Notebook Showdown – Moleskine Cahier Vs Field Notes

So another notebook competition today, huh? This time I’ll be comparing the higher end of the pocket book spectrum. It’s time for Field Notes to go head to head with Moleskine Cahiers.

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Starting with the covers the Moleskine is a very heavy, single color, piece of cardboard with an imprinted logo on the back. It’s got a flap on the back that folds in and serves as the famous Moleskine pocket. This pocket is not very well secured by the glue and tears out easily, it also causes the back to be prone to creasing rather than flexing. The Field Notes book has a thin “packing brown wrap” cover with a logo on the front and some identifiers. It also has a little on the back, but on the inside is where it really shines. It’s got name, coordinents, date, and return to blanks right in the front, and the back contains may useful reference items, including a list of uses, and all the materials used in the book. It’s still fairly flimsy, though, and when it bends it stays bent rather than easily popping back into place.

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Size-wise, both books are almost identical, despite the Moleskine having 12 more sheets. The rounding on the corners is also a bit less on the Moleskine. The paper inside the Moleskine is the standard archival quality, but fairly weak, off-white paper the comes with all Moleskines. In the Field Notes is a smooth, bright white paper. The actual type of paper is listed both on the website and in the book for easy reference. Both books come in: blank, ruled, and squared or graphed paper. But some special edition Field Notes have all sorts of different rulings. There is little variation in the ruling size wise, the only major ones being the Field Notes have a wide top margin and slightly lighter lines for the ruling. They’re brownish compared to Moleskine’s grey. One feature of the Moleskine that the Field Notes lack is that the latter half of the pages are perforated for easy removal, meaning you can tear them out without destroying the binding.

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Speaking of the binding, that’s where the really major difference between these books kicks in. The Field Notes are saddle stitched with three staples. The Moleskines however are stitched with 21 signatures. I believe they are also hand bound though I could be wrong on that. The Moleskine binding and cover makes it (like other Moleskines) like a rock. It is much harder to bend, but bends and creases terribly when it does so. The Field notes is a bit more lenient, bending more, but the staples provide great pivot points for bending and creasing as well. The Field Notes binding, while sturdy, can have the book come apart on it, though this rarely happens because of their limited page count. The binding on the Moleskine is much more likely to come undone itself and leave the book behind, though again this rarely happens.

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Really it all depends on what you want. They’re both about the same price so do you want: a better cover, more pages, perforation, and a pocket, or: better paper, better binding, and some useful information? In the end that’s what it comes done to. Also the looks a little bit. Personally I prefer the look of the Moleskine, but the quality of the Field Notes, so I use both. Try ’em and find out for yourself, it’s only like twenty dollars for three of each (at the time of writing).

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Review – Pilot B2P Ballpoint Pen

I’ve come across quite a few interesting or novel pens. I’ve tested out most pens I can get my hands on and have determined my taste accordingly. But a pen caught my eye recently with a gimmick I’d never seen before. It was a Pilot B2P pen, made out of recycled bottles. I’d seen pencils made out of recycled denim, but never a recycled pen. I don’t usually pick up Pilot pens but I decided to give this one a try, if only for the novelty.

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I’ll start with the writing performance, because on this pen that’s less interesting. It’s a ballpoint, and for a ballpoint it writes amazingly smooth, even smoother than most Gel pens I’ve used. The ink is black and fairly dark. The line is thin, well, at least thinner than most ballpoints. It usually writes on the first go with no skipping, a problem I usually have with Gel pens. It’s fairly impressive, though I think it may run out of ink rather quickly.

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Onto the body, which is a fairly pleasing blue color. It’s got a fairly useless grippy-grip near the tip and a mid-way between sturdy and flimsy pocket clip on the back. The blue is dark but transparent on the back, mimicking a bottle, and to further the effect it has ridges and troughs to look and feel like a crumpled up bottle, making it feel quite nice in the hand in my opinion. There is an easily worn off label around the center of the pen that contains all useful information, though the more pertinent information is also on the clip.

