I ask, for the second review in a row, “What the heck is this?” I work on a construction site, probably one of the least fountain pen-friendly environments out there. And yet, here I am with the Faber-Castell Loom, one of the most well-regarded fountain pens in the $60 range. This, along with the TWSBI Eco, is considered to be among the best writers for bottled-ink beginners. Let’s see if this steel-tipped Bavarian can stand in the world of steel-toed boots.
While this review will focus on the Loom’s fountain model, Faber-Castell also offers ballpoint and rollerball iterations of this popular design. The German manufacturer was kind enough to send along one of each, allowing me to get a feel for the full range. While the unique shape of the blue ballpoint won’t be for everyone, the rollerball is a solid offering. I allowed several of my more practical-minded friends to try their hands at the various Looms, and most picked the olive green rollerball as their favorite.
UPDATE: Faber-Castell recently reached out to me with some updated pricing info. When this review was published, the metallic Loom fountain pen retailed for around $40. The company has since raised the price to match their gunmetal models. This decision was made due confusion among their retailers, after which Faber-Castell decided “It was better for them to offer the metallic pens and the gunmetal pens at the same price structure.” Here are the new figures:
· Fountain Pens $55
· Rollerball $50
· Ballpoint $45
Needless to say, this uptick in cost will affect the review’s “Finance” category. That being said, I still think the Loom is an excellent fountain pen. Onto the review.
Let’s hit some dimensions. The Faber-Castell Loom features a lacquered metal body, measuring 4.7-inches long with a 0.5-inch diameter. The cap (slightly thicker at 0.7-inches through), adds an extra 2.4-inches, resulting in a closed reach of 5.1-inches, or an even six when posted. Without the presence of ink, the Loom itself weighs 0.9-ounces, or 1.2 with the cap.
For what its worth, the rollerball model shares its non-nib related measurements with the fountain model discussed here. When capped, they’re essentially the same pen.
This is a somewhat chubby instrument, as we’ll discuss when we come to Function. Still, it’s not as massive as some of the premium cigar-shaped pens out there. The pocket clip is strong and well-sprung, with a small bit of branding at the top. This is one of three Faber-Castell logos on the pen, with the others appearing on the nib and the side of the cap.
Let’s talk about the nib for a moment. As you can see, it lacks the large, central breather hole usually associated with fountain pens, though the ink channel is still clearly visible. Instead, we’re left with a grid of small, circular pits, though I don’t think these actually penetrated the surface of the steel. I’ve never seen ink coming through, so I believe they’re more of a cosmetic touch.
Overall, I like the look of this pen. There’s something distinctly German about it, from the stolid and tastefully adorned nib to the shining metal of its body. I will say that I generally prefer matte finishes, as they accumulate fewer fingerprints. But, that’s a personal nitpick.
4.5 stars out of 5
The Faber-Castell Loom is a great writer. Not just “Good for $55,” but legitimately excellent. This medium-nib model positively glides across the page, laying down rich lines with just the faintest echo of feedback. Here are a few writing samples, using De Atramentis Giuseppe Verdi ink.
Nice, right? Its steel nib even offers better line variation than the gold on my Platinum 3776 Century, which costs between twice and four times as much, depending on where you buy. This is a home run, and I’ll be recommending it to anyone who enjoys writing longform. A few words of caution, though – This medium nib will bleed straight through cheap paper. If you plan to use it on a regular basis, you’ll want to invest in a decent notebook or legal pad. I’ve had great luck with Strathmore, Clairefontaine, and (most economically) the “M” Gold Series from Staples.
None of this, however, means much if the pen is uncomfortable in the hand. Thankfully, the Loom’s ergonomics are quite good. The raised ridges in the grip area are a welcome inclusion on a pen this girthy, allowing me to write several pages with only occasional adjustments. Balance is solid, even with its massive cap posted out back. It’s a bit thick for my liking, but some fountain pen aficionados may find this appealing.
I should take a moment to answer the question put forth at the beginning of this review. Yes, this metal-bodied pen is more than capable of writing in the outdoor environment of a construction site. Away from my desk, however, most of my standing scribbles go into a dusty Field Notes notebook, which doesn’t hold up to the thick lines of the Loom. And the very nature of its snap-cap system makes it difficult to use while upright. So, yes. This pen is tough enough to use in the field. But with its slow deploy and thick nature, why exactly would you want to?
Speaking of the cap – If there’s a sticking point here (literally), that’s it. You’ll need to muster up a pretty strong yank in order to remove it, at least until the pen has been broken in. Posting the cap is effortless, as is removing it from the back. But don’t be shocked if it’s a bit tough out of the box. Still, this is better than the alternative. A stiff cap will wear down a bit, but a loose one will never improve.
4.5 stars out of 5
With its metal body, steel nib, and strong pocket clip, I expect the Faber-Castell to live a long and happy life. Should you receive a defective model, the company offers a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee on all pens purchased through their website.
Again, the finish is the sole sticking point here. With its tendency to gather prints and grime, I’m not sure how the surface will hold up in the long run. I’m no stranger to patina on my tools, but mirrored finishes don’t accumulate character marks as well as matte-based coatings. Instead of coloring or fading, they scratch. Still, this is a relatively minor issue given the quality of the Loom’s writing experience.
4.5 stars out of 5
At $55, this represents a solid upgrade from starter pens like the Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Eco, and Lamy Safari. It writes just a touch better than the ECO, while offering a metal body and a more pocket-friendly nature.
My only quibble here comes down to the converter or, more specifically, the lack thereof. Faber-Castell was kind enough to include one in the review set, but buyers will need to spring for this separately. This is a disappointment, especially since they used to offer them as part of the package.
UPDATE: As mentioned above, Faber-Castell recently raised the price of the Loom fountain model from $40 to $55. While I still think it’s a good value for the money, it makes the lack of an included converter more troubling. I’ve bumped the score down one point to reflect these issues.
3.5 stars out of 5
After a torrid few months in the fountain pen hobby, I actually think I’m done. While I’m going to continue using them every chance I get, pens like the Loom and TWSBI Eco have shown me that, if all you care about is the line on the page, you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a great writing experience. There are plenty of sub-$60 pens that are more than capable of blowing your mind, especially if you’re used to the typical Bic or G2. In my mind, Faber-Castell sits at the top of this particular hill. While the TiScribe Bolt is still my preferred EDC and work option, the Loom is a regular pick when it comes to writing for pleasure.