The Lamy Safari
I’ve been questioned multiple times about why I always seem to have one of my Lamy Safari pens clipped close at hand. Typically the question is “Why is that pen the best pen?”
The Lamy Safari is a low end pen from German manufacturer Lamy that is composed of a plastic body and a steel nib. The pen itself is very light compared to “higher end” competitors. The nib is fairly rigid but never scratchy and I find the Fine nib to be just right for my handwriting. I also like the way the grip has been contoured to provide comfortable thumb and finger placement though not everyone agrees. It takes the Z24 converter meaning I can put whatever ink I have handy in and not worry about proprietary cartridges.
You shouldn’t really care about these comments though. You can read many, many such reviews. I don’t need to tell you why it is a great pen. Maybe though you are interested in why it is the pen I choose of all the many available.
First, I bought my first Safari after shopping at Fahrney’s. If you’ve never been to Fahrney’s then you’re missing an institution of Washington, D.C. A whole shop dedicated to the art of writing where also, rumor has it, 5 of the last 6 sitting presidents purchased their pens. I went there to look at several options but the Safari was the top of my list and after writing with several different pens I chose the Safari and a couple converters to take home. It was my third fountain pen ever behind the Pilot Varsity (which I highly recommend) and the Franklin Covey.
I love the weight. It has a balance and precision that is unmatched. I didn’t like how heavy some of the Cross pens felt in hand. Also the Safari felt well balanced both with and without a posted cap (largely due again to the very light weight.) The finger grips are a large complaint for people with larger hands but for me they felt just right. If you don’t like plastic then there is always the full line of Lamy Al Star. The weight and form of the Safari with an aluminum body.
Then there are the colors.
A side story and a confession. I’m a conformist. I follow the rules and often lose for it. Secretly though I relish small acts of rebellion. Cartoon socks under my suit. Cheap composition notebooks instead of fancy leather planners (another entry for another time.) My pen is an extension of my personality. The Cross Townsend even comes in a Star Wars edition! My first Safari was a deep blue for my Alma mater, Georgia Southern. Now I carry a bright red to represent my passion for volunteering in the fire service. Ultimately the wide selection of colors feeds my ability to be distinct while still carrying a dignified writing utensil.
Last, it’s cheap comparatively. For just $30 you can have your choice of the Safari lineup. In comparison a seven pack of Pilot Varsity pens is just under $15. Some excellent pens by Cross range from the $50 to the $1,000+ range. Yet I find $30 a sweet spot such that I care enough to try and not lose it as well as not be embarrassed by it in public while simultaneously being cheap enough that if I leave it on a plane I’m not crushed.
In summary, the Lamy Safari isn’t the “best pen” but it is my personal favorite. It is most importantly comfortable yet also has personality and economy squarely in its camp.
About the author
Brooks Garrett is a dedicated technologist who specializes in information security. Brooks has spent over 10 years implementing security programs for both the public and private sector including some of the biggest names in the Fortune 500. When he's not managing risk in the corporate environment you can find him at the local firestation where he is a volunteer firefighter.