The Best Survival Pen for EDC

It’s often misunderstood, but survival and tactical pens are very different approaches to writing utensils. You would very rarely use your pen as a weapon in survival situations- if you are prepared enough to be considering it there are much better options for self-defense. That is why the best survival pen does what it is supposed to do very well- write in any conditions!

There are several options to consider when it comes to pens in survival situations: functionality, durability, quality, etc. This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival pens, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and an upgrade option. If you need to jot notes, leave reminders, or tally checklists in any situation, one of our recommendations will help you meet your mark.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

Rite in the Rain EDC Pen

The Best Survival Pen

Rite in the Rain EDC Pen

Pressurized, Small, and Effective

Inexpensive pressurized cartridges give you a smart pen that’ll take a beating in any survival kit.

*Price for a 2-pack at the time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Rite in the Rain is known for some cool things, including their weatherproof field notebooks and tear-proof printable map paper. But this one takes the cake. They took their pressurized pen cartridge and put it into a modular polymer that makes these pens surprisingly inexpensive for what you get. They blow away the competition and still come in with a price point screaming value.

Here is how they measure up:

  • 2-pack (high-vis orange shown above)
  • Pressurized cartridge
  • Operates -30F to 250F, underwater, and at any angle
  • 3.25″ closed, 5.25″ open, 9 grams each
  • Durable polymer
  • Made in the USA

With specs like these, it’s easy to see how Rite in the Rain EDC Pen tested as the best choice out of all of the competition.

Pilot G2 Pen

Budget Survival Pen

Pilot G2 Pen

Simple, Refillable, and Long-Lasting

The basic ballpoint to beat is an acceptable choice for budget kit builders.

*Price for 5-pack at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

The old pens from the school days have seen some upgrades over the years, and the Pilot G2 has near perfected the ballpoint by now. You can get them super cheap and they are surprisingly reliable. They are by no means durable. You can snap one in half with your hands, but for their price, you’ll still have another four to write with and they are refillable to boot.

Here are the specs:

  • 5-pack
  • Longest-lasting gel pen
  • Refillable
  • 5.6″ length, 11 grams each
  • Standard clear w/ rubber grip
  • Made in the USA

Pick up Pilot G2 Pens to stock your kits on a budget.

Fisher Bullet Space Pen

Upgrade Survival Pen

Fisher Bullet Space Pen

Metal, Pressurized, and Trusted

Used by astronauts and the military, this is the pen you use when your life depends on it.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Write anywhere, even at Elon Musk’s resort on Mars with this little thing. A true EDC upgrade, the space pen is preferred by almost any EDC practitioner you ask. It is not cheap for a single pen, but it will last you a lifetime, will write literally anywhere (in any conditions) and is refillable.

Here are the details:

  • Matte black w/ clip
  • Pressurized cartridge
  • Operates -30F to 250F, underwater, and at any angle
  • 3.77″ closed, 5.35″ open, 1.3 ounces
  • Brass and steel
  • Made in the USA

If you are looking for the best of the best, pick up the Fisher Bullet Space Pen to write anywhere- even in space!

Everything We Recommend

Rite in the Rain EDC Pen

Rite in the Rain EDC Pen

Inexpensive pressurized cartridges give you a smart pen that’ll take a beating in any survival kit.

Where to Buy

$16* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Pilot G2 Pens

Pilot G2 Pen

The basic ballpoint to beat is an acceptable choice for budget kit builders.

Where to Buy

$6* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

Fisher Bullet Space Pen

Fisher Bullet Space Pen

Used by astronauts and the military, this is the pen you use when your life depends on it.

Where to Buy

$29* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Pens We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several pens that we tested: Fisher, Pilot, Rite in the Rain, Zebra, Sharpie, Atomic Bear, Smith & Wesson, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the what to look for section, with an explanation for each.

We focused on pens and their writing ability. This means we excluded pencils, markers, grease markers, crayons, chalk, paint… you get the idea. We also excluded kubatons, since they don’t actually write. We also confirmed our suspicion that ‘tactical pens’ are overhyped and flooded with brands pushing the idea that you need one to poke a would-be attacker’s eye out. That is addressed in our “Are Tactical Pens Bullshit?” section.

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have a survival pen that you swear by let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested gear annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best survival pens have several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Functionality
  3. Durability
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Quality

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a survival pen that will write in a wide range of conditions. Below, we break down what each of these features means for the pens that set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a survival pen shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. Don’t go overspending or overdo it. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap or just plain get the wrong thing. That ‘tactical pen’ that has the compass on the end and screws apart in four places is not what you need and isn’t a great deal at $20. Get the correct tool for the job.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like writing utensils. It’s better to diversify your preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value with not-to-high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.


