Tag: travelers notebook

My First Two Travelers’ Notebooks

My First Two Travelers’ Notebooks

I first came across Travelers’ Notebooks (TNs) last year. I was skeptical. They just seemed too expensive for me, and the shape was odd. I was completely sold out on A5-sized journals and didn’t see myself having much use for such an odd-shaped journal of sorts. I hemmed and I hawed and I waffled around trying one until early this month. I decided to try a Midori Traveler’s Notebook and a hand-sewn TN made by Sunday Leather Craft.

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Sunday Leather TN on top, Midori TN at the bottom.

I was completely unprepared for how much I was going to enjoy these journals. These are both TNs, they look similar, but they feel different.

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The elastic of an MTN is simpler and uses a thinner rubber band. The Sunday Leather Craft TN has a thicker band and a piece of leather which helps keep the cover closed, I guess, but I opted to remove it to make it look simpler.

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The leather that Sunday Leather Craft uses is relatively firm, but is a lot softer and more pliable compared with Midori’s TN. The result is that it feels more floppy. Not in a bad way, though. I like that it has this very raw feel to it. It can accommodate more inserts too, because it’s softer. It also lays down flatter than a Midori TN.

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Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is already set up for multiple inserts. I watched a few videos on YouTube on how to “hack” a Midori TN to hold more than three inserts but this setup eliminates the need to poke holes into the leather. If you’re comfortable with chunky setups and multiple inserts, this will definitely make it easier for you to do that.

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The Midori Travelers’ Notebook, on the other hand, feels more polished. The leather is stiffer, although it looks like it will get a tiny bit more pliable with time. The leather is gorgeous, but I really don’t mind it getting scuffed while I use it (it already has a few dings on it after a few weeks of use) because I want it to show signs that it’s been used and loved and taken everywhere.

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The elastic that closes the Midori TN is knotted at the back of the leather cover. The leather is stiff enough that it doesn’t cause any deformation because of the tension of the elastic. Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is knotted from the spine, which is a smart design given the fact that the leather is softer than Midori’s. It minimizes the bunching up of the leather as long as there are notebooks inserted in it.

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Midori TN (bottom) is a tight fit. I have the same setup of notebooks in both TNs (two blank notebooks and a sketchbook), but Sunday Leather Craft’s TN is roomier.

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It’s very tempting to put more  notebooks in the roomier Sunday Leather Craft TN. Maybe I will stuff more in there and see how the leather will hold up with the chunk. Of course, lugging that around will be challenging (and might cause lower back pain, haha). Plus, I usually include a lot of photos, washi tapes and other stuff in my journals, so it will need some room to grow.

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The paper I used on these two TNs are Midori’s inserts. They’re good, but I’m afraid I really cannot get used to them. I am going to replace these with Tomoe River inserts as soon as possible. Aside from the quality of paper, Tomoe River inserts are also thinner. You can put more inserts without bulking up the notebook too much. Of course, Tomoe River inserts are more expensive and not always available locally. If you aren’t very picky with the paper, the default Midori inserts are good enough, and they have different kinds of refills too if you want to use your TN as a planner as well as a journal/sketchbook.

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Midori sketchbook insert

I do like the sketchbook inserts, though, even if they do add to the bulk of the TN. As for the shape of the inserts, I’m surprised that I adjusted to it pretty quickly. I initially felt that it would be too narrow for the size of my handwriting. Turns out it’s not that bad. It doesn’t feel cramped at all. It even fits in my bag better than my A5 journals do. Even if it’s chunky, it’s actually lighter and easier to carry around.

There’s a huge price difference between these two, though. The locally-made TN from Sunday Leather Craft costs about 1/3 of the price of the Midori. It doesn’t come with inserts, though. You can even ask them to customize it with pockets or choose the color and texture of your leather and the color of the stitching. I think it’s great value for money.

Overall, I love these TNs. I like the size, I like the flexibility of the inserts, and I love the leather cover. I can store the inserts as I fill them up and let the leather cover age beautifully. I like it so much that I’ve decided to use it as my main journal for next year.

