A while back I picked up some Field Notes Expedition notebooks and became quite enthralled with their essentially indestructible nature. The Expedition achieves this unprecedented durability through the use of a synthetic paper that, while incredibly robust, is a bit finicky when it comes to writing upon it. The paper accepts pencil and some inks. Through trial and error I found a number of solutions but remained disappointed with my choice of writing instrument.
The easiest and most prolific ink solution is the Fisher Space Pen refill; with its Parker style adapter the cartridge can fit into the wide variety of pens that accept the Parker refill, leaving options relatively wide open. The trouble is this: while carrying around a Stainless Parker Jotter or other such widely available pen can certainly work it's just not exciting.
In an effort to find a solution a bit more my style I began searching for refills compatible with my rOtring 600 rollerball that has been lying around unused. My hope was that I could find something that would be compatible with both the Expedition's synthetic paper and my rOtring rollerball.
Instead, I quickly discovered that the rOtring 600 ballpoint pens were designed around the Parker style refills. Being quite content with the Fisher Space Pen refills I had been using I found a reasonable deal on a rOtring 600 ballpoint and hoped for the best. I paid approximately $75.00 for the first one I picked up and about $60.00 for a second on eBay. A simple search will yield quite a few results.
To be brief, the rOtring 600 ballpoint is nothing short of excellent and has been an excellent companion in the weeks it has been in my pocket.
As always, I'm utilizing my writing instrument review template found here.
The 600 ballpoint's body is all metal. This lends to a nice feel in-hand and enhances the user experience.
I greatly prefer all-metal pens as I don't find the additional weight troublesome (when compared to plastic pens) , even when carrying the pen daily. From a construction, durability, and comfort standpoint the all-metal construction is superb.
The barrel of the 600 screws together just above the grip section. It mounts together quite well without any wiggle or other such annoyance.
The 600 uses a standard Parker style click mechanism. It is well-constructed and fits within my idea of how click-type mechanisms should work on pens. The pressure required to click the pen is relatively firm and the plunger springs upward to its tallest position when the point is deployed.
The rOtring ink cartridge that was bundled with the pen (they are still available either through third party retailers or directly from rOtring) has a nice blue hue and lays down an excellent, smooth line. For the purposes of scoring this category here, I must give the pen a 2, despite the fact that I am not using the rOtring cartridge.
Unfortunately, as much as I like the rOtring cartridge, the ink does not work very well with the Expedition series of Field Notes notebooks. As such, I am running the Fisher Space Pen refill predominantly. The Fisher refill leaves a bit to be desired as it is a bit inconsistent. This, however, does not detract from the 600 as it is designed to be.
Writing Comfort: 2/2
I very much like the design of the grip section of the later 600 series (I don't have any experience with the knurled grip sections of earlier models, perhaps in time I'll pick one up). The smooth grip area is comfortable and the slight flare toward the point of the pen gives excellent tactile feedback as to where your fingers are on the grip and allows for precise control without slipping down the whole grip.
Design Concept: 2/2
It is no secret that I absolutely love the 600 series from a design perspective. The design is clean without unnecessary and ultimately annoying flourishes.
Markings and Insignia: 2/2
The rOtring logo is present on the pocket clip and their red ring adorns the top of the barrel. Short of these markings the pen is clean. It's understated and beautiful.
Carry Method: 2/2
A sturdy pocket clip towards the top of the barrel facilitates pocket carry.
Carry Durability: 1/2
The sturdiness of an all-metal pen like the 600 is unprecedented when it comes to carry durability. You're not going to encounter any stress fractures as you might in a plastic pen and an all-metal clip isn't going to fail if you accidentally scrape it against something.
The one thing that prevents a two in this category is the fact that the 600, as with many other click-type pens, has a tendency to open in the pocket if your movement depresses the plunger. In my time carrying the pen thus far I have had a few instances where I have pulled the pen out and found that it had been riding in my pocket with the point deployed. Due to the fact that it's a ballpoint there is limited inking of my pocket (a fact that is further aided by the fact that I'm running a Fisher refill as opposed to a gel or other type of ink). However, it's an annoyance that has resulted in my checking of the pen occasionally to verify that it's not in fact open.
Carry Comfort: 2/2
The 600 is quite comfortable to carry. The ballpoint is slightly slimmer than the other models in the line (the rollerball and fountain pen, for example, are slightly thicker in the barrel). It's not a bulky pen and the weight isn't noticeable.
Without reservation I would recommend the rOtring 600 ballpoint to anyone looking for a great everyday carry writing instrument. Its elegant design features coupled with robust construction and versatile Parker-type refill compatibility are unprecedented in the writing world and make the rOtring 600 ballpoint an excellent addition to any pocket.