Have you been looking for a new pen for your everyday carry? Read on to see our top picks.
While you may not use it as frequently as these other three common EDC essentials, carrying a pen helps you to be self-sufficient– never again will you have to ask for something to write with.
Short on time? Here are our top picks for the best small pens for your everyday carry:
Keep reading for our other recommended options…
Types of EDC Pens
When you’re choosing a pen for your everyday carry, first you have to decide what type of pen you want.
The three broad categories are ballpoints, rollerballs, and fountain pens.
Ballpoints are by far the most ubiquitous. That’s because they are reliable, durable, and cheap. If you’re looking for an EDC pen and you don’t want to have to think about ink bleeding, ink staining your clothes, or pen maintenance– ballpoints are your best bet.
Rollerballs are pens that use ball points but use water-based or gelled ink. These pens are almost as reliable as ballpoints. Some people prefer rollerballs for their smooth writing and vivid colors.
Unlike ballpoints and rollerballs, fountain pens have a learning curve. They are more prone to leak, are more expensive, and are generally more fragile.
You’re probably asking, “If that’s true, why would anyone want to carry a fountain pen?”
Fountain pens have their own personality, can last for more than a century (if you don’t lose them), and can enhance the appearance of the user’s handwriting. If you’re someone who likes to tinker, or is passionate about penmanship, try a fountain pen– you’ll probably love it.
Once you choose the perfect EDC pen for you, think about getting a pocket notebook so you always have paper to write on.
How to Choose a EDC Pen
When you’re in the market for an EDC pen, look for something small that will easily fit in your pockets. You want a pen that doesn’t leak, looks professional, and is relatively inexpensive.
10 Small EDC Pens to Carry in 2023
Here they are, organized by type (ballpoint, rollerball, fountain pen).
Zebra F-301 Compact Ballpoint Retractable Pen
Among the thousands of choices for cheap ballpoints, the Zebra F-301 Compact stands above the crowd.
For well under 10 dollars, the F-301 is of surprisingly high quality. Made with steel and heavy-duty plastic components, this pen is collapsible to allow for easy carry. It also has a fine, smooth, ballpoint tip.
Choosing the Zebra F-301 is a no-brainer for people who want a cheap and reliable compact pen.
Parker Jotter Ballpoint Pen
A classic case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” the Parker Jotter hasn’t changed much since it was initially released in 1954. Today, the stainless steel model is the most popular, however Jotters come in a variety of finishes and colors.
While the Parker Jotter looks professional, is inexpensive, and is extremely durable, it’s not the best writing pen on the market. The ink feels cheap and sometimes lays out unevenly on the page. That said, the Jotter gets the job done.
If you are looking for a cheap, refillable, classically designed ballpoint pen for your EDC, the Parker Jotter may be for you.
Cross Classic Century Lustrous Chrome Ballpoint Pen
Another metal-bodied ballpoint pen, the Cross Classic Century, is a step up from the Parker Jotter. This smooth writer comes with a lifetime mechanical warranty.
With its mid-century modern design, this chrome Cross pen will definitely help you stand out from the crowd. This isn’t a pen you’ll want to lend to your coworkers…
Sharpie Fine Point Pen
The Sharpie Fine Point Pen has a felt tip. If you’ve never written with a felt-tipped pen you should try it out. If you’re used to writing with a ballpoint or rollerball, using this Sharpie pen will seem unusual at first. As you might imagine, writing with this pen kind of feels like writing with a marker.
If you tend to press down hard when you write, you might want to pass on this pen. The delicate tip can easily be damaged.
If you’re looking to switch up your writing experience but don’t want to spend a lot of money, try the Sharpie Fine Point Pen.
Pilot G2 Rolling Ball Gel Pen
The quintessential roller ball pen, the Pilot G2 comes in 4 tip sizes and 27 color options. G2’s are widely available “workhorse pens.” They write a consistent line and, although disposable, last a long time.
Be aware that this pen, like most other “click” pens, may stain your clothes more easily than other types of pens. Since the springs of “click” pens are engaged so easily, the pen tip can come out when you don’t expect it. This can be a problem, especially if you carry click pens in your front pants pocket.
Unless you’re worried about stains, if you’re looking for a reliable, no frills EDC rollerball pen the Pilot G2 might be for you.
Uni-Ball Vision Elite Rollerball Pen
The Uni-Ball Vision Elite is another fantastic, inexpensive rollerball pen. Unlike the Pilot G-2, this pen snaps shut, making it a “safer” choice for your EDC. This pen has a crosshatch patterned grip that helps you write comfortably for extended periods of time.
While many rollerballs and fountain pens are prone to leak on flights due to changes in cabin pressure, Uni-Ball states that this pen contains “airplane-safe ink.” While I enjoy writing with this pen, I haven’t personally tested this claim.
Very durable and long-lasting, the Uni-Ball Vision Elite is perhaps the best disposable rollerball there is.
J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen
The J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen is a great choice for those who think that they would like to experiment with different kinds of inks.
Like many modern fountain pens, this rollerball takes ink cartridges that you can easily pop in. J. Herbin has a large selection of ink cartridges to choose from, as do many fountain pen manufacturers.
Buying cartridges can get expensive fast. You might consider buying an ink converter and using bottled ink as a more economical, and environmentally friendly option.
Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen
The Kaweco Classic Sport is a great choice for an EDC fountain pen. Its small size makes it easy to fit in your pocket and its robust construction helps it be able to withstand a beating.
Like the J. Herbin rollerball, this pen takes cartridges or can be outfitted with an ink converter.
With a black barrel and brass accents, this is one snazzy-looking pen.
Lamy Al Star Fountain Pen
The Lamy Al Star Fountain Pen is another good choice for people new to fountain pens. Lamy pens have a very distinct look and are available in vivid colors.
Lamy nibs (tips) are very forgiving to people unfamiliar with writing with fountain pens.
The Al Star has a heavy-duty clip and lightweight, yet tough construction. With a steel nib and ergonomically shaped grip, it’s comfortable to use. Lamy even offers left-handed Al Stars specially designed for all you southpaws out there.
TWSBI Diamond Mini Fountain Pen
With its transparent body, the TWSBI Diamond Mini Fountain Pen definitely looks unusual.
Not only can you see the inner workings of this “demonstrator” pen, you can also see what color of ink you’re packing (and this pen holds a lot of ink!).
Coming in under 5 ½ inches, this pen is compact. The TWSBI Diamond Mini is for people looking for a high quality fountain pen that can go with them almost anywhere.
From signing an important contract to jotting down new ideas, even in today’s digital world, the pen remains an important tool.
Consider adding a pen to your everyday carry. You never know when it might come in handy!