Back in May at the National Stationery Show, I had the privilege of chatting with the folks from Rite in the Rain and they were generous enough to hand over a few samples of their mechanical pencils to do a review here on the site. Its taken me a while to get to it but I’m glad I had the opportunity to use the Rite in the Rain Mechanical Pencil (via Rite in the Rain). A quick shout out to the fact that this is an American made mechanical pencil as you can see on the package, which is a rare and nice thing to find these days.
The first thing to note about the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil is that its not a dainty writing tool in any sense of the word. Its mean to be a rugged every day workhorse that is going to be able to roll with the punches. The Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil comes loaded up with seven 1.1mm leads. This was a little bit of a stumbling block for someone like myself that is almost exclusive to F and EF fountain pen nibs as well as .5mm and .38mm pen tips. With a little bit of use though, I found myself enjoying the stumpy writing experience, and I say “stumpy” with nothing but love for this pencil. One other thing to note is that although the leads are bigger in terms of girth, they are a bit shorter than your standard mechanical pencil replacement leads.
The next big thing (literally) that jumps out about the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil is the amazing size of the eraser. The picture above compares the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil eraser with that of the eraser you find in the Uniball Kuru Toga. It pretty much dwarfs it, it would be kind of like comparing a Hummer (the original H1 not the little H3s or anything) to a Mini Cooper. The Rite in the Rain version has to be somewhere between 6 to 8 times larger, its flat out massive. As if it wasn’t enough that this massive eraser comes with your new mechanical pencil, they actually throw in two spares, so you actually get three of these erasers in the package.
Once you remove the massive eraser, the lead compartment is exposed. Although its hard to get a well lit picture of it to show the vastness of it, its safe to say that you can probably fit at least 15 spare leads in there, if not more. This pencil is truly meant to hit the road with you without looking back for new lead or erasers for quite some time, so feel free to get lost in the woods for a year or two without worrying about running “dry” with this thing.
Besides the size of the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil, there are other things worth looking at. The metal nose cone has a small slit in it that helps to reduce some pressure and prevent breakage if you are pressing to hard while writing with it. It looks fairly large in the picture above, but at normal distance to the naked eye its not super noticeable. I never break leads with my pencils so and I’m not sure how hard you would need to press to break these 1.1mm leads, but its definitely a nice extra feature.
One thing I noticed that is probably irrelevant is that the small slit that I just mentioned in the metal tip actually scores the surface of the lead a bit if as you extend it out. It creates kind of a rifling effect, meaning that as the lead twists out, it scratches the surface of the lead leaving a spiral cut in it. I certainly don’t think this will impact the performance or integrity of the lead, but I just thought it was an interesting side effect of that slot.
One more picture of the nose cone and slit on the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil just for the heck of it.
Writing with the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil went quite well. Its rather thick size makes for a comfortable and easy grip, although the taper of the nose cone travels a longer distance than with many writing tools. A minor beef of mine is with the nose cone and where it meets the body. While it doesn’t impact the writing performance or comfort, the seem between where the nose cone meets the body is a bit rough. This isn’t one of those highly machined high end metal body pens that you see from someone like Karas Kustoms, so its literally a bit rough around the edges.
Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil writing sample:
Each time I started a new lead on this pencil I found it necessary to scribble a bit to round off the rough edge of the monstrous slab of graphite protruding from my pencil. Once I took that step each time I found the leads to write pretty smoothly and consistently. Getting past the size of the eraser, I was impressed with its ability to erase even the heaviest/darkest swath that I laid down with no real issues. The writing sample above was done in one of the nice Rite in the Rain notebooks (via Rite in the Rain) also supplied by Rite in the Rain. Eventually I’ll get to my review of the notebook itself, but I’m honestly a bit intimidated by trying to take photos worthy of these notebooks that capture the water sitting on the pages.
I’d definitely recommend picking up a Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil (via Rite in the Rain) for yourself if you want a rugged and long lasting pencil that you can load up with leads and pretty much forget about for quite some time. They are also available in red and yellow bodies with red lead refills available too, but check out the Woodclinched link below to read more about those red leads. In closing I’d say its a well conceived and put together writing tool that you won’t regret picking up. Also note that over on Woodclinched and The Well Appointed Desk they highlight the fact that the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil is actually a branded version of the Jumbo All-American Pencil from Autopoint.