Pilot G-2 Review

The Pilot G-2 is a favorite with many and for good reason; it’s an affordable pen that writes well and can take a bit of a beating compared to others in its class.

Consider this review a foray into the world of affordable pens...

Materials: 1

The G-2 is constructed from relatively robust plastic. The walls of the barrel are relatively thick making the pen more sturdy than others in its class. That said, it’s still plastic and plastic is prone to breakage when compared to other materials. I have experienced some cracking on older G-2s (around the seam between the two barrel parts and on the pocket clip).

Fit: 1

Everything fits together well on the G-2. The barrel screws together without any noticeable play.  The pocket clip assembly (the blue section at the top of the pen) rotates slightly if lightly pushed.

Mechanism: 1

The click mechanism is executed pretty well. The point deploys crisply with a relatively loud “click-click.” The plunger travel isn’t too long - one might say it’s average. The plunger doesn’t spring back up when the point is deployed; it’s a minor detail, but annoying nonetheless.

Line: 2

The G-2 I’m using is a 0.5mm model. The ink is of the gel type. The pen writes very well, laying down a clean, smooth line without any skips or scratching.  The G-2's writing performance is probably one of its biggest selling-points.

The drying time is average, it can smear slightly if you quickly attack a line you've just laid.

Writing Comfort: 2

The G-2 is comfortable when writing. It features a rubber grip area which is contoured slightly. I would prefer the grip area to extend further toward the point to accommodate a greater variety of writing styles, but this is more subjective than anything; as it currently sits the grip’s placement is not detrimental.  Sometimes I find myself placing only my thumb on the grip section and my index and middle finger on the plastic below it.

Design Concept: 1

It’s not an exceptionally beautiful pen by any stretch, but it’s not exceptionally ugly, either. For the price, it’s relatively well-designed. It’s an average pen in most respects.

Markings and Insignia: 2

The only well-visible markings on the G-2 are on the pocket clip. “PILOT G-2 05,” it reads. There are embossed markings reading “PILOT JAPAN” by the seam between the two body sections; they are not readily visible and blend with the barrel. Overall, the markings are relatively minimal and are not intrusive.

Of course, as the pen barrel is predominantly clear, markings on the ink cartridge are also partially visible.

Carry Method: 1

The G-2 is secured into the pocket by way of a traditional pocket clip. It protrudes approximately ¾ of an inch from the top of the pocket. Most of this (about ½ an inch) is the plunger, the remainder being the upper portion of the barrel / pocket clip assembly. The inherent nature of a pocket clip that is molded into the barrel causes extra material to sit above the pocket-line.

It’s certainly easy to retrieve as the plunger offers enough space for a decent purchase with one’s fingers. The clip itself isn’t overly intrusive but I would prefer less of the pen to sit outside the pocket.  Occasionally, I have found the contours of my jeans pushing the plunger when I sit or bend; never enough to fully click the pen, though.,

Carry Durability: 1

Like the rest of the G-2, the pocket clip is plastic. It appears to be durable simply due to the thickness of the clip itself. I haven’t encountered any breakage problems when carrying this particular pen for the past week or so but can attest to the fact that the G-2 plastic clips do fail quicker than their metal counterparts.

Carry Comfort:  2

The G-2 isn’t burdensome to have in one’s pocket. It’s not particularly uncomfortable or irritating.  The grip isn't sticky enough to catch in the pocket, but it does collect a bit of pocket fuzz; again, a minor detail that doesn't really detract from the pen itself.

Total:   14/20

The Pilot G-2 is a well-rounded and affordable pen.  The pocket clip's styling and plastic construction don't make it an ideal pen for everyday carry, in my opinion, but it's certainly a favorite among many.

It's available in most retail stores (usually in packs of 4 or 12) and typically for just over a dollar per pen.  Alternatively, they're available individually (in many colors and line widths) from JetPens.com.


Writing Instrument Review Methodology Reconsidered

I've reconsidered the system I'm using to evaluate writing instruments.

It occurred to me that the subcategory system was improperly emphasizing certain things and resulted in less-than-accurate results.

I have kept the same categories (roughly) and adjusted the scoring system.  There are 10 categories which will be scored between zero and two; zero being a failure in all respects, one being "well-executed," and two being exceptional execution.

The updated system can be found here: writing instrument review methodology.


