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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