Lefty Pen Test
No, not that kind of pen test. Fully exasperated with how much smudging I get with gel pens, I thought I’d try out Jetpens’ recommended pens for lefties.
The basic idea is that these are faster-drying pens, which should presumably cut down on the smudging. There’s nothing special about the pens’ physical design that would tailor them to a left-handed grip.
I opted not to spring for the full sampler set. I don’t have much need for highlighters, and I generally like a slightly beefier point size than was common in the set. Here’s what I ended up buying, based off the recommendations in the sampler:
- Uni Jetstream Standard Ballpoint Pen - 0.5 mm - Black Ink - Apricot Body
- Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pen - 0.7 mm - Black
- Zebra Sarasa Dry Gel Pen - 0.5 mm - Black
- Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point Gel Pen - 0.35 mm - Black
- Pentel EnerGel-X Gel Pen - Needle-Point - 0.5 mm - Black
- Pilot Multi Ball Rollerball Pen - Medium - Black
- Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen - 0.5 mm - Black
- Pilot FriXion Ball Knock Retractable Gel Pen - 0.5 mm - Black
After writing a test sentence with each, I was ecstatic to find that not a single pen smudged! This is a random ¥180 notebook I bought in Japan (truly random, the brand/website referenced on the sticker doesn’t appear to exist anymore).
I ended up liking the feel of the Pentel EnerGel-X best: not too thin, not too thick, not too bouncy. That’s the pen I’ve been using in my daily(ish) journal, a Midori A6 blank notebook. I’ve been really pleased at how that pen has held up and continued not to smudge. I’ve had problems in the past where some gel pens go on the fritz in the Midori (but seem fine on other paper? Weird).
Where this gets a bit disappointing is on Tomoe River Paper…
Because I’ve decided to switch back to a Hobonichi Techo for my 2021 journal, I thought I’d test these pens in a planner with the same paper. Tomoe River Paper is very smooth and thin, so I saw smudging in the Hobonichi planner with all the gel pens. I was a bit surprised to see such a marked difference, as the other papers I’d tested on were not particularly toothy. Ah well, I’ll try to use the 0.35mm Pentel Energel for awhile and see how that goes.
- The Pentel EnerGel-X was my favorite for lack of smudging, ease of flow, and ergonomics. The Pentel EnerGel Euro Needle-Point might be better for smoother paper.
- Left-handed people should consider paper texture when fighting the smudge.
- Being a lefty in an LTR language is still a bit of a pain.