In our world of texting, email, and digital tech, fountain pens are something of an anachronism. These large, gravity-fed writing instruments are known to leak, dry out, or otherwise fail despite their typically stratospheric price tags. And yet, there’s a huge community dedicated to the collection and use of fountain pens. They’re the weapon of choices for many folks who are deeply passionate about writing, something for which we have great respect.
So, we at Journeywind Junk decided to see what all the fuss was about. Armed with a charcoal black Lamy Safari, we set out to determine if this classical tool is truly suited to the modern age.
Let’s get the ugly out of the way first. Other than its pocket clip and nib, the Lamy Safari appears to be constructed entirely of plastic. This hurts it in the looks department, especially for a pen in the $25 neighborhood. It’s also large, measuring approximately 5 ½ inches closed and well over 6 inches with the cap posted. This makes it too large to comfortably (or attractively) carry in our shirt pocket, though the metal clip itself is remarkably strong. The black ABS body is designed with prominent branding on the butt of the barrel, a feature not shown in many of the pictures on either the Lamy or Amazon marketplaces.
All of these quibbles can be wiped away with a single word – ergonomics. The Lamy Safari is, without question, the most comfortable pen we’ve held up to this point. Its flat finger cutouts allow for a perfect, natural grip as its weight rests reassuringly across the skin between your thumb and index finger. The cap sits securely when posted, and the ink window allows you to easily tell how much juice is left in the tank. And while it may not be our favorite choice of material, the plastic is smooth and sturdy.
We feel the need to briefly discuss pen’s point of origin. Lamy is a German company, and our model bears the nation’s manufacturing stamp. The creator of this particular model is a man named Wolfgang Fabian who, per their website, “was born in 1943 and was a qualified goldsmith before studying industrial design.” His utilitarian approach shows through with the Safari’s modern, no-frills design. It brings to mind certain other purpose-built pieces of German tech, such as the vehicles of BMW and Mercedes Benz. Not as flashy, but just as capable.
4 stars out of 5
Like its automotive countrymen, the Safari is a joy in the corners. Even a feather-light pressure on the page produces a wonderful, elegant mark. Slow down, and the line thickens. Pick up the pace, and you’re suddenly leaving delicate curves and loops in your wake.
You get the idea. The Lamy Safari writes with an impressive smoothness. And, as folks who spend a great deal of time writing, we can say that this pen truly came as a revelation. It’s turned what was formerly a typical chore into a genuinely pleasurable experience. In fact, sometimes we find ourselves putting pen to paper just for the sake of tactile enjoyment. We even went so far as to buy a leather-bound composition journal, just to have paper that measures up to the pen. It is, without question, our favorite pen to use.
5 stars out of 5
The Lamy Safari’s beautiful writing experience comes as something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s quickly become our favorite pen to set to paper. But as an introduction to the world of fountain pens, it’s also served as an encouragement to try new and different models. We don’t anticipate spending a lot of additional dollars on pens in the near future, so the Safari’s place in our office arsenal is largely secure. Even if we wind up with a more expensive replacement, you can bet we’ll keep this one close at hand. It’s earned its spot in our EDC pack.
4.5 stars out of 5
Once we decided to enter the fountain pen market, we had to pick a price point. Even at $25, there’s a great deal of pens available from Pilot, Zebra, and others. Sites like EverydayCarry.com guided us toward the Safari, and we’re glad they did. While we’re slightly disappointed at the lack of metal on the barrel, we think that the overall package represents a tremendous value. The Lamy writes like a dream, feels great in the hand, and features a variety of nibs and body styles. Plus, it works with several popular cartridge converters, allowing you to save money by purchasing your own ink. Put together, this represents a solid value despite its somewhat lackluster appearance.
4 stars out of 5
The answer to our initial question is an emphatic “Yes” – fountain pens deserve their place in the modern world. We’re grateful to companies like Lamy for keeping these classic pieces of tech available at affordable prices, without sacrificing quality and reliability. Look for more fountain pen reviews in the future, both up and down market of the Safari.
Compatible with Lamy Z 28 Converters.
Available nibs include Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B) and Left Handed (LH).
Where to Buy
Amazon (Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars over 1,251 user reviews as of 11/7/16)