Field Notes Brand Clic Pen Review

I picked up a six-pack of Field Notes Brand Clic Pens when I ordered a set of their notebooks from Huckberry . I really wasn’t too interested in the pens themselves, but was saving some money by ordering the package.  As Field Notes is a relatively well-received brand, I thought I would carry one for a bit and type up a review.

Essentially, the Field Notes Brand Clic Pen is a Bic Clic with the Field Notes logo printed on the barrel.  There isn't much else to it...

Materials: 1

The barrel is plastic.  It’s not particularly sturdy; using the G-2 I reviewed a couple weeks back as a metric, it’s more prone to flex and perhaps breakage.   I don’t expect the barrel to break during normal use, though.  In the grand scheme of things, I've had less durable pens but also far more durable ones.

Fit: 1

There’s nothing particularly poor about the fit of the parts on this pen.   The barrel screws together tightly without any play.  There is, however, a bit of play between the point, when extended, and the barrel.  This can result in some movement of the tip when writing.

Mechanism: 1

Following the name “Clic,” the pen utilizes a click-type mechanism.  It works, but it’s nothing special.  The plunger doesn’t return to the upright position when the point is deployed.   Also, there is significant play between the sides of the barrel and the plunger.

Line: 1

The included cartridge is a medium point black ball-point.   As far as ball-points go it’s average.  The line it lays down is relatively smooth and doesn’t skip.   The point does feel like it drags a bit on the page, though.

The ink itself isn’t as black as a black should be, in my opinion.

Writing Comfort: 1

The dragging feeling of the point causes my hand to fatigue quicker than it normally does.  It almost feels like I have to fight the pen a little bit.  Instead of gliding through through my thoughts I have to pull it around.

Design Concept: 1

Nothing special.  The Bic Clic is a time-tested design but it’s not terribly attractive.  The silver ring around the middle is a nice embellishment.

Markings and Insignia: 0

Emblazoned on the barrel of the pen are the words “FIELD NOTES” and “fieldnotesbrand.com” each on its own line.  The text is pretty intrusive and doesn’t seem to fit well with the pen itself.  Moreover, the printing isn’t stellar; the ink isn’t consistently laid upon the barrel.  The pocket clip has BIc’s Trademarks, the “Clic” branding, and the “MEXICO” manufacturing origin.

If the printing was better executed I would probably give the pen a 1 in this category but, alas, the printing isn’t that great.

Carry Method: 1

A simple stamped and folded metal pocket clip is fastened into the plastic barrel.  The design of the clip causes approximately an inch of the pen to stick out above the pocket line.  Retrieving the pen, when clipped, is simple due to this protrusion.

Carry Durability: 1

After carrying this pen in my front pocket for a couple weeks the clip has loosened slightly.  This isn’t due to bending of the clip itself, but is due to the clip’s mounting pulling away from the barrel.  As such, it’s not something that could be corrected by simply bending the clip back.

That said, it’s not a complete failure.   It holds up pretty well and, unless you’re wearing pants with incredibly thick fabric, there won’t be a problem.

Carry Comfort: 1

The portion of the pen that actually sits in the pocket is comfortable, but I’ve found that the large section outside the pocket to get in the way.  It protrudes just enough to be annoying. I would prefer it to sit a bit lower in the pocket.

Total: 9/20

The Field Notes Brand Clic Pen isn't anything special.  There are definitely better pens on the market, particularly for everyday carry.  I'm certainly happy to have something else in my pocket.

Pocket Clip for the Svord Peasant Knife

I like the Svord Peasant Knife because of its simplicity.  It's about as basic as you can make a folding blade. 

In total, there are eight parts to the thing.  I added a ninth.

While the Peasant Knife, sitting at the bottom of the front pocket on my jeans, protrudes enough to grab it (a little over a quarter inch in the jeans I had on at the time), I wanted to make sure that it stuck around.

I figured I could create a simple pocket clip and attach it to the two screws at top of the handle.


It's a simple enough design: just a straight clip with a slight angle on the mounting side to accommodate the angle of the screws with relation to the handle.  Because the pivot and "pin" screws have large heads I figured it was necessary to install the clip as cut from the sheet (without necessary bends) and bend it into place after installation.  This method saved me the irritation of designing around the large screws.

