The best multipens to use in planning
I love multi pens.
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In fact, I love anything that has more than one use. I love the space/efficiency of multi use products.
Beyond the usual Bic multipens I think everyone had in school, I didn’t really use them until I discovered the Pilot Coleto*. What I love about the Coleto is the choice. So many barrel types, depending on your taste. A few different nib sizes, and even pencil and eraser refills available too! I looked back through my archived posts on here and found that the first Coleto I bought was in 2015! Those and the Pilot Juice pens* have probably been staples in my pen collection longer than any other kinds.
I used my Coletos a little less after switching to Hobonichi planners, as I fell back in love with fountain pens. I think the first Hobonichi pen I received I sold on, because I wasn’t bothered about a multipen that wasn’t the Coleto. At that time I also really didn’t like ballpoint pens.
This all changed in 2019 when I decided to keep my Hobonichi pen and use it for work. I love the Hobonichi pen! The barrel is nice and thin so it’s easy to use, the nib is thin without being scratchy, and the writing is always smooth. When my 2019 pen finally ran out of ink (I did purchase refills but unfortunately I kept them somewhere safe and so couldn’t find them) I decided to buy a few different multi pens and test them out. Was the Coleto the best gel multi pen and was the Hobonichi pen the best ballpoint?
There were eight pens I purchased in total, four gel and four ballpoint.
Pentel Sliccies Three Colour Gel Pen
Pilot Frixion Three Colour Gel Pen*
Livework Four Colour Gen Pen
Uni Style Fit Three Colour Gel Pen
Platinum Multipen Transparent – ballpoint and pencil
Livework Four Colour Ballpoint
Tombow Reporter Four Colour Ballpoint
Pilot Feed GP4 Four Colour Ballpoint
The first thing I did on receiving these, was swatch them all on a page, trying to use all the different colours in each barrel.
While some pens do need a little work sometimes to get going, I like doing an early swatch, to get an indicator of how the pen is going to perform. The early swatches here pretty much held true to how these would perform longer term. The Tombow Reporter and the Pilot Frixion stood out as being particularly skippy. The good news was, none of the ink in these pens smeared or smudged on the Hobonichi page.
I then gave each of these a trial run either in my work bullet journal, or for note taking.
I expected big things from this muliti pen, since the single Slicci pens are another favourite of mine. This mulitpen is available in a couple of different colour choices and in a 3 or 5 barrel format. There’s also a choice in refill sizes – 0.3, 0.4 or 0.5mm. So like the Coleto, there’s a lot of flexibility when ‘building’ this pen.
Speaking of build though, this was a real let down. The refills don’t feel totally steady in the barrel when you’re using it and so I find it a struggle to write with. The end of the refill also sticks out very far out of the barrel, which again leads to an uncomfortable writing experience.
The actual refills though are good, and even with the 0.3mm nib don’t feel at all scratchy. In a better barrel, this would be a very good pen. At £8.65 for the barrel and three refills this comes out quite expensive really, and so this pen is a bit of a let down sadly.
As you saw in the swatch page, this pen takes a while to warm up and the red seems to never really warm up in the one I have. I’ve found this to be an issue with all Frixion pens though. I purchased this as a complete set but you can purchase different refills for this, so you can change up the colours as you need. There’s also two different refill sizes that I found – 0.5 and 0.7mm. I paid £6.79 for this which is pretty reasonable and unlike with the Pentel, the barrel quality feels deserving of that price. The only downside to this pen is it doesn’t seem as readily available in shops, I purchased this from Ebay and would probably need to buy refills from there too.
While I don’t enjoy all the refills in this it’s a pen I’m going to keep using. Why? Because of the fact it is erasable. This pen will be perfect for use in my EDC in 2021 where I’ll be jotting down any forward planning that may change and need to be removed. What I’ll probably do is purchase a few more refills for this so I can switch out the colours for ones that are hopefully a bit smoother.
Livework Gel Pen
I love Livework products. You may have seen my planner pouch post where I featured a couple of Livework pouches. The design of their products are fantastic, and I was excited to try this (and the ballpoint version) when I discovered they existed.
