Cold Weather Pen Test


With the cold air temperatures rolling in, I decided it was time to test which of my pens will work outside, and also see what happens to fountain pen ink when subjected to the extreme cold overnight.

Part I


I tested 11 pens that i use on a regular basis and left them outside for 24 hours. The temperature when I put them out was 10 degrees and the low for the evening was 0 degrees.


The paper is a Clairefontaine ruled notebook and kept the paper the same for the before and after samples. The top line for each pen is the before freezing, and the second line is after the pen was left outside for 24hrs.

Every pen wrote perfectly!

Every pen wrote perfectly!

After being in the freezing temp all day I tested the pens and every single one wrote exactly the same! This was surprising as the ink in the fountain pens is water based and the gel inks should have been affected.

Looking closely at the TWSBI Go pen (blue pen in above picture) I thought it was frozen but perhaps it was just because it was full and didn’t look like it was moving.

The James Brand Benton Pen - Find it  here

The James Brand Benton Pen - Find it here

The pens didn’t even need any work to get them writing. I started writing as soon as they came inside and while they felt frozen, the ink flowed perfectly.

Going a bit further, I wanted to find the freezing temperature of the inks but came up short. If anyone knows where to find this I am all ears!

I know there are inks made specifically for cold temperatures like the Noodler’s Polar Inks that has a freezing point of -114 degrees. Find it here.

Polar Blue.png

Part II

After the first test of 11 pens, the weather dropped well below zero and I did a test with a mix of pens and fountain pen ink.


I left these pens and ink out for 72 hours that went through two snowstorms, and a low temperature of -20 degrees.

The result was fairly surprising once again….They all wrote very well after a little short ‘warm up’ period!


The one that took the longest to get warmed up was the TWSBI GO and you can see the ink had a hard time flowing consistently. The ink didn’t freeze inside the pen so I attribute this to the nib being so cold.


As for the ink sample, this was frozen solid as well as the Lamy cartridge.

So, thats it for the cold tests. Thanks for reading and let me know if I should test any other pens or ink this winter!



PS. In case you want to know which candy bar is best to pack on cold trips, the Butterfinger is your best bet. I learned this from my friend Sam that used to do this crazy race on the Canadian border called the Arrowhead 135. This is a race along the Canadian border in January that he needed to pack high caloric snacks with him. After lots of candy testing, the Butterfinger doesn’t freeze into a brick like a Snickers, FYI.


Paper Notebook Gift Giving Guide


The Holidays are here, and if you need a gift for someone who appreciates quality notebooks, here is a list that may help you make the right choice.


Programmer - Code & Quill Hard Cover Origin - $20

To help keep notes and ideas organized, the dual page layout is ideal for professional creatives.  

Code & Quill Origin Notebook

Teacher - Passion Planner - $25-30

From Planners that follow the academic calendar year to Undated Planners, this company has a great line-up of notebooks for teachers.  

College Student - DotDash Pocket Notebooks - $10

Every student needs to write things down eventually, and these are the best-looking pocket notebooks around.  If you are looking for something other than a notebook, the whole lineup of products offered by Nock Co will make anyone look good.


As my photography friend, Michael Tallman, told me, "writing down notes from client meetings and conferences is key to keeping track of everything and available." The Baron Fig line up fits well in any bag and are beautiful notebooks. Check out their limited Work/Play II edition.

Traveler -  Midori Travelers Notebook - $38

This is the gold standard in travel notebook sets, and it has developed a huge fan base to help show how to use this simple system. For a primer on this, Jet Pens has a good resource here.


As most professors have a need for spiral bound notebooks, these are the one they have been looking for.  They look amazing, have great quality paper, and lay open while lecturing.  

Appointed Notebook

Children - LEGO Moleskine Notebook - $24

Gifts that don't require batteries are a great option, and this is one that they can literally build on with the lego board on the front.  It also helps hold the LEGO pen!  

Bullet Journal Junkie - Original Bullet Journal Notebook - $25

Most BuJo users are always looking for the best notebook, and the top pick is always Ryder's original notebook made by Leuchtturm. The alternative is a dot grid or square grid Leuchtturm1917 on Amazon.

Bullet Journal Leuchtturm1917

Entrepreneur - Hatch Notebook - $25

If you know of someone that comes up with some great ideas for new products, they need a place to keep them all organized.  Enter Hatch, the brilliant and beautifully designed notebook system.  The creators just had a great Kickstarter campaign, and the result is a wonderful notebook that is easy to use and fill with good and sometimes bad ideas :)

Hatch Notebook

Engineer - Rhodia Dot Pad - $10

Every engineer I have ever met likes to have everything in order, and well-made.  The Rhodia notepads are a perfect tool for any mechanical, chemical or electrical engineer due to their amazing paper and overall construction.

Rhodia Notebook

CEO - Levenger Circa - $42

Levenger is the standard when it comes to office supplies for executives. Their folios and briefcases are as common as BMWs but many chiefs don't have the notebook to accompany them on a daily basis. 

Outdoorsman/Woman - Rite in the Rain Notebook - $7

Water and paper don't mix. Unless you have this notebook. This paper is magic for how well it holds up. This is a must for any hunter, fisher, or backpacker. 

Blogger - Commit30 Notebooks - $20-29

The Commit30 Idea Journal or Planner can help your blogging or podcasting friends stay focused and set goals to get their new content completed by setting real deadlines.


Reporter/Journalist - Field Notes Front Page - $13

Designed by Field Notes with John Dickerson, (host of CBS Face the Nation) this is an updated design to the classic reporter's tool. 

Beer Drinker - Brewers Passport - $24

Drinking beer is a physical action, not a digital one.  So it makes sense to pull out a notebook and pen instead of a phone.  This notebook is a good resource for identifying flavors and ingredients, and goes beyond the untapped app to help remember exactly what you liked about the beer.

Brewers Passport

Writer/Author - Composition Notebook - $2

It isn't about quality for first drafts, it is just about getting it down on paper.  Designer Michael Bierut has an impressive collection that holds all his random thoughts.  If you want to splurge for the new upgraded version currently on Kickstarter, check out comp for $19.

Comp by Aaron Fay

Gadget/Tech Geek - RocketBook Wave - $27

For your friend that doesn't use notebooks, this is one they will be interested in.  First, it is connected to an app that can scan and upload the pages to many different cloud services (dropbox, evernote, google docs and more..) Second, you can wipe it clean by microwaving it!  Find out more here, and they also have a new version on Kickstarter.

Everyday Carry/Survival - Field Notes Kraft 3 pack  - $10

For the guy you know that carries everything in his pockets, he is going to need more of these notebooks.  Just trust me...or the folks over at


If I missed anything, or you have other suggestions please leave them in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!