Monday, July 21, 2014

Underwater Pencils?

I recently received an email from Chris, who is looking for pencils suitable for writing and recording data underwater while scuba diving.  Chris seems to have already tried most of the possible options:
"Regular pencils and golf pencils- no good. The wood swells up, the lead then is no longer supported, it breaks and falls out.
Those other regular pencils that LOOK like wood, but aren’t- leads too soft and doesn’t show up on the paper.
All graphite pencils – my old favorite, but keeping them sharp is an issue, and the plastic heat shrink like covers don’t agree with mere mortal pencil sharpeners. You need those counter mounted ones from Mrs. Krabappel’s classroom, which chew up the graphite. Also fragile and tend to snap in half.
Mechanical pencils - work great the first time, don’t work at all the second time. If liberally coated with WD-40 before and after each dive, you might get 3-4 dives out of them before they rust to the point of being non-functional. True of both the click-end and twist point type. Do you know of any all plastic ones?
Pop-a-point pencils – these seem to be the winner so far, but have the fatal flaw of losing one nib causing entire system failure. Also difficult to find.
"Do you happen to have any advice on something else? Is there some mythical soviet-era underwater pen? Some mil-spec tactical pen that is waterproof down to 100 M? Although both of those would be out since I need a couple dozen of them at least. There are a variety of scuba diver marketed pencil contraptions (including etch-a-sketch ones) that are great if you are writing something like “cool fish!” in giant letters, but are next to useless when one needs legible small writing."

This question has me stumped, so can any of you help Chris out?


  1. A Fisher Space Pen might do. I wouldn' know, bit it sats som in the description.

  2. I think of two options:
    a) Mitsubishi/uni ball "Power Tank" refills; they are pressurized, relatively cheap, write formidably under water and big in size, the diameter is 7.7 mm, with a length of 112 mm.
    b) Any wood-free pencil would probably do, like BIC Evolution or Staedtler WOPEX.

  3. How about this?

  4. I think the standard cheapo Bic mechanical pencils are all plastic except for the spring. I'm curious about the underwater paper this guy is using!

  5. Rite in the Rain has underwater paper. I use their notebooks at work in the rain and they work really well!{6BA05586-5352-48CB-BA98-727C14C67E0E}

  6. Sorry to be so late to this (I was using your search to see whether you'd tried Caran d'Ache pencils yet) but the Pilot Croquis is an all plastic leadholder that should work. In fact, in it's entry on Cult Pens, it says;

    "Interestingly, the Croquis makes an ideal underwater pencil for divers, due to the all-plastic, easy-grip barrel and chunky twist-control. Writes on slates or waterproof paper."

  7. There's also the Lyra Titan, an all graphite pencil that claims to have a lacquered, rather than plastic wrapped coating.


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