Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pen loops!

A while ago I said I would do a post on ways to hold your pen in your filofax. Here it is!!

As far as I know, every Filofax binder comes with 1 pen loop attached to the binder itself. On average, these tend to be very slim (especially on the smaller models, personal and smaller) and therefore not very accommodating! It is very difficult to find the perfect pen or pencil that will both suit your needs and fit into the pen loop! I did an experiment of how well (or badly) some of the common pens I use fit into the pen loop of my personal crimson Malden, which is the normal type of pen loop I have come across (although there are different types, see below).
The pens I used were: A Zebra Z-grip medium pen (of average thickness, with a rubber grip); a Pilot V5  pen; a Pilot Frixion 0.7 pen; a Uniball Signo jell pen; a Bic 4-colour pen; a Staedtler Elance pen (with a plastic grip); a Lamy Safari fountain pen; a Lamy Safari pencil; a Sharpie permanent marker; a slim ball-point pen with a medium-thick rubber grip (sorry, don't know the brand); a highlighter pen (don't know the brand).

  • Pilot V5- as I mentioned in my review, the Pilot V5 pens fit easily in my pen loop. Unfortunately, they slide in (and out) so easily, I lost one yesterday (my black one) when scrambling around in my Filofax for tickets in a rush for the train :( This is a disadvantage to such slim, sleek pens.
  • Pilot Frixion 0.7- this much-loved erasable pen (not my favourite, I must admit) doesn't quite fit into my pen loop. The barrel is quite thick and about 8mm of the top of the pen sticks out the top of my filofax. The 0.5 variation is thinner though (although I've never tried it in my filo) and they make a special more professional-looking slim version too.
  • Lamy Safari fountain pen and Lamy Safari pencil- my beloved writing tools! Unfortunately they don't fit in the pen loop, as they are very thick-barrelled.
  • Bic 4-colour pen- the barrel of this pen is quite thick because it has to accommodate 4 biro ink refills. It doesn't fit into the loop properly, it only comes out of the bottom of the pen loop about 4mm (see photo below)
  • Sharpie permanent marker- doesn't fit in at all, it's very thick.
  • Highlighter pen- the same as the Sharpie, doesn't fit in at all.
  • Uniball Signo- ironically is actually too slim for the pen loop! It just slides right down through the pen loop and only the lid of the pen stops it from falling through. It would slip out and be lost very easily.
  • Staedtler Elance- similarly, this slips through too easily as well. It has a plastic grip area instead of a rubberised one, but this doesn't help it grip inside the pen loop and stop falling through, only the clip does that.
  • Zebra Z-grip- the rubberised grip means that it doesn't slide into the pen loop at all. When I took off the rubber grip, it still didn't go into the loop, as I think the pen is slightly too thick in general.
  • Non-brand slim ball-pen with rubber grip- although this pen is quite slim in itself, it didn't slide in because of the rubber grip.

In summary, you can see that (at least in my personal crimson Malden) the thick pens have no chance of fitting in the pen loop; the slim pens would slip out too easily; any rubber grip on a pen stops it sliding in at all; and only a few pens are able to slip into the pen loop, and then they are so slim they might actually slip out! I would suggest, if you are afraid of this, I wouldn't buy a very expensive pen you are scared to lose!

Strangely, some of these pens fit better into the pen loop of my personal ochre Malden (which, buy the way, has a piece of fabric coming loose from the inside of the loop :S ). For example, my fattest normal pen, my Bic 4-colours pen, fits quite well!
My fat Bic 4-colour pen in my personal CRIMSON Malden 
Bic 4-colour pen in my personal OCHRE Malden
I guess the pen loops stretch a bit with use, at least on the leather binders (I'm not sure about the non-leather ones). Or maybe it was just made slightly bigger; I haven't used it as much as the crimson Malden, and to look at it, the pen loop of the ochre looks bigger in comparison. Maybe it's because I bought it from the US?

