With winter just around the corner, a summer-themed notebook might keep thoughts of summer nearby as temperatures drop. That's part of what you get with the Stifflexible Vintage Surfing notebook, along with some decent paper with a variety of ruling.
This might be the first notebook I've used that contains ruled, blank, and graph paper all in the same book. With this Stifflexible notebook, you get 144 ruled pages, 32 blank pages, and 16 detachable graph pages. This is a unique feature that seemed odd at first, but is really useful in certain cases.
The big feature of this notebook (and possibly the namesake) is the flexible cover. Instead of a stiff, flat cover, this notebook has a couple of thin spots in the front and back covers that make it incredibly easy to bend. It doesn't quite fold, but it does make it easy to flip through the notebook. While it works flawlessly, I'm not sure it really adds anything to the notebook or elevates it above other notebooks with more "traditional" covers.
There's an elastic band that keeps the cover snug when not in use, and it has the perfect amount of tension for keeping the book closed without being too tight when pulling it aside. The band is also color coordinated with the different notebook covers.
Speaking of which, the cover designs are quite a statement. The notebook I have features the "Surf Rider Long Beach" variant, which includes some bold text and a graphic of a person holding a surf board. It's visually interesting, but I can guess that it might put some people off due to the overstated design and large lettering. The "Adrenaline" cover features a VW bus and has a more calm aesthetic that is centered along the notebook like a logo. All three covers feature some fun west coast imagery that paints a relaxing, chill vibe. The good thing about this notebook is that you'll know before you buy it if you'll like the design. Once you crack open the cover, it's just a regular notebook.
The majority of the pages are lined, and the lines are similar to a college rule, or 6mm. The lines are a tad dark for my tastes, but just barely. The lines are some shade of gray while the paper is ivory, making for a nice contrast.
The pages aren't numbered and there aren't any dedicated "subject" areas like many Japanese notebooks feature. The binding is also well done, even if it does take a bit of effort to make the notebook lay flat and stay open. With a little massaging, it breaks in nicely. The back inside cover also features a small pocket — and the pocket cover doubles as a bookmark. Additionally, each notebook contains a cardboard bookmark that also has a six-inch ruler printed on it.
According to the notebook, the paper is recycled, acid-free, and 80gsm. These are all good things, and I can say that the paper is mostly smooth with a slightly noticeable tooth. The main downside for me is the feathering and show-through. It's a minor niggle, but keep it in mind if show-through, feathering, or bleeding are qualities you dislike in paper. For my tastes, the amount of show-through in the paper makes the back of the page unusable. At any rate, it's an example that proves that 80gsm papers are not created equally; just because you enjoy one paper that is rated at 80gsm does not mean they all perform the same. Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917 are two brands that I use frequently, and they're also rated at 80gsm. But, the performance of those papers far exceed that of the Stifflexible paper. That being said, it's workable — especially if you aren't using fountain pens.
Finally, the pricing for this notebook is something of a perk, coming in at around $16 retail. You can normally find them a few bucks cheaper, coming in around $13, which make them a pretty good deal.
If you like the vintage surf aesthetic that these notebooks wear proudly, then these are right up your alley. The paper is acceptable, eco-friendly, and plentiful, and the added feature of having flexible covers is unique and (sometimes) useful. Check out all the colors and designs at Pen Chalet.
(Pen Chalet provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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