The Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils are iconic, and for good reason. I'm a fan of the pencils, so it's been exciting to see Blackwing wade into the paper game as well.
There's a whole slew of new notebooks available, but this one is called the Blackwing Clutch, and it fits in your pocket. At 3.5" x 5.5", the size is very familiar, albeit a bit thicker than the standard Field Notes.
I have a couple of small nits to pick with the notebook, but let's talk about the enjoyable and unique points first.
The cover of the Clutch notebook is a soft but durable black material that feels great to touch. I'm not sure what it is, but it's not any type of leather from what I can tell. It's soft, matte, and strong. I love it. The only branding on the outside of the notebook is an embossed "Blackwing" logo on the bottom of the back cover.
The inside covers feature some general labeling spots that's typical of most pocket notebooks. Nothing exciting there, except for the odd orientation of the printing. That's right, this notebook is intended to be used in landscape mode! (Blackwing refer to this as "clamshell layout".) I wasn't sure what to make of this at first, but it clicked in a few minutes after writing a few notes down. It's a nice format, but not one I think is better than the traditional portrait layout for this size notebook. Luckily, if you have the dot grid or blank version, you can use it however you want. The ruled version locks you in to the landscape view, unfortunately. That being said, I do enjoy the orientation for writing longer notes because it gives me more room to write across the page.
The paper in this notebook is advertised as 100gsm, and I believe it. The paper is phenomenal. It's smooth, thick, and handles everything I've thrown at it with ease. Sure, Blackwing is a pencil company, but this notebook performs really well for fountain pens as well. Not a hint of shading or feathering appeared in my tests, and I was using some wet, brought nibs that typically cause trouble. It can be difficult to find pocket notebooks that play nicely with fountain pens, but this is one of the good ones.
Writing with pencil is also enjoyable, as the smooth paper has enough tooth to take down plenty of graphite. It's also durable, holding up really well to erasers.
The books are sewn-bound, and come in at 48 pages each. Blackwing claims that the sewn binding allows the notebooks to lay flat, but that hasn't been the case in my use.
These are thick notebooks, and the binding is fairly square, similar to glue binding. In my use, this makes it particular difficult to use because it really does not want to be flattened. It resists even after being pressed and over-bent to try and wear in the binding a bit. The notebook starts to lay flat easier once you get halfway through, but that leaves a lot of other times that it can cause frustration. As an added bonus, this also means that the notebook refuses to stay closed on its own. I've opted to use a Field Notes band to keep mine from popping open. It's a minor nitpick, but it's one that I feel every time I use it.
Another point that might turn away some customers is the price. At $14.95 per 3-pack, it's not the cheapest option out there. Field Notes are a couple bucks cheaper, but the Blackwing paper is far superior. Clairefontaine offers similar paper, but is much cheaper. Write Notepads also work great, but at a lower cost. The list of cheaper alternatives is long, but the Clutch does have plenty of unique features to set it apart from the rest. The key feature for me is the paper quality, but the aesthetic is also unique and pleasing.
The Blackwing Clutch notebooks are unique, stylish, and feature excellent paper. The layout is pushy if you choose dot grid or blank, but outright stubborn if you choose lined. The price is a bit high compared to other 3-pack pocket notebooks on the market, but did I mention how awesome the paper is?
The Blackwing Clutch notebooks are available on the Blackwing website, where you can choose between Ruled, Blank, and Dot Grid paper types. Each set of three notebooks runs you $14.95.
(Blackwing 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!