A stationary opinions info dump

Ok so here goes- I’m a giant nerd and stationary addict so here’s a big thread of what I’ve tried, what I thought, and basically a giant info dump!

Starting off: paper!

My favourite notebook is definitely Whitelines A4 0.5mm grid. It’s not cheap but it’s good paper and the scanning is just magical for someone who does as much digital note taking as me. The app is a lil scuffed. The dotted is also great.

Next: general thoughts on pens

I personally hate ballpoints. They’re often (but not necessarily ofc) uncomfortable and fragile, and more importantly the oil based ink is really sticky and thick. Ugh. They don’t make a mark unless you move them and they leave a very unsatisfying mark (see pic). I do own a parker jotter ballpoint and it is much nicer and refillable, but still has a ballpoint ink (despite Quink branding), so not great. If you want a decent quality ballpoint, a Parker Jotter is premium, and Papermate make the FlexGrip line which seem pretty popular but affordable enough to be disposable instead of refillable.

Pencils: I love a good pencil, especially for doing maths. I love the way they feel. Basic ass light pencils are nice to write with, but a good mechanical pencil is just amazing.

Rollerball pens: in case you don’t know, ballpoints use oil based ink, rollerballs water based, and gel gel based (no way!). I love rollerballs. I think they fix all the issues of ballpoints other than disposability and they’re definitely one of the less cost effective options. Big 👍 tho

Fountain pens: these have been my go-to for a few years, I adore them. I genuinely write neater with fountain than ballpoint, they feel great, and they can be incredibly economical. You must be comfortable with mess, initial investment, and nerdiness.

I’ve never tried gel. They make a very clear line but have very thick ink. I could try Pentel EnerGel. Whatever kind of pen Berol Handwriting Pens are, they’re scratchy and awful.

I tried some Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 334s, and they were pretty decent. Nice clear mark, writing felt okay but nothing amazing. I know they’re not for writing but hey, fight me. I have not tried the Stabilo Point 88 fineliners that seem to be so popular.

I’m interested in trying Pilot’s FriXion lineup, the ones that erase with heat from friction. Sadly seems they’ve only made it work with highlighter ink and gel ink. They also make FriXion fineliners though! I’ll try that one day!

Next: fountain pens

Fountain pens are by far one of the most economical ways to write if you can afford the investment (similarly to mechanical pencils!), but you HAVE to get a converter or ink pen and a bottle if you want that benefit, not cartridges.

I have had 4 fountain pens in my life. First: a WHSmith pen, was cheap, but pretty decent quality and idk fine. Forgot how it writes. Second, a Berol pen, see above.

Third: a Helix Oxford stainless steel pen. This pen is gorgeously weighted, really nice, but uses proprietary cartridges. It will take standard cartridges but their cartridges won’t fit any other pen. I’ll talk about the ink later ;) It eventually died to it siezing shut and being unable to open it due to the metal construction. For literally £2 at Ryman it’s a steal. Works well with an “online” brand converter I got off Amazon.

Now: I currently use a Parker Vector stainless steel. It is a noticeably less high end pen than the jotter line but it’s cheap. It writes lovely, needs a smaller size converter than standard, is nicely weighted yet not as exceptionally heavy as the helix, and looks great imo. The pocket clip keeps pulling threads off of one shirt I own but that’s hardly the pens fault.

I wanted a Faber-Castell Ambition Pearwood Brown a while back but uh, money!

One of my friends has previously recommended the Pilot V-Pen to me before, which is a disposable preloaded fountain pen. For a secondary pen for just having a few alternate colours, seems like a nice idea, though an expensive one.

The V-Pen claims to work with “ink eradicators”, but I can’t actually find much info on what on earth that is, and if other ink I’m about to list does too. Pilot do not sell one of these as far as I can tell, and Papermate give no additional info aside from just selling them.

I would love to try one of Pilot Namiki’s very fancy Maki-e pens. They look absolutely fucking stunning.

Next: inks! (for fountain pens)

Cheap shop own brand ink cartridges work, and similarly I used the helix ink cartridges for long enough, but soon enough royal blue gets boring and you want something better.

Parker Quink blue-black is my top recommendation. The colour is absolutely gorgeous, it behaves and flows very well, and it’s pretty cheap at £0.11/ml.

Diamine Imperial Purple is an absolutely beautiful colour and also behaves and flows great. It seems to stick to metal a little more than Quink but seems more water resistant marginally. I love the colour but its definitely less professional! It’s slightly more expensive but still not bad at £0.16/ml. It also makes your notes look just that lil bit girly :p (tho not cutesy like a pink, more refined!)

I am super interested to try Pilot Iroshizuku to see if it’s worth the astronomical price between about £0.54/ml-£0.74/ml depending on colour. I wanna test the hype but Jesus Christ is that expensive.


I have long been a fan of Mitsubishi/Uni-Ball’s Eye range of pens (“vision” in America), so I’ll talk about mostly those here.

They offer four variants - micro (0.5mm, silver), fine (0.7mm, gray), designer (0.7mm, much more stylish and ✨ fancy ✨ with an engraved clip), and broad (1.0mm, gold).

