We know how it goes. You’ve used up those student loans on ridiculously overpriced textbooks and now you're left with next to nothing for your actual school supplies. But to really excel in class, nothing beats tried-and-true pen and paper. Studies show handwritten notes help you remember things better, after all.
So if you’re serious about starting this school year strong, pick up your next favorite pen from this guide—even if you’re on an instant ramen budget. You’ll find a pen that easily pulls double duty whether you're in class or out and about. If you’re left handed, tough on your pens, or simply just like that feeling of pen to paper, we've got you covered.
Pens (and Pencils!) to Everyday Carry Back to School
Are you one of the thousands of die-hard Pilot G2 fanatics? We've got good news for you, then. Pilot's updated the beloved G2 with more ergonomic lines, a rubber grip, and a more modern look with the Pilot G6. Don't worry though, they haven't changed the slick, quick drying, smear-resistant gel refill inside. These pens are affordable enough so that it's not the end of the world should you misplace them, but still a step above your standard throwaway ballpoint.
Somewhere between a porous tip pen and a fountain pen lies the Pentel Tradio Pulaman. This funky looking pen provides an interesting writing experience that you really have to try in order to understand. You can control the width of the line by adjusting how hard you press while writing, almost like a flex nibbed fountain pen. The unique looking body is slightly textured for grip and the cap closes with a nice click.
Fisher Space Pen Cap-o-matic Stylus
If you've been on the site before, you've probably seen your fair share of Fisher Space Pens. Usually it's the small, pocket-friendly “Bullet” model. While that one is great for quick notes, it's less comfortable during those long note-taking sessions. The Capomatic Stylus is longer, a bit wider, and has a capacitive touch screen stylus on the back. It's easier to handle and has the ability to swap between paper and a tablet. Inside, you'll find the same write-anywhere refill that Fisher is known for.
The Parker Jotter is one of the most iconic pens out there. It's been in production since 1954 and remains Parker's #1 selling pen. This clickable classic features a large ink refill with plenty of alternative options, allowing you to fine tune your writing experience depending on the cartridge. You'll probably recognize the signature arrow clip and sleek body right away.
Prefer a more modern design? Consider the Lamy Safari. This popular pen is available as a ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain pen. The triangular grip section corrects improper hand position, which is great when learning how to write with a fountain pen. The large steel wire clip securely grabs onto a notebook, bag, or pants pocket for easy carry.
Palomino Blackwing Pearl
“Half The Pressure, Twice The Speed” is the tagline for the Palomino Blackwing, and they really do mean it. These old school wood case pencils leave a dark line on paper with minimal effort. The oversized replaceable eraser, metal ferrule (the part that holds the eraser) and genuine incense cedar construction round out one of the highest quality pencils out there. You will need a sharpener though, we like the KUM Longpoint. It has two different blade angles: one to cut down the wood and the other to sharpen the lead.
The Zebra F-701 is one of the most popular pens on the site, and for good reason. It's made from steel, has a rugged knurled grip, and writes with a reliable ballpoint refill. Whether it's knocking around in your bag or riding alongside a flashlight in your pocket, the F-701 is ready to write. The best part about it? The price—this pen will only run you about five bucks.
Pentel Energel Needle Tip
The Pentel Energel Needle Tip is great for design and engineering students. This super smooth, quick-drying gel ink pen not only writes well, but also makes it easier to see what you're writing. Regular conical tip pens tend to get in the way, and this can be especially annoying if you need to make precise lines and notes. The needle tip allows you to see exactly where the ink hits the page, which is great for technical drawings. Snag a 3-pack in either blue, black, or red ink.
Uni Jetstream Multipen
Lefties! We know your pain: Smudged pages. Inky palms. Since writing with your left hand usually results in dragging your palm over freshly written words, you'll appreciate the clean hands and even cleaner lines laid down by this pen. The Uni Jetstream Multipen writes as smooth as gel, but dries like a ballpoint. This multipen version of the Jetstream includes 0.5mm black, blue, red, and green refills, alongside a mechanical pencil. It's not just for lefties though; if you like using multiple colors but don't want to be bothered switching pens, this one's for you.
Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Pencil
Don't you hate it when you have to stop writing to sharpen your pencil? Well, in a way this one sharpens itself. Instead of rotating the pencil to find that sweet spot or to avoid “mushy” lines, the Uni Kuru Toga has a special mechanism that spins the lead as you write. This constant rotation of the lead keeps it nice and sharp, resulting in constantly crisp lines page after page. After trying one, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. EDCers will appreciate the upgraded features on the Roulette model like metal parts and a knurled grip.
When you're at your desk, what's YOUR go-to pen and why? Let us know in the comments below!