Pilot Down Force 0.7mm Ballpoint Review

Pilot Down Force

The Pilot Down Force is a pressurized ballpoint pen that is designed to write at any angle.  I don’t have any need for a pressurized pen but I liked the loud yellow body so I bought it as an impulse buy.  My favorite thing about this pen is the satisfying click it makes, apart from that and the bright yellow body I didn’t find much else to like.  The plastic body is a bit too fat for my taste and the 0.7mm refill is okay, not as nice as what you find in a Pilot Acroball.  The line is darker and sharper than a Fischer Space pen’s and it’s cheaper but at $8 its not cheaper than a Uni Power Tank.  The Uni Power Tank is writes better, is pressurized and costs less than half the price of the Down Force.  If you really enjoy clicking pens the Down Force might be worth a look but if you just want a nice pen don’t bother; this one’s crap.

Pilot Down Force

Here is another review of the Pilot Down Force: (I have not affiliation to the site linked below)

The Clicky Post – Pilot Down Force – Pen Review

Lamy Dialog 1 Ballpoint Pen Review

Lamy Dialog 1

Lamy’s Dialog line features high end pens designed by prominent industrial designers.  The Dialog 1 was designed by Richard Sapper, most famous for the Tizio Lamp by Artemide and the original IBM Thinkpad.  The Dialog 1 features a metal triangular shaped body with a matte titanium finish.  The pen weighs about 24 grams, which is pretty lightweight for a metal pen.  The triangular shape of the body is comfortable to use.  The bottom side of the pen is lightly rounded and has two little plastic feet to steady the pen on a flat surface. The Dialog 1 uses a push click mechanism and has a spring-loaded metal clip.  Underneath the clip is the Lamy logo etched into the body.

Lamy Dialog 1

Lamy Dialog 1

Lamy Dialog 1

The Dialog 1 only takes propriety Lamy M16 refills that come in black, blue, red with a fine, medium, or broad tip.  They write well for a standard ballpoint and last a very long time.  The ink is archival and states “for documents ISO 12757-2 HM DOC” on the body of the refill.  The sample above is written with a red fine tip M16 refill.  To change a refill you have to use the non-writing end of an M16 refill to poke the small dot on the black plastic portion near the tip of the pen; this releases the front section of the pen so that you may load the new refill.  It is an interesting way to change a refill but necessary to keep the lines of the pen ultra clean.  Also worth noting is that the matte titanium finish does attract fingerprints; I usually don’t like metal pens for this reason but the matte finish makes it more bearable.

Lamy Dialog 1

Lamy Dialog 1

The Dialog 1 retails for $130, that is a pretty big investment for a pen that uses a $5 refill.  I bought the Dialog 1 because I love the beautiful utilitarian design and wanted a nice pen to travel with.  The Dialog 1 is a real conversation starter without being flashy or over the top; I highly recommend it.

Noodler’s Antietam Ink Review

I am rarely a fan of orange inks but Noodler’s Antietam is special.  Antietam is a very unusual rust orange/red with great shading.  I have been using Antietam this last week and I love it.  The color varies red to orange in different pens and on different paper; it is a real chameleon ink.  The flow is good, not too dry not too wet.

Noodler's Anitetam Ink

I tested this ink on Maruman Smooth to Write paper (my go-to for use with fountain pens) and used dry cotton swabs to test the dry time.  Even after 90 seconds it wouldn’t fully dry; I got bored and gave up.  The Maruman paper is quite smooth and for most ink I see an average dry time around 15-25 seconds.  I did try later on more absorbent Exacompta 60gsm paper and it was near dry in 15 seconds and completely dry in 25.  The ink is not waterproof; to test this I waited 5 minutes for the ink to dry and wiped the paper with a damp cotton swab.  If you can put up with the long dry time Noodler’s Antietam is definitely worth a try.

