clipped and secure. I prefer the black pen body with matching clip; however, the other color combinations look great as well.
The Pen is manufactured with incredibly tight tolerances that make for a great writing experience. The tip unscrews smoothly to reveal access to the ink cartridge, and The Pen accommodates an impressive number of different cartridges. It includes a G2, which sits snuggly in the barrel, with zero wiggling or clicking when writing.
Should you back this pen? That's the question that probably brought you here. I had two main qualms with The Pen, the slight wiggle in the cap and the price. The first isn't worth a second thought, but at $125, The Pen is an expensive investment. It's certainly within range of other projects, like the Pen Type-B, but it's worth asking yourself if this is a pen that you plan to use all the time. If the answer is yes, then absolutely back it. If The Pen seems too expensive for you, then I have some great news that may change your mind. In response to criticisms regarding The Pen's price, the folks at RIIND have lowered the entry pledge from $125 to $95. If you were on the fence, this may well push you over the edge, and it should, in my opinion. Kudos to RIIND for listening to feedback and making changes based on community recommendations.
If you like the overall design and listed features of The Pen, I can assure you that it lives up to the promises and claims on the Kickstarter page. Yes, you can even squeeze a sideways penny underneath the clip. The Pen is well designed, durable, and would make a great everyday carry addition. I'm not typically a fan of larger pens, but The Pen hits a few sweet spots for me. The grip is certainly thicker than, say a Retro 51 Tornado, but it's comfortable and won't slide if it gets wet from the environment or sweaty palms. The quality is top notch, and the twist mechanism and clip are pretty dang cool. Considering these features and the recent price drop, I'd absolutely recommend backing The Pen, if its size and overall design appeal to you. Thanks again to RIIND for letting me preview their latest creation. If you're interested in backing this project or learning more, please visit The Pen's project page on Kickstarter.
Still not sure? Check out these other RIIND Pen reviews: