It isn’t surprising that gel pens are so beloved. Students and working professionals alike approve of the crisp lines and vibrant colors that these humble writing instruments provide. Yet picking out the best gel pen for everyone is not an easy task: some might prefer pastel colors, while others demand the finest tips possible. To make sure we cover every base, we’ve picked the best gel pen in each category for this guide rather than comparing all the pens to each other. Read on to see all of our selections! You can also watch our Top Gel Pens of All Time and Top 10 Gel Pens videos to see our favorite gel pens in action.
- What is a Gel Pen?
- The Best Gel Pens for Writing
- The Best Double-Sided Gel Pen
- The Best Ergonomic Gel Pen
- The Best Fine-Tip Gel Pen
- The Best Erasable Gel Pen
- The Best Quick-Drying Gel Pen
- The Best Waterproof Gel Pen
- The Best Gel Pen for Journaling
- The Best Gel Pen for Left-Handers
- The Best Gel Pen for Note-Taking
- The Best Gel Pen for Teachers
- The Best EDC Gel Pen
- The Best Minimalist Gel Pen
- The Best Professional Gel Pen
- The Best Gel Pens for Art
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Like ballpoint and rollerball pens, a gel pen has a small, revolving ball in the tip. As you write, the surface of the ball is coated with ink from the reservoir and dispenses that ink onto the page.
Gel ink differs in that it consists of pigment suspended in a water-based gel. Gel pens tend to create lines that are wider than a ballpoint and finer than a rollerball with the same nominal tip size. They also come in dozens of different colors that are hard to find in other writing instruments. Plus, the ink flows readily and without pressure, reducing hand cramps. However, because gel inks use a water-based gel, they usually take longer to dry and can smudge if you’re not careful.
For those who prefer a firmer grip, the Pilot Dr. Grip is an excellent option. It comes with the popular Pilot G2 refill, renowned for its rich color and smooth flow.
While the Hi-Tec-C is beloved for its precision tip, it tends to skip more than other gel pens. Hi-Tec-C fans are more accepting of this quirk, but other gel pen users might find it frustrating. The smallest tip size of the Pilot Juice Up is a slightly wider 0.3 mm, but it has a more consistent flow.
Note that, because FriXion ink reacts to heat, it can disappear when left in hot cars and other warm environments. We do not recommend using a FriXion pen to write important information that you want to store for long periods of time. You may be able to get writing to reappear by placing the writing surface in a freezer with a temperature below 14°F (-10°C).
Though the Sarasa Dry’s ink becomes smudge-free almost instantly, it has very little water resistance. Those who prefer a water resistant option should consider the Ohto Rays Flash Dry Gel Pen. This professional gel pen combines colored plastic and brushed steel for a classic design with a modern twist.
- The Best Pens
- Ballpoint and Gel Pens: Best Practices
- The Difference Between Ballpoint, Gel, and Rollerball Pens
- The Best Ergonomic Pens
- The Best Pen for Your Hand Grip
- The Best Pens for Heavy-Handed Writers
- The Best Fine-Tip Gel Pens
- The Best Erasable Pens and Inks
- The Best Quick-Drying Gel Pens
- The Best Pens & Stationery for Left-Handers
- What Pens Work With Zebra Mildliners?
- The Best Everyday Carry Stationery Items
- The Best Pastel Gel Pens
- The Best Metallic and Glitter Pens
- The Best White Ink Pens
- The Best Japanese Gel Pens
- The Best Gel Pens for Planners
Which gel pen is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so you’ll be the first to know about our future guides!