Fabrication and Installation

I cut the clip from a small piece of scrap steel I had lying around (truth be told, I cannibalized the enclosure of an old internal CD drive).  A quick zip with the Dremel and it took form.

I then drilled the mounting holes and cleaned up any rough edges.

Installing it was a breeze.  The trickiest part was aligning the threads on the brass hardware.  Brass, being a relatively softer metal, can be finicky when it comes to small threaded parts.  The last thing I wanted to do was improperly align the threads and strip the screws.  That said, it didn't take but a minute to get the knife back together.

After installing the unbent pocket clip (I should have taken a picture; whoops) I proceeded to put the primary bend in it.  I used a small round metal file with a diameter of about an eighth of an inch.  This ensured that the bend was round and inhibited creasing or breakage. 

With the file still in position and the primary bend in place I took a small hammer and gave it a good few whacks thus putting a bit of tension into the clip that otherwise wouldn't be there with a simple 180 degree bend.

Next, I put a small upward bend in the end of the clip to enhance its ability to slide over the lip of a pocket.  I also placed a small downward bend in the middle of the clip (just past the mounting screws) so it would be a bit more flush with the handle.  I made these bends using the same principle I expressed above: putting an object (flat in these cases) where I desired a bend and applying pressure.

Finally, I cleaned up the corners with a file to prevent snagging.

I took a few pictures of the finished clip.  I'm calling it a prototype because I would prefer to use a more robust steel.  We'll see how this carries and go from there...

Here you can see the three bends placed in the clip.

The finished clip.  As you can see, it was necessary to install the clip without bends due to the location and size of the hardware.

Carry: Initial Impressions

Clipped to the front pocket the tang extends out of the pocket about 1 3/4 inches giving you a decent purchase on it for retrieval.  The design of this knife and other friction-folders forces tip-down carry because of the extended tang.  I do believe it's possible to install the hardware "backwards," as it were, to facilitate left or right carry (the spine of the blade should always face the "back" of the pocket; this helps prevent unintended opening of the blade on all folding knives).

My biggest problem now is going to be refraining from using the pocket clip enough to score the carry method and comfort of the knife based on its fresh-from-the-factory features...


Svord Peasant Knife Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Simple packaging for a simple knife.

I snagged a Svord Peasant Knife with a slim blue handle this past weekend.  It arrived in the mail today and, naturally, I snapped some photos.

The Peasant Knife is supposed to be the bare minimum in terms of a blade.  Allegedly it's based on a knife design found in Bohemia and Bavaria around three to four hundred years ago.  It's "available only to first class peasants."

Initial Impressions

Steel blade, aluminum handle, and brass screws.  Simple stuff.

As it's a friction folder there is a tang that extends beyond the handle when the blade is closed and folds in between the handle sections when the blade is open.  The tang wedged between the handle sections provides the friction keeping the blade open.  The "action" is very tight out of the box; it's possible to adjust the tension by adjusting the screws.  I anticipate that it will loosen up with use.

The edge was relatively sharp.  I took a few minutes and cleaned it up a bit and it took an acceptable edge.  The factory grind is a bit off-center.

Brass hardware isn't too shabby.

I'll be throwing it in my pocket for the foreseeable future and I'll be writing a formal review at some point.

A peasant's knife for a peasant's chores?



One of the most frequently overlooked things in the EDC movement is where people put all the stuff they're carrying. Descriptions of what’s in people’s pockets accompanied by photographs of neatly organized stuff fail to answer one of the most intriguing questions: how do people actually put all that stuff in their pockets?

It's not enough to simply have things; you have to carry them, too.  This means considering three very important things: (1) comfort; (2) accessibility; and, (3) durability.  I like to think of this as "optimization."


I think most people consider comfort first. They arrange things in their pockets in a manner that doesn't unnecessarily inhibit movement or create irritating bulges or pokes.

This is a good place to start as if something isn't comfortable it probably won't be carried. Most people won't and shouldn’t choose to be uncomfortable.

I'm constantly rearranging things in my pockets in an attempt to find the most comfortable way to carry things.  While I always try to maintain roughly the same placement of gear (flashlight and knife on my right, notebook and pen on my left, and so forth), I am willing to shuffle stuff around a bit if I can find better ways to carry it.

Of course, some things are more comfortable to carry than other things.  Choosing the right gear is essential when it comes to comfort.  This is, as always, a balancing game: maximize your utility without unnecessarily inconveniencing yourself.  That two-cell flashlight might be nice, but a single-cell might fulfill the same role; that extra inch of blade might not be all that useful; maybe you can ditch those kitschy keychain accessories...


Utility is directly proportional to accessibility. The most useful item in the world would immediately lose its utility if it couldn’t be accessed. Along the same lines, if something is difficult to retrieve it won’t be used frequently, even in opportunities which might benefit from its use.  Sure, it might be nice to grab that flashlight to look for your dropped keys in the dark but if it's stuffed in your backpack you might just bend over and grope around for a minute.

Of course, things that might be needed in an emergency should be easily accessible, too.  One of the worst feelings is needing something, knowing where it is, but not being able to get to it.

In my pockets, for example, the three most easily accessible things are my primary pen, my folding knife, and my flashlight.  Of the three, I use my pen most frequently.  My knife and flashlight aren't as used as often, but there's quickly accessible in case the need suddenly arises.

As such, there's a certain discipline in deciding where to put things.  For me, the most frequently-used things are the most accessible followed by items that may be suddenly and unexpectedly needed.

Legal concerns should also be mentioned with regard to accessibility.  While most EDC items aren't strictly regulated in most jurisdictions, there are some that do concern themselves with what's in your pockets.  Those that carry firearms have the most to worry about when it comes to conforming to the law; many states that allow concealed carry have strict "brandishing" laws which can be broken by a handgun shaped bulge, a poorly tucked shirt, or by retrieving an item from overhead.  Some jurisdictions have the same laws with regard to knives.  In some places (New York City comes to mind) you must carry your knives concealed; they have roughly the same brandishing laws that other places do for firearms.  While it may be easier to access your equipment if it's more "open carried" than not, that access may be putting you in violation of local law.


There's the durability of individual pieces of equipment and then there's the durability of that equipment when it interacts with other stuff in your pocket.

For example, the Moleskine notebook I had been carrying is a relatively durable product on its own. It’s survived months of daily carry and use. The trouble comes when it sits in a pocket with something that’s “more durable.” When the Moleskine stays in a pocket with a cell phone, for example, it can quickly be damaged. Or if that same cell phone were to sit in a pocket next to a folding knife it would likely suffer quite a bit.

So, the placement of things in pockets should be considered in relation to the other things in those same pockets.

Moreover, there are certain components of various products that are more prone to damage. For example, the lens on a flashlight it far easier to damage than its machined aluminum body. That lens usually sits closest to the bottom of the pocket, too. As such, carrying keys or loose change in the same pocket has the potential to cause premature damage to that flashlight.


There are certainly other things to consider when deciding where to carry things.  Aesthetics and clothing choice quickly come to mind.  Comfort, accessibility, and durability shouldn't be overlooked, though.  They're a great place to start and can do wonders in guiding further experimentation.

After all, what's the point in carrying stuff if you aren't going to carry it well?


4/23/12 "Last Day of Law Classes" Pocket Dump

Dumped my pockets after returning home from my last day of law classes (ever).  Didn't get around to posting it until today.
  • Keys w/ CRKT PECK;
  • Nitecore EX11.2 w/ Ti pocket clip;
  • Sandisc cruzer;
  • Fisher bullet space pen;
  • rOtring 600 fountain pen w/ Noodler’s ink;
  • CRKT M16-14SFG;
  • Field Notes;
  • Phone;
  • Wallet;
  • Shitty pen they gave soon-to-be graduates;
  • [not pictured] Victorinox Summit XLT Chrono.
 I'm contemplating writing a satirical review of the cheap pen they gave us, if I do it'll be up within the week.


< 101 - Fountain Pens

When it comes to writing instruments, few things can compare to a good fountain pen.

They are elegant instruments capable of capturing the enigmatic musings of an inspired mind and scribing them into reality.  In short, they put ink on paper.

