It can be incredibly handy to have a small set of tools at hand. With this in mind, a number of “tool pens” have been released over the years. We bought and tested a number of them. Our thoughts are below.
What Tools Does A Tool Pen Have?
While useful, these pens aren’t Swiss Army knifes or Leatherman multi-tools. That is to say that their tool selection is adequate, but not extensive. Expect to get:
- Bubble level (aka a spirit level)
- Ruler (metric and imperial)
- Phillips screwdriver
- Flat screwdriver
- Phone stylus
- Ballpoint pen
It’s hard to say exactly why, but many of the tool pens sold in 2022 are very similar to one another. Their basic design is the same from pen to pen, with very similar features and components. Moreso, it’s like they share the same foundation, with different aesthetics put on top.
Perhaps they are all manufactured at the same factory, with different options selected for the body shape, body material, and rule design? It’s hard to say exactly what’s up, but it’s worth noting.
For example, these are generally retractable pens but instead of using a top button, tool pens mostly use a peculiar rotating mechanism at the front end. It would be one thing if two of the pens had this choice, but for three or more to use this design is quite odd. Similarly, a number of the pens have interchangeable parts, which means the size and threading of caps are the same, which is similarly unlikely to be a random occurrence.
Troika Construction Pen
This is our favorite tool pen. It has a heavy brass body, reminiscent of a Rotring 600, which makes it really pleasant to hold. This pen has a hexagonal body and a really nice writing ballpoint refill.
The Troika is sold in all sorts of colors, most of which are bright and easy to find in a pile of tools, backpack, or toolbox. There is 4-inch ruler that is painted on to the side of the pen. The painting process is good for visibility but not as good for durability as the paint can come off over time.
On the top of the Troika pen is a phone stylus, which works with any modern smartphone screen. This is helpful if you need to use your phone but have gloves on — you just flip the pen and navigate your phone with that.
At $20-$30 the Troika is on the more expensive side, but it’s a great writer and feels really good in your hand. The brass body has a nice weight to it, but will dent and scratch if dropped, so this is ideally a tool pen that is used with care, or primarily kept indoors.
Monteverde Tool 60
The Monteverde Tool 60 is a triangular tool pen that has three 60 degree angles with rounded corners. This gives it an interesting shape as well as stops it from rolling off a surface.
Like the other tool pens it has flat and Phillips screwdrivers, a bubble level, ruler, stylus, and a ballpoint pen.
The main selling points with this one are the large, triangular body, the most recognizable brand name in the tool pen space, a grippy exterior, and the it’s the most interesting looking of the tool pens we’ve reviewed.
The Tool 60 construction pen generally sells for $21-$30 and comes in a variety of colors, from bright to subdued.
Kikkerland 4-in-1 Tool Pen
If you want something more affordable then the Kikkerland tool pen is the main option. This pen has all the tool features of the others, but sells for about $5, making it quite a steal as it’s a pretty nice writer.
The important thing to note with this pen is that the plastic body doesn’t have metal reinforcing the screwdriver head holders, so your torque power will be very limited until that plastic deforms. This is only for the smallest of jobs, like tightening the screw on arm of your eyeglasses or opening the battery compartment of a small piece of electronics.
Other Notable Tool Pens
Here are some other tool pens and a description of each.
- Cleo Messograf Pen: A pen with calipers built into the side. Not very pocketable
There exist a number of pens that have a rule on the side but no tools built in. These are sometimes considered tool pens because a ruler is a tool but for the purposes of this article we’ll consider them to be in their own category.
Some ruler pens are:
- Zebra KadoKado (aka the Kado2): This is our favorite ruler pen. It’s handsomely designed, comes in great colors, and has an excellent refill, the Zebra EQ-0.7.
- HMM Rule/One: This is more of a combination ruler and pen, but it’s admittedly quite cool looking.
- Point Pen Meister: This is another pen with a rules as the cap type thing, like the HMM. This has the best ruler of any of these, as it’s a real straight-edge.
- Troika Construction Slim: Like the Troika above, but with an aluminum body, no level, and no screwdrivers
And that about covers it for the top tool pens. Anything we missed? Please send us a note.