New Stuff! TAD OP1

I received the OP1 I ordered from Triple Aught Design today.  I had been looking into buying an admin-style pouch for my Lightspeed for quite some time now.  The OP1 just so happens to be the most streamlined and minimalist of the ones I looked at.

I threw it on my bag just this afternoon (I'm currently deciding exactly where to put it).

It's in the review pipeline!


rOtring 600 Fountain Pen Review

My first rOtring product was a silver rOtring 600 series 3 rollerball.  I've had it for quite some time - over 10 years, I think - and I love it.  Ever since I picked it up I've had an obsession with the 600s but haven't found myself in a position to buy any more.

This past Christmas, though, was a surprise.  My girlfriend found me a rOtring 600 series 2 fountain pen and, pairing it with a few bottles of Noodler's Ink, put together an exceptional gift.

I'll be sticking to my review template which is available here.

Materials:  2

There's a good reason why the rOtring 600 has a cult-like following.  It's incredibly well-constructed and exudes quality.  Upon picking up the pen, one immediately realizes the quality of the build.

The body and cap are machines from brass and are chrome plated in a silver satin-tone finish.  The nib is constructed of steel.

Brass is the preeminent material for pen construction, or so it would seem.  It has a great weight to it, resists corrosion, and is incredibly robust.

Fit of Parts:  2

As mentioned, the build of the 600 line is impeccable.  The body sections screw together tightly without any play or wiggle.

The fit between the section and the barrel is as perfect as it can be.  There is no wiggle whatsoever between these parts.  I can say from experiece that the fit here does not loosen over time; my 600 rollerball has not noticeably loosened in the decade I've owned it.
Mechanism:  2

The 600 uses a simple snap-on design; two "snaps" on the body of the pen interface with the cap.  The pen cannot be capped without properly aligning the sides.  When capped, there is no noticeable play between the cap and the body of the pen.  Also, the cap cannot rotate while it is on.

When posted, the cap is secured by an o-ring; it can wiggle slightly if prompted, but it feels quite secure.  I haven't noticed it when writing thus far.  It's certainly not a wiggle worthy of condemnation.
Line:  2

Currently, I'm using Noodler's Blue-Black ink.  It's new to me, so I'm relatively unfamiliar with its performance in other pens.

The pen lays down a smooth, skip-free line.  This is the first fountain pen I've owned with an EF nib.  Until now I've had a drawer full of F nibs and a head full of EF dreams; for ages I turned my LAMY Safari upside-down to achieve a thinner line (who knows what kind of damage I did to that poor nib).  I have heard some people complain about scratchiness or other such problems with EF nibs.  I'm happy to say that I haven't encountered any such things with this particular pen.

I'm also pleased to report that the Noodler's Blue-Black ink has managed to tackle Moleskine paper without feathering, as I (and others, I believe) have experienced with other inks.  This is certainly a pleasant surprise as I wasn't planning on purchasing a new notebook any time soon.  The ink does appear to take a bit longer to dry on Moleskine paper than compared to others (20 lb. copy paper, for example); being right-handed, this doesn't bother me too much.

Writing Comfort:  2

The rOtring 600 series 2 is quite comfortable to write with.  The grip section, as aforementioned, is smooth (as compared to the rOtring 600 series 1 which featured a knurled grip) and slightly tapered toward the nib.

When the cap is not posted the balance of the pen sits approximately 3 inches from the nib (when the reservoir is full).  When the cap is posted to the top of the pen the balance point shifts to approximately 4 inches from the nib; on my hand, the balance point rests on the web between my thumb and index finger.  This is a very comfortable balance point, in my opinion, as it allows me to manipulate the nib as if it were almost weightless.

In the long-term the pen retains its comfort.  Over the past two weeks I have spent many consecutive hours writing notes and have not encountered any discomfort.

Design Concept:  2

If it hasn't been evident, I adore the design of this pen.  It's a perfect marriage of form and function; it seems as if every aspect of the pen has a purpose.

The pen measures 5.5 inches when capped; 5 inches when uncapped; and 6.75 inches when the cap is posted.  It features a hexagonal barrel which is the iconic feature of the rOtring 600 line.  The grip portion of the pen is smooth and slightly tapered toward the nib.  Just before the terminus of the grip there is a small raised ridge.