New Stuff! Field Notes Notebooks and Pens

My order from Huckberry arrived a couple days ago.  Two packs of red Field Notes notebooks and a set of their pens.

I plan to start carrying one of the notebooks immediately and will keep one of the pens handy.  Reviews will be forthcoming...

- - -

Huckberry is a members-only site which offers apparel, gear, and other items for sale at discounted prices.  If you're interested in poking around this is my referral link: http://huckberry.com/referral/dayLNhB5u9txIemWE70f

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I do receive a small incentive ($10.00 credit on my account) when people sign up from this link and make their first purchase.


My First Gear Photo?

I found this photo today while browsing through an old external hard drive.  It's the Flash II that I still carry juxtaposed on a (useful?) WIRED article; it was taken in November of 2006.   Fortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to put that article into use...

This has to be the first picture I ever took of anything that I carried.  Since then I've progressed not only in my photography (or so I hope), but in my view of everyday carry.  The Flash II, though, that still works just as well as it did out of the box.


< 101 - Keychains

Some people put way too much stuff on their keychains.

I’m sure everyone knows someone who collects superfluous things on a split-ring that they miraculously squeeze into their pocket; someone who could lose their keys amidst all their dangling accessories.

I was once afflicted, too. I had useless trinkets, a massive aluminum armadillo bottle-opener, and keys to doors I hadn’t seen in years dangling from a split-ring.

Carrying that much stuff is unnecessary. It takes up valuable space, hinders efficient use of the things you do need, and usually looks a bit silly.

When it comes to keychains, minimalism works.


3/8/12 Pocket Dump

Dumped my pockets when I got home today.

  • SOG Flash II
  • Victorinox Summit XLT Chrono
  • Burt's Bees Res-Q Lib Balm
  • Cardholder
  • Moleskine Pocket Notebook
  • Rotring 600 Fountain Pen
  • Pilot Precise V-5 (not typical - I forget why it was in my pocket today)
  • Keys
  • Droid X
  • Fisher Bullet Space Pen
  • Maglite Solitaire (waiting on the Nitecore EX11.2 I ordered a few days ago)

- - -

Every so often I'll post a pocket dump, just to keep myself honest...


From the Foundation and Forward

It’s the classic example: you’re just getting into this whole “everyday carry” thing and you’re excited about building a mountain of stuff to put in your pockets. You’re looking to start buying a couple pieces of gear to add to the basics you already have. Most people seem to start with a knife and a flashlight. Those are great things to consider carrying right off the bat. Of course, as with most people, you don’t have a mountain of money to buy your mountain of stuff.

Looking at the available options you’re probably a bit overwhelmed, I know I was (still am - there’s so much stuff to know). There are so many things out there to choose from. As you’re just starting to consider buying these sorts of tools you’re not too familiar with them; are those pricey items really worth it when there are plenty of far less expensive options?

The temptation to buy an inexpensive flashlight and an inexpensive knife is persistent. If you do you can have both right now and then arrange your purchases into a neat little pile, take a photo, post it to the internet, then bask in the glory that’s in your pockets.

Not so fast

Quality gear is an investment. Spend the money on something bomb-proof and it’ll treat you well. Buy cheaper gear and you’ll likely be looking for a replacement sooner than later, most likely after you’ve experienced a gear failure at an inopportune time.

If you’re on a relatively tight budget and can’t afford to buy quality gear all at once, it’s better to construct your carry piece by quality piece.

Evaluate your needs, determine which items are more important, and devise a strategy of purchasing which emphasizes picking up quality pieces over a longer time. In the end, you’ll have far better gear that will serve you far longer and, ultimately, you’ll be more satisfied.

Obviously, buying pieces that aren’t within any fathomable budget isn’t necessary. You don’t have to break the bank; there is a middle-ground between high-end and crap and it’s populated with awesome things. There are great pieces available from reputable companies for reasonable prices.

Of course, this “higher-quality is better” argument should be qualified; you probably shouldn’t be buying an incredibly high-end product if you haven’t established a strong need for it. For example, spending $500 on a Strider for your first knife isn’t necessarily the best decision. There’s a period in the very beginning of developing an EDC discipline where you discover what you really need. It wouldn’t be a wise investment to buy a high-end custom knife just to discover months from purchase that you haven’t opened it once.

Don’t jump in head-first

You’ve convinced yourself that buying higher-quality gear is the right idea, where do you go from there? To the internet, of course!

