Gifts From a Reader: Rollbahn and Field Notes

I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers… well, maybe not really, but I do love it when exciting notebooks show up in my mailbox from people I’ve never met!

A reader named June sent me two lovely items– first, a special edition Field Notes:

This was the perfect gift, because as I’ve written here before, I kind of have some issues with Field Notes and all the verbiage they put on their notebooks. I haven’t been able to bring myself to buy any of their notebooks to test. But here’s one that not only came to me for free, but it’s in Russian [Oops, I stand corrected by a reader-- it's Mongolian]! I love the look of the text, and since I don’t speak the language, it saves me having to deal with the twee-ness of it in English.

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The Field Notes is like the Mead Journal I reviewed recently in that it has brown lines instead of grey. The notebook overall is quite thin, with lightweight paper that is somewhat brighter white than Moleskine.

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I was disappointed that it had so much showthrough with pens. Also, I found that my fountain pen feathered out more than on other papers– I was surprised, as from what I’ve read on other blogs, fountain pen afficionados seem to like this brand, so I guess I had high expectations for the paper. I did think it worked well with my light blue Pilot Precise V5, which sometimes looks too watery on smoother papers. The Field Notes paper is confirmed to be acid free by my trusty pH pen.

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Then there’s this:

The Rollbahn notebook was also a perfect gift, because I’d been hearing about them for a while but they’re not easy (though not impossible) to find in stores, at least in NYC. I first read about Rollbahn here. I was intrigued enough to do some more online research, enough to discover that it seems to be a Japanese brand with quite a cult following.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well it is a rather unique notebook. First of all, it’s an adorable small size, very pocketable. (Other sizes are available.) I don’t love the cover overhang, but it’s made of a pretty sturdy cardboard, and hopefully wouldn’t get too bent up with use. The words on cover seem like Japanese-German nonsense, as you often see with English phrases on Japanese products.

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All the pages are perforated, and at the end, there are yellow divider cards separating the pages from a very cool feature: clear plastic pockets! I immediately thought the pockets might be the perfect size for credit cards, and that the wire-o binding might leave enough room for the notebook to be used as a mini-wallet. Not quite, though– the plastic is a bit slippery and I’d be worried cards would fly out. It’s also not an ideal way to store money. The elastic band keeps everything together, but it looks a bit squeezed.

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The paper feels great to write on, but again, showthrough performance wasn’t the best. The tone of the paper is rather creamy, more yellowy than Moleskine, shown at left for comparison. Again, it’s acid free.

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This notebook cost 263 Yen, which is about $3.18 in dollars– not bad at all for a cute little notebook with some nice extra features.

A big thank you to June for sending me these great notebooks! (I’m hoping she’ll also someday send me a photo of her own collection– I’ll bet it’s a good one!)

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10 Responses to “Gifts From a Reader: Rollbahn and Field Notes”

  1. Field Notes Mongol (Not Russian) Edition :)

  2. Whoops! Same alphabet, though, I guess!

  3. Awesome notebooks! I have fallen in love with Field Notes. I don’t use markers or fountain pens, so I don’t have a problem with showing through or feathering. They are awesome and perfectly pocket-sized. I have never used the ruler in the back until the other day at work. Very handy little notebooks

  4. Wow! I love stuff in Cyrillic ! :D That’s a really neat notebook.

  5. Ohhh wow… I love your blog! I have always been slightly obsessed with notebooks, to the point where sometimes I daren’t write anything in them in case I don’t write something amazing and then the notebook is ruined! haha But I always succumb eventually. I do sometimes try and rush through a notebook so I can justify buying another one…. it’s a guilty pleasure!

    I think your site might feed my habit though… oopsy!

  6. I love that Field Notes in Mongolian – how cool. I also have issues with their notebooks, bleedthrough and showthrough.

  7. Love Field Notes and use the exclusively for my note taking. I think the claim that they are fountain pen proof is a bit overblown. Its a relative thing. They are infinitely a lot better than the Moleskine Cahiers that they are competing with and which are HORRIBLE with fountain pens.

  8. Just a quick note to say that I was in McNally Jackson in Soho last weekend and saw that they have the full size range of Rollbahn notebooks (and in cool colors). They also have a lot of Doane Paper, a wide range of Write in the Rain books, and something else cool that is currently escaping me! Definitely worth a scouting trip. (I don’t go to McNJ all that often, but it seemed to me the stationery stock was completely different to the range they’d had the last time I was there–with the exception of the Moleskines, which remain constant.)

  9. You can find Rollbahn notebooks here:

    http://www.unionmadegoods.com
    http://www.vettedshop.com

  10. […] is one of the kind readers who loves notebooks so much, she even enjoys sharing her extras and once sent me a couple of notebooks to review. She probably didn’t miss them, as she has 267 other notebooks waiting to be used… or […]

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