The nib is simple, particularly when compared to other fountain pens.  It's about as streamlined as I've seen (discounting hooded nibs, of course).
The underlying design philosophy (as I understand it) epitomizes the minimalistic teachings of the German Bauhaus school.  Conceived and founded in the early 20th century, the Bauhaus school focused on the unification of crafts, art, and technology.  The ultimate goal of such design was to create a "purely organic [product], boldly emanating its inner laws, free of untruths and ornamentation."  The philosophy embraced the machine culture of the period and attempted to reduce designs to their most basic essentials; this required the excision of sentimental choices and visual distractions.

I would have to say that the rOtring 600 line is an embodiment of the Bauhaus teachings.  The pen is uncompromisingly simple, it has been stripped down to its constituent parts with nothing more.

Markings and Insignia:  2

This pen is clean.  When capped, the only visible markings are those of the rOtring logo on the pocket clip and a small, laser-engraved "Germany" on the portion of the pocket clip attaching to the cap.  rOtring's signature red ring adorns the top of the cap while the black cap-retention o-ring is seated at the end of the barrel.  Uncapped, the nib has a small rOtring logo on the left side and the size designation (EF) on the right.

There is nothing on the pen that shouldn't be there; the logos are crisp and the signature "red ring" is unobtrusive and marries well with the design of the pen.  The design of the pen really speaks for itself; rOtring did not have to include any flashy trademark branding to identify this pen as one of theirs.

Carry Method: 2

The pocket clip is very well designed.  It offers enough space for thicker fabrics (denim hasn't been a problem) but remains streamlined outside the pocket (it hasn't caught on anything in the weeks I've been carrying it).  It sits low in the pocket but protrudes just enough to get a good purchase on it for retrieval.

Carry Durability: 2

The pen is bomb-proof in a pocket.  I haven't found any problems with the carry of this pen.  While it has only been a couple weeks of daily carry with this particular pen I can say positively that it hasn't given me any trouble

One concern articulated by some has been that of, "won't that thing leak in your pocket?"  While I strongly doubt I'll ever abuse this pen to a point of such catastrophic failure, here are a few observations.  The pen is designed for "tip-up" carry, meaning that the nib of the pen is situated at the top of the pocket - this is true of nearly all "capped" pens.  As such, there isn't the opportunity for the pen to be placed into the pocket while "open" as there is with click-type pens.  Arguably, the pen body could uncap itself while in your pocket and, assuming you have deep enough pockets, could become fully uncapped thereby exposing the nib and, through the capillary action of the fabric of your pants, empty a sizable quantity of ink.  I don't fret over that possibility, however, because the capping mechanism is quite strong.  Moreover, assuming catastrophic failure of the capping mechanism were to occur the body of the pen would have to drop over 1.5 inches before the nib could contact fabric.  In my analysis, it's simply not within the realm of possibilities to be overwhelmingly concerned about.  I would be more concerned with a "cheaper" pen cracking or otherwise failing in my pocket.

Carry Comfort:  2

It's a hefty pen but it's not cumbersome.  It sits nicely against the rear of my left front pocket and stays put.

Total:  20/20

Conclusions and Parting Thoughts:

While my wallet didn't feel this one, it's an expensive pen.  My girlfriend says she paid $150, buying from this seller through eBay.  It's also available here for $215.

It's quite the investment but it can survive a lifetime (this thread here has a great photo of an incredibly beat-up rOtring 600 series 1 fountain pen and it's (apparently) still going strong).

Part of me is tempted to knock a point off for the sheer "WOW" factor of the price point on these pens but, after consideration, I'm not willing to.  The saying I've run into before is, "Buy once, cry once."  I truly think that sentiment resonates here; if you're willing to spend the money, you'll get everything and more out of this pen.

While I have a nagging feeling that assessing a perfect score for my first review could give the wrong impression, this pen is nothing short of exceptional.  I have not found any flaws.  In the event that I encounter a glaring defect I'll be sure to pass it along.