There’s a wealth of information available online about practically everything. There are plenty of third-party reviews and discussions about various products and product features. You should know what you’re buying before you buy it; not just what it looks like and the various specifications, but how those things affect its functionality and how it measures up to other products. If you’re not sure about something there’s bound to be a forum with someone who has an answer, you just need to ask.

Have fun

The most important thing to remember is that half the fun of buying new gear is the process of finding something that you truly love. The more time you spend deciding which gear to purchase likely correlates to the longer time you’ll spend enjoying your purchase rather than lamenting a hasty decision.

Not to mention, in the process of researching technical details, reading reviews, and browsing through pages of products you’re learning quite a bit. Learning is still fun, right?

An investment of time and consideration into your gear guarantees a far better return on any financial investment.

Useful links

A couple places to get started:

Layman’s Flashlight Reviews
Light Reviews

Blade Reviews
The Edge Observer

Candlepower Forums
Blade Forums


< 101 - Contemplation

EDC is as much about contemplation as it is about carrying stuff.

It's about observation, choices, and refinement.

One can get lost trying to stuff their pockets based on the banter of internet kibitzers and armchair commandos.  But, ultimately, EDC is about discovering what you need to carry, not what someone else thinks you should carry.

Certainly, there are arguments to be made regarding the utility and practicality of certain things (a gentleman should always carry a knife) but, ultimately, EDC is a discipline comprised of personal choice and individual need.

After all, they're your pockets.


Triple Aught Design OP1 Review

Ever since I purchased my TAD FAST Pack Lightspeed I have been looking for an admin pouch to throw on it.  The built-in admin pocket wasn't cutting it for all the smaller items I carry on a daily basis (pens, pencils, highlighters, digital storage, post-it notes, two cell flashlight, etc.) and the internal mesh pockets didn't keep frequently used items at my fingertips.

I looked at a few different options:

I wanted something that was slim enough not to adulterate the streamlined design of the Lightspeed and that had ample space to store both small- and medium-sized items.  It had to be easy to get into and be designed in such a fashion that allowed access by opening only the top portion of the pouch.  I also convinced myself that a zipper closure system was best as it would be substantially quieter than Velcro.

I eventually chose the Triple Aught Design OP1.  I do love the looks of this product and its functionality is exceptional, but I believe my principle rationale for purchasing it was the fact that it is produced by Triple Aught Design.  While I've developed an affinity for TAD's gear that can be described as nothing short of "cult-like devotion," their reputation for exceptional products and great customer service weighed heavily in my decision.

The dimensions of the OP1 are 7.25" x 6.75" x 1".  It's constructed of 500 denier DuPont Cordura fabric.  All zippers are YKK brand and all hook-and-loop is Velcro.  It's made in the USA to milspec construction standards.  At $55.00 it's one of the more expensive admin pouches I considered, but the quality of the construction as well as its US manufacturing origin make it well worth the price.

The OP1 mounts to a bag via two MOLLE straps.  Most MOLLE attachment systems I'm familiar with utilize a strip of nylon webbing, usually reinforced with some form of plastic, which is attached at the top of the accessory, threads through the MOLLE webbing, and then snaps closed at the bottom.  TAD's MOLLE system is a bit different as it utilizes a hook-and-loop closure to secure the bottom of the attachment straps.  I do like this attachment mechanism; it appears just as robust as a snap-type closure and I have found it easier to use.  Moreover, it's a bit thinner than the snap-type systems I've encountered.

The front of the OP1 features a small pocket with Velcro closure.  Additionally, there is a Velcro flap which opens to reveal three smaller pockets (one pen-sized pocket flanked by two slightly larger pockets).  I routinely use the smaller pocket to store my car keys and cell phone.  I haven't as of yet, found a use for the pockets under the flap; they're trickier to get to and haven't offered any desperately needed storage.

The OP1 unzips and opens in a clamshell-like manner.  Inside there is an open-top pocket on the portion affixed to the bag and an additional zippered compartment on the pouch's "flap."  The zippered compartment ensures that items stored within are not unintentionally dropeed when the whole pouch is opened in the "upright" position.  The main features of the interir are two rows of double-layered elastic webbing (one row per half).  These rows are stitched into sections of various sizes facilitating the securing of various different-sized items.