Here are some great reviews of Noodler’s Antietam Ink:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

The Eccentric Orange Gentleman – Noodler’s Antietam

NakedSushi – Noodler’s Ink Antietam

Goldspot Pens – Noodler’s Antietam Ink Review

The Pen Addict – Review: Noodler’s Antietam ink

Itoya Paper Skater Gel Pen Review

Itoya Paperskater

The Itoya Paper Skater is one of my favorite non-fountain pens.  It features a low resistance gel ink rollerball refill in a simple plastic body.  The Paper Skater glides across the paper effortlessly and lays down a bold deep black line.  The plastic body is very clean and dignified without any ugly logos or barcodes.  The cap has a satisfying click and features Itoya’s signature elliptical clip.  The Paper Skater comes with a blue, black or white body a black 0.7mm refill.  I incorrectly stated in the written review that you can only get black refills; you can actually get blue, purple, green, and red; you just have to purchase them separately.  Also, you can fit the 1.0mm and 0.7mm Itoya AquaRoller refill in the Paper Skater.  If you don’t mind a thicker line I highly recommend the Paper Skater; it is a pleasure to use.


Itoya Paper Skater


Here is a great review of the Paper Skater:

(I have no affiliation to the site linked below)

Gourmet Pens –  Review: Itoya Paper Skater Gel Pen


Field Notes Notebooks Review

The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition Back Cover with Coasters
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition Back Cover with Coasters

As I have stated before in my Field Notes Calendar Review I didn’t like Field Notes right away because the paper was not fountain pen friendly.   Not too long ago I saw a friend’s collection of limited edition Field Notes and I stopped caring so much about the paper.

Let’s talk about the paper; it’s okay, not great.  I use my Field Notes with fountain pens and and there is some bleed through and very minor feathering with juicy pens.  Some editions have slightly thicker paper than others but in general Field Notes do not do that well with fountain pens.

Field Notes

As you can see there is quite a lot of bleed through from the Montblanc and some minor spotting with both of the Auroras.
As you can see there is quite a lot of bleed through from the Montblanc and some minor spotting with both of the Auroras.

I love the Futura typeface and all of the interesting and amusing things that they print onto the covers.  I also really like that they list how each Field Notes was manufactured and what materials were used.  Here is the cover of the California County Fair Field Notes:

Field Notes County Fair

Field Notes County Fair

Field Notes County Fair
Practical Applications : #16: Animal Husbandry Techniques

Field Notes County Fair

Field Notes measure 3.5″ x 5.5″ and come with 48 pages of blank, ruled, or graph paper.  There are more variations in the limited editions, for instance, the Drink Local Edition has an amber colored grid paper and the Night Sky Edition used a reticle graph paper.  You can subscribe to their Colors Subscription for $97 a year and you will get 4 quarterly shipments with two three-packs of the most recent limited edition as well as two three-packs of the standard Field Notes for a total of ten three-packs per year.

This is my modest collection of Field Notes
This is my modest collection of Field Notes…no Butcher Blue here

There are not many collectable paper products out there and certainly none that have been executed as well as Field Notes.  If you are into pens and paper Field Notes are pretty hard to resist…I am contemplating a second Colors subscription.

I usually carry at least one Field Notes in my Midori Traveler’s notebook as they are really easy to slide in an out when I don’t need all the other notebooks in my Midori.

Field Notes in Midori

Here are some great Field Notes reviews:

(I have no affiliation with any of the sites linked below)

A Penchant For Paper – Field Notes Memo Books

Not Enough Bits in This Byte –  A Review: Field Notes vs. Moleskine

Inkophile – Field Notes Journals or Moleskine Cahiers

Pencil Revolution –  Field Notes Review, Part II: The Notebook.

Stationery Review – Field Notes – Squared Memo Book

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad Review

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

Exacompta is part of the Exacompta Clairefontaine Group (Rhodia, Clairefontaine, G. Lalo,  J. Herbin, Quo Vadis, and others).  Exacompta means “exact accounting”; the company originally made ledgers and now is more known for journals.

