Life Notebooks is one of those companies that does very little wrong in my book. Their aesthetic suits my style perfectly, and fortunately, they perform as well as they look.
This doesn’t mean the Mini-Ring Notebook is perfect across the board - more on that in a minute - but it is a fun and functional pocket notebook that works well with any writing instrument you throw at it.
Starting with the exterior, the bright orange front cover is made from what feels like 80# cardstock, with a thicker and stronger chipboard-style backing. The design and lettering of the front cover is striking, just like with every notebook Life creates. I love the looks.
The inside is filled with Life’s high-quality paper that made them a hit with stationery lovers everywhere. Like other Japanese paper brands, they focus on the writing experience for all types of pens and pencils. They deliver on that too.
Fountain pens glide across the page, from my finest needle points, to wider stubs. There is no feathering, bleed, or ghosting to be found. None. The dry time is even reasonable. Gel and ballpoint pens work great as well, as do all grades of pencil. The rollerball ink of the Schmidt P8127 was the only one I could even see on the back side of the page, and just barely at that.
As a binding method, I like twin ring both from a functional and aesthetic perspective, but I don’t like it on the side on a small notebook like this. I’d prefer it on the top in this approximately 3-1/4” x 5” format because side doesn’t work as well in pockets. It’s great on A5 and up formats where it is more of a desk pad.
Also, Life’s paper is too ivory for constant use. I’d like a whiter or yellower tone for every day writing. I use inks with color, and they don’t show up as well on this tone.
And finally, there is the price issue. It’s more expensive than it’s competitors. The Mini-Ring runs nearly $5 for 40 smaller than Field Notes sheets. It’s not egregious, and it may be as good or even better for many users, but you are paying for the privilege. Rhodia is more expensive than basic paper, but it is far cheaper than Life, and has many more options (although Life is gaining on that.)
But like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, it is hard to stay away from the good stuff on occasion. Despite some preference changes I would make on a personal level, they is no denying the quality of Life Notebooks.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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