The Lifehacker Staff’s Very Correct Pen Opinions

The Lifehacker Staff’s Very Correct Pen Opinions
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, hacks and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Lifehacker Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a fix.

Recently, the Lifehacker office was thinking: What’s the best pen?

Surely the customised fountain pens available in some upscale jewellery stores cannot not be the best on the market. Not to brag too much, but I’ve used a fountain pen before, and guess what: They’re fine, not great. I would not spend $200 on one.

As staff writer Nick Douglas put it, “Unless you’re some kind of weirdo, your favourite pen costs about a dollar, and you can buy a ton and never be stingy or ever use your un-favourite pens.”

When it comes to pens, everyone has an opinion (or an “o-pen-ion” as staffer Joel Kahn cringingly put it). Different pens work for different types of people. I have incredibly sloppy handwriting, so I need a pen that doesn’t bleed too much and isn’t too inky — it just makes my atrocious handwriting look even worse than it is. Others on staff, however, expressed the exact opposite sentiment.

So, here are some Lifehacker staffers’ preferred pens (H/t to Vice’s Eve Peyser, who inspired us with this smart pen-pinion piece):

Patrick Allan, Staff Writer

Pilot" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: Pilot

I love pens. My favourite affordable pens are Pilot G-2s 0.7mm. I don’t like cheap pens with caps.

*Bonus thoughts from Patrick: Love Muji. some of my favourite notepads and mechanical pencils. I enjoy a good brush pen as well. So much.


Nick Douglas, Staff Writer

I like the exact same Pilot G-2 0.7mm that Patrick does. Twins! Sometimes I get it in blue though, because life is a party.

Alicia Adamczyk, Staff Writer

Screenshot: Paper Mate

Don’t overthink it. The Paper Mate ComfortMate Ultra 1.0M is a great everyday pen. I also love Sharpie pens, but they bleed through the pages of my journals, so I have to use something lighter. For a thick stock, though, Sharpie pens are where it’s at. I also enjoy using a Stabilo point 88 in turquoise for journaling.


Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor

Muji" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: Muji

I’m always trying to cram more notes into small notebooks, and Muji gel ink ball point pens are great for writing teeny-tiny letters. They’re vibrant, yet they don’t bleed or smear. Get the 0.5mm or 0.38mm.


Claire Lower, Food Editor

Stabilo" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: Stabilo

I like the Stabilo ballpoint pens a lot for the everyday jotting.

*Bonus tip from Claire: I keep crappy pens to give to my boyfriend who tries to steal the good ones.


Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor

uniball" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: uniball

The Uni-Ball Air is the best pen, because it writes a thick smooth river of ink at any angle and you can refill it (carefully) with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. If I’m in the mood for a fountain pen, the Lamy Safari is perfection; and if I want a retractable gel pen I go for the PaperMate Ink Joy.


Joel Kahn, Video Editor

uniball" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: uniball

I like an inky pen. It feels like you’re writing on liquid. The Uni-Balls are great because they are sturdy, have a very satisfying cap-click (copyright me, 2018), and they look much fancier than they are.

I also always carry a pen, and have for my entire life. You never know when you’ll run into a famous person and want their autograph, or when a cashier can’t find a pen for you. Good thing I always have one handy! Because of this, clicky pens don’t work, because they could click open in your pocket and ruin your pants.

*Bonus tip from Joel: Lend pens you don’t like to people who won’t give them back. Then you don’t feel bad about losing a good pen!


David Murphy, Senior Tech Editor

Yassss for Uni-Ball Vision, I will use nothing else (micro, not fine).

Alice Bradley, Deputy Editor

uniball" loading="lazy" > Screenshot: uniball

These are the best: Uni-Ball Signo UM-151.


Melissa Kirsch, Editor-in-Chief

The only pen in existence you should use is this pen, the uni-ball Deluxe.

So, what’s your hot pen take? Let us know in the comments.


  • A price comparison would be helpful. A $4 pen seems to not be in the spirit of the introductory paragraph (Pilot G-2).

    Note also that sometimes the name of a pen is not the same as the Model of the pen – e.g. “Paper Mate ComfortMate Ultra 1.0M” is what is written on the pen but not how it is listed on the Paper Mate AU website nor on the packet; “Paper Mate ComfortMate Ultra RT”. Overseas models include a finer point but not the AU model.

    My preferred pen is the Uniball Jetstream 1.0 (SXN210BL). It is also around $4ea in a pack, with $2.50ea for refills.

    Another confusing item is that sometimes pens are listed by the size of the nib or ball, but the ink line thickness produced is a different size.

  • I used to be forever leaving pens at customers’ places, so I was always buying bulk cheap replacements.
    Then I thought about it and bought myself a really nice Mont Blanc pen. As well as being lovely to use and impressive to show off, there was no way I would ever leave my hundreds of dollars pen behind!

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!