Old Favourites: Zebra G-301 review

In 2013, while I was at a convention in Boston, I went into the FedEx at the convention centre to collect a package. As I was waiting in line my eye caught the Zebra G-301 pen on a rack near the till. I’d heard good things about the Zebra F-301, but it’s a ballpoint pen and I wasn’t a fan of those. The Zebra G-301 was a gel pen. In stainless-steel. For just a few bucks.

Of course I bought it.

Fast forward six (!) years and that same Zebra G-301, the exact same one, is still on my desk, and is still my daily workhorse pen in the office. Here’s how it looks now:

Impressive, right? The imprint is almost gone (mine didn’t have the Zebra logo etched into the clip, so it now looks like an unbranded pen), and the plastic grip is a little worn with use, but otherwise the pen looks practically brand new.

The pen costs $2.5 on JetPens. I’ve been using it for my daily to do list and for general planning and meeting notes every day for six years. It just shows that a pen doesn’t need to cost hundreds of dollars to be a good, solid workhorse that’s a joy to use.

Oh wait, I haven’t actually reviewed it yet…

The Zebra G-301 has a stainless steel body that is durable, gives it more heft than a plastic bodied pen, and yet isn’t too heavy to be uncomfortable to use or unwieldy. The plastic grip has no give, so if you like mushy grips it’s not for you. Otherwise it gets the job done. The branding is classy (one font, understated, sleek and modern), and well suited for office use. The pen is durable, and the click mechanism isn’t mushy and lasts for years.

New and Old

The only possible downside of the Zebra G-301 is the refill. It’s proprietary, on the expensive side (a pack with two refills costs $1.90 on JetPens, almost as much as the pen), and they don’t last long if you write a lot with them (I get about 2 months out of each refill). I also only use the G-301 refills (theSteel JK 2 pack), so they come only in black or blue, and only in 0.7mm. JetPens also notes that the Zebra Sarsa JK refills fit the Zebra G-301, which come in 0.5 and also in green and red, but they cost a little more per refill. As I view the Zebra G-301 as an office use pen, I don’t mind the ink limitations.

Writing Sample

I never thought when I picked up this pen back in 2013 as an impulse buy that I’ll be using it six years later. I like it so much that I bought a backup a few years ago, because I was sure a $2.5 pen wouldn’t last for long and I didn’t want to be stuck without it. The replacement is still in its blister pack, as you can see in the photos above, and the original G-301 is still going strong on my desk. I wonder if I’ve accidentally stumbled on the modern equivalent of the Esterbrook Dollar Pen.

Old Favourites: Zebra G-301 review

Zebra Sarasa Clip Peanuts Limited Edition Review

The Zebra Sarasa Clip is an excellent gel ink pen, with a unique and well done clip design. I have a bunch of the black and blue black pens laying around at home and in the office, and although I prefer the Uniball Signo line of pens, I do use them and recommend them to people looking for an upgrade from the Pilot G2.

I don’t usually buy limited edition disposable pens because there has to be a limit, and I already own way too many pens. I can’t afford to start collecting all the Uniball and Zebra collaborations with various (usually animated) IPs. But sometimes Japanese makers manage to floor you with just how far they’ll go with their big-box, disposable pen lines, and the Zebra x Snoopy Sarasa clip line is that case. I just had to buy it once I saw it surface on JetPens.

Yes, I bought all of them. I don’t have a problem, you have a problem!

This is the 4th (!) limited edition Zebra Sarasa Clip Peanuts limited edition, and it consists of two sets of 4 pens (each in a plastic, resealable pouch), plus three extra stand-alone pens (two black and one blue-black). The clips have a drawing on Woodstock on the top and Snoopy’s head near the Sarasa logo. Each pen body has an opaque drawing of Snoopy and Woodstock doing something together, and two of the pens (the orange, which is part of a set B, and one of the black pens, which is part of set A) are Halloween themed.

The pen body is still the usual Sarasa transparent body, which brings us to what made me do a double take:

The refills have Peanuts drawings on them.

If you look closely at the transparent part of the pen body you can see the refill prints.

Here’s a close up of the “Boo” black pen:

And here’s the blue “Saxophone” pen:

The green pen has the most transparent parts, and so shows it off the best:

This is so wild. You can barely see the refills from up close, not to mention from a distance, so Zebra totally did not need to do this. Regular refills would have worked just fine. Instead, this is what you get:

This is why I love Japanese stationery so much: the utterly unnecessary but charming attention to detail.

The Sarasa pens are excellent gel ink pens, and I like the colour choices in this set (especially the orange). I personally would have replaced the red in the set with a blue black, but red is a classic pen colour so I guess it would have been strange if it wasn’t there:

Sometimes you just want a pen that will make you smile when you pick it up, and Zebra has really delivered on that with these limited edition pens. For $12 a set and $3 a single these are a nice, not overly expensive pick-me-up. They aren’t available on JetPens anymore, but you can probably still find them on Etsy or eBay (or just wait for the 5th limited edition, which will surely show up eventually).

Zebra Sarasa Clip Peanuts Limited Edition Review

Zebra Mildliner Review and Journal Comic

I love highlighters, so long as they’re not the blindingly neon ones, as I find them distracting. So when JetPens first offered the Zebra Mildliner Double-Sided highlighters, I had to give them a try. Theoretically, like all highlighters, they are supposed to help you organize your notes. In reality they just add a little colour to my usual mess.

Highlighter pen bodies tend to be on the chunkier side, oftentimes square shaped. The Zebra Mildliners are just slightly thicker than usual pens, and very light. If for some reason you have hours of highlighting ahead of you, these ought to be pretty comfortable to use.

As their name suggests, these highlighters are double-sided. One size is a small chisel tip, and the other is an even smaller bullet tip. I had a hard time achieving coverage with the chisel tip in one go, but I’m not a stickler for these sort of things so it didn’t matter much to me. I was more interested in the Zebra Mildliner’s muted, and rather original colour palette.

This is a close up of the three Mildliner colours that I got: Mild Grey, Mild Orange and Mild Smoke Blue.  None of these colours are standard: the orange looks more like a peach than a traditional orange, the mild smoke blue looks like a muted teal or a light blue black, and I’ve never heard of a gray highlighter before. It sounds like an oxymoron: grey highlighter. But here it is, and it’s pretty cool (no pun intended, plus it’s a warm grey anyway).

Apart from having fun with these in the journal comic above, I tried these on a variety of pens and inks. I’ve been using these highlighters for over six months now, but I don’t highlight over anything but gel pens normally. As expected, these behaved the best with fineliners (see the comics above) and with ballpoint pen. This being Clairefontaine paper may have made the Uniball Signo gel refill drying times long enough for the highlighter to smudge the text a bit even after a full minute. The Ohto Flash Dry is just a miracle refill, but the Noodler’s Lexington Grey just floored me. I never expected to see a fountain pen ink stand up to highlighter so well, so quickly, especially with such a broad nib and on this paper. Phenomenal.

The Zebra Mildliner Double-Sided highlighters come in 15 colours. I don’t recommend buying them all; find yourself a “standard” colour, a “wild” colour, and another that’s your favourite. Despite what I personally may think, you can have too many highlighters.

Zebra Mildliner Review and Journal Comic

#Inktober 16: Angular

Boy did I have a problem figuring out what to draw for this prompt. I almost decided to give up on it and work on my own thing. Then I remembered reading about the Angular Roughshark and that was that.

Zebra disposable brush pen on a Field Notes Signature sketchbook with a Faber Castell PITT Light Indigo brush pen.

#Inktober 16: Angular