Retrakt

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 4 Review

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

This week I have been using the Karas Kustoms Retrakt paired with the Pilot G2 black gel refill. Before starting out on this week I presumed I would enjoy using the Pilot G2 refill but maybe struggle a little bit with the Retrakt pen itself. This assumption was pretty spot on but I have also encountered a few barriers to the 1 pen challenge.

This week's failures

There have been a few occasions this week where I have been forced to deviate from the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Pilot G2. First up was a passport application I needed to get filled out and sent. These forms have very specific requirements and you need to use a black ballpoint pen to fill out the forms. This meant that the gel ink pen was not useable in this situation. Secondly I had to send some post this week and I needed to use a Sharpie pen to fill out the shipping information on the box.

These deviations were forced and highlights that 1 pen cannot work in all scenarios. There are times when specific tools are needed to get the job done.

Things I didn't like this week.

I want to get the negative points out of the way first. This week marked the start of my final module with the Open University which has meant that the amount of time I spend writing has increased. Using the Retrakt for long periods of time has been quite strenuous. This pen is heavy, being made from aluminium, and when writing for long stretches of time I found that my wrist began to ache, a lot! I have found it quite uncomfortable in a way I don't think I would have with a fountain pen and definitely not with a pencil.

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

In keeping with this theme, the Retrakt grip section is something I cannot persuade myself to like. I find the it too chunky and the sight line to the pen tip poor. This has only been a slight irritation when I have been writing for long periods of time with this pen. For shorter note taking tasks this is less of an issue.

The Pilot G2 refill

The Pilot G2 refill

There are some good points

The Pilot G2 refill is strong. The black line is crisp and dark giving a brilliantly fine line on the page. It flows well and is really smooth to write with. I have particularly enjoyed using this in my Midori Weekly Refill (019) for recording a snippet of the day's events.

The Retrakt is a nice looking, smart pen. It's not one I use regularly simply because it gets bumped mainly by fountain pens. But actually it's a nice pen and it has it’s place as part of my writing toolkit, but as a standalone pen to use day in and day out, I am not sure the Retrakt barrel would work for me.

Overall thoughts.

This pairing is really strong and I have enjoyed using both of them together. I couldn't use the Retrakt and the Pilot G2 as my only pen choice but actually what this exercise has made me realise is it has its place as part of my writing toolkit. As a result I will be carrying this pen around with me a lot more, rather than leaving it outcast on my desk.

Week 5

Moving into next week I will be using the Lamy Safari and Lamy Dark Lilac ink. I really love this ink colour and the Safari is one of those entry level pens people recommend because it is very reasonably priced. It does have its downsides like the mounded grip section, so using only this pen for a full week could be interesting.

Check back next week to see how I've held up.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series: Week 3 Review

TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib 

TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib 

This week I have been using the TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib partnered with KWZ Honey ink. The TWSBI 580 RB is a standard fountain pen in my line-up. I always have this inked up, but normally it has an extra-fine nib. I recently swapped this out for a broad nib to play around with the pen and my inks a little more.

A week with the TWSBI 580 RB

I could easily use this fountain pen for long periods of time. I really like the design of the RB with the red and blue plastic sections. The clear barrel has always been a nice feature and I really enjoy seeing the ink slowly deplete. I like the fact that this pen holds a large amount of ink and the piston filling mechanism is something a little different. All of these small features combined makes this a personal favourite fountain pen of mine and I think I have had it inked ever since I bought it.

The TWSBI nibs are solid. They write really well and are sturdy working well in all scenarios. Using the new broad nib changed my experience of this pen completely. Broad nibs are not usually my first choice but actually its been nice to have a different nib on a fountain pen, rather than yet another extra-fine or fine. Paired with the KWZ Honey it was gorgeous.

However, having a broad nib and using this for all tasks does present some challenges. It can be difficult when using this pen and nib combination in different notebooks. A pocket notebook is not the best place for a broad nib fountain pen. You tear through paper quickly because your words take up more space on the page and you generally need more room. On the flip side the benefit has been writing in larger notebooks. I have really enjoyed using this in my A5 Clairefontaine notebook for my morning pages. The broad nib is less bothersome in a larger book and it has allowed me to appreciate my new ink a lot more. Playing with this fountain pen and having a really nice ink with some lovely shading has made this combination really enjoyable.

