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