The retractable mechanism works quite well and doesn’t seem break-prone, it’s nice and solid (though if they hadn’t perfected this tech by now they never would). It also disassembles easily and well into parts for replacement and refilling, though I doubt you’ll ever do either of those.

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So yes, it’s a nice ballpoint, not the nicest ballpoint, but a nice one. For the price it’s good and novel. And the feel is quite nice. Its uses are that of all ball pens and this one doesn’t stand out terribly. But it is good, and a very interesting idea. And it’s a better conversation starter than the standard click-y ballpoint.

Mini Composition Showdown

A while back I reviewed the Dolgen Inspira mini composition book. I have quite a few books like this and instead of reviewing them all I decided to just compare them all together. So here’s the mini composition showdown. Mead vs. Inspira vs. Top Flight.

First off, covers and binding. All the covers are the standard composition marble pattern, with the Inspira being the most crowded followed by the Mead and then the Top Flight. The binding on the Top Flight is a sturdy fold stitch with eight signatures, while the Mead and Inspira are weak, simple glue binding. All notebooks lie flay fairly well, though the Top Flight takes more breaking in. Cover durability again goes to the Top Flight with the other two tied. The cover corners are straight on some of the Mead, clipped on the Top Flight, and rounded on the Inspira, meaning the Mead with the square corners will most likely tear up quickest. Other Mead notebooks have rounded corners.  If you want color the Mead and the Top Flight are the way to go.

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Their dimensions are about the same, with Inspira being slightly taller and Mead being slightly wider. The Mead and Top Flight both have eighty pages, while the thinner Inspira has sixty. The smoothest paper belongs to the Mead, the roughest to the Inspira, and the Top Flight is very akin to newsprint, unfortunately, not very high quality. All are not archival quality paper and fade rather quickly on the shelf, though they are bright white out of the package. None are very good at holding ink, but the Inspira is best without bleeding, followed by Mead and Top Flight.

What will really make or break these books, though, is their large price difference. The Inspira are three for one dollar (U.S.) the Top Flight are five for three dollars, and the Mead are one to two apiece.

So if you can organize all that and determine the best for you you’ll end up with a very nice pocket book. Each one is suited subtly to a different task so the main challenge is finding out what is best for you. They are certainly not the best memo books by any means, but they’ll certainly work, especially in a pinch.

Review – Micron 02 Red and Blue Technical Pens

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I’ve talked about Microns in the past. They are basically THE technical pen. But those are just the black ones. Are the colors any good? Do they hold up to the standard and more importantly are the colors usable in any real way? How will these red and blue 02s stack up?

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The bodies are standard Micron bodies. Slick but still grippy. With hard to rub off, easy to read information in convenient places on them and a number on the lid. The color of the base of the pen where the cap clicks in and the ink on the top has been changed to the pen’s color for easy find-ability.

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The particular pen I’m using here is an 02, so it’s far from both the stiffest and weakest nibs, though it’s closer to the weaker side. It does bend a little while writing. It’s not large enough to provide much variation, either in line weight or color density. The ink is good, standard Pigma ink, archival, stands up to almost anything. It rarely bleeds and the nib seems to give off just the right amount of ink to have a fast dry time.

But on to the color. They are unmistakably blue and red. They are bright and vibrant, even on a fairly off-white paper, such as Moleskine notebooks and the like. It is brighter than any other pen or marker I have used previously. Almost unusably bright, unfortunately, as I can find no drawing scenario where it would be useful. They are good for organization, though, especially on the aforementioned off-white paper where they don’t look so jarring. They can make handy divider writings and are good for color coded text.

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Overall these are superb pens with little purpose. They work great, are incredibly sturdy and last quite a while, though I can find no way to work them into any drawing. Notes and technical sketches are the best place for these. Or, if you just want to have a nice pen in an interesting color.