Maybe it’s all the snow that’s currently around me but I felt like I needed a larger white surface than the usual Field Notes memo book to review the TWSBI Vac 700. Actually, it’s more likely the fact that the Vac 700 is a beefy pen that I absolutely love writing with so, let’s stretch out a bit more for this review. You may also notice that I got a new camera and I’m playing around a bit with the photos. You’ll forgive me if some of the pictures are a bit gratuitous.
Of all the TWSBI pens in my collection (Mini, Classic, 580 and Vac 700), the Vac 700 is the mac daddy of them all size wise. This is one serious looking pen. Actually, the Vac 700 may be the biggest pen I have period. When it comes to pairing pens with the Field Notes book in my pocket, the Vac 700 is certainly not the way I go most days. Still, I enjoy writing with the Vac 700 so much that I’ll cram it into my front pocket if I’m wearing jeans or other “comfort fit” pants with good-sized pockets.
My Vac 700 has a fine nib and is shown here inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki. There’s a cool feel to the Kon-peki that works well for a cold winter day and the blue pops nicely on the Rhodia graph I switched to for this review. Hopefully the new camera and the natural winter sunlight does the color and shading of this fantastic color a modicum of justice.
I bought the Vac 700 from one of the few local merchants in my area that has a solid assortment of quality pens. I wasn’t looking for a Vac 700 that day and the store doesn’t typically carry much TWSBI stuff but I got lucky. They had one Vac 700 in my generally preferred nib size and I was able to talk them down a couple of bucks since I was also grabbing a Lamy Safari that day. As I recall, I got both pens for $85 which is pretty good for a brick and mortar store. It would have been a crime against serendipity to not get the pen, right?!
How does the Vac 700 write? Extremely well. Other than a fine nib I got on my 580, all the TWSBI nibs have been rock solid for me right out of the box. (I’m not sure what’s up with the fine on the 580 but I might get one of those neat little nib kits from Goulet Pens and try to make some adjustements.) The Vac 700 writes a lot like my TWSBI Mini. This makes sense to me because the nib on the Vac 700 just looks like a larger version of the Mini nib. But, as you might expect based on the larger body size, the Vac 700 gives a bit of a heaftier ride than the Mini (see analogy). Like all TWSBI pens, the V7double0 (trying to be cool with the name now) is well made and feels like it will outlast its owner. The plunger system used to fill the pen works well and is a real rush. Make sure your hands are steady if you’re filling the VSeven00 from a typical bottle of ink. You need to depress the plunger fully and somewhat quickly to generate the vacuum that draws up the ink. A vacuum!! Again, don’t you see how pens and inks are really just handheld science projects!? TWSBI does make a dedicated inkwell for the Vac 700 but such a thing just seems like an extravagance and we pen people aren’t into such well-designed extravagances. Oh wait, we absolutely are into such things. Darn it! I should have put the Vac 20 inkwell on my Christmas wish list.
I really dig this pen. It’s typically my go to implement when the need to write with a larger pen strikes. It may not fit nicely into most pockets but it’s worth a bit of discomfort because the Vac700 is absolutely a “Carry It” pen for me. One source of criticism I have seen from others is the fact that there is a noticeable step down from the body to the grip sections. However, I find that that part of the pen gives me something to hold onto so it works for me.
This is going to be somewhat of a boring analogy for a pen I’m clearly excited about but here goes. The TWSBI Vac 700 is the Honda CR-V to my TWSBI Mini Honda Civic. We recently became an all Honda family here at That One Pen when we purchased a Honda CR-V about 6 months ago. There are a lot of similarities to the way the Civic and the CR-V drive just as there are similarities between the Mini and the Vac 700. But the CR-V, like the Vac700, is the heavier option which leads to a slightly different feel.
And now, thanks to some free photo editing software I just installed on my mac, here is a completely gratuitous collage of Vac700 and Kon-peki pictures.