Ideal Pen for SOTA

while I am in the middle of optimizing my gear, I thought about the ideal pen for logging. So far, I mostly use simple pencils, for they work in almost any weather.

Fred KT5X mentions the Mini-Spacepen, but I could not find the exact model, and they are pricey (40 USD or so).

Among geo-cachers, the Inka Mobile Pen seems popular:

However, some reviewer complain that the new version is mostly out of plastic and less sturdy than the initial one. It is ca. 15 USD.

Another option are the Rite in the Rain pens, like this one:

Then there are multiple power tank pens, like this one:

What are you using?

73 de Martin, DK3IT


… a Pencil… with a rite in the rain notebook…
but I have been toying with the PK Portalog for my Android tablet…

Richard // N2GBR


I have used a Fisher Space Pen refill. They fit most conventional pen housings. I keep a pencil and small waterproof pad as a backup for when I forget the custom log sheet or if the weather is really lousy.

Am now starting to use VK Portalog. Which of course starts a whole new set of thinking on pens/stylus/fingers etc.


2x Pencil, sharpened at both ends. Normal A4 paper (out of the printer drawer) folded in half to A5. Rite-in-the-Rain type notepad for wet days.


This is what I also used so far - low tech, yet fixable with a pocket knife if needed :wink:


Pencil (not full length) with rite in the rain notebook also favoured by me. Small metal pencil shapener also carried.


I use the Uni Power Tank.


I’m part of a team that helps put multi-billion transistor semiconductors together, so something as simple as a pencil has a huge amount of “cool simplicity”. Increasing the reliability by a factor of 2 by sharpening both ends is in the same ball-park. :slight_smile:


Hi Andy,

All good but have you done a proper OH&S study of a double ended pencil and the use of a pocket knife? Top end of pencil may be an eye hazard? Pocket knife, a weapon, is banned in many places apart from aircraft.

BTW I am non PC as I too use a pocket knife on SOTA and two pencils, sharpened at one end. I await my arrest for carrying a weapon in a National Park.


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I’m safer with a pencil than a pen Ron. I used a ball point pen and a little notebook in Gran Canaria last week. Dangerous things as Mrs. FMF pointed out I’d got ink on a shirt. That doesn’t happen with a pencil!

And yes, I too carry a penknife in my walking gear but it meets the UK size limit. In the UK it’s illegal “to carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting edge 3 inches long or less”. Now you can carry bigger knives if you have a good reason. The law contains this statement “A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife or a weapon if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.”

I do have a much bigger lock-knife (really a folding pruning saw) with an 8in blade that I carry (when I remember) to trim back braches in overgrown firebreaks in forests.

@DK3IT Martin, one thing to check if you switch to a pen is the temperature that the ink freezes or becomes to viscous to flow.

I use a regular ballpoint pen and notebook in good weather. For wet days I have a rite in the rain pen and small notepad.

I do carry a pencil in case there’s a problem with the pen, but haven’t had any yet.

Hi Andy,
Ink on Shirt. Very dangerous as it certainly upsets the XYL Engineers were once distinguished by having a pen protection insert in their breast pocket.

Re knives the law is similar - I may not without reasonable lawful excuse, carry, use, possess or have custody of a knife in public areas.

BBQing the fauna, feral or native is now a no-no. Wild goat is excellent if cooked slowly. But you need a good knife.:wink:



I’m a space nut, I’ve had a Fisher Space Pen for years but I don’t use it for SOTA, a pencil is definitely the best solution for soggy logging!

My favourite pencil type is a PaperMate mechanical pencil. The lead is suspended in a spring and it’s very rare that the lead snaps off, unlike other mechanical pencils. It’s just so convenient to be able to extrude some more lead rather than hunting for a sharpener and then sharpening a traditional pencil. Unfortunately it seems as though my favourite pencils are no longer manufactured but you can still find them for sale. I treated myself to a 12 pack a couple of years ago :slight_smile:

And as an ultimate bonus they came in orange!

73, Colin


Love the scales photos, That clinches it!

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At the risk of going off topic :wink:
My favourite “pen” is a propelling pencil (plus a spare)


I use the ARRL all-weather pens, which are identical to the rite in rain pens other than a logo, and probably cost a few dollars more…but I figure I’m helping out the USA’s National amateur radio organization just a bit. I bought two and have used them on over a hundred activations so far without a single failure, temps from below freezing to 110+ degrees Fahrenheit.


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Propelling pencil, plus a spare and rite in the rain waterproof notepad, safe to assume it will always be wet when I am activating, or it seems that way.



This post remind me on this:


I have used the space pen, Write in the Rain pen, Uniball and pencils.
I prefer pencils as they always work and I can always sharpen them with a knife.
As par as pens, I have been using a Fisher space pen refill only (without the body) dummy corded to a small waterproof field book.
In the end, I always seem to loose pens/pencils so the best one is the one that I happen to have on me at the time.
Actually I have been getting away from manual logging and using my iPhone with Hamlog these days…

I used an Inka pen for a while, but went back to using a standard pencil. I often temporarily misplace my pencil during an activation, so I take several with me and they all usually reappear when I am packing the kit up. I learnt my lesson when I accidentally dropped the only pencil I had down between some rocks on the summit I was activating… fortunately I had taken a fibre tip pen up with me. :slight_smile: