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A First Look At The Ensso Xs Pocket Pen

ensso pocket pen kickstarter

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22 replies to this topic

#1 Jamerelbe

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Posted 31 October 2018 - 23:47

In yesterday's mail, I received my long awaited XS Pocket Pen from @Enssodesign - a Kickstarter project from much earlier this year.  Product fulfilment was delayed by several months due to a hold-up with Bock nibs (who've been giving some of their customers a horror run in the past 12 months or so) - but I finally received notice about a week ago that the pen was on its way, and... a week later, on the other side of the Pacific (and/or the Atlantic?), here it is!

 

[Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for this review - I joined the Kickstarter campaign early on, paid 'full price', and waited in the queue for my pen to arrive like everyone else!]

 

First Impressions

The pen arrived in a simple black box - which had unfortunately gotten a little crunched in the mail (I'm looking at you, Australia Post!).  Thankfully, the contents of the box were undamaged - as also were the two optional clips that came with the pen (I only ordered one?!).

 

7kviBPz.jpg

 

The pen itself is tiny elegance - less than 10cm long, roughly 10mm diameter, with 12 facets - and the most discreet branding on the barrel.

 

5EnGTRg.jpg

 

 

I'm not going to follow my usual format - haven't got time to do a full-on review - but wanted to get some pictures out there ASAP.  

 

That said, let me start with some tech specs:

 

Length of pen capped     = 95mm

Length of pen uncapped = 93mm

Length of pen posted      = 133cm

Weight of pen (incl cap)  = 28.9g

Diameter of barrel           = 10.5mm

Diameter of grip section  = 9mm

 

I opted for the brass version of the pen - though it's also available in raw or anodised aluminium (black and silver).  The aluminium pens would (I *think*) be a bit lighter, but at 28.9g the pen feels comfortable in my hands. 

 

Ensso sell these pens with the Bock 060 nib unit (essentially the same configuration as for a Kaweco Sport pen) - but I opted to order a Titanium nib (at extra cost), which only comes in the longer 076 size.  Carlo (the designer and proprietor of Ensso) felt that the shorter nib looked better on these pens, but I'm happy with the sleeker lines of the longer nib.  My measurements tell me that the tip of the longer nib will only *just* fit within the cap (with maybe a 0.5-1mm clearance) - but it *does* fit.  

 

Ih96hAK.jpg

 

 

The cap of the XS is designed to slip on and off - and is held securely in place by a rubber o-ring (or washer) at the base of the grip section.  A matching washer is fitted into a groove on the end of the barrel to allow the cap to post for more comfortable writing.  I'd usually say a 9mm diameter grip is a little on the thin side for me (not *too* thin, just on the limit) - but this feels great in my hands.  The generous length of the posted pen (133cm is pretty good, especially for a pocket pen!) means I can hold it back a little further, so that my fingers straddle the 'step' between grip section and barrel.  So far, this seems the most comfortable position for me - though others may prefer to hold it closer to the nib.

 

f88cj8E.jpg

 

 

QA21QMW.jpg

 

 

I can't offer much commentary on the writing experience at the moment - I'm using a Kaweco squeeze converter, which *just* fits the barrel, and filled the pen with Diamine (Cult Pens) Deep Dark Orange.  The nib was a little dry at first, but is getting wetter as I continue to write.  There's no skipping or hard starting, though, and the nib feels smooth on the paper - I'll give the pen some time to "settle in" before I try making any adjustments to increase the flow.  Full marks to Ensso - I understand they manually tested (and if necessary adjusted) each nib before sending out the pens.

 

VWERIbF.jpg

 

 

The clip, as I mentioned earlier, was an optional extra - and had to be installed by the buyer.  I opted for the chrome version (on the advice of Carlo), and it looks good on the pen.  Given the small size of the pen, I'm not sure how well this will clip into my pockets anyway - but at least it serves as an effective roll stopper!  I'll give myself some time to decide whether I want to keep using it, or whether to ditch it.

 

One final photo - a comparison with some of my other pocket pens.  Top is the (now discontinued) Karas Pen Co Fountain K Mini; then the original TiScribe from Urban Survival Gear (another Kickstarter pen); and at bottom, an acrylic Moonman Wancai.