This pen is about £7.99 and while you can’t pick and choose the refills, there are four different options available in terms of the colours that you receive inside it, so there is some flexibility. I made sure I went with the one that included a black, as I always need a black in my multipens.
This is another pen where the nib sticks out quite far out from the barrel, but it doesn’t move at all while I’m writing, so I find using this very comfortable. The pen has a 0.4mm tip but isn’t scratchy at all. I haven’t found spare refills on sale and the build of the pen suggests that it is refillable which is really annoying. Aside from that though, I love this pen. The quality of it is high, it’s a decent price, and it comes with some unusual colours which makes it different from most of the other ones out there,
I read good things about this pen! It was recommended to me in a Hobonichi group and I decided to pick it up. It comes in either a 3 or 5 colour barrel. In terms of refills there’s so many to choose from – lots of different sizes, gel or ballpoint and even a pencil. This is perfect for building a truly unique pen for your needs. I love that you can mix up gel and ballpoint. I think this is the only pen I’ve come across that does that?
The ink inside this is good, and the pen is easy to write with. What lets this pen down, just like the Pentel, is the awful barrel. This is such poor quality it actually made me quite angry when I received it. The mechanism (or lack of) for changing the ink just doesn’t work in this pen and refills frequently get ‘stuck’ meaning you basically have to manually push the refill back in yourself?
At £10.55 this came out as the most expensive pen and was the one that probably let me down the most, just because of how annoying it is the switch the ink.
Speaking of annoying to switch the ink… the Platinum pen was another slight disappointment. The idea of this pen is fantastic. Two ballpoints, a pencil and an eraser on the end. If you need to do little sketches in your notebook then this is the perfect pen to be able to quickly switch between writing and drawing. Where the annoyance comes in, is switching between the refills. You do this by twisting the barrel which is a bit off a faff in my opinion. Nearly every time I turn it the wrong way and get either the ink or pencil that I don’t want.
The ink flow in the refills is okay. It’s not perfect and so the black actually comes out more of a grey than a black.
I should love this pen, but I just don’t. It’s cheap, but really nicely made but there’s just a few things that I can’t get past. I think if I used pencils more regularly I may feel different. If you need to switch between ink and pencil a lot, then this is probably the perfect pen for you.
Pretty much everything I said about the gel version of this applies here. Different colour combinations available and a really well-made barrel. The ink flow in the 0.5mm tip is perfect and never skips. My writing is lovely and small and neat using this. As the barrel is a bit wider than normal pens, I was expecting to not enjoy using this. It’s the same size as some larger four colour Coleto barrels and I don’t really get on with those. However, because of the rubber grip on these pens, they are easy to use and I’ve been using this one pretty much every day for taking Skillshare class notes.
This super cheap (about £4) pen didn’t impress me at first. Like with the Platinum, the ink flow isn’t great and the colours come out quite muted in comparison to other pens. It’s a 0.7mm nib which isn’t too bad to write with and didn’t make my handwriting huge. This could be a great simple pen for work, I just hated how it looked because the ink was so weak.
This may have been the worst Pilot pen I’ve ever used. I think I used it for an hour while working before throwing it in a drawer in disgust. (Yes, I’m dramatic about pens). The 1.0 nib is huge and the ink flow is poor. It frequently skips or just fades mid letter. It’s reasonably cheap at about £5 but even at that price it’s not worth it. I have nothing more to say on this, other than it was really disappointing. It’s basically the same as the original Bic Multipen, but more than double the price.
So did I find any worthy replacements for my Hobonichi pen and Coleto?
Kind of. I loved both of the Livework pens and I’ll continue to use those regularly. If I can find refills for them then they will both become part of my permanent collection, if not I’ll have to stick with my Coleto/Hobonichi. The only other thing to say about these pens which I didn’t mention too much above is the size of them. While they’re comfortable to use, they’re so wide that they don’t fit in any of my pen loops. I like to store my Coleto specifically in the pen loop of my Hobonichi Weeks cover and I just can’t do that with the Livework pen sadly so it’ll never truly be replaced.
As I do 99% of my planning at my desk, it’s not a huge deal for me. But I know portability and pen loops is a big factor for some when choosing a pen.
I really enjoyed trying all these different pens!
If there’s a multipen you love but I missed it in this review, please let me know in the comments!