My Travelers Notebook with my TWSBI 580

My Travelers Notebook with my TWSBI 580

This weeks ink choice

I have enjoyed trying out a new brand of ink. It’s been a lovely ink to use especially in a broad nib making it a lovely change. I had high expectations for this ink brand due to the online buzz surrounding it and I have been a little disappointed. I don’t think this feeling will linger and over time I expect I will grow to love this ink more and more. It has great shading, it’s in the range of fountain pen ink colours that I really like using and writes really well.

Overall thoughts

I thought I would enjoy this fountain pen choice and I have done. I am not sure how practical a broad nib is on a day to day basis, but I have enough fountain pens that do fit into this category. Therefore I will be sticking with a broad nib on my TWSBI for some time and trying out some different inks.

In terms of the ink I do like it and I can see why it has had some good reviews online. It is the ideal ink for this time of year, but it doesn’t blow my socks off. Check back in the week to see a full blown review of KWZ Honey ink.

On to Week 4

On to Week 4

Week 4

I have debated what pen to turn to next and what will be the right choice for the next week. Part of me thinks this may be because I am not sure about the remaining inks and pens. But after some consideration I thought I should move away from a fountain pen and use the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and the black Pilot G2 refill. I want to see how I feel about a gel ink pen for a full week. Black is the most obvious choice and works in a whole range of different scenarios. To upgrade this and make it feel a little bit more special I decided to go for the machined aluminium pen. The Karas Kustoms Retrakt is a pen I have been in two minds about for some time. I really like the design and look of this pen but I find the barrel a little too fat. I could also do with an improved sight line on the pen which has bothered me and stops me using this pen more. But that's my thoughts today, at the end of this week I will write up a full review of how I have found this gel pen.

A Retrakt Review

Aluminium Retrakt 

Aluminium Retrakt 

With the launch of the Ink from Karas Kustoms I thought I would post a review of a Karas Kustoms classic machined aluminium pen, the Retrakt. The Retrakt was my second purchase from Karas Kustoms and really the pen I wanted all along.

In hand

In hand

Refill Options  

Top: Pilot G2 refill. Below: Pilot Juice refill

Top: Pilot G2 refill. Below: Pilot Juice refill

Since I bought this pen I had been using it with a Pilot Juice refill. This was a refill that I had to hand and really I wanted to see if the pen changed my opinion of the refill. In the end it did. See my past ramblings about the Pilot Juice here.

Recently I decided the swap out the Pilot Juice refill and go with a Pilot G2. This was the first time I had tried a G2 and after the good things I had heard I really wanted to like it. So based on previous experience, and knowing what I don't like, I thought I would use it first with the Retrakt. Needless to say this was a good move. It's a match made in pen heaven! The Retrakt and the Pilot G2 are gorgeous together. I have a Caramel refill which right now feels great for using in the Autumn. This is my go to pen whenever I am using a Field Notes and it works perfectly.

The Downsides  

There are a few things which I find a bit disappointing with this pen.

One small thing I wish was slightly different on the design is the tapering at the pen end. I find this quite fat and my vision of writing slightly obscured. This could be down to a number of things such as the way I am holding the pen but I wish it was just a tiny bit slimmer. 

Side by side grip section on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Render K

Side by side grip section on the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Render K

At times I can also find the barrel a bit slippy due to its size. Comparing this grip section with the Render K, the Retrakt is fatter and harder to grip, the Render K slimmer and easier to hold. 

One last small thing that happens a lot. The screwed in knock section sometimes comes loose and I have to screw this back in to make sure it's secure. This normally happens if I take the pen somewhere with me and throw it in my bag but it's a little odd. 

The Goodstuff  

Those small things aside, the Retrakt is a fantastic looking pen. I have the aluminium version as I was conscious of writing for long periods and wanted something lightweight. But there are copper and brass versions available too. The knurling at the top of the pen which has become the calling card of the Karas Kustoms pens adds something a little bit extra and I really like it. With the Retrakt it works well because of the knock.   

The pen clip is rock solid. I only really clip to pen to a pad or when its in my bag but it holds well and stays where it should. 

Solid as a rock

Solid as a rock

Karas Kustoms essentially do pens really well. For a tough and resilient pen you cannot go wrong with these guys. The rest is preference. The Render K is still my favourite pen from Karas Kustoms but I do enjoy using the Retrakt and have it to hand all the time. 

ou can get the Retrakt directly from Karas Kustoms here.