 

o04kzY1.jpg

 

I like all of these pens - but the top two are only really serviceable as "jotters" for taking quick notes.  They don't post, and are too short to use comfortably for long writing sessions.  The Moonman Wancai is more functional in that regard - but there's a fairly big step up from grip section to barrel, and the need to unthread and rethread the cap to use it posted is a downside compared to the XS.  On the other hand, it's an eyedropper fill pen, which means it holds an impressive amount of ink.

 

Final thoughts

There *are* some obvious downsides to this pen - and I want to be up-front about them: small ink capacity (cartridge or Kaweco squeeze converter only), the thinness of the grip section (if you're accustomed to a wider girth) - and the o-ring at the end of the barrel looks like it'll need to be replaced periodically.  I'm finding that when I push the cap over the o-ring, it tends to shave a little bit off the top.  Hopefully this will settle down before the entire O-ring disappears! (Ensso provide two spares, and tech specs in case owners need to source their own.)

 

That said, in the *very* short time I've had with this pen, I'm really impressed.  It feels lightweight but substantial, and very easy to deploy.  The design and manufacture of the pen are first-rate.  It's a great size for carrying in a pocket, and a *really* decent size for writing (when posted).  I think this is going to edge out my other pocket pens for the time being, as the convenient carry pen of choice.  Thanks to Ensso for making this happen - I was a fan of the Piuma when it came out (though it was a larger pen that filled a different niche), and I'm an even *bigger* fan of the XS!



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#2 SoulSamurai

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Posted 01 November 2018 - 06:34

That's very interesting, I have a soft spot for pocket pens and especially slip-cap ones. The review is well written and the photos do a good job of capturing the important details and communicating the size of the pen. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see mention of the price?

#3 Jamerelbe

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Posted 01 November 2018 - 07:14

Kickstarter campaign price was $39 plus shipping (though I paid extra for the Titanium nib and for the clip). You can buy online from Ensso.com for $59 (aluminium) or $69 (brass) - though right now they're offering a 15% site wide discount.

#4 SoulSamurai

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Posted 01 November 2018 - 10:26

Cool, I'm very tempted. I'm a little worried about the reliability of the cap when using the clip; if the o-ring is getting shaved then I wonder will the cap eventually loosen?

#5 Jamerelbe

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Posted 01 November 2018 - 10:41

Cool, I'm very tempted. I'm a little worried about the reliability of the cap when using the clip; if the o-ring is getting shaved then I wonder will the cap eventually loosen?

 

The manufacturer provides spare o-rings as a back-up, and they're fairly easy to source, so I don't think that's too much of an issue.  He claims he hasn't had any problems with the o-rings in months of using his prototypes, but is aware of the concern being expressed and is looking into it. 

 

I don't think you'll be disappointed if you jump in - but if you'd rather wait a bit, I don't think Ensso is going anywhere in a hurry. They're already onto their next project, and their previous designs are still available for purchase!



#6 Jamerelbe

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Posted 02 November 2018 - 14:07

A comparison photo, just for fun: here is how the Ensso XS compares (when posted) to some of my other pocket pens - the TWSBI Vac Mini, the Pilot Prera, and the Kaweco Sport Classic.

 

fpn_1541167526__ensso_xs_comparison.jpg

 

Feel free to ask any questions you might have about the pen - I'm happy to (do my best to) answer!



#7 TheAcadian

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 15:10

I have this pen as well, and agree with your writeup. I lost the o-ring on the back of the barrel within the first few days. Oh well. I notice that to avoid the shearing of the o-rings when capping the pen, I can twist the cap on. Seems to work. It's a nice little pen for EDC. 



#8 Jamerelbe

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 15:22

I have this pen as well, and agree with your writeup. I lost the o-ring on the back of the barrel within the first few days. Oh well. I notice that to avoid the shearing of the o-rings when capping the pen, I can twist the cap on. Seems to work. It's a nice little pen for EDC. 

 

@TheAcadian, good to hear from you!  I agree, it's a great little EDC pen.  I have other pens I think I'd prefer to use for longer writing sessions - but this is a take-it-anywhere pen that's great (especially) for jotting down notes to myself.  I'm thinking I need to swap out the ink, though: Cult Pens Deep Dark Orange just doesn't seem to fit the aesthetic of the pen for some reason!

