Mechanical pencil lead might seem like it’s the same from brand to brand, but the graphites are actually quite varied. Some brands use better lead than others and even sell high-end aftermarket lead separately from their pencils.
Think of mechanical pencil lead like a pen refill: the one that is included with your pencil might be fine, but it isn’t the only one you can use and it probably isn’t the best one available!
Top Mechanical Pencil Leads
Here are some of the best pencil leads available. Anything from this list is going to range from good to great. We’ll get into our picks later on.
- Pilot BeGreen
- Pilot Neox
- Pentel Ain Stein
- Pentel Super High Polymer
- Staedtler MarsMicro Polycarbon
- Tombow Mono
- Uni Kuru Toga
- Uni Nano Dia Color
- Uni Nano Dia Blended
Obviously there are many, many other types of lead, but these are ones that you can’t go wrong with.
Best Mechanical Pencil Lead
Pencil leads are, generally speaking, harder to differentiate than pen fills.
Pentel Ain Stein
If you want premium or upgrade pencil lead, you can’t really beat Pentel Ain Stein. It’s strong, consistent, and clearly it was thoughtfully made with a better writing experience in mind. It gives good feedback when writing and the packaging is easy to operate, keeping lead spills to a minimum.
Uni Nano Dia Blended
The other unquestionably top option for pencil graphite is Uni Nano Dia Blended with its “nano diamonds” blended in. This is a strong, consistent lead that’s a pleasure to write with. This is a great all-round lead that, assuming you pick the appropriate lead hardness, is great for note taking, drawing, mathematics, and all sorts of other tasks.