Simple Things: Inka Pen

Occasionally, we humans find solutions that seem to satisfy some need that we weren’t fully aware of having. When I got my first cell phone, this crazy new thing called text messaging was becoming popular. People were sending short messages to each other using truncated language from a device that was designed almost specifically to allow people to talk, using their voices, over long distances. Why would anyone want to send a text message?

Of course, that was a stupid question to ask. We now all send hundreds a day. When (older) people ask us why we don’t just call, we each have an entire rant lined up: calling someone is inconvenient, it requires their time and energy at just that moment, text messaging is more discreet, and so on. But who knew in 2000?

The Inka Pen is one such product that satisfies a dormant need. It is a small pen that clips onto a key chain. In typical “space” pen fashion, it touts itself as being able to write upside down, underwater, and in space, as if I ever need to write in any of these situations.

The real value of the device is that it lends itself to ubiquity. It is on my key chain. I never leave home without my key chain. Ergo, I never leave home without a pen.

Now, being the nerd that I am, I never left home without a pen anyway, right? You know, I say that, and I think that, but then I also remember the frequency of the times when I did not, in fact, have a pen on me.

Enter the Inka Pen.

It’s easier to draw it out of its little sheath than to fish a pen out of my bag, especially if I just need to write down something very small, such as a phone number. If you’ll be writing for longer than that, it is recommended that you perform the Transformers-like operation of unscrewing the sheath, removing both twist-off ends, and reconfiguring the miraculous utensil into a full-size pen.

It’s a lot quicker to do than it sounds, trust me.

And how comfortable is the actual writing with the pen? I’m a bit of a pen snob, so perhaps my opinion isn’t quite fair. Writing with the Inka Pen is not unpleasant, by any means. It has a  BIC pen-like quality, which is much lower than my ridiculous manually-modified EF nib Lamy fountain pens with inkwell converters, which I use because I’m just a terrible fetishist. But, it isn’t bad, and if I really want to write with something else, I’ll do just that.

The value of the Inka Pen isn’t how fantastic a pen it is, but rather, how convenient an embarrassment-preventer it is. Example: Someone quickly hands you a sign-up sheet and everyone in the room wants you to hurry up and pass it on. You dig around for a pen, which seems to take much longer than it should. You feel people staring and begin to sweat.

Unless you know exactly where one pen is. It’s on your key chain.

So maybe most people aren’t as self-conscious as that. But some are, surely.

There are a few other points to note. The Inka Pen has an incorporated stylus, which seems like an odd last-minute addition, but whatever. I’ll never use it. The pen body is made of a polished stainless steel, and it has a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. For pretty cheap, you can get replacement ink cartridges.

The Inka Pen is available from the manufacturer’s own parent company, Nite Ize.

It is now the pen I use most frequently.

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