I am a die-hard gel pen lover. I won’t deny that. But I also have a thing for fountain pens. Most fountain pens cost far more than I’m willing to pay for a pen. But there is one fountain pen I’ve been using for a long while now and really like. That being the Lamy Safari.
You might be surprised to learn this but I’m not particularly fussed when it comes to pens. Yes, I like a nice pen just as much as everyone else. But to me, a pen is just a tool. I’m not massively into journaling. I write because I have to, not because I want to.
But I still love the Lamy Safari fountain pen. One of the reasons I love it is because it has been a great place for me to start with fountain pens. It’s also very affordable considering how much you could pay for a fountain pen.
But the reason I initially bought a Lamy Safari is that out of all the fountain pens you could buy, this is a particularly good one. Both for beginners and fountain pen enthusiasts.
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen Review
Its been so long since I bought my first Lamy Safari pen that I honestly can’t remember how I first came across it. At some point, I read a blog post which mentioned the pen as being good for beginners.
For a long time I never really understood why fountain pens can be tricky to use compared to gel or ballpoint pens. Learning calligraphy has helped me with that to some extent. The nib of a fountain pen is much more flexible compared to a ballpoint tip which doesn’t move.
Suffice to say, everything I read pointed towards the Lamy Safari as being a good place to start with fountain pens. So I decided to buy one to find out more. I can tell you now that I love my Lamy Safari. It is a very comfortable pen to hold and write with. Though I do have some slight annoyances with it as well.
The design of the Lamy Safari fountain pen makes it instantly recognisable. I’ve always thought of fountain pens as looking old-fashioned. Not so with the Lamy Safari.
This pen is moulded entirely out of plastic. The body of the pen is not perfectly round. Two sides have the curves flattened. This stops the pen from rolling about on your desk.
The handgrip of the Lamy Safari is flattened out. Creating a more triangular section. I think this handgrip is either a love it or hate it situation. I like the grip on the Lamy Safari. The barrel of the pen is much thicker compared to the Muji Gel Pens. This makes it a more comfortable pen to hold for long periods.
I’ve mentioned in the past I’ve had problems with my hands cramping up while using pens. I’ve found the Lamy Safari to be a very comfortable pen to use. Even though the handgrip is made of plastic. This means I’m able to use it for a long time before taking a break.
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The Lamy Safari fountain pens come in several different colours. Including black, blue, red, yellow and white. These colours can be found in either shiny or matte versions. Lamy also makes limited edition colours which change every year.
The pen has a window in the barrel of the pen. This allows you to see the ink cartridge. This adds an interesting design detail to the pen but it also allows you to see how much ink is left.
For the most part, the Lamy Safari writes well. I’ve never had any problems while writing with this pen. I did have some trouble initially with getting the ink to flow. But nothing since then. Saying that one of the things I have a slight problem with is how the Lamy Safari writes in sketchbooks.
I love writing with my Lamy pen in my MD Paper notebook. But that paper is very smooth and has been designed in a way that it is a nice experience to write. Sketchbook paper is much rougher and it means it’s not as nice to write on. This probably won’t be a problem to most. But as the one thing I use pens for is writing in sketchbooks it is an issue to me.
One of my tiny niggling problems with the Lamy Safari is the nibs. The Lamy pens come with interchangeable nibs. When you buy a Lamy pen it comes with a medium-size nib, you can also buy a fine and extra fine size. These nibs will fit on any of the Lamy Pens.
The Lamy Safari comes with steel nibs, though Lamy makes gold nibs for the Studio fountain pens and you could use this instead if you prefer. Though the steel nibs work perfectly fine.
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What I don’t like about the Lamy nibs is the thicknesses they come in. The medium-sized nib is around 1mm. I found this was too thick and bought an extra-fine nib. This is still what I would consider being quite thick. Especially compared to the 0.38mm nib on the Muji pens. It is something to consider if you prefer a pen with a very fine nib.
One of the defining characteristics of a fountain pen is the flexible nib. This nib is made up of two tines. Above that is a small reservoir which holds a bead of ink. The ink moves down the tines and onto the paper.
The flexibility of the tines will vary depending on the nib. When you press down onto the paper the tines move apart, creating a thicker line. This is what creates that classic calligraphy look. It can be very tricky getting used to this. I should know, I’ve been learning dip pen calligraphy for over three years now.
