The Dual Side Click is the latest iteration in BIGiDESIGN’s ultra-refillable pens. It boasts compatibility with over 100 refills from dozens of brands right out of the box. This is achieved via a self-adjusting clutch mechanism inside the grip that tightens around your refill of choice and holds it securely in place. As a concept, the pen has been around for a few years. The new hotness of this iteration is the unique Dual Click mechanism which utilizes a standard metal plunger to engage the pen, and twin side buttons just below the back end on either side of the barrel that retract it. The Dual Side Click is available in Titanium, Copper, Brass (the best option), or Zirconium with an optional Titanium Damascus clip that grants +5 on all Charisma checks.
At 11.3mm the grip is a little on the wide side, but it still writes pretty comfortably. This is as good a pen for making lists and quick notes as it is for long form writing.
The click mechanism is rock-solid. When you push the plunger down it clicks firmly and stays in place until released by either of the dual side-click buttons. The side-click mechanism, while not wholly original, is incredibly well-executed. The button is a solid piece of metal that doesn’t jiggle or rattle in place, and having the button available on either side of the barrel is a nice touch of extra accessibility for all the lefties out there.
All things considered this is a great piece, but describing the pen doesn’t really tell the whole story here. We could talk all day about the benefits to the materials used, or the thoughtful simplicity of the design, but I don’t think that’s the point. I don’t generally recommend pens based on looks. I won’t say you should buy this cool EDC pen because it will support small business owners (though you should and it will). The point of this pen, the why of it all, is bigger than that.
I’ll try to explain
Twenty-ish years ago, when I was but a simple pen lad, I used walk the aisles of our neighborhood Target or Staples and browse in awe of all the colorful pens on offer. I would see a pen that looked interesting or one that I’d seen someone use on TV and I’d think Oh well I definitely need to try these out. I tried all the best (and worst) brands from Bic to Zebra in what I suppose was my misguided mission to find the perfect pen. Here, after half a lifetime and having accumulated a mass of plastic pens that boarders on environmentally problematic, I’ve learned a few things. For starters, there are just too many pens. In order to survive on a retail shelf, they have to operate within a certain range of performance that is the result of a balancing act between the quality and cost of materials. Once you find a pen you like, you’ll probably be able to refill it, but retail stores don’t make it easy. The margins are in the bigger packs of whole pens, you see, so it’ll always be easier to just buy a whole fresh pack and toss the old empty ones…
[Editing Penman here. In the first draft of this review, this started to turn into a bit of an anti-capitalism rant followed by some thoughts on the ethical consumption of resources. The point is that that the gateway through which most of Us come to be pen enthusiasts is paved with little plastic tubes that are designed to be used, discarded, and replaced. That is not sustainable in any sense of the word. Okay, back to it.]
Long story short…
I shudder to think of how much single-use plastic has passed through my hands up to this point in my life, but I know a majority of it will (based on current recycling standards) exist as idle waste for roughly 800 years. What BIGiDESIGN have created is an aesthetically pleasing piece that is durable enough to last at least a lifetime, and works with such a diverse variety of refills. This pen and the engineering behind it allow me to cut some of the waste from this beloved hobby of mine.
What else can I say, it’s an incredible pen. The dual side click mechanism is excellently designed and adds an extra layer of uniqueness to the piece. Well worth the $100 price tag. And if this form factor doesn’t suit you, BIGiDESIGN’s entire line of super-refillable pens are a worthy investment. If you use plastic refillable refillable pens with any regularity, I implore you to give them a look.
Disclaimer: This pen was purchased via Kickstarter campaign for slightly less than regular retail price. All opinions stated are my own.