There’s a certain something about fountain pens.  They’re not necessarily “better” than other pens; they’re not often as durable or rugged and they’re far more finicky.  But, despite potential shortcomings, they're quite compelling.

Fountain pens elicit an emotional response when interlaced between your fingers.  They make writing worth the time.   You can’t ask for much more than that.

Knife Review Methodology

I'm hoping to start reviewing knives, starting with the ones I own and moving onto ones I (hope to) purchase.  Of course, that means I'm going to need some sort of system to afford some semblance of elegance and objectivity.

I've used Everyday Commentary's system as a baseline (Anthony has devised a great method) and gone from there.  Many of the categories are the same, but I've tweaked it a bit for my purposes.

I'll evaluate knives based on ten categories each scored between zero and two.  Zero being abysmal, one being adequate, and two being exceptional.  As usual, this will result in a total score between zero and twenty.

Then ten categories and a brief explanation are as follows:

Blade Material:

Perhaps the most important material used in knife construction is steel. The choice of blade-steel largely determines the “quality” of a knife, its utility, and, more often than not, the cost of the product. Blade-steel comes in many different types with many different attributes associated with each type.

The most relevant considerations are (1) sharpness, (2) durability, (3) rust resistance, and (4) maintenance. Sharpness is predominantly determined by the amount of carbon in the steel; higher-carbon steels are capable of holding a finer edge. Durability is a balancing act. It’s affected by both how hard a particular steel is and its plasticity (steel should be hard enough to retain an edge and muscle through material, but should be soft enough so it’s not brittle and prone to chipping and the like). Rust resistance is important, too. Rust is bad. Ease of maintenance is also important; while I have no problem sitting down and sharpening a knife, it’s nice to have a steel which won’t fight you.

Blade-steel is still an enigma for me. I’m not a metallurgist and don’t pretend to be. I’ll try to do as much research I can about steels I’m unfamiliar with and make sure to provide my underlying reasoning as to a particular score.

Fit of Parts:

Is the knife well-constructed? Do all the parts fit together properly? Is there wiggle where there shouldn’t be? Etc.

Blade Shape:

Spear, clip, tanto, recurve, etc. There are plenty of blade shapes on the market and they’re all good for something (generally). In an EDC knife I seem to be looking for something that’s going to be a great general utility blade, something that performs well in most “traditional” tasks. Serrations are also considered here.

Blade Grind:

If you were to look at a blade from the point with the handle facing away from you the shape you would see is the blade grind. Simple grinds are good for EDC but more robust grinds have their place. Depending on the intended use, the grind can make or break a blade.


All folding knives have some sort of mechanism. to keep them open, whether that is a traditional lock or otherwise. This will evaluate the type and quality of the mechanism used. Non-locking knives will not be prejudiced and in the event that I evaluate a fixed-blade I’ll evaluate the sheathing system.

Design Concept:

Is it pretty? Is the underlying design admirable or is it otherwise lacking?


What good is a knife if it doesn’t fit well in your hand? This category will evaluate how well the grip portion of the knife is executed; this depends on the type and size of the knife and what it’s principally being used for.

Deployment Method:

How does the knife open? Is it manual, assisted, or automatic? Does it employ a thumb-stud, a flipper, a “wave” device, a thumbhole, nothing at all?

Carry Method:

How is the knife carried? Most pocket knives have a pocket clip (strange, huh). Some, however, don’t have such a convenient device (also strange). This will evaluate the type and quality of the carry method and discuss the ease of deployment and replacement into a pocket (or wherever it’s carried).

Carry Comfort:

Is the knife comfortable to carry? Is it oddly shaped? Does it sit in a strange way while in a pocket? Etc.


On Prefab EDC Kits

With the growing popularity of everyday carry retailers are jumping on the bandwagon and doing all they can to get a piece of the action. Generally, I think this is great; the more the merrier. However, there are a few developments that I find mildly troubling. One of those developments is the emergence of prefabricated “EDC kits.”

There’s one that comes to mind. It’s being offered here for $44. It consists of a split-pea lighter, a set of tweezers, a pry-bar, and two just-slightly-larger-than-a-key screwdrivers (one phillips and one flathead). All the items are sourced from CountyComm, as far as I can tell.

