My Pen Loadout: Mid-October 2015

I tend to switch pens too much. I don't know why I do it, but I will regularly find myself swapping pens mid-page for no real reason. I don't have an official "system" to what I use for any given task . I figure doing a post whenever I change my main pen load out would be a great way to keep me honest, and track my usage over time. 

The Pens

My Loadout, Oct 2015. Pictured on a Nock Co Steno Book and Levenger Circa Junior. 

  • Retro 51 Tornado "Liftoff" Special Edition: Found this one at Paradise Pens well after I assumed they would all be sold out. They had 2 left in their system, and this one came from Chicago. I spent a few years living within walking distance of their store, and at that point I was known as a "regular". I tend to always have a Retro 51 around - they are the perfect rollerball to grab and go. 
  • Pentel Kerry Sharp: A more recent addition, due to my rediscovered love of mechanical pencils. While fountain pens are my main love, I have been a mechanical pencil fan since I was first in school. This one was a recent addition, as a sort-of direct contrast to the Rotring. Currently using .5mm 2B lead. 
  • Rotring 600: The pencil that re-ignited my love of mechanical pencils. I heard the Pen Addict guys talking about them on a recent podcast, and figured I would try one for myself. This is, in my mind, the perfect pencil. Also using the same .5mm 2B lead - I threw some into a recent lead order, and fell in love. 
  • Lamy 2000, F nib: This was a Massdrop purchase, after years and years of lusting over one. I fell in love with this pen back in high school, and it wasn't until I saw it in a Massdrop email that I pulled the trigger. It has since become one of my two go-to workhorse pens. Currently loaded with Private Reserve Blue Suede. 
  • Pilot Vanishing Point, M nib: The first >$100 pen I ever purchased myself (back in 2011), there has rarely been a day that I haven't had it with me. It even made the cut for a recent business trip to Boston, my first time ever flying with pens. This is the other workhorse pen. I can't think of the last day I didn't use either this or the Lamy. Currently filled with a Pilot Blue/Black cartridge, which is a Top 5 Ink for me. Come to think of it, it is the only ink that I have ever had in this pen. 
  • Retro 51 Tornado Fountain Massdrop Special Edition, B nib: The newest addition to the bunch, this is the first time I've had it inked up. I tend to carry the two workhorses and one "fun" pen, and this finally came up in the rotation. Up until today, a Faber-Castel e-motion Pure Black previously held this spot. This was a pen "designed" by the Massdrop community, and it looks absolutely beautiful. I decided on Mont Blanc Toffee Brown for it's first inking
  • Kaweco Al-Star Sport (Stonewashed), EF Nib: This is my out-and-about pen, for those times I just grab a Field Notes and head out the door. It serves that role beautifully, able to tuck away regardless of my outfit choices that day. This is also the pen I tend to fiddle with most at my desk. 

This is one of those setups that sort-of happened naturally. I realized that my load out had been static for a few weeks, and that I was really satisfied with it. A good mix of new blood and Tier 1 gear means I haven't gotten bored with any of it. 

The Supporting Cast

I'm just as indecisive about what I carry my gear in, and what I use with it, as I am the gear itself. I like everything to have a place, and nothing to have any unnecessary stress placed on it in my bag. To carry my daily setup, I have recently landed on 2 Nock Co cases that combine to cover my needs:

Nock Co Makes My World Go Round

The Nock Co Hightower is my main "Pouch Office". Seen here in the limited Kickstarter-only "Myke in the USA" Green and Yellow color way, this holds:

  • The Lamy 2000 (Or Pilot VP, depending on which one is tempting me more)
  • The Rotring and Kerry
  • The Retro 51 Liftoff
  • My active Field Notes Notebook
  • 5-7 Nock Co Notecards
  • 2-3 Business Cards

This case is setup to be the one thing I need to grab to have most of my needs covered. I can take notes, leave notes, or share contact info. I keep whichever workhorse is currently in my top spot in it, which also gives me a handy bit of redundancy - unless I lose my entire backpack, I won't lose both my favorite pens. 

The Nock Co Lookout holds the rest of the pens. In this case, it tends to have the VP, Retro 51 FP, and Kaweco Al-Star tucked away inside. This case has been in near-constant use since my Kickstarter order shipped - it just does such an amazing job of keeping 3 pens safe. It's slim, easy to open/close, and exactly as simple as it needs to be. 


There is a more full post on notebooks in my future, but I would be remiss not to at least include them in this post. I tend to hand-write the vast majority of my notes and plans, and have developed a taste for nice paper. On a daily basis, I'll end up using the following main notebooks:

  • Levenger Circa Junior: Levenger is another one of those brands that I have loved for years, and only recently become a customer of. This Circa is the main home for meeting notes and prep, capturing thoughts, and really anything else I'll want to hang onto. I'm a full-on convert to the Levenger world, with my punch seeing a ton of use (my fiancee has also joined the train, so I keep having to steal it back)
  • Nock Co Steno Pad: I first bought these because they seemed interesting - I'd never used steno pads, and I love supporting Nock Co whenever I can. I discovered they are perfect for my day-to-day todo list making. Despite being a huge Todoist fan, I end up falling back to a paper todo list most days. These steno pads, with their fantastic paper, handle the task beautifully. I always felt a twinge of guilt using the Levenger for these lists, knowing they were going to get tossed. I just received 6 more of these in the mail, so I should be stocked for a while.
  • Field Notes: I just love these little notebooks. They are great for tasks, capturing thoughts on the go, and being the always-on notebook choice. Recently, I have been carrying books from the Workshop Companion edition - they have a really fantastic fountain pen-friendly paper, and the design is top notch. I ended up buying a few extra boxes to stock up. 
  • Nock Co Notecards: Rounding out my Nock addiction are their notecards. These are super high quality, FP friendly notecards with their awesome dot-dash grid. I try to always have a few of these near me as well, for taking or leaving notes. 

I've decide that, after all these years of resistance, this blog may begin to see more and more gear-related posts. I have accepted that this (and EDC, and Bags, and Wallets, and Watches...) is a hobby, and I've ended up with a ton of opinions on things. While I'm not sure I'll be doing reviews, and I'm not sure how broad I will go (E-cig gear?), this is the first attempt at this kind of post.