I have been running the OP1 mounted to the "beaver-tail" of the Lightspeed for a good few weeks.  I've taken it to and from classes daily and it "endured" a weekend trip to NYC wherein it faithfully performed without incident.  I haven't really used it in a more aggressive manner but it's on my itinerary; hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking are among my spring and summer plans.

- - - - - -

I'm going to adhere to the framework I created here as best I can.  However, as this is a pouch, not a pack / bag, I am compelled to make some modifications, as necessary.  The overall score will still be between zero and twenty.

DESIGN:  5 Overall

Theory:  5

On paper I believe the OP1 would look just as great as it does in fabric.  As far as admin pouches go I would submit it's one of the best designed.  Zipper rather than Velcro closure ensure long-term functionality (Velcro does degrade with prolonged use) and, more importantly, peace and quiet when accessing the interior of the pouch.  It's a superior design intended to carry a multitude of accessories in a convenient and streamlined package.
Aesthetics:  5

 Compared to others in the class, this pouch is exceptionally good looking.  The exterior is clean and doesn't have any unnecessary embellishments.  I'm pleased that TAD didn't include a massive piece of Velcro on the exterior (as on the MilSpec Monkey offerings, for example) as it doesn't really add much in terms of usefulness but would certainly make it stand out more.


Materials:  5

500 denier Cordura fabric is a great choice for this pouch.  It's durable and relatively water-resistant; the few paper products I carry in it haven't gotten wet through ran and snow (the pouch has had a couple exposures to both for approximately 5-10 minutes each time).  Of course, it's not completely waterproof.  If you were to keep it in the rain or snow for long enough it's bound to have some leakage into the interior of the pouch.  As it's not claimed to be waterproof or even water-resistant I won't dock points.

Construction:  5

Made in the USA with great stitching to prove it.  Triple Aught Design always seems have to have great quality construction.  The seams and stitching are clean.  Bar tacking on the MOLLE attachment strips is a great reinforcement.

Hardware:  5

As mentioned, all the zippers are YKK brand and the other hardware (two D-rings on the upper part of the MOLLE attachment straps and three zipper-pull caps) is made by ITW Nexus.  I haven't experienced any problems with either the zippers or the other hardware.  The zipper-pulls are fantastic as paired with 550 cord - you can pick up a fully-loaded pack with the zipper-pull and not experience any problems (not that I frequently manipulate my bag by grabbing zipper-pulls, but if I did...).  I don't expect to be having any trouble with the hardware on this pouch at any point in the future.


Packing / Retrieval:  5

Packing the pouch is simple enough.  The main zipper allows the whole pouch to be opened in a clamshell-like manner.  This design facilitates packing and retrieval of all things within the pouch.  What was important to me in choosing this particular pouch was the ability to unzip only the top portion and still retrieve items.  Other pouches I looked at required opening a massive flap to access the main compartment, an unnecessary encumbrance, in my opinion.

Organization:  4

The main interior compartment is organized well.  As aforementioned, there are two internal pockets and rows of elastic webbing to secure other items.  My main gripe with the elastic webbing is the size of the various "slots."  I tend to carry more smaller items (pen-sized things) than larger ones and, as such, I'm wanting a few more smaller slots than are stitched in.  Moreover, the smallest slots are slightly too small for most things I've tried to squeeze in them.  I've had to double-up a few smaller things into a larger slot which seems to work well for the time being.  Hopefully I'll be far away from the academic uses of this pouch and my bag by May.  In terms of overall functionality the slot sizes don't detract much, but the sizes are irritating enough to consider knocking off a point.

Modularity / Expandability:  - - -

N/A - it's a pouch; can't expand much from there...

CARRY:  5 Overall

[I'm ditching the two subcategories here and scoring the attachment mechanism; seems like the right idea...]

I love MOLLE.  It's a wonderful system.  Triple Aught Designs' Velcro system works wonders, too.  As discussed above, it's a clean, slim, lightweight way to secure the end of a strap.  Moreover, the neat little pull-tabs TAD has added to the Velcro system facilitate quick detachment of the pouch.  I have nothing but praise for their method.

TOTAL SCORE:  19.5 / 20

Overall, the OP1 is a fantastic little admin pouch.  I would recommend it to anyone looking for a clean, well-designed solution to storing a variety of smaller items on any MOLLE compatible pack.  I could also see using something like this pouch as a standalone system, keeping things organized in a car's glove box, for example.  I trust that it will serve me well for many, many years.