 

Interested to know: what material and finish did you opt for?



#9 TheAcadian

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 19:03

 

@TheAcadian, good to hear from you!  I agree, it's a great little EDC pen.  I have other pens I think I'd prefer to use for longer writing sessions - but this is a take-it-anywhere pen that's great (especially) for jotting down notes to myself.  I'm thinking I need to swap out the ink, though: Cult Pens Deep Dark Orange just doesn't seem to fit the aesthetic of the pen for some reason!

 

Interested to know: what material and finish did you opt for?

 

 

I actually got an ink cartridge with the pen (apparently not everyone got one), so I've been using that. I saw your idea of using the squeeze converter, so I'm going to find one of those and try it out. 

 

I got the brass with the steel nib, no clip. 



#10 Jamerelbe

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Posted 10 November 2018 - 02:34

 
 
I actually got an ink cartridge with the pen (apparently not everyone got one), so I've been using that. I saw your idea of using the squeeze converter, so I'm going to find one of those and try it out. 
 
I got the brass with the steel nib, no clip. 


Kaweco are the only company I know of that make the squeeze converters - and honestly, you'll get a better fill if you inject the ink directly into the converter with a syringe. You can also make your own custom size bulb converter with a cut off cartridge and a latex or silicone ink sac.

Fair warning, the little Kaweco piston fillers were designed for a pen with a longer barrel - they won't fit this pen!

#11 Trogdor

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 12:03

Mine arrived today; it's certainly very pretty (I opted for the aluminium finish with a black coated nib and black pocket clip) -- see below in comparison to a Lamy 2K and a Moonman M2.

 

I haven't (yet) experienced the o-ring shaving problems that some others have reported, but it is quite definitely the driest writing pen I have ever owned. The cartridge they supplied with it was terrible, so I switched it out for something I trust, and it's a bit better now. I too will see if it settles a bit (I didn't flush out before its first inking -- I was too excited to get started!), but otherwise I'll have to try spreading the tines a bit to make it wetter, as it's not much fun to write with right now.

 

fpn_1544616180__img_20181212_115716.jpg



#12 Jamerelbe

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Posted 18 January 2019 - 14:02

An update on my Ensso XS: 2 1/2 months on, this has pretty much become my daily carry pen - not the pen I write with most often, but the one I most often take with me "on the road".  Its size means that it fits anywhere and everywhere, and it's a comfortable writer, at least for "on the go" note-taking and the like.

 

After the initial issues with the o-rings getting "shaved" a little every time I capped or posted the pen, this has settled down: I still have the original o-rings on the pen (plus a few replacements if I need them!). This was apparently more of a problem with the brass pens than the aluminium versions - the tolerances were (apparently) just a little different.  The nib now lays down a medium-to-wet line, and is beautifully smooth on the page (not bad for a titanium EF!).  

 

As expected, the brass has started to tarnish - here's a photo (with a TWSBI Mini for size comparison):

 

fpn_1547818358__ensso_xs_vs_twsbi_mini.j

 

For anyone wanting a reasonably priced EDC pen, I'd still be happy to recommend the XS as a solid option.


Edited by Jamerelbe, 18 January 2019 - 14:03.


#13 Jamerelbe

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Posted 10 March 2020 - 14:03

I sadly lost my brass XS pocket pen in July of last year (2019) - and for the past 9 months have been lamenting the lost (especially the amazing titanium EF nib).  A couple of weeks ago, ENSSO had a sale on remaining stock - 40% off for a limited time - and I jumped on board.  The only options were titanium or aluminium - so I went for the latter.

 

The pen arrived in the mail yesterday - and I discovered they'd kindly upgraded the nib from plain steel to black-coated steel, and thrown in a free (black-coated) clip.  The aluminium is a *lot* lighter than the brass - doesn't have quite the same feel in the hand - but is otherwise a beautiful pen.  I hope ENSSO keep making these - and reintroduce the brass version back into their lineup...

