everyday carry

Guest Post - Brennan's Jotters

Jotters: All Day, Every Day

In March I asked my friend Brennan to write about his EDC because he's spent a lot of time building it up to be the best possible for him. I work in an office at a desk most of the day and his job in a bike shop is very different from mine. We have a great time talking about what pens work best for his job. He kindly agreed to write a bit more about the pens he reaches for any time he needs to jot something down. Take it away Brennan...

At this point you have seen my EDC, and as pens go I carry a Vanishing Point and a Hex-O-Matic on me. My Vanishing Point is my go to pen, but there are a lot of instances during the day I simply need to jot something down. I am a soft goods buyer at a bike shop, so I am constantly in need of easy access pen and paper to jot down quick notes and reminders about the numerous phone calls, emails, and conversations I have with employees, customers, and brand reps. This is where my jotter comes in, I don't have to use my Vanishing Point or any specific pen — it's whatever pen is easiest to access — any pen on any paper — pocket notebooks, sticky notes, scrap paper, and sometimes receipts. I need pens that work consistently, so I have a collection of pens that just work always in reach.

These are my go-to jotters:

Retro 51 Hex O Matic Ballpoint As I mentioned in my EDC post, this pen lives in my pocket and gets the most use and abuse of any pen I own. The Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 blue refill is currently in this pen, and I have been impressed with its performance. Mike Dudek, of The Clicky Post, has a great review of this pen and refill.

Lamy Al-Star Rollerball This pen is one of my first “nicer” pens I purchased for myself. I love the aesthetic and feel in hand. Lamy’s black M63 Rollerball refill lays a nice smooth consistent line down. My black Al-Star lives at home on my desk and my silver Al-Star lives at work. This pen is awesome at work because it is not intimidating and any one can pick it up and use it comfortably, which cannot always be said about fountain pens. Brad Dowdy, of the Pen Addict, has a nice quick review of the pen if you are interested in more info.

Big Idea Design Solid Aluminum Pen I picked this pen up because I love aluminum bodied pens and the list of refills that this pen can take is huge! I appreciate a well designed pen with flexibility. I have a handful of refills on hand that work in the pen, but currently I have the Mystery Black Mont Blanc Fineliner Broad refill in this pen.

Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Bordeaux Ballpoint My dad gave me this pen recently because he never used it and thought I would appreciate it. I do — this is a pen I would probably never buy, but is a pretty awesome pen to own. The Bordeaux is no longer produced so it is a nice pen to hang onto for the future. The Mont Blanc Pacific Blue Medium Refill lays down a tackier and broader line than I prefer, but the quick dry time and classic look are nice.

Thanks to Brennan for this great write up. The Mont Blanc is gorgeous and I love the Hex O Matic's Rotring inspired vibe. Let me know what your favorite jotter pens are on Twitter or Instagram, I'm always looking for new pens to try.

Quick Look: Field Notes COLORS Edition No. 26

2015 Spring Edition - Two Rivers

2015 Spring Edition - Two Rivers

I have always taken notes. Half-filled notebooks and scraps of paper filled the drawers of my childhood desk and boxes in my closet. It took me 22 years to finally find a system that stuck. I have to credit Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict Podcast for introducing me to Field Notes (drink).

Field Notes motto, I'm not writing this down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now. is what I live by. Now, with these amazing 3.5''x5.5'' memo books, I have a place where all of the things I need to remember now and later can live. I fill a memo book in about two weeks, so I always have fresh ones handy.

I really love the red over the green and brown, and especially the farm animals around the bowl. 

I really love the red over the green and brown, and especially the farm animals around the bowl. 

I was given a Field Notes COLORS Subscription for Chistmas in 2013 (which is the perfect gift for any pen and paper addict in your life) and now I have two yearly subscriptions. I never have to worry about missing out on all of the amazing editions they create, and it keeps me stocked with kraft notebooks to give to people as a way to spread the joy of using a Field Notes notebook.

All of these ended up with big type on them. It's fun trying to piece together what the whole print would look like. 

All of these ended up with big type on them. It's fun trying to piece together what the whole print would look like. 

The spring edition for 2015 is absolutely incredible, and the covers are my favorite yet. Not only is each and everyone unique (which made me open every one of my packs, something I NEVER do), but the story behind them is incredible too. I highly recommend ordering the maximum number of packs you're allowed and donating to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

According to The Pen Addict himself, the yellow ones might be the most rare. The Hamilton logo on the top one is awesome.

According to The Pen Addict himself, the yellow ones might be the most rare. The Hamilton logo on the top one is awesome.

The fact that every cover has a unique print blows my mind, and it kind of throws a wrench in the "gotta catch 'em all" attitude I used to have about my Field Notes. I intend to fill every single one of these beauties over the next few months.

All the layers of red and blue text on the top one make it my favorite of the bunch. 