A pen is really measured by its ability to put ink on paper (or whatever you’re writing on).

Survival situations don’t always give you dry paper and sunny weather conditions to write, take notes, mark equipment, and tally gear. You need your equipment to rise to the challenge and be able to write on as much stuff in a wide range of conditions.

This is where pressurized cartridges really excel. Our top and upgrade picks both have these ink cartridges that can write at any angle, in a huge range of temperatures, and even underwater.

Our budget pick can’t do all of those tricks, but it can write on a variety of surfaces and the ink is water-resistant.


Pens are long cylinders, and cylinders are one of the strongest shapes out there. Although most pens share the same shape, there are a few other factors that go into how durable the actual pen casing is:

  • Material – Plastic polymers and metal constructions have their pros and cons, but metal is typically the more durable option.
  • Thickness – Thicker material prevents bending with metal and cracking with polymer.

The longevity of a pen is related to its cartridge, and also whether it can take refills. While our top pick cannot take refills, it is cheap and light enough to pack spares.

Size & Weight

You do want a pen to be long enough to rest on your hand while you are writing. If you have to just pinch it you can easily get hand fatigue. Luckily, a few of our pics collapse down to an even smaller length when you are not using them and protect the tip as well.

Weight ranged from half an ounce with our top pick to several ounces on the tactical models we tested. Several ounces is unnecessarily heavy for practical EDC use and every ounce matters for mobile survival kits too.


Rite in the Rain and Fisher both have Chinese knock-off models out there. We didn’t get around to testing those in this review, but it is nice to know that if you go with one of the originals, you are getting something made in the USA and with quality standards. Well-trusted brands, like Rite in the Rain and Fisher, do have exemplary customer service teams, which show through their product support and reviews.

Are Tactical Pens Bullshit?

Yes. There is no need to combine two separate functions to make something that is worse at both.

In a tactical pen’s case, they are writing and self-defense. There are much better options for both of these and no reason to make these amalgamations other than to get some more money from mall ninjas.

HOT TAKE: We prioritize a pen’s ability to write. There are many better options for lethal and non-lethal self-defense than a writing utensil.

If you really feel like you need an inconspicuous tactical pen for self-defense, use a metal Pilot G2 or the stainless Zebra F-701:

Pilot G2 Limited Metal Pen
Pilot G2 Limited ($11 at Amazon)
Metal durability… plus it actually writes well!

Zebra F-701 Stainless Pen
Zebra F-701 ($8 at Amazon)
Cheaper and much more inconspicuous than ‘tactical’ pens.

Feel free to poke holes in would-be attackers with these pens- they are equally effective as ‘tactical pens’ at 1/4 the cost. Also, these pens easily pass through TSA checkpoints and are much more inconspicuous.

Anyways, we will stick to EDC knives, CCWs, and situational awareness for self-defense rather than relying on a writing utensil.

Who Needs a Survival Pen?

Survival pens are just regular old pens that happen to write in any weather conditions and are extremely reliable. Everyone can make use of one of those, but they are especially important for survival kits.

Pens are essential for all of these kits:

You can always find a use for a pen, and having extras around that are higher quality and can write anywhere can even make everyday life easier.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best survival pen is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

de Carvalho, C., et al. (2019). Manuscripts from Different Brands of Ballpoint Pens – GC/MS Ageing Profile in Brazilian Tropical Weather. Current Chromatography. Volume 6. Issue 1. Pages 15-29. (Source)

Krishnakumari, C. (2019). Ballpoint Pen — An Eponymous Invention. Science Reporter. Volume 56. Issue 6. Pages 32-33. (Source)

State v. Umbrello. (1965). Criminal Law – Concealed Weapons – Tear Gas Pen. 106 N.H. 336, 211 A.2d 400. (Source)

The Final Word

A pen might be mightier than a sword when you need to rely on it for survival. Make sure your pen will keep up with you and write when you actually need it to by going with one of our recommendations.

Here are a few other reads our subscribers have also found helpful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the Rite in the Rain EDC Pen to be the best option given its value, functionality, durability, profile, and quality.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Survival Pen

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer, Air Force veteran, emergency manager, husband, dad, and experienced prepper. I developed emergency and disaster plans around the globe and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

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