 

fpn_1583848738__new_ensso_xs.jpg



#14 Honeybadgers

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Posted 14 March 2020 - 23:14

I like the brass one. I wasn't blown away by its steel F nib (no Ti options were available) but I recently swapped in a flexible moore medium stub and its ebonite feed into the bock housing and it works great.

 

I also lost the O ring on the back while I was messing around with it, but standard PenBBS O rings fit perfectly, so I just threw one on, and I've got a million.

 

very similar in feel, with a better fit/finish is the travelers brass pocket pen. I swapped in the 14k FM from a pilot juliet and that thing never leaves my backpack (it also takes the kaweco squeeze converter)


Edited by Honeybadgers, 14 March 2020 - 23:15.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#15 amberleadavis

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 01:04

Thank you for the great review.


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#16 Jamerelbe

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 11:46

I like the brass one. I wasn't blown away by its steel F nib (no Ti options were available) but I recently swapped in a flexible moore medium stub and its ebonite feed into the bock housing and it works great.
 
I also lost the O ring on the back while I was messing around with it, but standard PenBBS O rings fit perfectly, so I just threw one on, and I've got a million.
 
very similar in feel, with a better fit/finish is the travelers brass pocket pen. I swapped in the 14k FM from a pilot juliet and that thing never leaves my backpack (it also takes the kaweco squeeze converter)


I definitely preferred the brass to the aluminium - it just felt more substantial - but for the price the latter was a good buy. Ensso have just launched a new Kickstarter campaign for an upgraded Titanium version (https://www.kickstar...profile_created) - they say it'll be heavier than the aluminium, and has specially designed gaskets for added stability.

#17 Jamerelbe

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Posted 15 March 2020 - 11:46

Thank you for the great review.


Thanks for the feedback - my pleasure!

#18 Honeybadgers

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 08:35

I definitely preferred the brass to the aluminium - it just felt more substantial - but for the price the latter was a good buy. Ensso have just launched a new Kickstarter campaign for an upgraded Titanium version (https://www.kickstar...profile_created) - they say it'll be heavier than the aluminium, and has specially designed gaskets for added stability.

 

 

I saw that. I honestly may go for one. I don't own any titanium pens yet and I've been satisfied with all their products thusfar (including the Italia once I fixed the dry out problem)

 

This is a very "personable" little pen. It really has the "x" factor in the combination of the facets and the nice feeling O ring friction cap system. 

 

screw it. $100 down the drain. I use my pocket pens more than anything else these days.

 

The pen I think I'm closest to being "sold" on pocket wise is still the brass delike alpha. I sanded off the lacquer and filed in a notch/added epoxy to permanently fix the clip in place and swapped the nib for a 14k eversharp EF manifold nib. That "kaweco sport with an extra 2cm longer, rounded end barrel" thing is exactly what I want in a pen. It's just a shame it isn't made by kaweco with their degree of fit/finish (the facets aren't all perfect on the delike but It has been brutally durable, being used as a glass breaker, run over by my ambulance and thrown/dropped hundreds of times as a paramedic)

 

After time spent with the travelers brass pen, the FM pilot 14k nib is the perfect upgrade for it, but the only two things I'd change are making the little lanyard loop line up with the clip properly, and add knurling to the part of the barrel that you grasp to pull the cap off (it can be slippery if you just gelled your hands with hand sanitizer) 

 

I think the reality is I'll never own a perfect brass pocket pen until I get a metal lathe.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 16 March 2020 - 08:36.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#19 Jamerelbe

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Posted 16 March 2020 - 11:20

@Honeybadgers, I ended up backing the Titanium Kickstarter too - still mulling over whether to pay the extra for a titanium nib.  

 

My titanium Italia is still prone to cross-threading, but a lot better than it used to be.  At least the XS relies on gaskets rather than threads to cap and post!



#20 Honeybadgers

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 08:06

@Honeybadgers, I ended up backing the Titanium Kickstarter too - still mulling over whether to pay the extra for a titanium nib.  

 

My titanium Italia is still prone to cross-threading, but a lot better than it used to be.  At least the XS relies on gaskets rather than threads to cap and post!

 

One thing I noticed with my XS is that it's a lot more satisfying to cap/post if you twist the cap slightly as you slide it over the O ring.


Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)






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