people's choice

The 19 Best Pens on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviewers

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Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like pillows), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ‘em) products and single out the most convincing. We’ve written about some of the best pens before — see those stories here and here — but this time we turned to the people to find the best-reviewed ballpoint, roller-ball, and felt-tip pens for writing, doodling, and bullet journaling on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best superfine 0.2mm pens

Staedtler Pigment Liner
$6 at Amazon

“I’ve been using another kind of pen with a very fine point for years — don’t know what made me try these instead, but I’m so glad I did. They are superior in every way. The tip is very fine but also strong, so the pens last longer. Feel great in the hand too. My new favorite by far.”

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Best 0.5mm pens

Pilot Precise Retractable Rolling Pen
$15 for 12 at Amazon

“I have been using the Pilot Precise pens for a few years, and they are my favorite. I really hope they never discontinue this line because I don’t want to have to stock up. I like the extra-fine point, and am impressed that it still creates a strong, uninterrupted line without requiring the user to use extra pressure. I don’t feel like the thin tip will bend or break (which has happened to me with other pens). This pen doesn’t skip and dries very quickly, so smudging isn’t an issue, either. I like the retractable aspect, since I tend to misplace pen caps. I like the way these feel in my hand, and I like the colors available. Additionally, the ink never seems to run out (I’m sure it does eventually, but the pens are loved by everyone I encounter, so they end up in someone else’s possession quite regularly). I simply cannot think of a negative thing to say about these!”

Best 0.7mm pens

Pilot EasyTouch Retractable Pen
$12 for 12 at Amazon

“I’m an attorney, so my staff and I spend a lot of time writing, editing, and working with A LOT of paper. You don’t really know how much you can love a pen until you’ve bought this specific pen. Nothing compares. It’s perfect. When I let a colleague, client, or friend borrow my pen(s), they consistently comment on how awesome it is — and several immediately stocked up for themselves. I’m telling you, it’s the little things in life.”

Best 1.0mm ballpoint pens

Uni-Ball Jetstream Ballpoint
$19 for 12 at Amazon

“This is my favorite pen of all time. I’d order more if my wife would let me. I always carry one in my pocket, and I love the fact that because of the cap (instead of a push-button), it will never open in my pocket and leak or stab me. Writes well and dries fast on more stuff than you’d expect (not everything, but definitely better than most pens). I’m not left-handed — apparently lefties smudge ink a lot when writing, and this one helps avoid that — but I just enjoy writing things and not having to worry about smudging like I would with a gel pen, though it writes about as smooth as one.”

Best bullet-journal pens

Sakura Pigma Micron Blister Card Ink Pen Set
$7 for 3 at Amazon

“I finally joined the bullet-journal club (all the cool kids are doing it —I had to join!) and bought the Micron pens after reading reviews and hearing different friends’ recommendations. I have to say I LOVE these pens! You get six pens of varying line widths. If you want to use it to outline specific letters, draw tables, or just sketch, you can choose a pen to match your needs. They feel comfortable in my hand. And the pens do not bleed through the page!”

Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner Pens
$21 for 30 at Amazon

“I love these pens! I started bullet journaling and wanted nice pens to motivate me to use them every day. I love the variety of colors and that they don’t bleed through the paper. I’ve made postcards with them and love how they turn out. I’m happy every time I unroll the case and see the multitude of colors. These would be a great gift for a young artist, students to color-code notes, and people who enjoy crafts and/or calligraphy.”

Best pens for lefties

Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pens
$8 for 3 at Amazon

“My wife and I are both lefties. Our old college notebooks are filled with smears as we took notes and smudged them as we wrote left to right with our left hand. Finally we found a pen that was smooth, consistent, and non-smudging. I have no fewer than 20 of these in my house now. The funny thing is my wife didn’t even know I was testing them out and she tried one out and was amazed at the performance. I know it might seem like a small thing but when you write a lot it makes a huge difference.”

Zebra Pen Sarasa Retractable Gel Ink Pens
$11 for 10 at Amazon

“I’m a server and I go through pens like crazy. I’m also left-handed, and some pens don’t work as well for our kind. These pens are the real deal and are the only ones I buy anymore. They write very well on all surfaces and dry very quickly. If you write a lot like I do, you’ll want to get yourself a pack (or two) of these.”

Best calligraphy pens

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen
$5 for 2 at Amazon

“This value set is a great way to experience both types of Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens. I did a lot of shopping around before pulling the trigger on these and I’m glad I bought this pack. It was a great way for me to experience both brush-pen types. Loving the soft type for most of my brush lettering work, but I also really like the hard type too. These pens are a must-try for anyone wanting to try the modern calligraphy trend, or wanting some line variation in their writing and drawing.”

Best felt-tip pens

Paper Mate Flair Felt Tip Pens
$12 for 12 at Amazon

“How could you not love Flair pens? They are a necessity for any teacher! I love that they are vibrant and show a thick, easy-to-read line without soaking through the paper. They are smooth to write with and also work for hand lettering! I use these to grade, and I love the variety of colors and that they all stand out so well from the pencil or pens that my students use. They also seem to have a phenomenally long life span, which is great!”