All the layers of red and blue text on the top one make it my favorite of the bunch. 

Guest Post: Brennan's EDC

My Every Day Carry post was inspired a lot by the daily texts and weekly phone calls that I have with my friend, and fellow Hendrix College alumnus, Brennan McGinn. We share the same, "buy less, buy better" philosophy, so our discussions tend toward how we can get the best quality product for our relatively modest, post-graduate, money. Our conversations and buying habits cover a wide range of topics, namely cycling, menswear, photography, and most recently, pens.

Although Brennan already had good taste in regular pens, I'm going to take full credit for his relatively recent love of fountain pens (sorry Hailey). I sent him a Kaweco Sport about a year ago as an introduction and since then his collection has grown considerably.

Brennan has been working on his EDC for about as long as I have, so I asked him to write about what he carries and why. Although he works in a bike shop, and I in an office, you'll notice a lot of overlap in what we carry. Without further ado, take it away Brennan.

I have known Bruce since sophomore year of college I guess. We knew of each other and were acquaintances for a bit, then everything snowballed as we started to discuss clothes, photography, cameras, and film. This continued with bicycles, watches, knives, shoes, etc. Bruce asked if I wanted to contribute a post, and of course I was willing.

Bruce and I probably discuss EDC items on a weekly basis - the big reason... it is relevant to everyday life for the two of us. There is a lot of similarity between what we carry because we have similar taste, and as Bruce stated, simple, well designed items are appealing.

So here is what it looks like.

Pilot Vanishing Point - Matte Black, Fine Nib I agree withBruce about this pen. The construction, knock, clip, and nib are all outstanding. I rotate blue black inks through this pen and use it as my daily writer at work and home.

Retro 51 Hex-O-Matic It’s my jotter. It lives in my back pocket and I love the hybrid Schmidt refill. I have been incredibly pleased with the feel of the pen in hand and writing quality of Retro 51. I have both a black and silver pen, and the mechanical pencil.

Notebook - Field Notes, Rhodia I carry a small pocket notebook for quick notes, but primarily use a range of larger notebooks for note taking and planning. I have become really fond of Rhodia No. 11 or 12 for the perforations and more fountain pen friendly paper despite the overall thickness (not as pocket friendly as the Field Notes).

Benchmade Mini Griptilian This is probably my favorite EDC blade. You can get a variation of blades and scales to meet specific needs. It is on the smaller side for some people, but it doesn’t take up much room in my pocket and fits my hands well.

Esee Candiru I carry this small fixed blade in my front pocket. I like the reliability of a fixed blade over a folder for certain uses. While it does not get as much use as the Mini Grip it is very handy to have.

Shop Keys You need them when you get to work early and stay late.

Corter Leather Copper Bottlehook There are a lot of ways to open a bottle and a lot of things I carry can open a bottle. But, a true bottle opener on a belt loop keeps my keys where I want them and is always handy.

Wedding Band 4mm Rose Gold band from a local jeweler. All day. Everyday.

Shinola Runwell 41mm I prefer checking the time on a watch to my phone. I have a few, but this is my go to watch for everyday wear.

BillyKirk N0. 92 Card Case Monogrammed and getting better with age. It is the perfect size to fit all my cards, and cash on rare occasions. I prefer a smaller wallet and this is a fantastic balance for front or back pocket use.

iPhone 5 Phone, text, email, social media.

Handkerchief Lip Balm Smith Dolen Chromapop

Thanks again to Brennan for the great write-up of his EDC. I love that blue Benchmade and the Shinola. If you want to check out more of what Brennan does, his Instagram is a great place for photos of his EDC in use and the kick-ass bikes that fill his life.

Pen Review: Pilot Vanishing Point

I gave a quick look at my beat up Vanishing Point in my Every Day Carry post last week but I wanted to talk a little bit more about why I love that pen so much.

The matte black Vanishing Point was my grail pen from the moment I saw it. Fountain pens are already unusual enough to see out and about, but a retractable fountain pen (?!), I had to have it. It took me the better part of year to pull the trigger on it, but in 2014 I bought it for myself for my birthday. It's been a constant companion of mine ever since.

Knock Knock

Starting at the top is the incredible knock: the clicky mechanism that makes this pen so unique. Over the weekend I handed the pen to someone who had never seen a Vanishing Point, she clicked it open and remarked, "That is such a solid click sound, it feels really nice." The fact that I never have to worry about losing a cap or having the pen click open is great, given that this pen splits time between my pocket and a Nock Co. Hightower.

Battered Stealth

A year in to my Vanishing Point ownership, and you can see that it is sporting some pretty serious patina. For the first few weeks, I babied the hell out of this pen. I was terrified to scratch the black coating or use it so much that it started getting shiny in places. The more I used it, the less afraid I became of damaging it. I bought the pen to use it, dammit, that's what I'm going to do. Some of the scrapes have come from riding in my pocket next to a Karas Kustoms RenderK, others from tumbles off tables. There is no point in babying a tool like this. Pens are made to be used.

