Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Review of the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen

First Impressions (8)
Stealthy is the only way to describe my initial impressions of the charcoal model. The 2012 special edition “green apple” blinds the eyes, initially, until one gets used to it (I certainly never expected how much I would come to enjoy it). As for the Lamy Safari demonstrator, also known as the Lamy Vista, more beautiful demonstrators exist, yet this certainly looks to be a nice one.

Appearance (8)
The appearance of a Lamy Safari carries more of a rugged feel than a sleek, classy feel. From the large clip, typically in a color that complements the body, to the body itself, often in a slick plastic, the Safari screams “solid, beginner pen!” to me. The brighter colors are faintly reminiscent of Lego bricks, and the charcoal is the only Safari that is a matte color.

Design/Size/Weight (9)
The triangular grip is a feature, which I have found is not for everyone. I, personally, enjoy it, and I have used my Safari for long stretches of writing with absolutely no discomfort. The cap posts solidly and connects with the body for a solid capping. A small window in the barrel allows for quick viewing of the ink level in the converter or cartridge. Finally, the clip is quite hardy and would perform equally well, being clipped to a shirt pocket or to the pocket of a pair of pants. Despite the solid feel, the plastic is light, and, while I would not term this pen a lightweight, it definitely does not fall into the category of being a heavy pen.

Nib (9)
The multitude of nib options is wonderful. The fact that nibs come in both black and silver is also wonderful. The charcoal Safari looks best with a black nib, in my opinion, and the demonstrator looks best with a silver. Yet, beyond the colors of these nibs, the looming question is about performance. The extra-fine nibs have a decent amount of feedback, and they can sometimes be a bit scratchy, but mine have never had issues (I credit them being well-aligned). The fine nib is just as smooth as the nib that came with my slightly pricier Parker Urban, and it puts down a very consistent line. I cannot speak to the medium, broad, or any of the three calligraphy nibs, but they are certain to please, if their quality is like that of those that I have.

Filling System (8)
The Lamy Safari takes a proprietary Lamy cartridge or Lamy converter, of which there are several options. While the proprietary cartridge usage bugs me slightly, the fact that there are options for converters is nice. Each of my three Safaris has the Lamy Z24 converter in it, and those converters, while they do not often come with the pen, are excellent investments.

Cost and Value (9)
The value of a Lamy Safari has been debated back and forth. Typically, the price point for them is between 25 and 30 USD. Some have argued that this price is completely justified, while others think that $20 is more of a fair price. In my opinion, for such a versatile, hardy pen, the price falls at a very good point, especially for use as a starter pen. That being said, I do wish that every Safari came with a converter. If they did, that would solidify the price as being perfect, in my mind. Some places do, in fact, provide a converter. My Safari demonstrator was purchased for about $25, and the seller included a converter, while the special edition apple green cost $28, from a different retailer, and a converter was not included.

Conclusion (9)
In conclusion, I am not sure that there is much more that can I can add to what I have already said. As a pen for someone, who is absolutely interested in getting into fountain pens, the Safari fits the bill. As a versatile pen for someone, who is not certain what to buy next, the Safari also satisfies. The wide variety of nibs that are available, coupled with the ease of changing them, gives the user a great many options, when it comes to how the Safari is used.

The Lamy Safari can be purchased from The Goulet Pen Company, here;, here; and JetPens, here. This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.

Feel free to post any questions or comments!


  1. I can vouch for the quality of the 1.1mm italic :)

    I have a Vista with an EF (usually filled with Lamy Black - plays nicely even on Moleskine paper) an Al-Star with the 1.1 nib, and my daughter has a black, medium nibbed Safari that's one of her school pens.

    In the UK, The Writing Desk (no affiliation other than being a happy customer) offer the pens at a special price with choice of nib (including the italics) and convertor, I think. (Very few places here offer the italics as a no extra cost option on the Safari / Vista / Al-Star).

    1. In consideration for the relative size of a 1.1mm italic (stub), would you say it is comparable to a medium round nib? Pilot has the stub nib marked on their Plumix pens as a "medium," and I believe that it is 1mm.

      Thank you for the Writing Desk recommendation!

  2. Hi Spencer,

    I think it's more like a broad (or at least, more like the broad nibs I've tried). Certainly in the way I write with it, and how it makes me space my cursive, it's more akin to my Faber Castell Basic (B) than any of my Parker Jotter, or TWSBI 530 (both M).

    There's writing samples from all three pens in this review; The big difference is on the downstroke, I think, wider from the 1.1mm than the medium nibs. It doesn't look significant, but the "feel" and effect on writing is, at least for me. Lovely nibs though.

    1. I am sure that the Lamy nib is a bit wetter than the Pilot nib of which I am thinking. (The Pilot stubs are very dry, in my experience.) Additionally, in my measurements, it appears that the Pilot medium stub is closer to 0.9mm, so the Lamy 1.1mm being a "broad stub" makes total sense.
      Nemosine (and some other companies) offer a 0.6mm stub, and I wonder if this could be termed a "fine italic?" One of their 0.6mm stubs and one of their 0.9mm stubs are in the post to me, as we speak, and I shall certainly compare them to the Pilot "medium stub," when I receive them.

  3. I'll look forward to seeing that - I do like italics & stubs, although I don't have many in the collection.

    1. I feel the same. When I was a student at university, even stubs (which are easier with which to write fast) were not a part of my daily note-taking pens that I carried. Now, it seems to be more of a matter of having too many pens inked at once.

  4. Nice review. I have two issues with the Safari. One is the triangular grip section is not for me, as you mentioned. The other is that the fine nib seems a bit 'wider' than that of some of my other fine nib pens. I do like that one can change out the nibs, though. Still it is a good pen that doesn't skip or dry out quickly.

    1. On certain papers, I have found this to be especially true - the combination of the fine nib, the ink, and the paper result in something more akin to a medium.

  5. I think the clear body version of the Safari kinda loses the funky feel of the lamy design.

    1. I most certainly agree. It seems to soften the lines a bit, too.