I mentioned the Uniball Jetstream pen in passing in this post on the Pentel EnerGel and this post on the execrable Sharpie Liquid Pencil. After over a month of using the Jetstream in the office, at home, and on the road, I’ve decided its the pen I’m sticking with, supplanting my longtime everyday pen, the Pilot G2.

Jetstream click pens

The Jetstream beat out the EnerGel for two reasons:

  1. It’s less apt to smear. It’s not that the EnerGel is especially smeary—quite the contrary. But I’ve simply never smeared the Jetstream. This is a big deal for me, as I’m often taking notes outside and need to shuffle pages back and forth in awkward condtions. I can’t always keep my hands off a page for the few seconds needed for most inks to dry.
  2. I looks better. The EnerGel has a big barcode and a lot of writing on the barrel. As commenter B Michael said,

    If I wanted to wield all day a plastic tube covered in tiny writing, I’d take out my chapstick.

The EnerGel produces a smoother line than the Jetstream, but that’s trumped by the smear issue.

One of the reasons I stayed with the G2 for as long as I did was the G2 mini, a pen that was perfectly sized for carrying around in my pocket. The Jetstream isn’t nearly as compact, but I’m willing to live with a little extra bulk to eliminate the smears.

I’ve settled on the Bold (1.0 mm) Jetstream. I first bought the Fine (0.7 mm), but soon learned that the Jetstream lines run a little thinner than the lines of other pens. They’re nowhere near the nominal thickness.

Jetstream line thickness comparison

Generally speaking, I’d say that for a given nominal thickness, the Jetstreams are about “one size” thinner than their competitors. The 1.0 mm Jetstream gives a look comparable to a 0.7 mm EnerGel or G2.

As you can see in the top photo, Uniball uses overall barrel color to distinguish thickness—black for Bold and blue for Fine. The color of the ink is shown in the translucent plastic at the click end. When I was first using the Fine, I often found myself searching for the black pen when it was actually in my hand—the blue barrel confused me. This made me feel stupid, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it’s a common sort of stupidity.

The Jetstream barrel is mostly rubber. The feel of a pen is a highly personal preference, so I wouldn’t presume to tell you whether you’d like it. I can say it’s been comfortable to me over several long note-taking sessions.