A5

Leuchtturm1917 A5 Hardbound Notebook Review

I have been using the Leuchtturm1917 A5 hardbound notebooks for some time and I have just realised that I have never reviewed them on the blog. Today I am fixing that error.

I see the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks as the Moleskine upgrade. It seems to be the notebook choice people progress to once they dip their toes in the Moleskine waters and realise how disappointed they are with the paper quality. Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are readily available through various different outlets, specialist or mainstream, and sit in a similar price range to the Moleskine notebooks. The key difference is they outperform the Moleskine notebooks in almost every way.

They’re so pretty.

Ok, maybe this shouldn’t be point number one in a review but I am a magpie and pretty things catch my eye. The range of colours for these notebooks is really impressive and has to be a big selling point for Leuchtturm1917. I have used a number of these notebooks over the years and each time I have bought a different colour. I am currently using the orange dot grid notebook as a bullet journal. Recently for Leuchtturms’ 100th anniversary they released three metallic colours in gold, silver and copper.

Good quality paper

The paper in the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks is an off white colour with a faint grey ruling. I have found with some other notebook brands the colour and darkness of the grid pattern too dark and therefore off putting, but with the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks the grid is faint enough that it blends into the background when you have scribbled all over the page, but dark enough to guide you.

Leuchtturm1917 dot grid in the background, Life Pistachio with white paper in the foreground

Leuchtturm1917 dot grid in the background, Life Pistachio with white paper in the foreground

The paper quality itself is really impressive too. When testing out different pens and pencils in this notebook I have found that it can handle most things. I have successfully used fountain pens, drawing pens, coloured brush pens and pencils. With some broader nib fountain pens and wetter inks there can be some show through but the finer nib fountain pens work just fine. With gel pens, ballpoints, rollerballs and pencils this paper works perfectly.

The additional extras

The extras you get with the Leuchtturm1917 notebook are what really make it a popular choice. At the front of the book are a few pages which are set aside as an Index.

This works hand in hand with the numbered pages throughout the book. All very handy for reference purposes, or for bullet journaling.

You also get two bookmarks with the newer editions of these notebooks. I have found this a really useful feature, one bookmark is never really enough.

2 very useful bookmarks

2 very useful bookmarks

In the back of the notebook there is the handy pocket in case you need to keep hold of any bits of paper.

In the background is a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop in matching orange

In the background is a Leuchtturm1917 pen loop in matching orange

A lot of notebooks claim they lay flat when in use, but I think Leuchtturm1917 notebooks actually do. For a notebook packing so many pages (249 plus the index) I think this is pretty impressive. It lies flat on the desk when in use and due to the elastic on the cover stays closed when you want it to.

Useful elastic closures

Useful elastic closures

Overall thoughts

I have used these notebooks for long form writing, for note taking at work and for school, as well as for bullet journaling. I have tried a number of their different grid formats and I have always really enjoyed each different notebook I have completed. Everything about this notebook makes it a joy to use, I can’t sing their praises enough.

Start Bay Notebooks Navigator Review

Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan with brown elastic

Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan with brown elastic

Before I get into this product review I want to point out that the kind folks at Start Bay Notebooks sent me the Navigator to test out with the purpose of reviewing it here on the blog. This has not impacted on my thoughts of the Navigator and in this review you will get my honest opinions.

When you receive the Start Bay Navigator you immediately get a hint that this is a serious product because of its packaging. Whilst packaging is not the most important thing when you buy a product I believe that it shows a company has thought about all aspects of the product they are selling. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive it should just show care of the item(s) it holds. I feel that Start Bay gets this balance right. They package up their products in a cloth bag tied with string and a leather branded tag. It’s simple but it works really well.

Start Bay packaging

Start Bay packaging

When I was contacted by Start Bay they asked if I had a preference for the leather cover I wanted to test drive. I opted for the Chic Tan Navigator which is the A5 size leather notebook cover. At the time the Chic Tan was a new colour offering and I had only ever used darker colour notebook covers. I also wanted to try out a larger size cover and see how I fared with it.

A peek inside my Navigator. Thick high quality leather.

A peek inside my Navigator. Thick high quality leather.

Initially the Start Bay leather is quite rigid and thick, comparing it to the Travelers Notebooks it is much firmer. The leather is really smooth and nicely sealed and finished off round the edges. There are four internal elastic bands and a thicker brown elastic band that secures the notebook on the outside. The interior of the cover is also really smooth and not textured. On the reverse of the cover the brand logo is embossed at the bottom of the cover in the centre. I find this quite large and prominent due to its positioning and personally think it would be much nicer if it were a little smaller.

The smooth finish on the interior of the leather cover

The smooth finish on the interior of the leather cover

I have been using the Navigator with two notebooks. Initially I did have four notebooks in the cover maxing it out but I found when full it’s just too big and bulky making it hard to actually write in the notebooks. I’ve found two is a happy middle ground. I have one Clairefontaine notebook which I use for my morning pages and a Rhodia notebook for my studying. I don’t have anything else in this cover, no pockets, no clear pouches or anything similar. I literally use this cover as a holder for A5 notebooks that I am using and it works well. It’s taken on a very different set up to my Travelers Notebooks which become a bit crazy and have all sorts of stuff packed in them.

Simple set-up, only 2 notebooks

Simple set-up, only 2 notebooks

I have been using my Navigator for around two months using it everyday, mainly at home. I have found that over this time it has become more pliable and the leather has softened a little. It has acquired some small markings with use but it doesn’t mark easily, the ones I have took some effort. I am not sure if I could use the Navigator on the move. Personally I don’t think the A5 size is portable but more than that the bulk of the cover would be a little prohibitive. I think as a cover for use at home or in an office environment that this is perfect. It looks smart, holds the items you need and can be expanded to work around you. I think that with more use and over a prolonged period of time this cover will age beautifully.

Comparisons against the Travelers Notebook, left the passport size in Camel, right the regular size in Brown. This also shows how thick the elastic is on the Start Bay cover.

Comparisons against the Travelers Notebook, left the passport size in Camel, right the regular size in Brown. This also shows how thick the elastic is on the Start Bay cover.

I really like my Navigator and the brand that Start Bay Notebooks have built. They are a great British company that are producing high quality covers. If you are in the market for an A5 leather notebook cover and want a high quality finish then this is definitely the cover for you. They do offer a range of different sizes and accessories, that I have not used, but I would suspect based on my experience with the Navigator that they would also be worthy of a try.

Thank you to Start Bay Notebooks for sending me the beautiful Navigator to review.