If you take some time to figure out the best pen for yourself, often it can come down to 2 terrific options: fountain pen vs gel pen.
It’s true that ballpoint pens are much more common, but that’s mainly because they’re cheap.
Even ballpoint pen fans admit that there are plenty of problems with ballpoint pens.
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By limiting your pen choice between fountain pen vs gel pen, you assure yourself a better experience when you’re taking down notes or making your drawings.
Let’s see the benefits and drawbacks of each in the fountain pens vs gel pens debate.
Why Not a Ballpoint Pen?
Those who end up with a fountain pen vs gel pen short list don’t like ballpoint pens for several reasons.
One reason that many find out is that ballpoint pens aren’t designed for long bouts of writing.
After a whole day in school taking down notes, your hand may feel cramped and painful.
These things can also get messy, because the ink can accumulate around the writing tip.
This can result in a blob of ink that can get on your hand or on your clothes.
Also, most ballpoint pens look cheap and for business executives, such pens aren’t impressive enough especially with clients around.
Why Go with a Fountain Pen?
Unlike ballpoint pens, fountain pens are generally classy.
Even the more affordable ones look expensive.
These make for great gifts.
If you’re giving a new graduate a pen as a gift and picking between fountain pens vs gel pens, the fountain pen is your clear choice.
They’re also available in several nib sizes, and you have lots of ink colors to choose from.
Many of these pens are also refillable, which does help with the environment.
Fountain Pen Needs Practice
On the other hand, you will need to practice writing with a fountain pen if you’re a newbie.
It takes a very different style that beginners need to get accustomed to.
This has been pointed out in the fountain pens vs gel pens discussion, especially by those who haven’t yet gotten the hang of fountain pens.
Fountain Pens are Complicated
Also, fountain pens are a lot more complicated.
That’s why many fountain pens come with detailed instructions.
You need to take care of them, and they may require rather finicky maintenance.
People who want no-fuss pens tend to avoid fountain pens in the fountain pens vs gel pens showdown.
Fountain Pens are Expensive
Finally, most fountain pens are relatively expensive.
Even the “inexpensive” fountain pens are typically more expensive than ballpoints and gel pens.
Many of the gel pen fans point out this issue in the fountain pen vs gel pen debate.
Why Pick a Gel Pen?
Gel pen fans like the ink options when they use the thicker ink in these pens.
Often, the ink gives your lines a nice sharp edge, without feathering or bleeding issues.
The colors of the ink have this vibrant feel that you don’t get in other inks.
You can also get hundreds of different colors, which is great for coloring books and art projects.
You’re able to have different tip sizes, though your main options are the 0.5mm and 0.7mm tips.
Gel pens are also more affordable, with some 100-count packs may even cost less than a single premium fountain pen.
Gel Pen Disadvantages
But in the fountain pens vs gel pens discussion, it’s been pointed out that gel pens aren’t perfect.
These pens do use up more ink.
This means that, on the average, you’ll need to refill (or get a new disposable gel pen) more quickly.
The gel ink also doesn’t soak into the paper as quickly.
This increases the chances of smearing, especially if you’re left-handed or you’re working with lots of papers on your desk.
In the fountain pen vs gel pen debate, many left-handed writers go with the fountain pen for this reason.
Factors to Consider
When you read the specs and the reviews, check out the following factors:
Exact prices are often hard to determine, as these depend on the sellers.
The usual rule also applies—the better pens tend to cost more.
Some fountain pens can be quite costly.
But you can find affordable fountain pens, especially in the list we came up with.
Also, we offer inexpensive gel pens that are just as good as their more expensive counterparts.
Pick the tip size that matches your needs.
The usual rule here is that you should go with fine tips (around 0.5mm) if you have small handwriting, or you want more details in your drawings.
If you tend to write larger letters, go with the 0.7mmor even 1.0mm tips.
More ink colors give you more options, especially for colorful art projects.
Some packs offer a dozen, or even a hundred different colors.
Even note-takers may want a few different ink colors to work with, so they can have color-coded notes.
Ease of Use
What you need is a pen that won’t give you cramps even after hours of drawing or taking down notes.
It’s also great if you’re aware of just how much ink you have left in your pen.
For fountain pens, you probably need some practice before you can write smoothly and easily.
You also need to learn how to refill these refillable pens.
How long with the pens last?
