Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Retractable Pen

The Tru Red (sometimes written as TRU RED) is Staple’s in-house brand of pens, notebooks, and other office products. The Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Retractable Pen is, as you might have guess, the mainstay gel pen in the line. It’s a standard gel pen that sells for about $6-8 for a 5-pack, but it’s sold in many different colors and packs.

The Tru Red gel pen is extremely similar to the Paper Mate Ink Joy gel pen — enough so that we suspect Paper Mate may actually be producing these pens.

The Tru Red Quick Dry Gel is a fully plastic pen with a grippy body. It’s meant to be affordable and office-friendly while being a cut above a typical value product… which also seems to be the overall goal of the Tru Red line. The Tru Red Quick Dry Gel pen is the capped version of this one — it doesn’t say “Retractable” in the label.

The Tru Red gel pens are sold in 0.5 mm (Fine) and 0.7 mm (Medium) sizes. The refill is unbranded and basically unlabelled aside from what appears to be a batch ID, like “BC05.”

Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Retractable Pen Review

This is a simple pen with a simple design. It’s fully plastic, including the clip but it’s comfortable enough thanks to a slightly wider-than-normal body and a soft-touch coating over the whole pen. This coating gives it a rubberized feel and lots of grip.

The front cone of the pen is removable, though  it can be hard to unscrew. This makes the pen refillable with a standard Pilot G2-style rollerball refill.

The included gel ink is quick-drying and writes well. It’s not quite on par with the Energel line, not does it make out list of best gel pens, but it’s a good offering and a nice pen for the money.

As with all gel pens the ink tends to go quickly, which isn’t normally a problem, but if you are writing a lot you should keep this in mind. This adds slightly to the cost of the pen, but the bigger issue is that the Tru Red gel pen does not have a window so there is no way to see how full the pen is. The ink is acid-free and has a nice pop of color, whether you get it in blue, black, red, or orange.

The prime competitor to this pen is the Energel and Zebra Sarasa line, both of which are generally better than this pen. The closest direct competitor would be the Paper Mate InkJoy gel, which appears to basically be the same pen. The Tul gel pen is also a close competitor, if you are specifically interested in in-house brands.

Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Retractable Pen Information

Street Price Check Price
Manufacturer Tru Red
Pen Type Rollerball / Gel
Barrel Color Blue, Black, Red, Green, Orange, Purple, Lime
Barrel Material Plastic
Body Diameter (mm)10.6
Grip Color Blue, Black, Red, Green, Orange, Purple, Lime
Grip Material Rubber
Grip Diameter (mm)10.6
Country of Origin China
MSRP $1.50
Still Sold Yes
Release Year2019
Similar To
Capped? Retractable?Retractable - Top Button
Length Capped / Retracted (cm)14.8
Weight (g)11.8
Writing SizesFine, Medium