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Best Pens for Geocaching

What is the best pen to use for geocaching?

I’ve been Geocaching for a number of years and signed many wet logbooks, ones needing some TLC and just about everything in-between. I must say that the actual signing of the logbook can be the hardest part.

I finally decided to get out the pens (I am personally not interested in pencils… I can never remember to keep them sharp!) and test out what ones are actually good for Geocaching.

I tested 3 pens:

  1. PaperMate Kilometrico Ballpoint Pen - this is a standard run-of-the-mill ballpoint pen and in my head represents all the ballpoint pens out there.
  2. Sharpie fine-tip permanent marker - good quality fine permanent marker.
  3. PowerTank All-weather pen - a pressurised pen with permanent ink. Sold by as an awesome pen for Geocaching.

I tested on the following paper:

  1. Field Notes (for the normal paper tests).
  2. Waterproof logbooks (for waterproof paper tests)

I had a number of test cases:

  1. Normal paper (dry)
  2. Normal paper upside-down (dry)
  3. Wet normal paper (wet)
  4. Waterproof paper (dry when signed, then wet).
  5. Wet waterproof paper (wet).

Normal paper

All pens performed well in this test. Obviously my hand writing leaves much to be desired - so keep that in mind throughout the rest of the tests. In both this test and the next one the Sharpie went through to the page behind (see an image of that here


Normal paper upside-down

In this test all the pens worked fine. While this was expected, I have had lots of bad experience with ballpoints so I was half expecting the PaperMate to not work at all upside down.


Wet normal paper

In this test the PaperMate and Sharpie almost didn’t leave a mark on the page. Meanwhile the PowerTank did a fantastic job.


Waterproof paper

The Sharpie did a great job in this test and didn’t run at all. The PowerTank ran a little once the paper was wet - I think this might have been because it was putting down a lot of ink onto the page. While the PaperMate did an okay job it certainly was not as clear as the others for this test. After I wet the paper I rubbed at the ink and none of them had any smudging in the ink.


Wet waterproof paper

Once again with the wet paper the Sharpie didn’t leave a mark at all. The PowerTank was the clear winner and the PaperMate a close second. I think with the PaperMate if I was going to be writing much longer it would have stopped working. I tried to rub off the ink of all three pens and non of them showed any smudging.



The PowerTank did the best in all the tests. I wouldn’t suggest using the Sharpie as it goes through normal paper and this could cause issues with log books. The PaperMate was a close second but not writing on normal wet paper puts it significantly behind the PowerTank.


The PowerTank is the only pen that did well in every test. The Sharpie doesn’t work when wet and the PaperMate didn’t write on wet normal paper well.