Zebra Sharbo X LT3

Shortly after writing about my Analogue Note Taking System I misplaced my favourite pen and it really bothered me. True, it was only for around 36 hours, but it was long enough to get me thinking.

Writing in my journal and my notebooks is very important to me, and I need to have a backup pen I can be happy to use at any time. It has to be more than ‘just okay’ and actually give me joy to use.

It has also been a quest of mine to find a truly decent multi-pen, so I set out to try and solve both issues; a multipen which could act as a backup for my favourite pens and pencils – while still being as enjoyable to use as possible.

I had tried a couple of multipens fairly recently (Jetstream Prime, Style Fit Miester) but both had flaws I couldn’t get past for everyday use. Both of them ended up being very useful spare pens which I would keep in my bags, but using them wasn’t as nice as I wanted.

sharbo-x-a

Then I found the Zebra Sharbo X LT3.

I had known about the Zebra Sharbo multipen system for a while – I knew they were more premium than many of the others, and I knew that they used the standard D1 refills. I took another look at them and found the Zebra Sharbo X LT3 on JetPens.

While it isn’t the most expensive or impressive Sharbo X multipen, it’s a really great offering. It’s pretty thin for a multipen too, as you can see below in comparison with the Jetstream Prime.

sharbo-x-b

Like the Jetstream Prime it is made of high end materials, but the biggest and most important difference is how it feels so much better. It doesn’t rattle.

For me the fact that the Sharbo X system uses D1 refills was one of the best selling points. There are plenty of options from multiple manufactures – allowing you to mix and match with refils from Zebra, Uni, Lamy, and more. My favourite online pen stores like JetPens and CultPens have lots to choose from too.

Here’s what I have decided to put inside:

Position I: Black 0.7 mm Jetstream

The Jetstream refill is the most obvious choice for me. This is the type of ink I use the most, and as this was directly aimed as a substitute or my existing black 0.7 mm Jetstream – it had to be included.

The amount of ink included in these D1 refills is significantly less than I am used to, which makes me worry that it will be too expensive to use. However I am still on the original refill I put into this pen when I first got it – 60 days ago at time of publishing – and I have been using it every day to write in my Hobonichi and my Field Notes.

As I use the Jetstream ink this more than anything else, I would expect it to be the first to need replacing. Of course, I have thought ahead and got myself some spares from CultPens.

Position II: LAMY Orange Highlighter

This is a very interesting experiment. My first thought was to use another Jetstream refil with red ink (in a similar way to my Myster) but I decided to try something a little different. I went for a LAMY M55 tripen marker refill from CultPens.

It has proven to be really great in a number of use cases – from highlighting parts of printouts to shading in doodles. As the colour is quite light you can layer it really well, allowing for some very creative use. Though I have found that it is sometimes it’s a little dirty on first use. This is probably to do with the way it is stored inside the barrel, and not a deal breaker.

It’s not a liquid ink like a normal highlighter, so it can’t be used in the same way as other highlighters, but I’m rather impressed and glad I took a chance on it.

Position III: 0.5 mm B Nano-Dai Lead

First of all, I have to get this out of the way. This pencil is never going to be as good as my Kuru Toga.

How can it be? I have been spoiled by what is – in my opinion – the very best type of mechanical pencil by using various designs of the Kuru Toga for many years.

That aside – the barrel itself has to take a pencil in the third position, so I am more than happy to take advantage of it. Having a pencil is always useful and I often use it with my Field Notes for drawings, sketches, and other types of notes.

You have to buy the pencil lead housing separately, with choices of 0.3, 0.5 and 0.7 mm sized leads. I opted for the 0.5 mm and filled it with B grade Nano Dai lead from Uni. It has been a favourite of mine and I used it in my Kuru Toga pencils before the specially designed Kuru Toga lead became available.

Investing in a Sharbo X & refills isn’t cheap, but that’s ok because it feels expensive.

Pros

  • Almost no rattle compared to other muti-pens
  • Takes standard D1 refills with a nice simple twist selector
  • Pencil is well implemented with knock and eraser
  • Really feels like it well made and expensive

Cons

  • Relatively expensive for an empty barrel
  • D1 refills are also expensive and don’t hold much ink
  • No option for anything other than a pencil in Position III
  • Some small chips have appeared on the edge of the barrel

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Analogue Note-Taking System for 2016

For 2016, I have changed my analogue note taking system for the first time since I started using two Moleskine notebooks in 2012.

The centre of my 2016 setup is an Arts & Science leather case for the A6 Hobonichi Techo. I went for the bright option with this vivid orange, a colour which I often link to energy.

It looks absolutely gorgeous and feels great to hold.

hobonichi-case-closed

When closed, the whole kit is a similar size to the dual Moleskine notebooks I used to carry. It’s a little shorter and wider, but generally, they feel to be around the same size in terms of having something to carry around.

leather-sitching-closeup

One of the benefits of using this case is that the whole thing zips up to keep the notebooks inside, nice and safe. This means that, rather than carrying two Moleskine notebooks and a pencil case, I can now just carry the single case with me every day.

Right now, I have the following items inside:

  • 2016 Hobonichi Techo (A6, Japanese)
  • Two Field Notes Notebooks (XOXO Conference 2015, DDC Dead Print)
  • Seven note cards (one currently used)
  • Bookmark (a thankyou card from Landland)
  • Arts & Science Pencil Board
  • A Minecraft sticker I acquired last week

knolling1

This is simply a snapshot of time at the start of 2016 while writing this article. The items inside will change over the year, with the Field Notes changing at least monthly. Most times I’ll only have one Field Notes, but there’s a lot going on at the start of this year so I’ve started with two.

hobonichi-case-open

Opening up the case reveals the notebooks inside. The Hobonichi Techo is on the right hand side, easy to open and look things up. I usually take it out when I’m going to be at a desk for hours, but I can also write and review various things directly in the notebook when it is still in the case.