Some pens are disposable, yet you may find pens that last longer than others before you need to replace them.
Other pens are refillable and are meant for a lifetime of use.
Often, they’re made of premium materials and they can last long enough that your grandkids may inherit them!
Gel pens look more casual, but they still look nice enough especially for students.
What’s more important is that the pens should have distinct colors so you know which ink color you’re getting with each pen.
Fountain pens in general look classy.
Some of these pens are affordable yet they look like they’re 10 times more expensive.
What comes with your purchase?
Get your full money’s worth by checking if the pens come in a nice case.
Look for free ink cartridges for refillable fountain pens.
Newbies should also check that their fountain pens come with an informative manual.
Our TOP 5 Fountain Pen vs Gel Pen Picks
We want to help make sure you get off to a good start when picking between fountain pen vs gel pen.
Therefore we’ve collected 5 of the best into our list of recommendations.
Whichever pen you may end up choosing in the fountain pen vs gel pen debate, we’ve got you covered.
“The Inexpensive Fountain Pen”
Our Rating: 4.5
Who says that fountain pens all look formal and stuffy?
That’s certainly not the case here.
These are also very affordable for fountain pens, and we won’t be surprised if you end up collecting all the possible color options.
These also make for great gifts, especially for incoming college freshmen and for fresh grads.
Actually, the Retro Pop Collection is available in ballpoint and gel roller.
We picked the fountain pen with the fine nib, but there’s also a medium nib option.
The fine nib is great when you write small, as you can fit in more lines in your notebook space.
This comes with a squeeze converter for the ink, and it also comes with a black ink cartridge.
This aspect is perhaps its most notable come-on.
These look great, indeed.
They’re available in 6 colors, along with an eye-catching pattern in the middle.
Those who want something elegant and subtle for the office may opt for the gray with the hound’s tooth pattern.
But you also have more colorful options like purple, green, and orange, along with other patterns such as flowers and waves.
With the stainless-steel accents, premium matte finishes and the middle ring design, you have a great-looking pen that both adults and teens will appreciate.
Smooth and Comfortable
If you’re new to fountain pens, you’ll appreciate the PDF file that comes with your purchase.
This will explain how you can use the converter and the cartridges.
The pen length is standard at around 5.4 inches, but the middle part is a bit thicker so you’re able to grasp it more comfortably.
When you use this, you’ll like how it flows smoothly over the paper while the ink doesn’t skip or blot.
It’s not overly heavy (it weighs around 4 ounces) but it has a solid, reassuring heft.
This also comes in a nice gift box, with a transparent cover so you can see what’s inside.
“Inexpensive Yet Elegant”
Our Rating: 4.5
If you prefer a medium nib over a fine nib, then you may want to check out this fountain pen from Wordsworth & Black.
The folks at Wordsworth & Black like to say that with their pens, you don’t just write.
They’ve certainly created a fine set of pens with these fountain pens.
They even come in a nice gift case, and you also get free ink.
Medium Nib with Unique Design
You get a medium nib in these pens, which work great for those with larger handwriting.
The nib comes with a unique German design that ensures a steady flow of ink.
Your purchase actually comes with 6 ink cartridges along with an ink refill converter that’s easy to use.
Pretty Easy to Use
This also comes with a nice PDF files that explains everything you need to know about your fountain pen.
Even if you’re new to fountain pens in general, the PDF helps to clarify matters nicely.
The pen itself feels great in your hand, with its 8-ounce weight.
This has been handcrafted and hand-tested to make sure that both left-handed and right-handed writers can feel comfortable using this.
It is sleek, and its contours make it seem like it was designed with just your hand in mind.
The ink also dries fairly quickly.
Includes 12 Color Schemes
These are available in several elegant colors, with about 12 color schemes to choose from.
We were especially partial towards the sophisticated black gold color combination, but you have other color options such as black chrome and silver chrome.
There’s even a hot pink option.
Long Lasting Pen
This is made with premium materials and designed to last a lifetime.
In fact, the folks at Wordsworth & Black expect that these pens will be used by your kids and grandkids well after you’re gone.
Some consider this the best fountain pen ever in its price range.
“The Truly Affordable Fountain Pen”
Our Rating: 4.5
If you like the convenience of disposable pens, but you also want the elegance of fountain pens, now you can go with these disposable fountain pens.
