Is there really a gel pen that works with a Moleskine notebook?

After being really dissatisfied with the Pilot G2 gel pen with my pocket Moleskin notebook I researched some options and people raved about the Zebra Sarasa gel pen.  The packaging claims its smudge-proof.  I claim bullshit.  It takes as long to dry and still smudges as badly as the G2 on that Moleskine paper.  Ballpoint looks like crap in that notebook.   Gel looks great but the trade-off seems to be needing to keep the page open for ages for the ink to dry.  I’m not a fan of blotting on the opposite page nor smudging.

The Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencil is fantastic and of course doesn’t smudge.  But the biggest problem is that it’s pencil.  It’s very light on the paper and hard to read.

Is there a decent, easy to acquire, gel pen that will work with this damned notebook?

21 thoughts on “Is there really a gel pen that works with a Moleskine notebook?

  1. I find that the Sharpie pen works well in Moleskine notebooks. Finer point pens that dry quicker such as the Tul 0.5mm needle point Gel pen and the Pilot Precise V5 work well also. Sharpie pens and the Pilot Precise can be found at most office supply stores. Tul pens are only available at OfficeMax.

    Like

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but I have had a bit better luck using relatively fine point gel pens. I have used a few .4mm Sarasas that dry smudgelessly in a few seconds, quick enough that I honestly don’t think about it. I have a .5mm G2 with me to compare against a .4 Sarasa and the difference is pretty noticeable. The G2 is still a little shiny and wet after the Sarasa is fresh and clean clean. Not sure where to pick up this size in a store to be honest, but they are easily picked up via jetpens and pretty affordable. (I have a Sarasa Clip model fwiw)

    Like

  3. I recommend the Uni-ball Signo RT .38. I have been able to find it at Office Max now and then (and lately they seem to be stocking it on a regular basis). If you can’t find it there, and you don’t mind mail-order, get it from JetPens or JStationery (and they also carry the Signo in .28, which is even better for Moleskine).

    The Uni-ball Signo writes easily; produces a clean, black line; dries almost instantly. I think it’s the best general purpose pen you can buy.

    Like

  4. I don’t know if they’re any better than other gel inks, but I don’t find major problems with the Parker gel cartridges. Yes, some drying time is required, but I only have small blotting on the next page in my pocket moleskine (usually out for quick notes on pricing, or lists in a store). The larger Piccadilly notebook I have doesn’t seem to have much problem.

    I am moving over to fountain inks for other than quick notes.

    Like

  5. I struggled with the same issue. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything easily available in stores, but both the Uni-Ball DX 0.38 and Pentel Hi-Tec-C .4 work very nicely. Both are available from JetPens and have a much finer line, so they dry very quickly.

    Like

  6. Moleskines are really not all that wonderful. They’re best with pencil and ballpoint because I think the coating is not made for liquid. I’ve never found satisfaction with rollerball pens, either. Fountain pen users worldwide know that Moleskines are terrible for liquid inks and maybe gel ink is just liquid-y enough to make it slow drying.

    I would recommend Mnemnosyne, Pen & Ink sketch, and Miquelrius notebooks for your G2 and Sarasa. Kokuyo notebooks are also very good. You’ll be MUCH happier with their performance on such papers.

    Moleskine=overrated in my opinion.

    Like

  7. The uni-ball signos seem to be much more well-put-together. Even though I find for most gel pens that the smaller the tip, the more skipping/feathering/etc., I’ve never had any problems with the pilot g-tec-c4… plus fine tip means you can write more on a single page of a pocket notebook.

    Like

  8. Have you tried the Pilot G-Tec-C4, I use it in my Moleskine and it dries in a reasonable amount of time. It has a 0.4mm point, so it doesn’t leave the thick “juicy” gel lines of the Pilot G-2.

    Like

  9. Thanks for all the comments! I will check out some of the suggestions…including the other notebooks mentioned by Gootch. The Moleskine was a gift so I’m not married to the brand yet 😉

    Like

  10. I feel a need to defend the moleskine now! I wouldn’t say it can’t work with “wet” inks. I’ve been using moleskines with fountain pens for a year now and I don’t have any problems with the paper that I wouldn’t expect from other papers of that weight, and I have little problems with smudging. It only takes a few seconds for the ink to dry on your last line before you turn the page.

    As Zeke has commented above, Parker gel cartridges don’t seem to cause any particular problems in the moleskine. (I’ve had couple of problems with ink flow in the cartridges though, don’t know if I had a faulty batch of cartridges.)

    Like

  11. @Millie B.
    Your experience is different than mine. This is the notebook I have. As I’ve stated the G2 and Sarasa gel pens *suck* with that notebook. The ones I have are wider and that may be the problem. With the pens I have the ink does not dry in seconds and they smudge every time (not to mention blotting on the facing page).

    That being said I haven’t given up on gel quite yet given the recommendations made here 🙂

    Thanks for the comment!