I will write some more about the Hobonichi Techo in a couple of weeks, but I mostly use this for time-based planning and daily journaling, rather than some of the more creative uses that the notebook is famous for.

I do like to customise the outside though, and both sides are covered in stickers.

inside-pocket

I fell in love with Field Notes in 2015 and now I use them for just about anything. If I have only one Field Notes notebook with me, then I tend to put it in the left hand pocket as above. Since I am using two at the moment, I tend to just put them inside rather than stuffing the pocket.

band-of-rubber-close-up

I also like to have a Band of Rubber on hand for if I need to hold them together.

Anything goes in these notebooks. I burn through these books faster than anything else, and mostly they’re used to record current thoughts, plans and help support my longer term goals.

note-cards

The pocket on the left also includes a couple of card slots. I use them with some blank, white note cards that are used for rough notes, ideas, and pretty much anything that I used to use index cards for – just in a smaller form factor. I don’t like to tear pages out of my Field Notes, so this is what I use if I need take a note for somebody else.

I’ll write some more about my use of these cards soon, but I find that this form factor is much more useful to me than index cards. They easily fit in a wallet too.

note-closeup

On the right, there’s a slot for a pen, and my current pen of choice is the Jetstream Prime (single version – I reviewed the multipen version a while back) with a 0.7 mm black refill. This has become by far my favourite go-to pen of choice, so it gets the pride of place here.

both-cases

Obviously, I am a huge stationery nerd and I can’t just have one pen, so I still keep a main pencil case, which I also carry if I’m using my work bag or something similar. It’s an optional extra though, so it’s not always with me.

This is also a snapshot in time, but here is what’s inside right now:

knolling2

The Kuru Toga is favourite of mine and it still gets plenty of regular use. I’ve also found myself using the Uni-ball Air with large sheets of A4 to work my way through some ideas I have. I find it to be much more enjoyable than a Jetstream when working on a bigger scale or sketching rather than writing.

bb-8-drawing

Most of the other items in my pencil case are going to change fairly regularly. I like to try new things so I often put pens or pencils in here for me to experiment with on a whim. An example is the Field Notes No 2 pencil: it has been there for a couple of weeks, but I simply have not used it yet.

knolling3

There are a few other extras I often tend to use. A cotton bag for the Arts & Science Hobonichi case, a DDC Stuff Sheath, and a Field Notes Band of Rubber – just in case.

hobonichi-case-and-stuff-sheath

I regularly use the DDC Stuff Sheath when just carrying a single Field Notes notebook with me. It’s a fantastic little leather sheath that can be used for anything, but easily fits a couple of Field Notes and other loose materials.

I have this on hand when I need it and often carry it with the Arts & Science leather case for my Hobonichi. They make a great pair.

way-durable-very-orange

Like the pencil case, it’s an optional extra, but it’s most helpful when I am travelling or visiting somewhere and want to take a single notebook out with me.

It’s way durable and very orange.

landland-field-notes

Also worth a mention, is my seemingly never-ending supply of Field Notes notebooks. I keep these at home and choose a different one as soon as I finish the one I’m using. I love working my way through the many designs I have and I’m enjoying each one of the differences in paper and manufacturing techniques.

These are the fundamentals of what I’m planning to use for 2016. It’s quite different to the way I worked before, but I feel that it allows me more flexibility and the ability to write more often with my analogue tools. I feel more connected to analogue note-taking than I ever have.

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Jetstream Prime

The fact that I love Jetstream ink would be no surprise for anyone that has spoken to me about pens. However, these days I use a lot less ink than I used to. This year, I have only used pencil in my notebooks, and it has almost always been the same 0.5 B lead that I use in both of my daily-use Kuru Toga pencils.
 
I do still use ink sometimes though, and this is where the lovely new Jetstream Prime comes in. It’s a multi-pen with serious style that is made out of some fantastic materials. The three refills that come with it are black, blue and red – with the ability for you to change it into other types, should you desire. There are both 0.5 and 0.7 options.

Jetstream Prime

Personally, I never write with blue ink, which is why I usually tend to avoid carrying them. Therefore, I cannot really say how good the blue ink is, but with the other two, it is exactly as expected and it is the same high quality that I’ve come to know from the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.
 
The pen itself has a very nice metal body, with a matte finish on top. The version I have has a chrome-detailed end, though there are a number of other versions. I’m really not a fan of the fake jewel in the end though. It’s certainly not as bad as I thought it would be – but I feel that I would have preferred the design without it.
 
Talking of other versions, they also make one that includes a pencil. However this one is thicker and includes the pencil as a fourth option. I haven’t tried it out so I can’t say how good it is.
 
As is always the case with these multi-pens, they’re never quite perfect for what I’m after. The body of this design is very nice, but the useless (for me) blue ink is something that I’ll never use. Yes, I could replace it with another 0.7 of either the red or the black, but I don’t think I’m going to invest in that at this time. I would have liked to see the slimmer three pen version come with a pencil, which would essentially give me the same setup that I have with my StyleFit, but with a nicer body.
 

Pros

  • Great Jetstream ink
  • Fantastic premium feel body
  • Neutral position by un-clicking all pens

Cons

  • I don’t write in blue, so it’s wasted on me
  • Not sure about the fake jewel on the end
  • All multi pens rattle, this is no exception