I'm a big time pocket notebook user. I carry one every day, at all times, whether I need one or not. I'm a fan of the usual suspects: Moleskine & Field Notes. As I got more into them, and started actually researching different brands, I started looking for alternatives. We're all always on that search for the "perfect" version of something, aren't we? Whether it's your EDC pen, that paper that takes your favorite fountain pen ink beautifully and without bleeding, or a balanced pencil that is black as night on the page buts holds a great point, we're on the search. And just when you think you've got it, you see something else and wonder if that might just have a slight advantage to your current favorite. Such is life as a stationery nerd.
While listening to the Erasable podcast, I kept hearing Johnny talk about these notebooks made in Baltimore. Then they came out with a special Edgar Allen Poe edition called Lenore. At that point, I figured I had to go ahead and sign up to another stationery quarterly subscription, because those were just SO COOL.
So I got the Lenore, I got the summer edition Kindred Spirit, and the most recent Royal Blue. But I hadn't gotten any of their standard offerings except for the 3 pack of perfect bound pocket notebooks that they give you with your membership. I needed something in the Journal size and since I liked the paper in the pocket notebook I'd been carrying all month, I thought I'd try out some of their standard books. The starter kit was a perfect way to try it all.
Included in the set is a Steno with graph paper, a pocket ledger, a ruled Journal, a pencil sampler, a thin metal "Linear Measuring Device" and a set of the perfect-bound pocket notebooks, one each lined, graph, and blank. They also list "assorted paper gifts". Mine were coasters and some of their new pocket flipbooks in white, which as far as I can tell are not available in their store in white.
The pocket flipbooks are essentially a pocket notebook cut along the equator. They are perfect bound and perforated, so they can work like little business card-sized notes to leave around. They use 100# cover stock and 70# paper stock just like the pocket notebooks.
The pocket notebooks that come with the starter kit are the standard 3 packs. One red ruled, one white blank, and one blue grid. They are perfect bound and use 100# cover stock and 70# paper. These are the reason I wanted to get the starter kit. I've been using a red ruled for a month now as my daily back-pocket carry, and it has held up better that any back-pocket book I've used. The spine can be broken and laid flat or flipped around and it won't lose a page. The heavy cover has taken a beating in my back pocket and has fuzzed up a bit, but not torn or ripped one bit. Of all the pocket notebooks I've used, I would have to say that it is the toughest of the bunch. The paper takes a pencil as well as a fountain pen. I thought that if the paper on their Journal and Steno was just as good, I could see myself buying a lot of them in the future. One complaint though...the graph in the blue pocket notebook is way too small. They use 1/8" grid lines here, which it over half the size of a Field Notes graph or the graph they use in the Steno. Some people may dig it, but for the way I use a pocket notebook, it's way too small.
The Steno also uses a graph paper, 3/16" graph, which is the same as a pocket Field Notes. It is Double Wire-O top-bound with brass wire. This is strong stuff. The stats are as follows: 60pt board stock on the cover, 70# paper inside. The graph lines are a fairly light blue, vegetable-based ink. It is 5.5" wide and 8.5" tall. What I like about the binding is that it is large enough to let everything move freely when flipping over the pages. Oftentimes that isn't the case with wire-bound books.
The ruled Journal is the same specs as the Steno as far as size and paper weight. Side-bound with their brass Double Wire-O. It is narrow-ruled and perforated on the side for clean tear-out. The lines are a little darker than the graph, and a gray tone instead of the light blue of the Steno graph or the light green of the ruled pocket notebook. It also comes with a rubber band that goes along the side of the book to keep it shut.
The Pocket Ledger is 3" wide by 6" tall. It uses narrow-ruled, green-lined paper with double margins on both sides of the page. Same weight specs as the Steno and the Journal. Top-bound with brass Double Wire-O. It's a "pocket" notebook, but I wouldn't say "back pocket". This thing is too stiff to live back there. It wouldn't get beat up, you would. It's perfect, however, for a front jacket pocket.
The pencil sampler comes with 3 vastly different pencils. One round Jumbo, one round Natural Finish, and one hex with maroon lacquer, which I absolutely love because it is the color of my alma mater. I also received what I believe to be an older promotional pencil of theirs, because it was round and natural-finish looking, but had that clear lacquer on the outside that reeks of Musgrave custom pencils. These pencils are all made by Musgrave as well. You can tell just by holding the hex in your writing grip. It is a full hex, not rounded in the slightest. It leaves an imprint in my ring finger from my pencil grip that I call the "Musgrave Dig". They write well, darker than expected, but not smudgy. They are all left-hand imprinted, so you can read it when lefties are writing with them. Every Write pencil, even the ones that come with the limited edition subscription, is that way, except for that early one. I'm not going to post a pencil test sheet, because there is nothing new here. Grab your favorite Musgrave #2 and you'll get the idea.
If you didn't already know this about Write Notepads, they do a 1-for-1 donation to Baltimore Public Schools for every notebook you purchase. Inside there is a school code that you can enter on their website to find the school that received a notebook based on your purchase. That's pretty awesome.
Overall, this kit is pretty great. If you bought all these things individually, you'd get it for about $70. So at $55, this thing is a steal. You may surprise yourself on what is your favorite item in this pack. I know I did. I was looking forward to the steno, but the ruled Journal caught me the most. It is the perfect size and weight for my needs in that size range. And if you haven't used one of their pocket notebooks before, you won't be disappointed. I thought I'd miss stapled, with it's ability to lay flat, but really...break the spine on your pocket notebook. This thing will NOT blow up. I've had plenty of Field Notes lose a page or two in the center, and covers come loose. This Write one is a tank. Give it a shot.
Available from Write Notepads & Co. $55
Disclaimer: I bought all this shit myself...there is nothing to hide.