As an initial observation, I find it a bit silly that they explicitly state in the description that EDC is personally defined and that it’s the result of evaluating and satisfying personal needs while they’re selling a package of stuff that is neither for the vast majority of people.

While the kit consists of relatively high-quality gear it’s also a compilation of stuff that most people probably don’t need. Of course, it’s retail; they’re trying to capitalize on an emerging market and offer a product that people will actually buy. However, as the EDC movement receives growing attention and popularity there will be more and more people trying to find their way into carrying “stuff.” That means that there are plenty of people out there who will try to jump on the EDC bandwagon by purchasing things like the prefabricated kit, throw the stuff in their pocket, and occasionally take pictures of it to post on the internet.

That’s not really EDC, is it? If everyday carry is truly the careful evaluation of one’s own needs and the carrying of gear to satisfy those needs then buying a kit of stuff that has been thrown together by someone else - a kit of things that are more superfluous accessories than anything - is offensive to the underlying principles of EDC.

Sure, if you’ve decided that you’re in desperate need of a less-than-accessible lighter, a pair of tweezers, a tiny pry bar, and some screwdrivers on your keychain this solution is for you. Absent that unlikely scenario, this compilation is a tad silly.

I can only imagine that people who purchase this “EDC kit” - or any other, for that matter - either quickly retire the majority of pieces to a drawer or keep their keychain and pockets unnecessarily cluttered with stuff that they’ll never use...


Capture by Peak Design - Unboxing and Initial Impressions

A while ago I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of Peak Design's Capture system.  It was on Kickstarter and, as with most things over there, was available for pre-order.  I was intrigued with the concept but wasn't so excited that I felt compelled to buy in.

Not too long ago, I went on a hike up Mt. Monadnock  with a friend and brought a DSLR on a two-point strap.  It was irritating, to say the least.  The strap compelled me to be exceptionally conscious about where the camera was dangling and how I needed to retain it.  I spent most of the day with one hand glued to the camera, keeping it stationary and safe.

I was determined to find another method to carry a full-size camera without the irritation of a strap system.

Then, it occurred to me that I had seen the Peak Design Capture system on Kickstarter.  Of course, it was out of its initial fundraising and production phases and was available for retail at a relatively high price ($79.99).  While I was slightly discouraged by the price, I still bookmarked it as an option, among other things.

In a pleasant surprise, the Capture then found its way onto Huckberry at the discounted price of $65.00 (it is no longer available there, and may be purchased through Peak Design directly).  It was too good to pass up and I am now the proud owner of the Peak Design Capture.


 The Capture is packaged in a small cardboard box (no surprise there).

On the back of the box are the instructions for installation of the Capture and a description of the various parts on the device.

Inside the box there is a small microfiber bag.  It was unexpected and is a nice little detail.  If I ever need to store the system in a drawer or whatnot, it will be rather useful.

Of course, inside the bag is the Capture device.

Initial Impressions

When you pick up the Capture device it feels solid.  It's constructed predominantly of aluminum with what I'm assuming are steel screws and springs.  The only plastic portion is the quick-release button assembly.

Screwing the mount into the camera is, of course, exceptionally simple (it's a screw; if it's hard to figure out, maybe photography isn't for you).  It installs into the camera's tripod mount.  It should be initially hand-tightened followed up by a quick torque with a screw driver to ensure it's secure.

Installing the retention mechanism is also simple.  There are two thumbscrews on either side that tighten the system onto whatever strap you can fit it around.  If the strap you're attempting to fit the system around is rather thick the device unscrews into two parts.  Otherwise, it unfolds to slide around a strap.

I've affixed it to the strap of my Lightspeed for the foreseeable future.

On the top right of the Capture is the red quick release button.  When you slide the camera into the mount it locks automatically; pressing the red button allows you to unlock and detach the camera.  On the opposite side is a screw-down lock which prevents the camera from being removed, even by depressing the quick-release button.

When affixed to my Lightspeed the attachment system is barely noticeable.  It took a couple minutes to decide where it looked and felt best on the strap.  Based on those few minutes and walking around my apartment with the bag on my back I've decided, at least initially, that it's more comfortable mounted higher on the strap.

It seems that the Capture might be less comfortable if mounted to a "traditional" backpack strap without MOLLE-type webbing as the aluminum back-plate of the Capture would sit directly on the chest.  Of course, this is just conjecture.

I'll be leaving the Capture's base-plate system on my bag during my daily ins and outs and I'll carry the camera around hiking and during other excursions (no, I don't carry a camera everywhere; there are unsurprisingly few photo opportunities in a law class).  When I feel I have an adequate basis for producing a well-researched and -reasoned I'll post a more detailed discussion and review.

In any event, I really look forward to putting the Peak Design Capture through its paces...


Fisher Bullet Space Pen Review

Many, many years ago - over a decade now (wow) - I was given my first Fisher Space Pen. I carried it in my pocket all the time until I (tragically) lost it on a flight from France nearly eight years ago.

Earlier in 2011 my girlfriend - who seems to do more to support my gear habit than I do - purchased me a replacement. Since then, it has been in one pocket or another everyday.

The Fisher Space Pen line is relatively iconic. Most people are aware of its existence and are familiar with the pressurized ink cartridge and its versatile performance. For those of you that aren’t familiar, it’s touted to write in zero gravity, underwater, over wet or greasy paper, at any angle, and in exceptionally extreme temperatures. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to test all these claims myself.

It’s a great little pen; versatile, compact, and relatively stylish.

Materials: 2

The pen is constructed of brass. My particular model has a chromed finish. There are plenty of other colors available.

The cap’s walls are relatively thin and can sustain minor damage if mistreated. Even so, it’s a robust construction that isn’t prone to failure.

Fit: 2

The two barrel sections screw together without any play or wiggle between the parts. The cap is a simple slide-on design but doesn’t have much play when fully capped or posted.

Mechanism: 2

As mentioned, the pen uses a simple cap-type design. There isn’t much to mention short of saying “it’s well-executed.”

There is, of course, the longstanding question of whether capped pens are “right” for EDC, but that’s a different discussion for a different time that has no bearing on the quality of the Fisher’s build.

Line: 1

I’m currently using a medium point black cartridge. There are other sizes available, but the pen retails with the medium point.

It performs as one would expect a ball-point to perform. There isn’t anything too particularly special about it. The ink is relatively viscous and has a slightly longer dry-time, it seems, than others. Occasionally the ink will “clump” on the point and find its way onto the page.

Due to the pressurized nature of the cartridge some ink can “bleed” from the point if it’s unused for long periods of time (or so I’ve noticed). It’s not a major annoyance and can be avoided if you use the pen with relative frequency.

Writing Comfort: 2

The grip section of the pen is knurled with a tight spiral. It’s abrasive enough to achieve a non-slip grip but not so aggressive as to be uncomfortable. The grip gradually tapers to the point.

The pen has a nice heft to it, despite its small stature.  The knurling is one of my favorites on all the pens I own.  I filled a page with text during a recent class (over the course of about an hour) and didn't find it to be uncomfortable.  The knurling makes it possible to write for a decent amount of time without having to readjust your grip because of finger-slipping.

I haven’t used this pen for long periods of time (writing for more than 10 consecutive minutes, say), but I haven’t found it to be uncomfortable.

Design: 2

The overarching design concept of this particular pen seems to emphasize minimalism, both in terms of size and appearance. The knurling on the grip section is clever; I do appreciate the spiral design. There is a black o-ring on the middle of the barrel which serves to secure the cap when it’s on. Short of the grip section and the o-ring the pen is streamlined.

Markings & Insignia: 2

The only markings on the pen itself are the words “SPACE PEN by Fisher … USA …” on the cap. They appear to be stamped or rolled into the brass. Without reasonably close inspection one doesn’t notice the text. Overall, this pen is adorned with the most minimal of text.

Carry Method: 0 (without clip)

In terms of a primary carry pen the model I have isn’t the greatest. It didn’t retail with a pocket clip. There are some that do, depending on which store you choose to purchase from. There are also aftermarket clips available at places like Jetpens.com. In any case, I’m evaluating the Fisher Bullet Space Pen as-is: without a clip.

