I was contacted by the maker of the Pelle Journal a few months back and was very excited to have the opportunity to review one. It was compared to the Midori Passport Size Travelers Journal, but it’s handmade in California. Let’s take a look at what this journal has to offer.
First of all, you’ll notice the packaging. The journal arrived in a plastic wrapper, with a label noting the size and the type of paper contained within. After removing the plastic, there’s a nice paper envelope with a contrasting elastic tie. Inside that, there’s a cloth bag. This is a very well-protected notebook, and if you give one as a gift, you almost don’t need to wrap it!
Also inside the paper envelope is a note from the manufacturer with some info about the product, and a spare elastic.
Finally, the journal itself! It’s a lovely small size– described as 3×5, but actually the cover measures 5 1/4″ high by about 3 7/8″ wide and the inner notebooks are 3 7/16 x 4 15/16″.
I love the look of the red elastic against the black, but it’s nice that the spare black elastic is included as an option. The leather is really nice– very soft and supple and thick. It’s just a single layer of leather, cut precisely to size. There is no stitching on the edges. On the inside it has a suede-y feel but seems almost like cloth. If you look closely you can see there are layers in the leather so I assume this is “bonded leather” which can have varying degrees of real leather content. Whatever it is, it smells and feels quite nice, though the little fibers from the sueded inside might start to look a little ragged after a lot of use.
The cover has a very subtle Pelle logo on the front lower right corner, and the company web address and “Made in the USA” on the back lower left corner.
Inside the cover, you have 3 elastic bands to hold interchangeable journals, similar to the Midori notebooks and the Kolo Essex Travel Book I reviewed. The two outer elastics are actually one that loops around, thereby securing the inner elastic, which slots into a notch at the top and bottom of the spine. There is a little bead that attaches it to a thin bookmark– I’d rather the bead wasn’t there but it is at least pretty small and not too disruptive. One thing I really like is that the elastics are mostly kept inside the notebook, rather than looping all the way around the outside of the spine as on the Kolo Essex book.
The journal I was sent has one notebook inside, though it is designed to hold 3. I didn’t have a chance to test how it would bulk up with 3 inside– one disadvantage of the Pelle Journal is that the inner notebooks aren’t a standard size. There are other notebook holders out there that are designed to hold Moleskine Cahiers but also accommodate the identically sized Field Notes, Doane Paper, Writer’s Blok and other similar brands (which are all 3 1/2 x 5 1/2″). I’m sure there are other brands out there that come in a small enough size to fit in the Pelle cover, but I can’t think of any offhand. (Please comment if you know of any!)
The inner notebook itself is very nice. It’s a simple staple-bound notebook with a brown cover and plain paper. The first and last page inside are like endpapers, with a red box and the Pelle logo on the front page. The paper within is smooth and creamy and a pleasure to write on. All my pens performed well, with only very slight feathering with the Pilot Varsity fountain pen. My Lamy Safari fountain pen went on just fine, though, which is good, as one of Pelle’s selling points is that the notebooks are fountain pen friendly. The paper had about average show-through, but performed better than average in terms of bleed-through.
Pelle Journals are available at a limited number of retailers, listed here. Among them is JetPens.com, where the small journal I received retails for $29.99. Replacement notebooks are $6.99-8.00 for this size, depending on the type of paper. This seems like a fair price for a product handmade in the US, and is much cheaper than the comparable Midori notebook. If you want a good quality, pocketable notebook that you can refill, the Pelle Journal is well worth a try.