Best Fountain Pens to Start the Hobby

Looking for a gift for someone who has everything (maybe even yourself)? A fountain pen is a great gift for anyone, as it makes the user feel special while writing with it and it's so customizable. It's a gift that should last a lifetime with the proper care and can even improve grades. On a student budget, fountain pens might seem out of reach, but they don't have to be! "Starter pens", as the community calls them, are reliable fountain pens that you can get without completely breaking the bank on something like a Visconti right away. All of these pens are completely reusable and pens that I own myself and would recommend. 

Our local pen store, Phidon Pens in Downtown Galt, Cambridge, offers a 10% discount for students, and you can try the pens there to find your right fit. The staff is also very helpful! In case you're more of an online shopper, I've also linked some reliable Canadian websites that I personally use for my pen shopping. 

Pilot Metropolitan

This is one of the sturdiest pens on the list, and one of the best in its price point. It's a metal-bodied pen, which means it has a bit more weight in your hand. It's a consistent writer and a favourite among newbies and professionals alike. Many people use them for sketching, not just writing. They come in a variety of colours, and two standard nib sizes: medium and fine. As these are Japanese nibs, they will write on the finer side compared to European brands, and you can find other nib sizes, such as a stub, if you want something out of the ordinary. 

Get them for around $22 here or here, or in person at Phidon Pens.

Lamy Al-Star

A bit of an unconventional pick for a starter pen, I've picked the Al-Star over the ever-popular Lamy Safari because it just feels sturdier. The Al-Star and the Safari have the exact same design except for the fact that the Al-Star has an aluminum body and the Safari is plastic. Standard nib sizes are extra-fine, fine, medium and broad, but you can replace these nibs easily with another size, a calligraphy nib, or even a gold nib if that strikes your fancy. They don't come in as many colours as the Metropolitan, but they do release special edition pens once a year: 2018's was vibrant pink! They're a bit more expensive than the Safari, but it is worth it to get the full experience of what other fountain pens will feel like, should you get really into the hobby. 

Get them for around $50 here or here or in person at Phidon Pens. You can also get them here with free shipping from the United Kingdom for approximately $35 with the code OFFER30 at checkout. 

Kaweco Sport

I didn't get my first Sport until late in the game and I don't know why I didn't buy one sooner. They're what you call "pocket pens", meaning they're quite tiny. This is the first pen on this list that takes an international standard size cartridge or converter, so you can fit plenty of different ink cartridge brands in them, unlike Pilot or Lamy pens that will only fit Pilot or Lamy cartridges, respectively. They come in an impressive array of colours and nib sizes, including extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, and double broad. For an additional charge, you can also get them with calligraphy nibs. 

Get them for about $30 here or here or in person at Phidon Pens . You can also get them here with free shipping from the United Kingdom for approximately $25 with the code OFFER30 at checkout. 

Faber Castell Loom

Without exaggerating, this is one of the best writing pens that I own. The medium nib on the Faber Castell fountain pens write almost as reliably as my gold nib, and that's saying something! These pens come in different finishes and different cap colours, but don't have the same variety as others on this list. They also take international standard cartridges and converters. They're metal all over, the first on this list to be completely metal, and they're a must in any pencil case. They come in extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad nibs, and I would recommend any of them. All of the nib sizes are true to European sizes except the broad, which I think writes more like a medium. These nibs are also replaceable.  

Get them for about $40 here or in person at Phidon Pens, or a similar version for $45 here.

TWSBI Eco

Last but certainly not least is the TWSBI Eco, which is short for economical. It's a piston filler pen, meaning that you will have to used bottled ink, but has more than double the ink capacity of your standard cartridge. These pens have minimal parts and are mostly made of sturdy plastic. They're demonstrator pens, which means that they are see-through, but the caps are different colours. This is one of my favourite pens, and they're always coming out with new special edition colours, like red and green for this Christmas! Standard colours that you can get all year round are white, black, and clear. The nib sizes are also very true to standard and come in extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad. You can also upgrade to the extremely popular TWSBI stub nib. 

Get them for about $40 here or here. Phidon Pens currently does not carry the TWSBI brand products. 

Photos: WonderPens, Lamy, Nomado Store, JetPens, JetPens