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The nibs on the Lamy Safari pens are slightly different in that they aren’t flexible. This means the line thickness will stay the same no matter how much pressure you put on the pen. So writing with the Lamy Safari will feel the same as writing with a gel or rollerball pen.
This is something to consider depending on your preferences. If you’re looking for that classic calligraphy look you might want to buy a different pen. But if you’re just getting started with calligraphy the Lamy Safari can be a good pen to start practising with.
Fountain pens give you much more flexibility when it comes to ink. Of course, you have the option of buying standard fountain pen ink cartridges. Lamy makes their version of these in several different colours. Though you should note the pen comes with a blue ink cartridge as standard. You will have to buy black ink if you prefer this.
These ink cartridges can be refilled using a dropper. Which means you can buy other types of fountain pen ink. There are probably other blogs out there which are much better at reviewing fountain pen inks compared to me.
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I’ve used several different calligraphy inks. The Higgins branded inks are one of my personal favourites for calligraphy. Most of the other inks I’ve used would be too thick for use in a fountain pen. Honestly, when it comes to pens I just need it to work. I don’t get into the little details of what ink is best.
But it is possible to buy different inks for your fountain pen. These can be bought from places like Amazon or Jet Pens. If you live in the UK the Journal Shop seems to be a good place to go if you’re looking for ink.
Instead of using ink cartridges the other option you have with fountain pens is something called a piston converter. This is probably the more sustainable option out of the two.
The piston converter allows you to dip the nib of the pen in ink. By twisting the body of the pen this creates a vacuum within the converter which pulls ink into the pen.
Lamy sells its brand of ink in jars as well as cartridges. So you can choose which method you would rather use. As well as buying ink from other shops. Like I said before. This isn’t something I’ve gotten into with fountain pens. But it is a possibility.
What I do like about the Lamy pens is that you don’t have to immediately dive into all the complicated converter business. You can start out buying a pack of regular ink cartridges before trying other colours and brands of ink to find something you like.
Cleaning Your Fountain Pen
One of the things I have learned with fountain pens is that they have to be cleaned occasionally. The ink within the pen can gunk up causing blockages in the pen. If your fountain pen stops working properly it can be a good idea to clean old ink out of it.
Fortunately cleaning out the Lamy Safari is a very easy process. You take the pen apart then place the lower, nib part of the pen in a glass of water. You will see the ink start to seep out of the pen. Replace the water occasionally, once the water stays clear your fountain pen should be clean.
I like to do this after going through a few ink cartridges. It can also be a good thing to do if you’re changing the colour of ink that you use. This process only takes a few hours and it a really good thing to try if your pen isn’t writing properly.
Where To Buy The Lamy Safari
The Lamy Safari can be found online in shops such as Amazon and Jet Pens. The Lamy Safari usually retails at around £20. This is expensive compared to gel pens but it quite cheap compared to most fountain pens.
You can also buy the Lamy Safari in-store at places like Cass Art and Paperchase. Both of these shops usually have a small display for Lamy products. You should be able to find ink cartridge refills as well as Lamy pens.
Some of the larger Paperchase stores have a boutique pen department where they have a much wider selection of pens to choose from. But the basic range of pens Paperchase have in stock will just depend on which store you visit.
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It’s also important to note that Lamy makes a rollerball version of the Safari. If you’re wanting to buy a fountain pen just be careful you get the right thing. I nearly bought myself a rollerball pen because I wasn’t paying enough attention to the packaging.
Shops like Paperchase and Cass Art won’t sell replacement nibs. This is something you will have to order online. They can be found on Amazon or the Lamy website. These nibs are usually quite cheap, retailing around £8.
Another place to look is The Journal Shop. This is a UK based online store which specialises in writing utensils. As well as stocking Lamy products you will be able to find fountain pen inks if you want to experiment with ink.
That was my review of the Lamy Safari fountain pen. Honestly, I love this fountain pen. It’s reasonably priced and is comfortable to hold which is more than I can say for the Muji pens.
Okay, I do have a few slight niggles with it. I don’t like the thickness of the nibs, I prefer a pen with a very fine line. I also don’t like how it writes on rougher paper, which is a problem because I do a lot of writing in sketchbooks. But for the cost its a very good pen to buy if you’re just getting started with fountain pens.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried fountain pens before. Do you have any favourite inks? I would love to try some new inks in my Lamy pen.