I’ll probably write a separate review of the Sunday Leather Craft TN after the new year. 🙂

Midori Traveler’s Notebook First Impressions

Midori Traveler’s Notebook First Impressions

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I’ve been waffling about getting one of these since last year. I wasn’t sure I would like it, even after seeing some people’s TN setup. I honestly thought it was too expensive for a notebook cover, and I didn’t get all the fuss about it. This year, I finally took the plunge, promising myself that I will keep an open mind as I tried it out.

I forgot to take a photo of the packaging, haha. But I do like the way the starter set was packaged. It’s a reusable, recyclable cardboard case which looks really simple but oddly beautiful. I guess that’s part of the appeal of this TN. It looks deceptively simple but every little thing about it is wonderful.

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I prettyfied it a bit by attaching a charm of two leaves on the bookmark. I decided not to put a charm on the band that holds the covers together because I am not sure if it will be intrusive when I lay it flat on the table to write.

The elastic that closes the TN is attached through a hole in the middle of the back flap. You’d think you’d be bothered by the knot that goes in there, but surprisingly, it’s not really noticeable. The elastic that Midori uses for their TN is thin but feels sturdy. I compared it with some of the elastics that I found in bookstores and they’re much better. Those I found in bookstores weren’t rigid enough, and they were too thick.

I like the quality of the leather a lot. It holds its shape and feels firm but supple. It will age really well, I think. Smells wonderful too. 🙂

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The placement of the knot where the elastic pokes through, plus the stiffness of the leather, makes sure that the spine of the TN isn’t wrinkled up as it holds the inserts.

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Here’s what the bottom looks like. There’s no wrinkling on the leather at all. The leather looks like it will age really well, and take all the abuse and beating of being lugged around everywhere. I know you can fit more than 3 inserts, I watched some TN hacks on YouTube, but I think three is a good enough number for me. The inserts are pretty thick, and I suppose they would get thicker as I fill up the notebook with journal entries and photos. This is chunky enough for me. I’m waiting for the Tomoe River paper insert to be restocked at Pengrafik soon so I can replace the notebooks with the thinner Tomoe River refills. More on that shortly.

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The first thing you’ll see when you open my TN is a plastic card carrier, which I used to carry my favorite instax photos around. Six slots for both flaps mean I can carry 12 photos.

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The fly leaf of all TN inserts have this box where you can write a summary of what your notebook is about. Or, in my case, I wrote my favorite verse.

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The paper itself is good. I think I’m just too used to the Tomoe River paper to enjoy it that much. It shows of the shading and sheen, though the coating sometimes makes it hard for the ink to spread on the paper. I find the pages too thick but then again, I’m used to Tomoe River paper. There’s no bleed through or feathering, though. So that’s great.

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I’m pretty disappointed that it doesn’t take watercolor well. The paper just absorbs the water too fast, so I cannot work with wet washes at all. I cannot layer the colors. The paper is only suitable for pen and ink sketches.

IMG_3569 A good alternative would be the sketchbook insert, which is made of thicker paper. It’s still too absorbent for wet washes but at least it can hold up to simple watercolor paintings.

It’s a bummer since I can’t integrate watercolor paintings in my journal entries, but it’s nice to have a separate insert just for drawings and paintings. I like that it has perforated sheets, too.

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Here’s a stippling of a koi fish that I drew last night. On a side note, I did not know that stippling was so much fun! A closer look at my little fishy…

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The paper feels so nice for pen and ink drawings. It does add more chunk to the already chunky setup, though. Still, I like it and I decided I’ll continue to fill it up with pen and ink drawings. I think I’ll wait for the Tomoe River inserts for my watercolor paintings (which I prefer to integrate with my journal entries, anyway).

I also bought a locally-made fauxdori from a local leather artisan. I like it too, because it has a different feel to it. I’ll probably write about that in a separate blog entry and compare it with a Midori Traveler’s Notebook. Overall, I think the Midori TN is worth the price. I’m still learning how to maximize it, but I like my simple setup well enough. The size is comfortable, the leather cover is just gorgeous, and the simple details about it make it such a beautiful notebook cover. I’m happy I tried it out, looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time with it. 🙂