Black Gold

I have the black-ionized 18kt gold nib in extra fine in my Vanishing Point and it is one of the smoothest nibs in my collection, second only to the Pilot Falcon SF. Japanese EF nibs are not for everyone, but for my tiny block print this nib is a perfect match. In my Field Notes or Doane memo books, the nib is smooth and limits feathering, and on better paper, like Rhodia or the Tomoe River in my Hobonichi, it really shines.

The fact that the nib units are entirely removable is astonishing. I've been seeing some awesome Architect Grinds on Instagram recently, and it probably won't be long before I pick up a second nib unit for some variety.

Downsides? Nah

For some people the position of the clip within the grip can create some issues. I have no qualms with the far more polarizing grip on the venerable Lamy Safari (my first fountain pen ever) I didn't think I'd have any problems. My grip is pretty traditional and I have yet to experience any fatigue or pain during long writing sessions.

Double Black

My Vanishing Point stays inked up with Platinum Carbon Black at all times. I love the crisp, dark black of this waterproof ink. Yes, I'm one of those people that likes to match inks colors to pen colors. I'm tempted to try Sailor Kiwa Guro because of how it behaves with Field Notes' thinner papers. Either way, it's nice to always grab my black pen and know that it is full of black ink. Since this is my most-reached-for pen and I take a lot of notes during the day, I don't use the supplied converter. Instead I emptied the supplied cartridge of Pilot Blue-Black and syringe fill it with the Carbon Black. This little change gets me an extra two-or-so days of ink, which is always nice.

Final Thoughts

For my first grail pen, the Vanishing Point was a reasonable mark and ultimately, the perfect choice. There is a pen that has replaced its grail status, cough Nakaya cough but I will always build my fountain pen load-out around my worn, matte black Vanishing Point full of black ink.

The Vanishing Point has also been reviewed by fantastic pen bloggers like Ed Jelly and Brad Dowdy, so if you'd like more information before you buy the pen I highly suggest their posts as well.

Every Day Carry

Over the past year or so, I've narrowed down my every day carry (EDC) to my favorite items. I cannot imagine replacing any of these things (except a full memo book) as part of my EDC. Most of these items are simple, well-designed items that do one or two things exceptionally well. My favorite color is orange, so you'll find a lot of it.

iPhone 6 in an orange Tec 21

I've had an iPhone since the 3G and I can't imagine carrying anything else. There are so many iOS only apps I rely on everyday, OmniFocus, Dispatch, and Overcast (even my favorite app comes in orange).

Benchmade 585 Mini Barrage

Though it's a bit on the heavy side, I love the size of the 585, and the exclusive Cabela's orange was perfect for me.

Saddleback Leather Sleeve Wallet

Their motto is, "They'll fight over it when you're dead." I'm pretty sure this is the last wallet I'll have to buy. I keep 4 cards

Garmin Vivofit

I have a Garmin Tri-watch that I use as my run and cycling computer, so having something that plays nicely with that system is great. The red move bar that fills up is fantastic for getting me off my ass and getting me to go on a walk.

Ray Ban Clubmasters

Something classic, but a bit less common than the ubiquitous Wayfarer.

Corter Leather Bottlehook Limited Edition Rangefinder

This helped me slim down my keys by combining the hook and bottle opener into one beautiful tool. I've never had a problem getting it on or off my belt loop, plus the way it's aged is beautiful.

Pilot Vanishing Point EF Nib, Matte Black with Platinum Carbon Black ink.

There is no fountain pen in my collection that I reach for before this one. It might surprise a lot of my fellow pen addicts to see the exposed brass, scratches, and scrapes on my Vanishing Point given the price point of this pen, but I love the fact that my VP now has some character. I will have a longer review up soon, but for now, know that I enjoy that this pen gets a little bit of patina, which means it matches my Bottlehook. The Carbon Blacks in such a fine point also tends to play pretty nicely with Field Notes and Doane memo books, and even if there is a bit of bleed, it doesn't bother me a bit.

Karas Kustoms Render K

The guys at Karas Kustoms make some of my favorite pens. I have a Bolt in orange (shocking) and I'm just waiting to the orange Ink to go back in stock and I'll be placing an order. The Render K is by far the most solid pen I own and it pairs perfectly with my favorite Hi-Tec-C or Uni Signo 0.3 mm refills. It's a perfect companion for my last item.

Memo Book

This is the only item in my EDC that gets changed out. I fill 48 page memo books in about two weeks, so there is always a different color one in my pocket. I rotate between Field Notes, Doane Paper, and Word. notebooks. I have a few habits when writing in them that I'll detail in the future, but Field Notes' motto, "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now" perfectly captures why I rely so heavily on these little books.