Leather notebook cover

The Nomad Factory Travellers Notebook Review

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The Nomad Factory contacted me recently and asked if I would like to test run one of their Travelers Notebooks. All thoughts in this post are my own.

I wasn’t aware of The Nomad Factory before they contacted me asking if I would like the review one of their Travelers Notebooks. They’re based in the UK with the leather sourced from Yorkshire and the notebooks created in London. It’s nice to see a UK stationery company creating high quality and well considered products.

The Nomad Factory’s take on the Travelers Notebook.

It’s obvious from the moment you open up your package that The Nomad Factory has thought about the presentation and delivery of their leather notebook covers. The product arrives in a kraft box that’s filled with torn kraft paper.

The notebook itself is held in a cloth bag with The Nomad Factory’s branding on the front. This cloth cover is thick and sturdy, moreso than the Travelers Company equivalent.

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The notebook is similar to what you would recognise from the Travelers Company. It comes in the standard A5 slim size. There are three different leather colour options, black, brown and rustic (which looks like a worn brown colour). I have the black one which I have been using for a few weeks now.

I’ve noticed as I’ve used my notebook that the leather doesn’t mark easily. Personally I don’t mind scratches and signs of wear and tear but this leather holds up well with use. Alongside this its also lovely and soft to the touch.

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The elastic with each of the notebooks matches the leather colour. It’s fixed from the spine rather than from the back flap and there are no knots but a clean clasp that means no lumps or bumps from your notebook.

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All of the elastic is secured by a metal clasp that hangs from the bottom of the notebook which almost feels like a bookmark.

Let’s talk paper.

The Nomad Factory notebook comes with three inserts. There is a ruled, grid and plain insert each with 32 pages. This is less that you would normally expect, I think for this size the common number of pages is 64, but the quality of the paper is good.

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They handle most of my writing materials well. I have used fountain pens without any bleed through issues and no feathering that I noticed. The grid lines are a muted grey colour and not too bold and distracting. That’s a big win for me. I did a small pen test also throwing in a few ink and drawing pens to see how the paper held up.

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With the Noodlers Black ink in my brush pen the paper did buckle a little under the weight of the ink and the Copic marker bled through quite badly. Neither of these things are a surprise. All of the other writing tools I used worked really well on the paper.

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How I’ve been using my Nomad Factory notebook.

I have been using this notebook as a catch all. I’ve used the ruled notebook for my morning pages, the grid notebook as my work notebook and I intended to use the plain for doodling but this didn’t really pan out. The cardboard insert holds a few Baron Fig Strategist notecards in there for any throw away notes and a washi tape card.

For a small period of time I did throw in my Superior Labor pouch but this really stretched the leather far too much and made the notebook too bulky. I think three inserts is the maximum this is set-up to handle.

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The Nomad Factory also sent me through a small pouch filled with clips and bookmarks. There were a range of different options and sizes such as book darts, arrow clips, skeleton clips and fish clips, both of which in small and large sizes. I love these style clips. They look good and come in copper, silver and gold and they are so handy. The small pouch is also really handy.

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Overall thoughts.

I really like The Nomad Factory’s take on the Travelers Notebook style leather notebook cover. The leather quality is really nice and it takes being used and thrown around well. The Nomad Factory also offer a few different variety bundles and starter packs which would make great additions or gifts. I think these notebooks are a great Travelers Notebook option and comparably priced with other products you can find online but they include the inserts to get you started. The leather is perhaps a little thin if you’re a heavy user, or someone who needs some sturdiness to their leather notebook cover.

Thanks again to the Nomad Factory for sending me this notebook to review on the blog.

Baron Fig Rose Quartz Guardian Review.

Baron Fig contacted me to see if I would like to review the newest colour addition to their Guardian line-up, Rose Quartz. The views expressed in this review are my own.

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The Guardian is not a new Baron Figs product, it’s a leather notebook cover designed to wrap around their Confidant or Vanguard notebooks in each of their different sizes - pocket, flagship and plus. The Rose Quartz colour is the latest addition to the Guardian line-up and the main purpose of todays review. The Guardian covers are vegetable tanned leather which after a little Googling, proves to be the most environmentally friendly way to tan leather and gives it a soft textured feel.

The Rose Quartz Guardian exterior view that's fully stitched

The Rose Quartz Guardian exterior view that's fully stitched

I opted for the pocket Guardian because its the size I use the most. The first thing I noticed when I received my Guardian was that it arrives flat in an A5-ish sized package, which I thought meant I’d received the wrong thing. In fact it’s a little bit of care and attention to shipping as it keeps the leather in pristine condition avoiding any strange folds or ripples to the leather occurring in transit.

The first thing I noticed with the Guardian is how soft and thick the leather feels. The thickness is in part due to the pockets that come on the inside of the cover, two credit card slots and two folds for the notebook cover.