The rOtring 600 is the pen to have if you're interested in EDCing a fountain pen.  Moreover, it epitomizes great industrial design.  This isn't an accessory for a desk; it's not something to keep in a pretty case with a bunch of vintage pens and old leather-bound books; it's a pen to use.  Anything less would be a waste.


< 101 - "Who [the hell] carries a knife all the time?"

I carry a knife all the time.  Many people do.

A gentleman should always carry a knife.

Why?  They're incredibly useful tools.

Knives, in my opinion, are one of the most basic EDC items.  For many, the decision to carry a knife marks a transition into the EDC mindset.

I'm not sure all the origins of the question, but many who ask seem to feel that a knife is principally a weapon.  No, I don't carry a knife to stab people...

There's nothing "weird" or "wrong" about carrying a knife.  There is, however, something weird in chastising what others carry.

Writing Instrument Review Methodology

In an effort to keep reviews consistent and objective, I will be adhering to outlines devised for various categories of gear (e.g., writing instruments; knives; flashlights; bags and backpacks; etc.).

I'll evaluate writing products based on ten categories, each on a scale of zero to two.  Zero being a complete failure, one being an average and workable, and two being exceptional.  This will result in an overall score between zero and twenty; zero being a complete failure in every way and twenty being product perfection (or as close to perfection as possible).

Being focused on everyday carry, I'll be testing most products by carrying them on my person - typically in a pocket.  I'm sure I'll come across some things worth reviewing that I don't typically carry in my pockets (highlighters, for example; I use a ton of highlighters); in those cases I will focus on how I principally carry them (in a backpack, for example) but will do some in-pocket carry for good measure.

I'll try to test a product for a minimum of two weeks before posting results.  This will include use through my everyday tasks, including various law classes and work (reading, strangely enough, is writing intensive) as well as my experiences tossing things into my gym bag at the end of most days.  I'll be sure to detail anything out of the ordinary that happens if it weighs heavily on my consideration of the product.

I'll keep an open mind when trying new products and leave as much prejudice at the proverbial door as possible.

Writing Instruments


In scoring the materials used in construction I'll try to remain objective. Certainly, a modicum of subjectivity falls into this category if the pen itself feels "cheap" in my hand.  I'll make sure to address any and all concerns and qualify the score I give with a well-reasoned opinion.


Just what it seems.  Do the pen's parts fit well together?  Or, do they parts fit poorly as evidenced by rattling, wiggling, or other such annoyances?


The mechanism used to "deploy" the pen (i.e., click, capped, twist, etc.).  This will evaluate how the mechanism has been executed in terms of quality and performance.


I'll be evaluating consistency, thickness (expectation v. actual), and ink quality.  With fountain pens the ink itself won't become too big a consideration (as it's really what I'm loading into it) whereas "disposable" pens will receive greater scrutiny.

Writing Comfort:

Both in short- and long-term use.  Basic ergonomics, I think; whether the grip section is easy to become accustomed to, whether the pen itself is well-balanced and fits nicely into the hand, etc.

Design Concept:

The overarching design concept of the pen.  I'm a bit of a minimalist when it comes to design; I'm sure my personal tastes will weigh slightly into the consideration of this factor.  Clean lines and well-executed design will receive higher scores while kitschy design will be scored lower.

Markings and Insignia:

I'll look to the text and markings on the pen itself (e.g., instructions, bar-codes, etc.).  Overly cluttered and superfluous markings will receive lower scores.

Carry Method:

This will principally focus on the pocket clip and how it functions.  Clips that allow deeper carry and easy access will receive higher scores while more intrusive clips that inhibit retrieval will score lower.

Carry Durability:

Durability will be measured in terms of both the carry method (i.e., the pocket clips durability) and the design of the pen itself.  If it's easily damaged or broken it will receive a lower score.

Carry Comfort:

Evaluated in front pocket carry (I don't believe pens should be carried in back pockets as normal movement can cause premature damage).  Comfort will be a metric of the pen's shape, size, weight, and how it sits in a pocket.  Bulky and oddly shaped designs will likely score lower.


I'm sure I've missed something or neglected to consider something important; as such, comments and critiques are welcome and appreciated. 


