You’re a grown up with a mortgage and a credit card and could even guess what a Roth IRA is if you had three chances. You use a pen, dammit, not a mechanical pencil. Well, here’s the truth: those clicky mechanical pencils are coming back in a big way for people who know that thoughts require revision, that notes are more easily taken when they can be changed and erased, that art is never finished, merely abandoned.
From a psychological perspective, when we add permanence to an idea – that is, when we give it an unalterable form – it becomes more concrete in our mind. Writing things down is such a way to bring ideas to life, hence the reason every psychologist on the planet, from the amazingly good to the Dr. Phil homespun nonsense, suggests keeping a journal. But here’s where it gets better. When we write in pen, we tend to feel that permanence more strongly, but also feel more helpless to change our ideas. We’re beings constantly in flux, forever moving and altering to become better versions of ourselves, and our thoughts change all the time. So too should our notes, our journals, and our ideas.
Hence, the 18 best mechanical pencils for EDC. To help us be the best we can be.
How To Pick A Mechanical Pencil for Everyday Carry
Most mechanical pencils are built in such a way that they’ll poke holes in your pockets if you try to tote them around all the time. They often don’t have quality grips for extended writing for those times when the inspiration strikes. Both these need to be addressed in the pencil you choose. It should also have a decent eraser, unless you plan on using a gum eraser on the side, a powerful move that we support wholeheartedly.
High quality material construction is important, because if your lead breaks inside, it’s a non-starter. Speaking of lead, having the right size for your writing preference is ideal, and it must be easy to access for quick replenishment while on the job. Lastly, the advance or the “clicking” action should be taken into account, as it shows the true mechanics that are working behind the scenes, providing the engineering that lets you write out that which is in your head and heart.
Really, the answer to choosing a pencil is all about you. We can tell you what’s good, but the pencil that’s best is the one you like having in your fist day after creative day.
In the world of affordable EDC items, Zebra tends to reign supreme. Their pens are exceptional, yet their pencil line is no exception. Cheap enough that you can lose it without hurting your wallet, but you’ll still miss its quality. Purchase: $3/2
Unremarkable on the outside, what sets the KuruToga miles ahead of the pack is the automatic rotation that ensures you are always writing with fresh lead for an even wear that lets you keep the same grip from start to finish. Purchase: $5
Zebra Sharbo X
A special kind of strange, the Sharbo X lets you build the pen/pencil combination you desire, giving you a solid one-two punch that fits your career and your EDC needs in a body that looks stunning. Purchase: $5
Pentel Twist-Erase III
Drafting pencils have dainty little erasers that are fine for tiny errors, but you should be making mistakes big, loud, and proud, requiring a serious eraser that slides up when you need more. Pentel’s whole line is bombproof, with this as the crown jewel for the eraser-happy. Purchase: $9
Pentel GraphGear 1000
There aren’t truly better choices than the GraphGear 1000, there’s just more expensive ones. Latex and knurled metal grips keep it in hand, while a switchblade advance and retract motion puts the tip right where you need it, when you need it. Purchase: $9
Uni-Ball Pipe Lock Drafting Pencil
Slender and space-aged, you can find similar knurled grips and smooth operation, but few that pull it off with quite as much minimalistic styling. Purchase: $10
A knurled grip, lead advance window, and special cushioning at common pressure points all prove that this was made by drafting professionals who know what they need: Lots of function with a sly eye toward designer form. Purchase: $11
Staedtler Mars 780 Technical
All business, ze German brand of Herr Staedtler is not to be trifled with, and every serious professional should have one on hand! Purchase: $11
OHTO Promecha OP-1000P
That silvery white body with its big roulette grip and slim frame is a dark horse to be sure. Some adore the heavy head while others find it sloppy and tough to manage. Purchase: $12
Pentel Sharp Kerry
Bearing the distinction of being one of the few mechanical pencils to offer a fountain pen-style cap, you’ll never need to fret that this will make an escape through a hole in your jeans or perforate your beautiful blazer. Purchase: $12
Autopoint Twinpoint All-American
An editor’s best friend, at one end you have standard lead, with red coming out the other side for when you need to really annoy your writing staff even though they’re doing a great job. Purchase: $15
In silver and black, the 600 is a marvel without peer at its middling price point. It’s light for extremely limited fatigue, but not cheap in the slightest. That beloved hexagonal shape shall never escape or roll off to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Purchase: $19
Cross Century Chrome
For the day trader who needs that chrome shimmer to accent their pocket square, this requires care to keep it from rolling away, but looks so natty you’ll cough up the bones to replace it if it does. Purchase: $22
Metal Shop Raw Copper Twist Bullet Pencil
The time-honored bullet pencil is a forgotten art form that has been revived by Metal Shop. They have several choices, but if you can get the beautiful patina of copper, it feels wrong to do anything else. Purchase: $23
Porsche Design P3130 Micado
Stainless steel and made in Germany, where engineering is practically a religion, the Micado is a case-worthy work of art that qualifies as a supercar in the land of the mechanical pencils. Purchase: $192
Delta Dolcevita Medium Mechanical Pencil
The big, brassy, banker’s pencil for people who want to make a brash impression while getting a real chokehold on their writing utensil, that’s hand-made, hand-turned Italian craftsmanship in living color. Purchase: $259
Yard-O-Led Victorian Diplomat
You haven’t arrived when you can afford to buy it. You’ve really made it when you can afford to actually use it as part of your EDC gear. Purchase: $406
Caran d’Ache Ivanhoe
That’s silver with design and engineering courtesy of Switzerland. Probably not an EDC item unless you put a GPS chip in it, it’s a prestige piece for your most important doodles. Purchase: $499