If you are looking for a pen to carry with you, you want something tough, stylish, versatile, and affordable. You want a pen that’s a tough as your worst day. That’s an “EDC” or everyday carry pen.
EDC Pen Video
Back in 2017 I made this video about my top everyday carry pens:
I think I got a lot right and a lot of what I said is still true, but now it’s 2021 and we’ll all older and wiser (hopefully), including about our equipment.
About Those Machined Pens
At the time I was really into heavier pens many of which were machined out of big chunks of metal. These “machined pens,” like Kara’s Kustoms, have some great features, but lately I’ve been finding them to be too big, too heavy, and too expensive to carry with me. Also, these aren’t practical to carry without a bag or at least a jacket of some sort as they will really weigh down a pants or shirt pocket.
Additionally, almost any owner can tell you it’s gut-wrenching to drop one… and worse to lose one). You’d think a 40 gram metal pen could take a drop well, but aluminum dings and brass dents. Copper patinas and dents as well. Steel and titanium are largely impervious to anything but light scratching, but, on the whole, these pens actually wear a lot more than you’d think.
Big Deal: Your Writing Surface
One thing to keep in mind is if you are writing primarily on paper or if you are writing on all sorts of things.
If you don’t know what you will be writing on — wood, leather, your hand, cloth, cardboard, etc. — and/or you don’t know what your writing conditions will be like — underwater, in the heat, sub-zero temperatures, etc. — then you will want a ballpoint. Ballpoint pens writing on almost anything.
If you are mostly writing on pen and want a pen on you so you don’t have to use the gross, broken one at the post office, then most people prefer writing with gel ink.
Still can’t tell which is for you? Read our ballpoint vs. gel ink guide.
Best EDC Pens of 2021
So what EDC pens do I recommend, now that I’ve tested hundreds of more pens and I’ve largely stepped away from conventional “EDC” pens? My top picks for super practical, relatively affordable, all-metal pens:
- Zebra F-701 ballpoint
- Zebra G-450 gel pen
- Zebra G-750 gel pen
- Fisher Space Pen Shuttle Series (CH4)
- Fisher Space Pen Clutch ballpoint
- Parker Jotter
You might notice that my picks tend to skew to the affordable side. If you have ever dropped a new Karas Kustoms machined pen on concrete then you might know why. Or if you have ever felt the weight of a brass machined pen dragging down your shirt pocket, then you might also know why. Large, machined “EDC” pens might be indestructible but they are heavy, expensive, and they get lost and dinged just as easily as a $7 Zebra, so I’ve stopped carrying them.
I used to carry a steel Maxmadco Bolt Action, but it was heavy and I was always concerned about dropping it or letting people play with it. A pen should be a tool, not jewelry, and definitely not a liability.
Specialty EDC Pens
Everyone uses pens differently. Here are everyday carry pens that excel in specialized applications.
Best Pen With Gloves
What if you value grip above all other things? Maybe you write in the rain, or you work in a cold or wet environment.
Best Looking EDC Pens
Want something practical, but a bit more classy?
EDC Pen For Students
What if you are a student or someone that needs to write a lot each day?
Both of these pens are under $7 and they are easy to refill. Most importantly, they are super comfortable so you’ll have no problem writing with either for an hour plus. The Tikky is sort of the “old school” selection while the Blen is a relatively new pen, having been out for only a few years now, but it’s quite nice. The Blen is totally silent, with no rattle at all.
Best Cheap EDC Pens
Want something that is dependable and highly affordable?