Clairefontaine Basics Staplebound Pocket Notebook Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

For a product that has such a long name, the Clairefontaine Basics Life Unplugged Staplebound Notebooks Duo are a pocket-friendly notebook worthy of respect. I've long been a fan of Clairefontaine paper, and this newest addition to my collection is a new favorite. A 3.5" x 5.5" notebook filled with creamy, white Clairefontaine 90gsm paper is hard to beat.

When I picked up these notebooks to try, my goal was to find something in the pocket notebook category that could handle fountain pens with ease. Well, these notebooks hit the mark perfectly. Let's take a look at the specifics and then look at how they perform in real life.

These notebooks share the same measurements as Field Notes, but their about the same thickness as two Field Notes books. This is good and bad: It's good because you have plenty of paper to use, but it's bad because it means you can pack one less notebook in pockets and sleeves that normally accept two notebooks. Not a big drawback, but just be aware that it might require you to change your carry a bit.

The covers are a thick material that have a textured exterior. It's a strong material, and I'm not worried at all about these things falling apart after daily pocket abuse. The front has a subtle Clairefontaine logo embossed in the lower right corner, and the back cover has a SKU and barcode, as well as some info about the book. Apart from that, there are no other markings on this book — just 96 empty lined pages.

The notebooks are assembled with two staples. I have my doubts about the longevity of this binding system, but time will tell. They feel strong, but I know that Field Notes can get a bit weak at the staple areas, and they have one additional staple over the Clairefontaines. Either way, they seem strong enough for normal use.

As I mentioned briefly before, the paper in these notebooks is exactly like the paper you'll find in any Clairefontaine notebook. That's something I love about their notebooks. Once you've tried their paper in one format, you've tried it all. It's predictable, and it's dependable. Now, if you don't like lined paper, you're out of luck because it's all they make.

As for the paper, it's splendid. It handles inks so well, and it's always been a favorite of mine from day one. The lines are spaced at 7mm, which is similar to a "college rule" in the U.S. The lines are a faded light blue color that's easy enough to ignore if you want to draw or think outside the lines. It's 90gsm paper, so it's bound to handle most pens with ease. It isn't sketching paper, so anything else (like markers, watercolors, etc.) will probably be out of bounds. For writing, it's fantastic.

The paper does a very good job of minimizing show-through on the opposite page. The only way I was able to make it show up in the pictures was by putting the notebook between my camera and a bright light source. Under normal conditions, it's nearly impossible to detect any show through unless you're using an extremely wet nib.

Overall, I'm extremely happy with this notebook. It's a familiar size, familiar paper, and excellent price. At less than $7 for a pair, it's quite a good deal considering how much paper is included. It's become a favorite for me when paired with a Fodderstack XL and a favorite pen. This makes a great mobile writing kit.

These notebooks are available from JetPens in a variety of sizes and colors. For this review, I used the 3.5" x 5.5" Red/Green combo, but you can also get them in Black/Tan. Or, if you want something a little larger, there's always the 5.75" x 8.25" versions in the same colors. Those cost a few dollars more (still less than $10) and are an equally excellent deal.

These are currently my favorite "disposable" journaling notebooks. They don't break the bank, but they still feature some stellar paper inside. Now all we need are some more color options!

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Posted on July 27, 2016 and filed under Clairefontaine, Notebook Reviews.

July Sponsor Spotlight

J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre, via JetPens

J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre, via JetPens

Sponsor support is very important to me here at The Pen Addict. My sidebar advertisers put their faith in me to deliver good value for them month in and month out, and I want to shine the light on the best of the best for you. If you are shopping for pens, paper, inks, and more, please check out these great companies and see what they have to offer. Some recent highlights:

Anderson Pens just received the latest limited edition in the Platinum 3776 lineup, the beautiful blue Kawaguchi, which is limited to 2500 pens worldwide.

JetPens has the hottest ink release of the summer, the new J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre to expand the gold fleck lineup to 5 wonderful shades.

Goldspot stocks all things Filofax to get you or your favorite student ready to head back to school.

Thank you to all of my wonderful sponsors this month!

Posted on July 26, 2016 .

Graf Von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green Ink Review

When I think of Graf Von Faber-Castell I think of high end writing instruments like the Perfect Pencil or the somewhat extreme Pen of the Year release. What I haven’t thought about, until now, are their fountain pen inks. I had no idea what I had been missing.

Deep Sea Green is my first foray into GVFC inks and I am completely enamored with it. It was an easy choice actually, because the colors in the rest of the lineup aren’t all that inspiring. They offer ink colors that all fountain pen companies have to offer: Black, blue, red, green, brown, grey. Sure, they have fancier names - “Garnet Red”, “Cobalt Blue” - but they aren’t all that exciting. Deep Sea Green is a clear outlier.

Despite the basic colors, these are not basic inks. All GVFC inks are indelible, meaning they are smudge-resistant, light-fast, waterproof, and solvent resistant. For all intents and purposes, they are permanent. That is something I can get behind despite the blandness of the shades available.

Deep Sea Green has more character than I expected when I received this bottle from Goulet Pens. I’ve been using it in my Sailor King of Pens with a stock medium nib, and it shades well despite the fineness of the nib. There are showings of light and dark greens and blues, plus appearances of grey. It flows wonderfully and dries quickly too. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences so far, and yes, it makes me even want to try some of the more boring colors.

$30 may seem steep for a bottle of ink, and it is, but keep in mind the bottle holds 75ml, which is a 50% increase over the similarly priced Pilot Iroshizuku. And the ink contained within has far more features. The bottle itself is strong, sturdy, and wonderful to look at on a desk or shelf.

Now, if the higher-ups at Graf Von Faber-Castell would mix in a purple or turquoise we would be off to the races.

(GouletPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Posted on July 25, 2016 and filed under Faber-Castell, Ink Reviews.

Lucrin Leather Pen Case Giveaway Winners

Lucrin makes fantastic leather goods for your home, office, digital goods, and even stationery. The orange leather pen cases they sent me are fantastic, and I'm happy to be able to ship two of them off to the following giveaway winners:

Congrats Mark and Duncan! Mark will take home the pencil case and Duncan will grab the single pen sleeve. Please email me your shipping information via the Contact Page and I will get everything sent out.

My thanks to Lucrin for sending me these products for giveaway.

Posted on July 23, 2016 and filed under Giveaways.