Best fountain pens

Pilot Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen
$14 at Amazon

“Pilot has seriously cornered the market when it comes to the best fountain pen under $20. Most fountain pens this cheap feel cheap; however this is not the case when it comes to the Metropolitan. Through some Japanese magic they have managed to create a solid feeling pen that writes as well as pens that cost three times as much. It is extremely smooth and feels very sturdy. I can’t recommend this pen enough for someone who is thinking about getting a fountain pen but doesn’t want to invest $100 on something they don’t know if they even like yet.”

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen
$32 at Amazon

“Honest to goodness, I didn’t want to like Lamy. When I started off with fountain pens I imagined I would take my usual obsessive collector path and end up eating Cup O’ Noodles so I could gaze lovingly upon a growing pile of outrageously expensive writing instruments. After wrangling with many brands I appreciate the Lamy for being a no-fuss, no-bother, comfortable pen. It has my preferred nib type and, so far, I have never had to tune or make any adjustments to get one to work. I mean, what do you do when your needs are met so completely? You surrender.”

Best cheap pens

BIC Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pen
$4 for 36 at Amazon

“These are the best pens ever. They’re cheap, they work well, and they’re durable. They’re so cheap that you can always carry two to three pens at all times. I’ve even put these pens through the washer without issue. Other pens I’ve owned (usually more expensive pens) leaked in the washer or just leaked somehow in general, destroying my clothing. Buy these pens. Trust me.”

Best durable pens

Fisher Space Pen Bullet Chrome Finish
$17 at Amazon

“I’ve been carrying a Fisher Bullet for 20 years. Great performer. For me, the Fisher Bullet is about the small form factor, the durability, and the ability to write whenever you need to write … wherever you need to write. I’ve used it on lumber, on wet items, on greasy items, on glossy items. It’s been through the washer and the dryer. It’s been dropped and abused. I can’t remember a single failure to perform. All metal with rubber O-rings to seal it and to keep the cap on. If you need a great, reliable pen in a small package, you can’t beat it. Don’t expect it to be a Montblanc fountain pen and it will never disappoint you.”

Best soft-grip pens

Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity Retractable Pen
$8 at Amazon

“I’m a great fan of these pens. They have a comfortable grip and are weighted to sit well in my hand. More expensive than the regular (non-center-of-gravity) Dr. Grip pen, but well worth it in my opinion. I love that the ink is also smooth and free-flowing, which means I get solid lines while applying very little pressure. I have issues with both carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, so a comfortable pen is a must for me. I can literally write for an hour without discomfort. I also like that the ink doesn’t clump up or require me to shake or stop writing to scribble so the ink will run again.”

Best multicolored pens

Paper Mate Inkjoy Gel Pens
$13 for 12 at Amazon

“These are the best pens I’ve ever owned. They write smoothly; the colors are great. They don’t leak or smear like other pens. The yellow is way too light for regular writing, so I’ve been using that one in my adult coloring book. I make sure I bring one with me to work every day, and hide it when I go on break because I know someone will steal it. I love the rubberized grip and feel of the pen. If it is possible to fall in love with a pen, I’ve done it. No other pens for me ever again. If Paper Mate ever stops making this pen, I will cry.”

BIC 4-Color Ballpoint Pen
$4 for 3 at Amazon

“These are my most favorite pens of all time, dating back to childhood. I found them helpful in college for note-taking in my science classes, and use them when outlining business proposals. I also like the thicker feel of the pen — I don’t end up with major writer’s cramp as I do with standard pens.”

Best gel pens

Muji Gel Ink Ball Point Pen
$12 for 10 at Amazon

“Ira Glass from This American Life mentioned these and since I’m a fan of the show and a bit of a pen nerd, I thought I’d give them a try. I am not disappointed. Actually, I’m thrilled. These little plastic pens are phenomenal. They produce crisp, thin, very dark lines on most paper types. The tip glides smoothly and the ink dries fast. The barrel is a typical diameter, and the length is compact, which is nice. They come in a ten-pack, which means they are very inexpensive. Nothing fancy here. Just a serious workhorse of a pen that you won’t be afraid to lose.”

Pilot G2 Retractable Premium Gel Ink Roller Ball Pens
$5 for 5 at Amazon

“The Pilot G2 .38mm pens are the best products to grace the human race. I am a hard-core fan of the .38s and I guard them from pen-smashers with diligence and commitment. When someone reaches for my pen, I cringe with fear; then I’m flooded with anger. I don’t even let my husband use my pens. Why would you write with anything else? I haven’t. I converted to the Pilot G2 .38 in all colors approximately ten years ago and I have gone through maybe 50 or so pens. They are long-lasting if you take proper care.”

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The 19 Best Pens on Amazon, According to Reviewers