Some Filofax binders come with 2 pen loops, e.g. the Kendal. Some binders' pen loops are elasticated in part, e.g. the Kendal, or completely made of elastic, e.g. the Domino (unfortunately, while I am in Plymouth and those Filofaxes of mine are in Liverpool, I can't show you pictures of them!). These are very useful because they theoretically will house any thickness pen easily. However, it is still difficult to get pens with a rubber grip in properly as the rubber pulls on the elastic as it goes in.
The pen loops in the A5 (and I guess A4, which I've never tried) are slightly bigger, and I think most come with 2 loops, at least I know the Malden, Finsbury, Domino and Kendal A5s do, and I'm sure many others too. If in doubt, take your favourite pen(s) down to your local Filofax stockist and do your own experiment!

So what are the alternatives to using the Filofax pen loops in the traditional way?

1) You could slip the clip of your pen through the pen loop.
Pen with just the clip slipped into the pen loop.
This works really well with the Lamy!

However, you should only really do this if your pen clip will hold onto the loop quite tightly so it doesn't slip out. Also, a problem is that if the pen is long or the clip is quite far down the barrel, it means that your pen is positioned quite low in the filo and might stick out of the bottom!
2) You could put your pen in the rings, by pushing the clip over the rings and the barrel of the pen in the middle of the rings.

However, I think this is what damaged the rings of my raspberry Finsbury (my first filo), so I don't do it now.
3) If you have a notepad pocket in your filo, you could use the clip of your pen to fix it to there.

4) If your pens are slim enough, you could fit them into the notepad pocket of your filo.
5) You could even fit a small pen in the zip pocket!
6) There are some good DIY projects- e.g.
7) and some you can buy-
8) Quiver-
9) Leuchtturm 1917- I have 2 of these, and I find that even though they are elastic, they don't accommodate a thick barrel, and trying to push a pen in is very difficult. Instead, I just push the clip of my pen through the loop, and leave the rest of my pen hanging on the outside. The glued area is very sticky and I suggest using it on a business card insert or top-opening envelope instead of on your actual binder.
Business card insert with a Leuchtturm 1917 pen loop
If you have any alternative ways to house your pen(s) within your filofax, please tell me in the comments!!

*Update: I think the reason my ochre pen loop accommodates a thicker pen is because the leather of the loop is coming away. The stitching is loose, the thread is coming off, and the leather is coming away from my actual filo. I will be sending it away to Filofax UK to get it fixed soon, and I will do a post about that soon.


  1. awesome post, Kate! When I first got my Crimson Malden personal, those Bic 4-colour pens fit easily in the loop, right out of the box. I wonder if it was a Monday when yours was sewn?! ;-)

    I don't use the rings to clip in pens, but I do use the notepad slot on the back to slide in a pen clip. That way I can have two pens in my Malden. (Wish they would make it with two in the personal.)

    I find that the Japanese produced pens/highlighters I get via JetPens seem to be narrower.

    Thanks for the links and the good advice about the Leuchtturm sticky loop.

  2. great info, Terri! thanks! yes it is strange that my crimson Malden's pen loop is smaller, I wish it were bigger! But as yet I haven't really found 1 pen I love 100%... I really want a multi-pen but I don't really like the ink of the Bic 4-colour. Maybe I'll find one that's reeeeally fat!!

  3. Jetpens has some really cool looking multi-pens, but I think most/all of them would be pretty fat for the Malden pen loop.

  4. I was naughtier than you with my personal Malden - I stuck the Leuchtturm pen holder straight on to the leather! There are some photos here:

    I've been impressed with how sticky these pen holders are - they don't seem to budge at all! They're a brilliant invention!

  5. I just got rid of my lost pen issue! I bought this pen holder called a Quiver. My friend showed me the website and hadn't recieved his yet, but apparently good things are being said about them. Maybe it'll fit on your notebook? It'll help give that 1 extra oen if it does hah!

  6. Thanks! The Quiver is actually my suggestion number 8! I think it is a great idea, but personally I couldn't spend so much money on something that I think I wouldn't really use, as I already have cheaper alternatives. Plus I don't want to obscure the beauty of my filofax or make it any bulkier. But I think if I use a notebook in a lot the future, for example a Moleskine for research in the library or something, it is a good option!