    Like

  12. The G2 is fine but you really need to go with their extra fine point 0.38 models. The 0.5 is passable and it may be easier to find, but Wal-Mart and Office Max both carry the 0.38 G2 now, so you aren’t dependent on just JetPens.com. Your other option is to go with the finer point version of Pilot’s G-Knock; to me they are just put together better than its G2 cousins. The 0.5 point should give you a nice response against Moleskine paper.

    Again, if you like the feel of the G2 barrel in your hand, try using their 0.38 point.

    Like

  13. Sakura’s Gelly Roll pens dry pretty quickly if you get the fine point, and they’re waterproof (unlike G2s and Zebras).
    I’ve found my last three Moleskines (new stock, with the new insert) actually take gel ink very well. I used to have the same issues you good folks describe, but now it’s smooth sailing. They say they never change the paper. But it went from five minutes to dry a G2 to just a few seconds.

    Like

  14. The problem I find with the G2 is that in smaller sizes, it is inconsistent…. the .7 is the only one that seems to work smoothly for me. I bought a G2 .7 and a Sarasa .7 the other day just to test this stuff, and maaaan does that Sarasa smear. Still, the Sarasa writes smoothly, while the G2 seems to drag – overrated.
    As far as notebooks, I’m really against anything that’s overpriced – you can often find no-name bound notebooks with decent stock for much cheaper, though moleskines do look quite nice.

    Like

  15. Liquid ink IS the answer in Moleskine notebooks. Yes, that means liquid inks like in fountain pens. There are also liquid ink felt tip pens (Pilot makes some). Liquid ink dries very well, and with a good liquid ink, it only leave behind stuff on the paper.

    The idea, though, is the AMOUNT of liquid ink you leave on the paper. If you put a heavy line of liquid ink on the paper (Broad nib) it well definitely make a mess. If you leave a fine line on the paper, (fine nib) it dries very nicely. If you use Noodler inks in particular, you get a very tight bond with the paper.

    Look for the Pilot Precise pens.

    Like

  16. Oh yeah, that reminds me… I’ve used pilot fineliners and stabilo point 88 liners for years and they haven’t let me down. By nature they tend to drag more (being porous tip) than rollerball-type pens, and can bleed more than you might like, but they never feather or skip. If you’re still feeling dismayed, and want to go back to pencil, try a darker lead – like 4b.

    Like

  17. I’ve tried the majority of pens mentioned here and while some of them are very good pens, very few of them dry quickly. I generally use Rhodia and Apica notebooks, but I do have some pocket Moleskine notebooks that I try a lot.

    Even 0.38mm gel pens dry rather slowly, and will smudge if rubbed shortly after writing. Even the Uni Jetstream 0.5mm, which is pretty famous for smudge-proofness, will smudge on my Moleskine paper if rubbed quickly. On informal testing, the Signo 0.38 did pretty poorly, even though it’s one of my favorite pens. After a brief (~5 second) pause, it still noticeably smudged. 0.28mm fared much better after 5 seconds if it wasn’t bleedy (some have more flow than others).

    I’ve never, ever cared for the Pilot G-2 on any paper, and Moleskine is no exception.

    Pentel’s Slicci, Muji’s retractable gel, the Jetstream 0.5mm, and the Uni Pin 0.1 and 0.05 all did fairly well after ~5 seconds, but none were insta-dry on Moleskine paper. I doubt there are any gels that will dry immediately on such paper.

    In Moleskine, I used to use mostly Slicci (0.3mm), but nowadays I tend to use Signo DX 0.28 (better water/fade resist), Uni Jetstream (good control but poor moisture resistance), and premium pencil. By the way, Staedtler is not that great a premium pencil if you are a writer. Staedtler’s lead is not especially dark or smooth for its grade. I tend to use Mitsubishi Hi-Uni wooden pencils, or Mitsubishi Uni 2.0mm lead. I’ve had bad luck with mechanical pencil (0.5mm and 0.3mm) leads very slowly rubbing away over the course of months, so I tend to avoid them.

    Good luck in your search. Just bear in mind that people on the internet generally promote whatever is their current favorite, regardless of how it applies to other people’s needs. 😀

    Like

    1. Thanks for the response Rob. Based on my experience so far I’m not surprised that other pens don’t work so well on the Moleskine paper. Maybe a reason to avoid the notebooks in the future and try something else but as I said this one was a gift. So far the Staedtler pencils are working well for me. I’m not a purist so my search might not go on much longer. Might be as easy as the Staedtler pencils for this notebook then trying more pens again with another notebook.

      Happy Holidays!

      Like

  18. I can’t believe no one has mentioned the Pentel Slicci! Get the 0.4mm one from JetPens.

    Personally I usually use fountain pens and thick paper. However, I need to write on both sides of the page in my moleskine planner so any pen that writes to heavy is out. The Sliccis are similar to the uniball signos that others have recommended but in my opinion are just a little nicer.

    Like

  19. I’m a leftie, so picky with drying times.

    My advice… don’t use Moleskine if you have trouble with drying time. I tried them, and ink just doesn’t dry on those things. Conversely, Rhodia papers are always fine for me. The Rhodia paper just seems to mop up the ink, but doesn’t feather.

    Like

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: