A little while back, or perhaps a long while back now, I can’t quite exactly remember when, I was approached to try out a new brand of notebook – the Back Pocket Notebook.
I’m something of a self-confessed pen and paper geek having tried out so many notebooks over the years. Now I don’t just mean your run-of-the-mill Moleskines. I’ve had everything from Field Notes to Clairefontaine and the Alwych Notebook (actually used by Michael Palin unlike the really shaky link between Hemwingway and the modern Moleskine). I’ve tried notebooks from Paperchase and the local supermarket and different papers ranging from 50gsm layout paper, which I love by the way, through to Bristol board.
I promised to thoroughly test out the Back Pocket Notebook with as many of my pens that I’d care to ink. I have fountain pens, technical pens, dip pens… You name it. If I’ve got one then I intend to ink it and try it out in the pages of my Back Pocket Notebook.
About the Back Pocket Notebooks
The notebooks are 140 x 90mm in size and have 36 inner cross grid 120gsm pages. They come with a 300gsm cover either printed with cover art or in the case of my sample set a 350gsm Kraft card cover, which is perfect if you want to design your own cover.
The sets of notebooks with cover art are based around different themes such as responsive web design, the Space X programme or different guitars and chords so you’re encouraged to learn a bit more about a topic or have a notebook to add your own notes when you’re learning to play the guitar (for example).
First Impressions of the Back Pocket Notebook
I’ve got to share my wife’s comment when she first saw it because it really made me laugh: “Oh no! Not another brown book!” Yeah ok I have a bit of a thing for brown notebooks. This is a well thought out notebook. The cover is made from a stiff, yet flexible brown card so it fits the spec for a notebook to stick in your back pocket and take everywhere. It’s also the perfect size for this.
The paper also seems like a good choice for a take-everywhere notebook. It has a subtle grey dot-grid so would make an ideal bullet journal book but is equally suited to sketching and doodling. I don’t think the grid will detract from sketches here.
Next up… Daily Illustrations with Different Pens
So now I’m going to put the Back Pocket Notebook through its paces. At the risk of getting an angry group of Moleskine fanatics hunting me down, I have to say when I tried out a Moleskine I was less than impressed by the performance with fountain pens, which are my preferred tool. I’m going to try out the Back Pocket Notebook with different pens to give an idea of how this performs under real-world conditions.
For a first test I tried my trusty Tachikawa Manga fountain pen with a School G nib and black ink. This has a fine nib (think Japanese nib sizing rather than European nibs) and although I’ve been using it a while so it’s not scratchy, it can still catch on paper. It doesn’t leave a wet line though.
So this should be an easy test – no risk of ink bleeding through but just a little possibility of the nib catching if the paper doesn’t have a very fine tooth*. The Back Pocket Notebook does a great job here. The paper is smooth and the dot grid is unobtrusive but I found it useful for getting straight lines. The ink didn’t smudge and didn’t come through the other side.
All-in-all I’m impressed with the notebook and could definitely see myself sticking one in my back pocket to take wherever I go for daily drawings whenever I get an opportunity. I’m going to give this a go over the next month to thoroughly test the Back Pocket Notebook. Check back for more tests with different pens here and on my Twitter @TheAnatomyst.
* Feel I’ve got to clarify here. Paper characteristics change how a piece of work looks – sometimes you need smooth Bristol board and for other pieces textured watercolour paper is a better fit.