Without a clip, the pen sits at the bottom of whatever pocket you’ve stashed it in. This can severely inhibit retrieval depending on what else is in the pocket.

I have carried this pen in my front pocket for quite some time; it’s hard to get out of that pocket quickly or otherwise, particularly when it manages to find its way to the very bottom and rotate itself to sit horizontally. If there’s anything else in the pocket besides the pen it’s even harder to retrieve. You find yourself jamming your hand into the pocket, fishing around, and hoping to get a hold on it.

Without a clip, this pen isn’t great for primary carry.

Carry Durability: 2

Even when sitting in the bottom of a pocket, this pen is practically indestructible. Its solid brass construction is robust and doesn’t damage easily. Even the cap, which has substantially thinner walls than the rest of the barrel, cannot be damaged easily.

Carry Comfort: 1

The size of this pen significantly affects how comfortable it is to have in a pocket. Due to its size, it all but disappears in a pocket - right up until it orients itself horizontally. Then, it’s a bit annoying and has the possibility to sit uncomfortably. A pocket clip would eliminate this problem, of course, but this model didn’t include one...

Total: 16/20

I use the Fisher Bullet Space Pen as a secondary pen; it’s always in one of my pockets and it is used occasionally. It’s small enough not to be noticed and, due to its performance in “extreme” conditions, it makes a great backup.

Perhaps, in the future, I’ll purchase a pocket clip and revisit this review.


Parker Jotter Stainless Review

The Parker Jotter is a classic with a long history.  I've had one for a while and it's always been a go-to pen when I want to carry a ballpoint and need something sturdy and reliable.  The Jotter is available nearly everywhere, it seems.  It's reasonably inexpensive (typically around $10) and is a great pen for the price.

Materials:  2

The Jotter uses stainless steel throughout the barrel, pocket clip, and plunger mechanism.  It's not heavy, per se, but feels more sturdy and substantial than plastic or thinner-walled metal pens (like some of Zebra's offerings).

Fit: 1

The barrel screws together well and doesn't exhibit any wiggle.  My biggest problem with this particular pen is this: when it's oriented in a certain way it makes a clicking noise while writing.  Presumably, this clicking is from the ink cartridge moving slightly in the barrel.  It can be avoided - when the pen is oriented with the upward the noise stops - but it's incredibly irritating.

Mechanism:  2

Utilizing your basic click-type mechanism, the Jotter surpasses general expectations in one major way.  When the point is deployed the plunger springs back up into position.  This spring-loaded mechanism prevents the plunger from rattling around while the pen is "open."  I have grown quite attached to this feature, and wish it was more frequently utilized on other pens.

Line:  1

I'm currently using a medium blue cartridge from Parker - the pen typically retails with a medium black cartridge.  The medium Parker cartridge isn't anything to write home about.  It doesn't write exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly.  It's exactly what someone would expect from a ballpoint pen.

There are many alternative cartridges available for the Parker Jotter in a variety of colors, sizes, and ink types.

Writing Comfort:  1

The barrel gradually tapers to the tip of the pen.  There is not a "grip" area, per se.  Using this pen for prolonged periods can become a bit uncomfortable because of these design elements.  For most writing tasks it's not particularly uncomfortable.

Design Concept:  2

The Jotter is a very "clean" pen.  There aren't any unnecessary design elements.  The shape has a certain aesthetic appeal to it and the Jotter line itself has a rich design history.  The completely stainless body is far more attractive, in my opinion, than the half-plastic barrels that are available.

Markings & Insignia:  2

The upper portion of the barrel has the words "PARKER" with their stylized "P" trademark and "MADE IN UK E III" stamped into the area closest to the seam between the parts.  The pocket clip features an arrow motif.  The plunger also sports the Parker "P" on the very top.  The markings aren't too aggressive or intrusive and still convey the pen's design and manufacturing origins.

Carry Method:  2

A simple pocket clip is located high on the barrel of the jotter.  It facilitates relatively deep pocket carry and retrieval is not difficult.  Compared to other pocket clips on click-type pens, the Jotter's is among the best.  Many click-type pens utilize a clip system that causes a greater amount of the pen to sit above the pocket line which can become a nuisance.  In that regard, the Jotter's clip design far exceeds the competition.