The Exacompta FAF (Fabriqué en France) Desk Pad is a bit of an odd item.  It is a metal-backed refillable notepad with 200 perforated 60 gsm sheets that measure 4.25″ x 7.25″ (this is the medium size).  I am not sure why anyone would need a refillable notepad but it looked interesting so I purchased one.  Exacompta claims that it is built in a workshop built by Gustave Eiffel (the man who designed the Eiffel Tower).

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

The 60 gsm paper is thinner than Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper; it is also not as smooth but it holds ink well as has a faster drying time.  There is virtually no bleed through.  I had to try pretty hard to get the paper to bleed.  I prefer the paper to both Clairefontaine and Rhodia because of how thin the paper is and how quick it dries (compared to other fountain pen friendly papers).  Exacompta calls the sheets “microperforated” which seems pretty generous as they don’t make for the cleanest of tears.  The notches next to the perforations are a touch I quite like.  As the name implies this notepad is designed for the desk; the exposed bolts and lack of a cover don’t make the FAF all that portable.

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

A few negative points: 1) I don’t like the ugly Exacompta two tree logo at the top of the pad and 2) the metal back bows slightly causing the pad to feel a bit springy which is annoying. 3) The FAF costs almost $40!

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

I have seen lined refills for the FAF but in the US I believe they only sell the blanks (200 sheets for $8).  Despite its flaws I really like the FAF Desk Pad; it has a vintage high quality look and fountain pen friendly paper.

Here is are some great reviews of the FAF Desk Pad:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Pencil Talk – Exacompta Bloc Faf – Retro Office Excellence

Life Imitates Doodles – Review of the Exacompta FAF Pad

OfficeSupplyGeek – Exacompta FAF Pad – Retro Desk Pad

Pocket Blonde – Review: FAF Un Bloc Pad

Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Pens 005 + 02 Review

Ohto Graphic Liner

The Otho Graphic Liner is a roller ball pen with pigment ink that is both water proof and fade proof.  There is a line width for everyone, 0.3mm to 1.5mm.  The 0.5mm is my favorite as it is ultra smooth while still laying down a fine and sharp line.  The Graphic Liner feels a bit like a porous tip fine liner with the smooth ink flow and a bit like a roller ball with the hard metal tip; it’s a great combination.  The O.3mm is a little more needle-like than I prefer but it is still smoother than most 0.3mm pens I have tried, including the Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pen.  These pens are labeled with numbers that correspond to their various line widths, however they aren’t labeled in millimeters, instead the 0.3mm is a 005 and the 0.5mm is a 02 so be careful when you purchase.  The Graphic Liner isn’t the most attractive with it’s black body and orange accents.  The clip is strong and functional.

Ohto Graphic Liner

Otho classifies the Graphic Liner as a “free ink roller pen”, meaning that the pen has no “fibrous ink reservoir” (if anyone knows what that actually means please let me know).  The Graphic Liner only comes in black but Otho makes other free ink roller pens that come in multiple colors, so I will definitely be giving those a try.   At $2.50 ($2.65 for the 005) I highly recommend it; it is easily one of my favorite non-fountain pens.


Here are some great reviews on the Ohto Graphic Liner:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Papercide – OHTO Graphic Liner 005

LifeImitatesDoodles – Review of the Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen

Atomic Venetia – Product Review: Ohto graphic liner needle point drawing set

The Well-Appointed Desk – Ohto Graphic Liner 0.3

The Pen Addict – Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen 03 Review

Pilot Ageless Future Gel Pen Review

Pilot Ageless Pen - tip position 1 - fully retracted
Pilot Ageless Pen – tip position 1 – fully retracted

The Pilot Ageless line comprises high quality pens with a patented two staged twist mechanism that completely retracts the pen tip.  They come in two flavors: gel and ballpoint (the refills are not interchangeable).  There are two barrel options that come in a variety of colors, the Future has a metal barrel with a silver grip section and the Presence has a plastic body with a translucent grey grip section.