< 101 - Flashlights

Flashlights are great, but how much flashlight is "enough?"

Answers vary...

I do believe, however, that it's possible to carry "too much" flashlight.

This can happen when you wonder, "What if?"  "What ifs" can induce over-carry.  Will you ever really need to see what's in the tree-line 300 meters away?  Doubtful.

Worse, that "second sun" you've pocketed might not be very useful of 90% of tasks you'll encounter.  Over-illumination is just as bad as under-illumination.  When buying, user-interface and adjustable brightness are important to consider.

Balancing those "what ifs" with actual need epitomizes the EDC mindset.


"< 101" will be a series of posts consisting of less than 101 words on a certain topic or item.  I hope to post them frequently and to cover a variety of disciplines and products.


My EDC - January 2012

Everyday carry is a term that seems to have been coined relatively recently.  The practice itself, however, is as old as pockets themselves (perhaps even older).  In a nutshell, it refers to the carrying of objects on one's person in an effort to have a modicum of preparedness.  Preparedness for what is typically dictated by individual needs, tastes, and philosophy.

Me and my (slightly condensed) EDC philosophy

I couldn't tell you exactly when I started carrying things on a daily basis.

I remember finding myself in trouble at some point in elementary school - just before the "zero-tolerance" movement - for having a small Swiss Army Knife in my pocket.  I can remember carrying far more pens and pencils than necessary throughout middle and high school.  I also remember my summer vacations spent exploring the woods and tinkering with random stuff, always managing to have something useful in my pockets.

My years as a Boy Scout engrained into me the "be prepared" mindset.  Obviously, it takes on a different color when out in the woods or hiking a mountain, but the concept of having some equipment and knowledge to tackle problems that might arise spans across all disciplines.

In college I was finally in an environment where the administration couldn't carefully scrutinize what was in my pockets.  My girlfriend bought me a SOG Flash II (the one I still carry today) and I again started carrying a knife in addition to my wallet, keys, a pen, and eventually a cell phone.

Since then, my EDC has evolved through necessity, reflection, and refinement.

My purposes behind carrying are to be prepared for most things I'll come across in my life as a student in a slightly urban setting.  The three most heavily used objects in my pockets are a pen, my cell phone, and my keys.

I think my carry, in its current iteration, reflects more of a "classic" approach than a "tactical" one.  While I do carry a more "scary" looking knife, as opposed to a more traditional penknife (like a Swiss Army Knife, or what have you), I'm not dressed to the nines with gear.  The biggest thing, I think, that pushes my current carry away from the "tactical" approach is the lack of a dedicated flashlight.

In an effort to keep this shorter (read: less long) I'll get into it...

My current EDC in its home - an antique machinist's tool-chest.

From left to right...

Key-chain - chain shackle w/ keys and CRKT P.E.C.K.

Car key and various apartment keys.  Bare-bones, really.  I threw on the P.E.C.K. to fill up some extra space on the chain shackle and it comes in handy occasionally.  I had to remove the pocket clip on the P.E.C.K. and add a washer to maintain correct spacing.

I'm sure I'll write a post on the evolution of my key-chain thus far.  The key-chain is probably one of the easiest places to start when it comes to streamlining gear.

Victorinox Summit XLT Chronograph (purchased 2005)

Not a bad watch.  It keeps the time...  I'm still pining for mechanical movements, though.

SanDisk Cruzer 16GB

Digital storage.  Essentially a backup of all the work on my school laptop and a digital file-folder for things I want to print, but don't want to waste my paper on.  It also has a couple standalone programs that most public-use computers don't have.

Perhaps there's a post in EDC principles and flash-drives.  We'll see...


I graduated from my tri-fold quite some time ago.  It was too bulky and I was carrying too much stuff.  I've been going through various wallet-type things and this is what I'm currently using; it's a bifold cardholder with enough space to hold the few cards I need, my license, my student ID, and a couple bills.  It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing.  I'm always on the lookout for something more suited to my tastes and needs.

I started carrying a notebook on my person in August of 2011.  I was tired of pulling out my phone, opening a notepad app, and trying to type out a coherent note.  The adjustment is working nicely, I think.  I don't necessarily use the notepad everyday, but often enough that it's worth carrying.

