Leather notebook cover

2019 Travelers Notebook Review: Part 1.

I wrote my first Travelers Notebook review not long after I had started The Finer Point to share my thoughts on a notebook system that I enjoyed using. Almost five years on, I still use this system everyday but it has now become the core of my paper use and it’s because of this that I wanted to share an updated take on my Travelers Notebook use.

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I’ve split this post into two parts so I can really go into depth. Today’s post will cover off the emotional aspects, why I love the notebooks and what I have learnt from using them over time. In part two I will share some specifics of my use and plenty of photos, which is really what we all love to see.

The appeal of the Travelers Notebook.

What attracts the stationery enthusiast to the Travelers Notebook is a question I keep coming back to. The Travelers Notebook cover alone is an investment that requires a little thought before purchase. Start adding to this and the cost increases. Despite this there are plenty of people who invest in this system and many people who own and use multiple Travelers Notebooks. There are plenty of reviews and videos on the Travelers Notebook that undoubtedly pull people in, but what makes them keep investing and using this system?

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Customisation.

It’s not uncommon to hear that the customisation of the Travelers Notebook is one of the big selling points. A quick YouTube search shows plenty of set-ups and flip throughs showing how people use their Travelers Notebooks. Choosing your notebook insert, the grid you enjoy, charms, wallets, the annual planner inserts, or the inspired undated inserts all allow the Travelers Notebook to keep its feel fresh while allowing the beautiful leather to age the more its used.

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Next-level customisation.

In the past couple of years it feels like the customisation options of the Travelers Notebook has taken a step up. Earlier this year Travelers Company expanded their branded range of products that was greatly appreciated by its audience. I was particularly pleased to see a cream paper insert.

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Alongside this enthusiasts and stores such as Baum Kuchen have really showed the community how you can take your Travelers Notebook customisation to a new level. Their love of analogue artefacts has helped users explore new ways to enjoy their Travelers Notebook and to be a little more adventurous with their customisation. Through their collaborations with the Superior Labour, their Inspiration Labs and workshops you get a sense of how careful design decisions can really elevate the feel of the Travelers Notebook. I was surprised and interested in a recent post showing paint on the cover of a Travelers Notebook.

My Travelers Notebooks.

For years I have used one regular sized Travelers Notebook all the time. This held my beloved Weekly + memo weekly refill that I use as a journal. It stays on my desk but I use it everyday to journal. My love of the Travelers Notebook grew because of this refill and part of the reason it has been a constant in my life is because I love this journaling system.

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However in the past few years, through following blogs such as Baum Kuchen and learning new ways to use the system I found that the Travelers Notebook system could fit into other areas of my life. After trying out numerous different notebooks, paper types, grid systems I came to the realisation that the Travelers Notebook does what I want it to.

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Today I have three Travelers Notebooks in use. Two regular sized notebooks, my Black TN with two inserts, one journal, one insert with notes to my son and a Superior Labour wallet. My second TN is the Olive which I use for work and has a single insert. My final TN is a Camel passport with one notebook, one sketchbook and one passport Superior Labour wallet. I have found peace with the passport Travelers Notebook after finally giving up on Field Notes and admitting I like the Baron Fig/Travelers Notebook pocket notebook size and enjoy the TN system.

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Part 2.

In part two of this post I will go through each of my TNs in detail and share with you how I use them. Check back next week to read part 2. And if nothing else, come for the photos.


For inspiration on anything Travelers Notebook I suggest following these blogs or Instagram accounts.

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.