Posts filed under Moleskine

Moleskine Classic Notebook Review


The great Moleskine experiment is over.

It was short, but telling. And I wish it would have ended differently. I appreciate Moleskine as a company. I love the projects they take on, like digital apps and online magazines. I love their product designs and their product tie-ins. I’m a fan of their pens too.

But their notebook paper sucks.

I bought this notebook to see if the rumors I had heard about improved paper were true. It is worse than I expected. With a fountain pen, it feels like I’m using a stone paper notebook, which if you have ever tried, you will know that the paper feels spongy and soaks up the ink. It was instant absorption with every fountain pen I tried. A picture is worth 1000 words

There was no need to go much further, but I did my penance on the next page for thinking this would work. There are a few redeeming choices if you absolutely must use this notebook:

Good pens for Moleskine:

Ballpoint, like the Bic Cristal or Uni-ball Jetstream.

Gel, like the Uni-ball Signo or Zebra Sarasa Clip.

Drawing pens, like the Sakura Pigma Micron.

Average pens for Moleskine:

Rollerball pens, like the Uni-ball Vision or Pilot Precise V5.

Liquid ink refills like the Schmidt P8127.

Brush pens, the finer the better.

Bad pens for Moleskine:

Fountain pens, any nib size or ink type.


Pens in the Good category feel nice on the page and don’t feather or bleed. Pencils fall into the good category as well. Average pens can experience some bleed and feathering, especially with wider tip sizes in the category. Bad pens, well, let’s just say don’t use fountain pens with Moleskine notebooks. Your office copy paper is a better choice.

“But Brad, I don’t use fountain pens!” I hear ya, and you may be ok purchasing and using a Moleskine notebook. I’d say with ballpoints and pencils you will be perfectly happy. And while gel and drawing pens fall under the Good category, the wider tip sizes could get you in trouble, especially if you like to draw or sketch. For that, you should use the Moleskine Sketch Notebook, which is a great product.


Recommending a Moleskine is too difficult. There are too many caveats. Too many what ifs to dance around. And there are too many other good options on the market that don’t have the ink challenges Moleskine does. In hardcover format, Leuchtturm1917, Rhodia, Baron Fig, and Apica are easy to find and are far superior in every way. For softcover, that list easily triples.

If you are reading this blog you know all of this already, yet Moleskine remains the most popular notebook of this style in the world. The marketing machine has ramped up to epic proportions. They are synonymous with the little black notebook. But there are better choices. A lot of them. Remember this: Pen friends don’t let their friends buy Moleskine.

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Posted on November 13, 2017 and filed under Moleskine, Notebook Reviews.

Moleskine Alternatives

Baron Fig Confidant

Baron Fig Confidant

I spoke about Moleskine journals on the podcast this week and it generated a lot of spirited conversation on both sides of the ledger. I think it's pretty clear that I am not a fan of the brand, but I wanted to elaborate a little bit as to why.

When I say Moleskine as a general term I am talking about one specific model: the hardbound Classic Journal in 8.25" x 5". This is the ubiquitous Moleskine. The one that is fawned over by the press, and the one that doesn't fit my needs. That's the key here. My needs. If it fits your needs that's fantastic. You should definitely keep using them. But for me, Moleskine paper falls short of its competition.

For the most part, Moleskines work well with ballpoint pens, fine liquid ink pens, and pencils. I've traveled before with just a Moleskine and a Fisher Space Pen refill and been completely satisfied. But my two favorite pen types - micro tip gel ink pens and fountain pens - perform poorly on Moleskine paper. Luckily, we live in a world where other options are only a mouse click away. I've tested all of the notebooks below and would choose any of them over the standard Moleskine Journal.

Moleskine alternatives (Classic Journal, 8.25" x 5"), in no particular order:

Leuchtturm 1917 - The closest in look, style, feel, and price, but with better performing paper for a wider range of pen types.

Rhodia Webnotebook - My personal favorite, and the best for fountain pens. Longer dry time is the tradeoff.

Baron Fig Confidant - Great style and format, could work better with fountain pens but great with gel ink.

Quo Vadis Habana - Slightly bigger and more expensive but on par or better than Rhodia.

This list just scratches the surface. Don't even get me started on other sizes, such as pocket notebooks and top-bound pads. We could get into the hundreds on that list!

I just ask that you keep in mind one thing when reading this blog or listening to the podcast: You don't have to agree with everything I say. And you shouldn't. Disagreement is good and healthy. We all have specific needs that we are trying to solve for, and within that journey lies the fun. I'll keep having opinions, and you should too.

Posted on June 18, 2015 and filed under Leuchtturm, Notebook, Rhodia, Baron Fig, Moleskine.

Moleskine Click Roller Pen 0.5 mm Review

Moleskine Click Roller Pen

I have knocked Moleskine for ages for the lack of value in their product offerings but their gel ink pens keep sucking me back in. At $15 they are way overpriced - it feels like a $5 pen, if that - but the ink cartridge is the best I’ve tried in ages and I find myself using it all of the time.

The Click Roller isn’t my favorite of the three I own. That honor goes to the Classic Roller, which made a surprise appearance on my last Top 5 list. I thought the Click might take the top spot, but I have trouble with the knock sticking when I want to retract the pen. I’ve taken it apart in an effort to adjust it but it still sticks way too much.

Congratulations Moleskine on manufacturing a product I enjoy using.

Posted on August 27, 2012 and filed under Moleskine, Pen Reviews.