These last decently long, are comfortable, write very nicely, and the ink shows up incredibly clearly. The broad is a big too thick of a line for practicality imo, and micro is too thin. I used the fine variant all through my exams a couple years ago because I didn’t trust a fountain pen, and they were great. I have a designer in red now and I love it for it’s reliability, bright colour, smooth clean writing, and it will last basically forever just fine.

They are far from economical, it’s a cost for sure but a cost I’m happy enough to pay.

The pocket clips on the Uni-Ball Eye range are stylish but very weak. It tends to climb up out of my pocket as I walk which no other pens I have do.

I have not tried the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint (V5 and V7) pens but I really should! Compare the market and all that. They claim to have a unique patented ball design that improves flow. Hmm.

The Hi-Tecpoint pens are offered in a refillable variant which is especially attractive to me since the Uni-Ball Eye range are disposable and ~£3.50, while a Hi-Tecpoint refill is ~£1.55 (in a multipack).

EDIT: 2023-11-16 I bought a Pilot V7!

…and I love it. It writes smoother than the Uni-Ball Eye, is cheaper, can be refilled, and are cheaper per pen too!

I would happily switch to these as my primary pens.

Okay, to change gears, pencils!

For a basic pencil, I’ve only ever used Staedtler Noris pencils. Ya know, the black and yellow ones. They’re very solid and I like them. I would try some others eg Faber-Castell but I don’t have any wish to now I’ve gone mechanical. The Staedtler Noris Colour pencils are by far the best coloured pencils I’ve ever used. Far too many colouring pencils are hopelessly shit in lead quality, but these feel great to use. Strong strong recommendation on this one, go for it.

As for mechanical pencils, I would say that 0.7mm is good to get durability out of cheap lead, but too thick. 0.5mm gives a much sharper line.

I have previously used a Staedtler Mars Micro 0.7mm for multiple years, and it’s a very solid cheap mechanical pencil, albeit all plastic build. Its light, works reliably, all that. Eventually, the rubber grip went really horrible, and I stopped using it. The Staedler leads were pretty decent but nothing crazy. Durable enough, wrote good, fine.

I then got a Parker Jotter mechanical pencil and I have to say, I adore this pencil. It feels very premium in the hand and has a lovely weight, the mechanism feels satisfying and durable, it has a generous eraser included, though it’s very easy to take it out entirely when removing the cap if uncareful.

I was originally using Ryman “professional” leads, but they left a light mark, broke if you looked at them wrong, and kept jamming up my pencil. They also felt a bit rough.

I bought some Pentel Ain-Stein leads and they rock. They are nice and dark, rarely break (that is their entire selling point!), feel amazing, and and will probably last me for ages.

I wanted to try Uni Nano-Dia leads (yes, the dia means diamond. Real diamond.) but I just got Ain-Stein while it was in stock so no longer have any need for a super strong fancy lead other than curiosity.

I would love to try a Rotring mechanical pencil, but I’m pretty happy with what I have right now so I’m in no rush. Equal applies for a Pentel Graphgear!

I was interested in a Zebra Del-Guard (which has a special mechanism that prevents excessive force on the lead), and a Uni Kuru Toga Roulette (which spins the lead as you write to keep it super sharp) but I’m mostly satisfied with the lead sharpness of 0.5mm and the strength of Ain-Stein leads.

Finishing up: My Recommendations

OK, here’s my recommendations:

  • Pick up a Pilot V7, it writes smoothly, has a consistent line, and feels great to use. I am pretty confident that for most people this will be, if not a new favourite, a nicer replacement for a ballpoint ;)

    If you’re a lefty, probably skip this one. Both rollerballs and fountain pens use water-based ink that dries WAY slower than oil-based ballpoint ink. If you write anything near the speed I do, it will smudge.

  • Now pick up your nearest pencil and commpare how that feels.

    • Like it more? Ok great, grab some Pentel Ain-Stein leads with a mechancial pencil. The Graphgear 1000 is surprisingly cheap!
    • Don’t like the feeling of graphite to paper, ok, no loss, fine!
  • Wanna feel like a nerd and try out loads of funky inks and stuff? I can highly recommend getting a fountain pen. Any will do really, I love my Parker Vector for an affordable but nice (especially in stainless steel!) pen, and the Helix Oxford fountain pen is such good value its almost worth it just to try it out. Some Parker Quink blue-black is a very nice colour for everyday writing and should behave very well in basically any pen.

Finishing up 2: My wishlist

Calling this the wishlist is a weird name to be honest, because part of it, yes, is my wishlist, but part of it is actually just “I ought to try this unremarkable pen”. This list is stupidly long for what it is, I do not actually want all of this, just am mildly interested to try them.

  • Uni Nano-Dia
  • Uni Kuru-Toga Rouleter
  • Zebra DelGuard
  • Rotring 800
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Murasaki-Shikibu
  • Pilot-Namiki Maki-e (lmao in my dreams, they cost like $16,000) (the hardest part is probably choosing which one you want!)
  • Cross Townsend Medalist Fountain Pen (also why are cross pens so expensive)
  • Pentel Graphgear 1000
  • Pilot V-Pen
  • Pilot FriXion fineliner

Thanks for reading my silly thoughts, hope to see you back here soon.

— sink.