Notes on testing some notebooks - Rhodia, Leuchtturm and Moleskein

September 13, 2020

I’ve always preferred using a real notebook for jotting stuff down while working at a computer.

I started out using no-name notebooks but I’ve slowly moved to using better quality notebooks.

Here are my notes on some popular decent notebooks!

About testing and comparing notebooks

I’m comparing a Rhodia “webnotebook”, a Leuchtturm 1917 soft cover, a Moleskine classic hardcover and a cheap department store notebook. They’re all roughly A5 sized notebooks.

All notebooks fanned out

I purchased all of these on Amazon myself for whatever the going price was.

There’s no scientific method to my comments about liking one paper over another. It’s just how it felt to me! 😃

The cheap no name notebook

Cheap front

Specifications
Paper weight 90gsm
Price paid $2
Cover Hard Cardboard
Number of Pages 160

I love these cheap notebooks from the local Kmart store. They have 80gsm paper and the paper is ruled.

They cost just $2. They’re perforated for easily passing notes around and sharing. I usually clear out the days scribbles and dump it.

These are perfect my throw away notes, calculations and shopping lists.

Cheap inks

Because of the ring binding these notebooks lay completely flat.

There are no added extras, there’s no bookmark or pocket here but that’s totally fine because of the price.

I wish they had these without the ruled pages because I prefer blank notebooks.

The paper is cheap, feels like plastic and it’s bright white.

Cheap bleed through

Advantages

  • Cracking value for money
  • Soooooo cheap!
  • It’s paper sheets with a good cover for $2
  • $2 !!

Disadvantages

  • No extras like a bookmark
  • Feels cheap to use. No joy at all
  • Reminds me of school

The Leuchtturm 1917 notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 front

Specifications
Paper weight 80gsm
Price paid $32
Cover Soft thin pleather
Number of Pages 123

I tested a soft cover Leuchtturm 1917. The paper is smooth and bright. The quality of paper felt just below the Rhodia.

Leuchtturm 1917 inks

I really liked that you can curl this notebook up in in your hands.

It’s also the lightest notebook.

However it also it felt a bit flimsy. I feel like I need to take more care with this notebook.

Leuchtturm 1917 bleedthrough

Leuchtturm do sell hardcover notebooks. So this isn’t a valid criticism compared to the other notebooks here. Just a personal observation.

The cheaper Leuchtturm hardcover is close to the other notebooks in price.

Hardcover - $38.50 - 249 pages Hardcover real leather notebook - $180.00 - 249 pages

The Leuchtturm 1917 had the most “extras” of any of the notebooks.

There is a printed index to fill in and the pages are numbered for you. This is the notebook you might want for lab work journaling or bullet journaling.

Leuchtturm 1917 index

There are 2 bookmarks and the usual pocket. There are a few perforated pages for sharing.

They have included some stickers inside for labelling when you’re done.

This is a well thought out notebook package. I’m going to grab one of their hardcover notebooks if they go on sale.

Leuchtturm 1917 extras

Advantages

  • The pre printed index and page numbers are handy if you need them
  • The labels are a really nice addition

Disadvantages

  • I didn’t like the soft cover (I need to try a hardcover one)
  • paper feels good but not great

The Rhodia Webnotebook (“Webbie”)

Rhodia Webnotebook front

Specifications
Paper weight 90gsm
Price paid $22
Cover Hard soft pleather
Number of Pages 192

The Rhodia is my favorite “luxury” notebook by far.

The paper quality is incredible, I generally write with gel inks and the Rhodia allows me to write effortlessly.

Out of all the notebooks it’s the one that really feels different from cheaper paper.

Rhodia Webnotebook inks

There are very few extras with the Rhodia notebook, there is no index or page numbering but I LIKE that.

It’s up to you what the notebook contains.

Rhodia Webnotebook pocket

And finally the cover - while it’s beautifully soft and supple it’s also genuinely solid!

This notebook will survive getting knocked around in a bag and being used daily. When you’re done it will stand up nicely on a shelf like a hardback book.

Rhodia Webnotebook bleedthrough

I can’t express how nice this notebook feels in your hand. It’s just lovely.

I highly recommend trying one if you want to keep notes for a long time.

Advantages

  • Absolutely luxurious paper and cover
  • Cheap - $22 is a steal for this

Disadvantages

  • heavy and bulky compared to the others

The Moleskine classic

Moleskine front

Specifications
Paper weight 70gsm
Price paid $35
Cover Hard pleather
Number of Pages 240

Moleskine notebooks were my first “decent” notebooks years ago.

The Moleskine easily feels better than than the cheap notebook but you pay a lot for it.

It feels like nice quality.

However next to the Leuchtturm with all the extras or the Rhodia with it’s luxury paper and beautiful cover; the Moleskine just feels average to me now.

Moleskine inks

The paper is 70gsm but it still feels nice.

It was harder trying to tell the difference between 70gsm and 80gsm, but it was easy to feel a difference between 70gsm and 90gsm..

Moleskine bleedthrough

The thing is that the Moleskin isn’t cheap for the quality of the paper included!

It was the most expensive purchase for me at $35.

Moleskine extras

Anyway. Everyone knows the Moleskine brand. You will have a working notebook and it looks great.

But there is better quality and value out there in my opinion.

Buy this if you can’t find the others or you need more pages.

Advantages

  • Lots of pages

Disadvantages

  • Expensive. You’re paying for top marketing and brand with a Moleskine

Looking at the thickness of each

The Moleskine is slim when you consider the number of pages. The Leuchtturm is skinny but it has the skinny cover.

Rhodia and Moleskine

The Rhodia is a chonky boy for 96 leaves but it FEELS amazing. It’s soft and supple and the paper is just incredible.

Rhodia and Leuchtturm

Conclusion

I will still use a cheap $2 perforated notebook for throw away note-taking, alongside a Rhodia for main notes and journaling.

All the notebooks have advantages and disadvantages and they all get the job done.

Get the Moleskine if you want to have lots of pages and availability is a problem for the others.

Get the Leuchtturm 1917 if you journal in a laboratory or bullet journal.

Get the Rhodia if you want a really nice notebook for archiving and you don’t care about the extras in the Leuchtturm.

Ultimately the cheap notebook does the same thing for way less cost than the others.

You could have 11 cheap notebooks for the same price as a Rhodia!

They just don’t feel like something I would like to archive in comparison to the others.


Darragh ORiordan

Hi! I'm Darragh ORiordan.

I live and work in Sydney, Australia enjoying the mountains and the ocean.

I build and support happy teams that create high quality software for the web.

Contact me on Twitter!


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