These are available in packs with 7 pens, so you can continue writing once the pen ink runs out.
Also, you probably will have some of these pens “borrowed” by friends and family, so it’s a good thing you have plenty.
It also doesn’t hurt that a 7-pen pack is even more affordable than the earlier fountain pens on this list!
The disposable fountain pens are available in different colors.
Your options include green, pink, turquoise, black, purple, and blue.
The pack offers pens in assorted colors, so that everyone in the family can have a unique look for their own fountain pen.
Stainless Steel Nib
Despite the low price of the fountain pens, each one of them here comes with a stainless-steel nib.
These offer a smooth writing experience, though some practice may be necessary for fountain pen newbies.
Some beginners may end up with inky leaks until they get it right.
With the medium point, you can make sure your writing is legible enough.
The barrel has a retro design that’s easy enough to hold and write with.
The ink has been pre-filled, so you can start writing with these pens immediately.
You can also see how much ink you’ve got left, so you can get a new ready when the ink is about to run out.
These are so easy to use that they’re recommended for fountain pen newbies.
The ink doesn’t bleed through the paper as long as you don’t “double-write”.
The ink also dries quickly enough.
The color of the ink corresponds to the color of the pen, so you can use these for color-coded notes and for colorful drawings.
Once you’ve practiced with these, you can then go on to refillable fountain pens.
“For Smooth Color-Coded Notes”
Our Rating: 4.5
Now if you’d rather get gel pens rather than fountain pens, you should consider this option.
This pack gives you 14 pens at once.
14 Different Colors
You now have 14 different colors to use, and we’re not just referring to the colors of the pens.
We’re also talking about the ink colors.
These include the more common colors, such as black, red, and several different shades of blue.
But you also get green, yellow, orange, and cocoa.
What’s also notable here is that even the lime green and yellow inks are easy enough to read.
Quick Dry Ink
The ink here dries very quickly, so you won’t have to worry too much about smearing.
In fact, compared to the Pilot G2 the ink here dries 3 times faster.
Two Tip Sizes
You also have options when it comes to the tip sizes.
Some have 0.7mm medium tips, while others have the 0.5mm fine tips.
Great Ink Flow
There’s no trouble writing with these pens, as they’re molded with a textured grip with an ergonomic design.
The pens also write smoothly, with no skipping and scratching issues to worry about.
In fact, even left-handed writers find it great to write with.
Everyone also seems to note that these pens offer the best ink flow among gel pens.
“The Set for Coloring Books”
Our Rating: 4.5
What if you’re an artist, with a need for more than merely 14 different colors?
In that case, you may want to get this Aen Art 100 Color Glitter Gel Pen Set.
Each one is unique, which gives you a wide range of tools for your art projects.
Wide Array of Colors
Yes, these offer you 100 different colors to work with.
For design professionals and artistic kids, with these many colors you can end up with fantastically colorful drawings.
The challenge here, though, is finding the exact pen you want when you need it.
Some of the colors look very similar!
0.8mm or 1.0mm Tips
These come with either 0.8mm or 1.0mm tips.
Acid-Free Non-Toxic Ink
The ink is acid-free and non-toxic, which makes them suitable for kids to use.
They don’t smear, nor do they skip or fade.
The ink here also seems to last a lot longer than the gel ink in other pens.
The pen is made of clear plastic, so you’ll know how much ink you have left in each pen.
This comes with the “Comfort Grip” design, which makes it nice to hold while you’re writing.
You’ll find that these gel pens work great for adult coloring books.
You won’t have to press down hard to get the ink flowing, which reduces the chances of hand cramps.
The pen barrel also has etched grooves so that they won’t roll when you placed them on your work desk.
Perhaps the only issue here is that some of the pens may need some “priming” to get the ink flowing.
Fountain Pen vs Gel Pen: Conclusion
It’s up to you to decide whether fountain pens or gel pens are better suited for your needs, but, here are some tips that can help:
If you’re into coloring with pens, you’re probably better off with gel pens.
These gel pens are also great for those who don’t want to fuss with their writing tools.
Fountain pens are admittedly fussier, and you do need some practice with using them.
But they’re great for taking notes, especially with the fountain pens on our list of recommendations.
Whichever option you pick in the fountain pen vs gel pen showdown, at least you know you’ll find excellent pens to use!