Many in the fine writing and "office supplies" community have found gripes with Moleskine's paper citing its poor quality and its finicky nature with many inks.  I'll admit it's not the greatest paper I've ever used; some rollerball and fountain pen inks feather quite a bit.  I can't say that I've had too many troubles with this particular notebook, though.

rOtring 600 series 2 fountain pen - EF nib

Oddly enough, my ThinkPad makes a great little photo booth.

A Christmas gift from my (absolutely wonderful) girlfriend.  I love the rOtring 600 line and I have a passion for fountain pens so it's a natural fit.  It just screams "industrial" and "utilitarian."  I've only carried it for the past couple days (ink arrived just this past Friday).  It has survived the the first couple days of classes and is serving me well thus far.  I will be posting a more comprehensive review in the coming weeks after I've had time to settle it into my routine.

Bomb-proof reliability and small enough to be carried as a secondary pen.

SOG Flash II - aluminum handle, TiNi coating
(here is a link to the newer iteration of this model)

The Flash II carries completely below the pocket-line thanks to its clip design.

Another gift from my girlfriend.  I've had this for nearly 7 years now.  It had some warranty work done in mid-2011 when it wasn't locking up as well as I thought it should.  It holds an edge pretty well and carries nicely.  I do have some gripes, which I imagine I'll find time to address in the future.  Consider it a placeholder for a Strider...

Obligatory, stylized, knife-on-MOLLE photo.
Droid X

It makes calls and sends / receives text messages (what a surprise!).  I also use it for my email and syncing my Google calendar (I'm incredibly important!).


Glaring holes and oversights

Perhaps the biggest flaw in my current EDC is the lack of a dedicated light.  I've been looking into the Nitecore EX11.2, but haven't found the money to purchase one (it's available here, if you're interested; it's not the cheapest place online, but I've had good experiences with BatteryJunction.com). 

There are some schools of thought that believe a dedicated flashlight isn't necessary.  They suggest that "flashlight" applications on smartphones are sufficient to handle most tasks that might arise.  While that may be true, it certainly hasn't been my experience.

Parting thoughts

Well, this has gotten long enough...

Stay tuned for my upcoming rOtring 600 fountain pen review!


Intentions and Aspirations

First, some context.

I'm currently entering the final semester of my law school career.  I'm 24.  I run and play racquetball.  I'm a decent chess player.  I love the outdoors.  I want to participate in the GORUCK challenge; it looks incredibly fun.

I like to think of myself as contemplative and well thought.  I tend to over-analyze, occasionally to my detriment.

I've been carrying "stuff" for as long as I can remember.  I was a boyscout as a kid and take their motto - "be prepared" - to heart.  I believe a gentleman should always carry a knife.  I love new things but good design is timeless.

I've always had a passion for writing instruments.  My first "fancy" pen was a LAMY Safari fountain pen; it was given to me when I was in middle school.  In those days I carried a pocket full of various pens and pencils and more still in my school bag.  I've maintained that passion (maybe obsession is a better word) through the present.

My hopes for this blog are multifaceted.  

My most basic intention is to provide my thoughts and insight on everyday carry - the gear, the mindset, and other nuances that I've come across.  I'm hoping that this will include reviews of writing instruments, notebooks, knives, flashlights, and other such equipment that one might find useful to carry.  Also, I'd like to discuss the philosophy of EDC and how different approaches lead to incredibly different gear.

Also, I'd like to include my thoughts on things that don't necessarily fit into the front pocket of my jeans.  I'll keep it to things within my wheelhouse: if I can't use something frequently enough to complete a well-thought post I'll avoid it.

Finally, as with most blogs, I'm sure that I'll feel compelled to post other things that aren't perfectly aligned with my basic intentions.  I will, however, do my best to keep such posts to a minimum.

This will be my first blog.  I'm drawing inspiration from a couple places and hope that I might be able to live up to their model (I'll reserve posting links until I have some "real" content).

My first substantive post should come mid-week.  I'll be posting my current EDC (pictures, pictures, pictures!) and explaining a bit about my approach.