If you only own one product from Fisher, odds are it’s a version of their iconic Bullet Space Pen. We’ve carried one for the last few months and have generally enjoyed the device. But, after perusing the company’s catalog, a different model caught our eye – The Fisher Backpacker. A brief discussion followed, and Fisher was kind enough to provide us with a shiny silver model for review. It offers all of the write-anywhere capability Space Pens are known for, with a slightly different spin on design. Read on to see how this new rendition stacks up against the ever-popular Bullet.
In our first review on Journeywind Junk, we praised the construction of the Bullet while opining that “the heft of the pen and the hardness of its brass hull can cause some discomfort during an extended writing session.” The Cap-O-Matic model we purchased also suffers from the same weakness, though it too is a fine pen.
The Backpacker is a different story entirely. From the moment we popped open the case, the pen has been a pleasure to hold. It’s as if Fisher added just enough to each dimension without adding any noticeable weight. At just under four inches closed (3.92”, to be precise), it’s a fraction of an inch longer than the Bullet (3.75”). This story continues once the cap is posted, with the Backpacker edging out its cousin at 5.41” verses 5.25”. Girth is also slightly increased, though we don’t have an exact measurement.
The anodized aluminum frame emits a pleasantly audible zing when separating cap from barrel, reminiscent of the sound one hears from polished gunmetal. Once apart, users will notice the distinctive Fisher branding stamped into the plastic ends of each piece. Posting the cap can be a bit of a challenge, requiring more pressure than we initially expected. We suspect this will improve as the pen is broken in.
But let’s talk about the grip. The subtle hourglass shape of its black plastic sits perfectly in the hand, allowing for a writing experience that is leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve experienced from Fisher’s all-metal models. A fingernail’s touch will reveal a subtle texturing, not unlike the grooves on a vinyl record. Like the barrel, this surface also produces a slight, pleasant sound.
But it’s not all easy listening when it comes to the Backpacker. The key ring (which we’ll discuss favorably below) does tend to clang against the cap while writing. This metallic clink is distracting and somewhat annoying, though we’ve figured out a simple solution.
4.5 stars out of 5
As its name would attest, the Backpacker was not purpose-designed for your pocket. The inclusion of a key ring makes it ideally suited to lanyards, keychains, or other such methods of transport. That being said, we carried this pen almost exclusively in our pocket. Why? Because that little metallic ring serves as a perfect finger loop. It’s easy to hook a digit and pull the Backpacker from the pocket, especially once we added our own small piece of paracord. This length of knotted fabric also does double duty as a silencer. Once tied in place, it prevents the key ring from clinking against the metal of the cap. Not a factory option, but one we’d recommend to anyone purchasing the pen.
Setting pen to paper, the increased grip comfort pays immediate dividends. Lines are smoother, richer, and more precise. Noticeably fewer smudges emerge, and the overall experience is much more confidence inspiring. That’s saying something, especially considering the writing capability that is Fisher’s hallmark. Sitting or standing, the Backpacker performs admirably.
5 stars out of 5
With respect to the legendary Neil Armstrong, we feel that the two “small steps” of the added key ring and finger grip have resulted in a “giant leap” in Fisher’s ergonomics. The Backpacker has replaced the Bullet as our everyday carry pen, and we couldn’t be happier with its performance. Not that the Bullet is going away. For now, it resides in our Vanquest EDC pack, waiting to be summoned for duty. But for daily use, the Backpacker is our new go-to. Its added comfort and quick draw capability have found us using it even more than we anticipated.
5 stars out of 5
So, how can we rate the financial aspect of this pen if we didn’t actually pay for it? It’s simple, really. The Backpacker costs the same as the Bullet w/ Clip model we purchased a few months back, so we know the neighborhood. Having paid around $18 for that first pen, we can say that the Backpacker is worth every penny. In fact, it may be an even better bargain. While it lacks a pocket clip, the additional comfort afforded by the slightly thicker construction is a big plus. We also love the ease with which the Backpacker can be drawn from deep within the pocket, something the Bullet can’t quite match.
In the end, it boils down to how you plan to carry the pen. Both models are well worth the price but, for us, the Backpacker comes out on top. A+ work by the folks at Fisher.
5 stars out of 5
Available in several colors.
Custom engraving available on Fisher’s website. First 30 characters are free.
Where to Buy
Amazon (Averaging 4.8 out of 5 stars over 10 customer reviews as of 11/14/16)