Pilot Ageless Future - Tip position 2.
Pilot Ageless Future – tip position 2
Pilot Ageless Future - tip position 3
Pilot Ageless Future – tip position 3

The design of the pen is nice and clean and is great for pockets as the tip completely retracts; no more getting stabbed by your pen.  I like the Carbon Grey body of the Future which looks and feels high quality.  The clip is small but strong.  The Future is nicely weighted without being too heavy.

The Ageless Gel is one of the smoothest gel pens I have used.  The refills only come in fine 0.7mm with blue or black ink and they aren’t that cheap; a pack of 12 costs $37 (about $3 a refill).  The fine 0.7mm line is on the fatter side and the ink doesn’t look that sharp but I do enjoy writing with this pen and I can’t say that about many gel pens.  The pen comes in a white tube which works as a storage box as well as a pen stand.  The Pilot Ageless Future Gel makes a really nice gift for someone who wants a great everyday pen.

Pilot Ageless Future Gel Pen

Here are some other great Pilot Ageless Reviews:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

The Pen Chronicles – Ageless vs. Timeline

Slow Burn Productions – Pen review: Pilot Namiki Ageless Future in Silver

Zebra Arbez Piitro Ballpoint Pen 0.7mm Review

Zebra Arbez Piitro Ballpoint

While I already wrote a review on Zebra Arbez EO, the Piitro was actually the first pen in the Arbez line.  The Zebra Arbez Piitro was designed by a young Finnish designer to look like a icepick.  The pens come in lightweight white or black plastic bodies with black, blue, or red ink.  The ballpoint seems to be the same crappy one you get in the EO.  This pen is more about the design (which I like much better than the Arbez EO) than the writing performance.  The Piitro is different without looking like something made by Fisher-Price as the EO does.  This pen features a nice twist mechanism and a plastic clip that is integrated into the main barrel section.  There is a seam that goes right down the middle of the pen which is unfortunate and the top of the pen has some extra plastic but for $1.65 it’s not the end of the world.

Here are some great reviews of the Zebra Arbez Piitro:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

No Pen Intended – Zebra Arbez Piirto Ballpoint Pen – 0.7 mm

Pen and Design –  Zebra Arbez Piirto 0.7mm Review

The Pen Addict – Zebra Arbez Piirto Ballpoint Pen 0.7 mm Review

Original Crown Mill Laid Paper Review

I am a big fan of writing letters and thank-you notes on real paper and correspondence stock.  Original Crown Mill has become quite popular in the last few years so I thought I would write a review on their laid paper correspondence pad and envelopes.  The Original Crown Mill paper has been made by Pelletier & Co in Belgium since 1870.

Original Crown Mill Pad

The 50 sheet correspondence pad is glue bound at the top and does not come with a blotter sheet; you do however get a lined guide sheet to put under the paper so you can keep your writing straight.  The paper is the standard A5 size (5.83″ × 8.27″) and has a 100g weight.  I really like the look and feel of the paper; it is laid so you get a very attractive ribbed texture.  This paper is supposedly a replica of a handmade 17th century writing paper commissioned by King Charles II.

Original Crown Mill Writing Test

Unfortunately this paper has quite a bit of feathering and some bleed through with the more juicy pens.  If you like pens with a fine nib I think this paper will work well for you but if you like writing with a wider or wetter nib there is better paper out there.

Original Crown Mill Bleed

I love the color of these orange/yellow envelopes and I wish I had bought a pad in this color.  The envelopes come in packs of 25 and are lined with white paper.

Original Crown Mill Envelope

Original Crown Mill Envelope

Original Crown Mill also makes a cotton paper as well; the cotton paper is more expensive and doesn’t take the ink as well as the laid paper so I have not repurchased it.

Here is a great review of Original Crown Mill laid paper:

(I have no affiliation to the site linked below)

Wonder Pens – Original Crown Mill Classic Laid Writing Paper