Fountain pens aren’t just for calligraphy or showing off on special occasions. They are made for everyday use—and can actually make your life a lot easier.
Most people avoid using fountain pens every day because of a few misconceptions:
- It’s too fragile. I might break it.
- It’s too fancy and expensive. I’m afraid I’ll lose it.
- It’s inconvenient to refill in the middle of the day.
- If I’m not careful, the ink will stain my clothes or my fingers.
- It’s for special writing, like wedding envelopes or journals, not grocery lists, and work notes.
In this article, I’ll show you why you’ve got it all so wrong. Maybe you’re imagining the dip fountain pens from the 18th century. Fountain pen technology and design have come a long way since then.
Modern fountain pens are now just as affordable, convenient, and reliable as a ballpoint—and writes a lot better, too. They are the perfect everyday pen.
Fountain pens are durable
Frankly, I’ve had more bad luck with “breaking” ballpoints and gel pens.
Here’s how a ballpoint works: the ball pushes out the ink, and reseals so air doesn’t get into the cartridge. If you drop it, there’s a good chance that the ball gets misaligned. Either the ink starts bleeding all over the place, or an air bubble gets in and no ink can get out.
With gel pens, especially the fine-tipped ones, the point is just so flimsy. You won’t believe how many perfectly good pens I had to throw away because I used dropped them or used them on the wrong kind of paper or surface (like the time I tried to write on a painted art journal page).
Fountain pens have very durable, high-quality metal nibs. If you accidentally misalign any of its components, either because of mishandling or you reassembled it wrong after refilling the ink, you can just take it apart and put it together again.
Worst case scenario if you do break a nib: you just buy a new nib. The rest of the pen still works well.
With disposable ballpoints or roller pens, if it’s broken you have to throw them away. Kobe!
There are many affordable fountain pens
I would understand if you don’t want to bring a $1,000 pen with you to the supermarket. I myself have some limited-edition pens that I’d rather keep at home.
But for everyday use, there are so many great fountain pens that are under $20. You can pick up either a Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy Safari for around $18. Both of these pens are fine fountain pens. This matte black forest fountain pen is only around $17 and comes with a converter..
Fountain pens are easy to refill
Does the idea of refilling a fountain pen fill you with dread and trepidation? Relax, because it’s a lot neater, easier, and faster than you think.
- The easiest option: get a pre-filled disposable fountain pen. You can use it straight out of the box, just like an ordinary pen. The Pilot Varsity is my recommendation for a disposable fountain pen.
- The quickie option: get a fountain pen with ink cartridges. Once the pen’s dry, unscrew it and remove the cartridge, and snap in an old one. It’s just like changing batteries.
- The easy-to-learn option: You can either use a converter or the pen’s built-in filling mechanism. There are two types of mechanisms: piston fillers and vacuum fillers. Both minimize the mess and soon become second nature after a few tries. Watch this video for a fountain pen refilling tutorial.
I, too, was initially scared of refilling my fountain pen with bottled ink. I had visions of getting permanent all over my hands, clothes, my wooden table, and the carpet. My tip: first do it at home, and take your time. If you’re wary of wasting precious ink, practice with a cheaper ink (this bottle of popular Pelikan black ink is just $7).
A good fountain pen rarely leaks
If you’ve had a bad experience of a fountain pen leaking or bleeding on a page, it likely happened because of these reasons:
- You used a bad, poorly constructed pen
- There was excessive ink flow, because you used a cartridge that wasn’t designed for the pen, or the cartridge or converter did not form an airtight seal.
In these scenarios, the problem wasn’t fountain pens per se, but the quality of the pen and the ink delivery.
If you’re going to use a fountain pen for everyday use, I recommend getting a quality pen that has a lot of good reviews. If you plan to use ink cartridges, make sure that it is compatible with the pen. Generally it’s safer to buy from the same brand, or a brand endorsed by pen forums who have tried and tested them.
A few simple precautions can also prevent ink overflow. Store a fountain pen upright, or the nib pointing upward. That prevents ink from gushing out when you start to write.
For carrying fountain pens on the go I’ve really been liking this leather pen holder by Topoomart. I put the case in my bag vertically and it holds the pens well. I know they sell more expensive cases, but this Topoomart case has held up very well, so I don’t plan on upgrading yet.
- High quality PU Leather & fine Stitched Edges for long time use and easy cleaning.
- Tensile Rubber straps hold pens securely and make it fit different sizes of pens with diameter under 20mm (3/4 inch).
- Two-layer design keeps your pens well organized, easy accessible and better protected.
- Classic Black Color, Golden Zipper for convenient use.
- Pens are for demo only and not included.
Fountain pens make every day writing more comfortable
It would be a shame if you used fountain pens just for special lettering or grand contract signings. Fountain pens are designed for frequent use, and most importantly, to prevent hand strain when writing for long periods of time.
First of all, fountain pen inks are so fluid that you don’t have to grip your pen or use a lot of pressure when you write. There’s also no “drag” on the page—a problem I often experience with the waxy inks in ballpoint pens.
That’s why I use these pens when I’m writing in my journal or taking a lot of notes in meetings—I can write quickly and comfortably, with my fingers just gently guiding the pen across the page.
If you’re worried about the ink bleeding on ordinary paper, then choose inks that are known to resist feathering and bleedthrough. For example, you can even use Noodler’s X-Feather on a paper towel. Iron gall inks (such as Rohrer ; Klingner Salix) also tend to have a fairly dry ink flow.
Fountain pens make every day writing special
There are two ways of looking at fountain pens: either they’re for special days, or they’re for making every day special.
I personally find that writing fountain pens give me great pleasure and joy. It’s like wearing my favorite perfume in the morning, or drinking tea from the right cup. Yes, I can save it for a special occasion, but why should I?
Life is about celebrating simple joys, and with a fountain pen, you can literally say that you will always have joy at your fingertips.