As the saying goes, the best pen is the one you have with you when you need it. In keeping with at that, this is our guide to pocket pens — small, portable pens that you’ll never leave home without.
What Is A Pocket Pen?
For the purposes of this article, a pocket pen is any pen that is small enough to put in your pants pocket without difficulty or discomfort. This is a small pen that is designed to be portable, not just something that will fit in a pocket. The pen also needs to be strong enough to take a drop and to be pushed and even flexed if you were to climb steps or throw it in your backpack, after which it become lodged under your laptop.
A pocket pen is sometimes known as a mini pen, but the difference between the two is that a pocket pen has to be comfortable in a pocket, where most mini pens are actually designed to be placed inside a notebook, bag, or purse.
A pocket pen should be about 3.5 to 4.5 inches, give or take, when capped. Smaller is better, but at some point under 4 inches then pens become unusable so there is definitely a sweet spot in this world.
The shape is very important to a pocket pen — it should be rounded and smooth, with no pointed or sharp end. This means pens like the Lamy Spirit are not eligible.
Clip or No Clip?
Most people want a pen with a clip, that’s been well established. But when it comes to pocket pens, many people actually prefer a smooth pen that can slide right into your pocket or bag with no clip to catch on anything or scratching things up. Of the pens below more than half are sold without a clip, though many of them can have a clip added if you want.
Just something to think about before you make your purchase. Do you want your pen knocking around your pocket or hanging from a clip?
The Best Pocket Pens
And here are the best pocket pens you can buy today, in no particular order.
Fisher Space Pen Bullet
Fisher Space Pen’s Bullet pen is the quintessential pocket pen — it’s small, it’s tough, it writes on anything, and it then pen writes under almost any conditions. This pen is all metal, uses Fisher’s famous Space Pen refill, and has a lifetime guarantee that the company truly stands behind.
This pen has been winning people over for over 50 years, so you know there is something to it. It’s a bit on the thin side at 7.6 mm wide, but the length is excellent for a pocket pen, at 3.7 inches when capped, and 5.3 when posted.
Kaweco Classic Sport
In addition to being highly pocketable, the Kaweco Sport Classic is an already excellent pen — it was even featured on our Best Fountain Pens under $50 list. This pen is small in the pocket but it’s cap can be unscrewed and then posted, giving you a surprisingly comfortable writing instrument that is almost full-sized. Then pen is affordable too, starting around $20.
The Kaweco is also the most varied pen in this category. You can it in a dizzying number of varieties including a retractable ballpoint, a capped rollerball, or a capped fountain pen plus you can get it in plastic, brass, aluminum, or steel bodies. For the best pocket carrying, we’d recommend the plastic or aluminum — the other materials are just too heavy. There is also a limited edition aluminum with carbon fiber inserts, but that’s not really worth tracking down!
Of all this pen’s varieties, here are our picks…
Pilot Petit1 Fountain Pen
The Petit1 is the smallest, most reliable fountain pen that you can buy. It’s basically a scaled-down version of Pilot’s ultimately reliable Varsity student pen. This pen is small, always starts on the first try, and despite having a few of them I’ve never had a leak. If you want to have a fountain pen in your pocket carry, this is a great pick.
The Lamy Pico is a highly designed ballpoint pen that you press to expand. It’s a supremely cool mechanism that makes for one of the most fidget-friendly products you’ve ever laid your hands on. And unlike many small pens, it uses a really good refill — the Lamy M22 ballpoint, which might be proprietary, but it’s also smooth and lasts for a long, long time.
The Pico is a great size — not too big and not too small, plus it has all rounded edges so it’s quite comfortable to keep on you. This pen is about 3.7 inches when closed and almost 5 inches when opened, making for a great size.
This is a premium pen pen, selling for about $40, as is made clear by the incredibly classy slow-motion opening action after you click it. There is nothing like a delayed-action spring to class up a product.
Fisher Space Pen Telescoping Pen
Fisher Space Pen’s Telescopic ballpoint pen is twice as expensive and probably 1/100th as famous as the bullet pen, but it’s still a great pick. To open this pen you pull the back, which pushes out the writing tip. It’s a great action that a nice match for the all-aluminum body. The pen uses Fisher’s excellent, write-any-time PR4 refill, just like the Bullet pen.
Here are some highly pocketable pens, but are close but don’t make the winners circle…
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Slim Knock
The Hi-Tec-C Slim is a great little pen thanks to a small size, good build quality, and a great gel refill. It’s a little cousin to the excellent Hi-Tec-C Coleto and Hi-Tec-C, both of which are superb. The downside of the Slim pen is that despite the small size it’s a bit pointy, which means it’s the right size for your pocket, but not the right shape.
How big is a pocket pen?
A pocket pen is generally about 3.5 to 4.5 inches in length when it’s closed, retracted, or capped. The length when expanded or posted (when the cap it put on the back of the pen) is normally between 4.75 and 5.25 inches.