It’s totally tempting to use a fountain pen. These throwback writing utensils carry a promise of a slower time, when people had hours to write — and when the main writing tool wasn’t a $1,000 computer or an $800 iPhone, but a tube of ink with a sharp tip.
However, fountain pens also can prove intimidating. Are they messy? Do you need to refill them from a bottle of ink? Can you toss one in a pocket like a cheap gel pen?
The fact is, you can have all the style and enjoyment of a fountain pen in a package that’s as practical as a cheap biro. More practical, really, as you can refill it yourself. If you want to try a fountain pen, you should begin with the Kaweco Sport. And if you want the Jony Ive-compatible version, you will buy the reasonably priced aluminum one.
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Aluminum Kaweco Sport review
So, what the hell do I know about fountain pens anyway? I’m no pen blogger, but I’m old enough that I used a fountain pen daily throughout my school years. I had a permanent ink stain in the corner of my blazer pocket, and I know just how much ink to bleed onto a fingertip to get a good fingerprint. I have a preference when it comes to ink cartridges or refillable pens, and I like to work with a good solid tool in my hand.
Why use a fountain pen?
Well, why not? It’s certainly easier to grab a Uni-Ball Signo, click it, and start writing. But these days, we use our phones for the mundane writing of shopping lists and to-do notes. Why not make our less-common pen-on-paper interactions more pleasurable? Why not use a tool that has been thought about, instead of pooped out by a design algorithm?
Yes, you must maintain a fountain pen, filling it with ink and cleaning it once in a while, but that’s a bonus. I love these types of mindless tasks. They prove way more relaxing than changing the batteries in your old keyboard, or running DaisyDisk on your Mac to clean out large, unwanted files.
And finally, writing with a fountain pen is just pleasant. It’s comfortable, it leaves a great line, and — if you get into it — you can choose from an absurd amount of inks and colors. And with the price of this pen, it’s cheap enough to try it out.
The Kaweco Sport pen
The Sport comes from German manufacturer Kaweco. The pen is meant be carried with you, not left in a desktop pen holder. It’s short enough for any pocket, but when you stick the cap on the back (called “capping” or “posting”), it’s as long as any regular pen. That lid also screws on, making sure it won’t come off in your pocket. And if ink does leak inside, it will stay inside.
The design is also beautiful. Here’s the entry-level plastic version, in white:
You can get this one from Amazon for around $18, and it comes with a gold-plated, stainless-steel nib. The design is pure and simple. The hexagonal cap won’t roll off the table. There’s no clip (although one can be purchased separate and added), and not really anything else. It’s almost as simple as it could be, and no simpler, which you might recognize as the hallmark of Apple’s design.
If you’re feeling fancy, then go for the aluminum version of the Kaweco Sport. It’s exactly the same, only in aluminum, and without the gold-plating on the nib. It looks utterly badass, like a space pen grew up.
Whichever you choose, you will find using this fountain pen almost as practical as using a ballpoint. Just unscrew the cap and start writing. You won’t get inky fingers, and — as long as you can wait a moment before closing your notebook — you won’t suffer from smeared writing.
You will need to pay attention to the kind of paper in your notebook, though. That also means you get to buy a new notebook, so the pen is really just a good excuse for more stationery shopping.
There’s not much more to say about the Kaweco Sport. The fine nib (which appears to be the standard) is good for beginners and experienced users alike, because its letters look more like a ball pen’s, and it’s just as easy to use. When the cap is posted, it feels great in the hand and is well-balanced. If you want more heft, go for the steel model, which is heavy enough that it practically writes by itself.
Buy from: Amazon
Other fountain pen options
There are a zillion other entry-level fountain pens. There’s even an Amazon Basics model that is apparently surprisingly good. If you’re interested, you should look into them, and you’ll find many much-better-informed sources. But the Kaweco Sport is just fantastic. I love the little aluminum version, from its looks to its feel to its performance.