Carry Durability:  2

The all stainless construction makes this particular model more durable than its plastic-barreled brethren.  It's not going to receive damage that will induce catastrophic failure while sitting in a pocket, even if it shares that pocket with other hard goods.  The clip itself if stamped steel and the slight bend down the middle of it facilitates rigidity and mitigates premature bending that could occur on other thinner clips.  I haven't abused it, but I haven't been particularly nice, either, and I haven't experienced failure or signs of distress.

Carry Comfort:  2

There's nothing particularly uncomfortable about this pen while it's sitting in a pocket.  It's small, lightweight, and streamlined.  The fact that the clip allows deep carry is a plus on the comfort side of things because the portion of the pen that's sitting outside the pocket is minimized which, in turn, minimizes snagging and other undesirables.

Total:  17 / 20


Keychain Minimalism

I wrote a < 101 a little while back about keychains and I wanted to expand on how I arrived at my current configuration.

I used to have a much busier keychain. It consisted of at least two split-rings with a “remove before flight” tag, some random souvenir my father had brought back from Vietnam (I’m still not sure what it actually is), keys to doors I hadn’t seen in years, a key for the faceplate lock on my desktop computer that I hadn’t started in nearly half a decade, useless Red Bull tabs, an armadillo bottle opener, and other random things.  It was heavy, oddly shaped, and didn't sit right in a pocket.  In short, it was a pain.

When I finally decided to do something about the mounting clutter I chose to take a much more streamlined approach. I really only have five keys I need, four of which I use on a daily basis (car key, apartment complex key, apartment key, mailbox key) and one I use infrequently but seemed relevant enough to keep around.

I removed everything I didn’t actually use. That meant getting rid of the giant red tag, the random thing from Vietnam, the various keys I hadn’t touched in forever, and all the other superfluous stuff.

I added a CRKT P.E.C.K. for two reasons: first, I thought having a small, keychain-sized knife would be handy; and second (perhaps more importantly) it took up the rest of the space available on the chain shackle itself; this prevented the rest of the keys from jingling about. In order to add the P.E.C.K. I had to remove the pocket clip and then add a small washer to retain the proper spacing on the pivot-screw. This was simple enough as the pocket clip was just attached with torx screws. Another benefit to this mod was finding a reason to purchase a small torx screwdriver.

I chose to put everything on a chain shackle in an effort to keep things in their place (chain shackles are available in most hardware stores or, as linked, online). I had seen other solutions similar to this one; one using half of an old Leatherman Micra; a more commercial option; and a couple variations of those themes. A few of the holes on the heads of the keys required some enlargement to fit onto the chain shackle, I accomplished this with a couple seconds of filing.

At first, the bolt of the chain shackle when tightened down completely inhibited easy rotation of the keys. When I loosened the bolt to allow rotation it would continue loosening in my pocket. I rectified this by tightening the bolt as desired and fastening the end of the bolt with a bit of super glue. It hasn’t moved since.

This keychain solution has allowed me to keep all my keys aligned and close together. The keys are easy to access individually and the chain shackle gives a far better grip when actually turning a key. They don’t bunch in a pocket or jingle excessively when being used.  The PECK has come in handy more than a couple times.  I've also discovered that the keys and chain shackle setup essentially creates a longer handle; I can pinch the pivot screw between my thumb and index finger and have the keys folded away from the knife creating a usable handle that fits the length of my palm.

I’ve been running my chain-shackle setup for quite some time now and haven’t found anything to complain about. Slimming down my keys has been one of the easiest and most beneficial things I’ve done with respect to my EDC kit.


4/01/12 Pocket Dump

No April fooling here, just a pocket dump to keep me honest...
  • Field Notes pocket notebook - gridded;
  • Keys;
  • Nitecore EX11.2;
  • Victorinox Summit XLT Chrono;
  • Droid X with hyper-caffeinated owl;
  • Leather card holder;
  • Parker Jotter in stainless;
  • Fisher Bullet Space Pen;
  • SOG Flash II;
  • Arc'teryx softshell (chilly New England weather, recently).
I'm currently in the carry phase of my Parker Jotter review, it should be posted either this Friday or Saturday.