The interior with two credit card slots on the left hand side

The interior with two credit card slots on the left hand side

The Guardian is finished very well. There is a matching colour stitching around the edge of the cover and sealed edges. The only branding can be found on the inside cover with a kind of large Baron Fig logo, but at least its on the inside.

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As the main purpose of this review is to talk about the new colour addition I suppose I should spend some time talking through that. The Rose Quartz is very pink. It reminds me of the Baron Fig Metamorphosis limited edition Confidant notebook from 2017, which I really liked. The millennial pink colour of that notebook was very popular and worked well on a linen cover. When applied to leather the colour is a lot more bold and pink. I have seen a Rose Quartz Squire in the flesh and that is a lot more toned down and subtle, whereas the Guardian it is bright. I don’t think it’s a bad move adding this colour to the Baron Fig range, it’s proven popular in lots of different areas from technology to stationery. I think you just really have to like pink and want this colour. It’s all or nothing.

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My one small criticism of the Guardian is that it doesn’t ship with a notebook. Baron Fig assume that whoever buys a Guardian is already a Baron Fig user and not a new customer. And as their notebooks are built in their own unique size these covers can only be used with Baron Fig products.

Overall thoughts.

I really like the Guardian leather notebook cover and have enjoyed using it over the past few weeks. I haven’t overloaded mine or really use the card slots. It has simply been a notebook cover and this keeps everything very simple and slim. It's a high quality and well made leather notebook cover. Too often these sorts of covers can try and do too much and as a result be overcomplicated making them hard to use. The Guardian doesn’t fall foul to these issues.

I’d like to thank Baron Fig for sending me the Rose Quartz Guardian to review.

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.

My Life All in One Place Leather Notebook Cover (or the Raydori)

If you have visited my blog before you may know that I have become a fan of the Travelers Notebook over the past year. I use two regular sized Travelers Notebooks and have also used the passport sized Travelers Notebook as an everyday carry.

After I found I was using the Travelers Notebook system daily and actually enjoying it I started to explore non Travelers Notebook branded options that would allow me to use my extensive collection of Field Notes memo books. I wanted to find a way of using the paper products I had.

I came across the website My Life All in One Place after watching various YouTube videos and looking at several different Facebook Travelers Notebook groups. I wanted to try something affordable and the notebook covers produced by Ray at My Life All in One Place were produced in the UK meaning I could support a local business and also wouldn’t get stung with customs charges.

The buying process

The leather notebook covers that Ray creates aren’t but made to order. The buying process starts by checking out this webpage which explains how the process works and shows the different leather colour options that are available. Once you have made your decisions you then send Ray an email outlining what you are looking for. Ray confirms the price and once he receives payment your leather notebook cover starts coming to life.

The buying process is smooth and easy. My order was relatively simple. I had a few small questions which Ray answered quickly and then production of my notebook cover started up. All in all it took about 10 days for my leather notebook cover to be produced and received.

My Raydori

I played it fairly safe in terms of colour options. I opted for the Field Notes sized Raydori in a brown leather with a red elastic closure. The leather is supple, a good thickness and has some lovely with some natural markings. Over time my cover has marked with use, which may bother some people but I quite like it. It gives the cover character.

The elastic in the Raydori all comes out of the spine of the notebook cover, slightly different to the Travelers Notebook set-up. I have noticed a benefit in this position finding it slightly easier to remove the cover elastic when it comes out of the spine. There is one piece of internal elastic to secure your notebooks. There are other options of leather notebook covers which give multiple elastics inside the notebook, like Foxy Fix, however the Raydori follows the Travelers Notebook set up in this instance.

With the Raydori you get two bookmarks included with the notebook cover which is handy when you’re using multiple notebooks.

My Raydori Set-up

I have gone over my every day notebook carry on several occasions therefore I won’t repeat myself too much here. I have two Field Notes memo books in my Raydori, my Midori passport sized clear pocket and my Midori passport sized monthly calendar. Using a couple of smaller sized inserts hasn’t been a problem, they sit in the cover comfortably.

To hold all of these notebooks together I have used my Midori passport rubber bands. I have already snapped one of these, so they may not be the best option available. A normal rubber band, or another piece of elastic would probably work better.

I have attached my Midori medium pen loop to the front of the notebook cover to allow me to easily attach a pen when on the move. As my Raydori is brown leather it doesn’t clash too much.

My feelings on the Raydori

I have been using the Raydori for about two months now. The quality of the leather cover and the production are all really high. The leather is soft and supple, the corners have been rounded off and everything feels really nice. It is not as polished as the Travelers Notebook and the type of leather used is different but I am happy to have one of these notebook covers and all for a very reasonable £22.

On top of this it means I am able to use my Field Notes stash of notebooks and I slightly prefer the additional bit of room you get with the Field Notes sized memo books.