#AnalogLife, Notebooks

Traveler’s Notebook: Initial Thoughts!

Cza / November 2, 2017

As I continue with this blogging venture, I have to convince myself of three things:

  • this is a low-budget blog to start with
  • I’m doing this mainly as a hobby
  • I can only review materials I actually own, due to budget constraints.

So here’s the Traveler’s Notebook I bought before the short November holidays:

The Traveler's Notebook basic kit in Camel.
The Traveler’s Notebook basic set in Camel.

I had lots of fun picking out this notebook at the Scribe Megamall branch. By the way, you’re looking for a store that’s accessible from key points in the metro, with friendly staff and excellent stocks, I highly recommend that particular Scribe store.

So let’s go on to my review of the Traveler’s Notebook (TN), which is made by Midori but branded under “Traveler’s Company.” It’s a pretty bare-bones number, made of just a piece of leather threaded with straps to fit refills. Its filling mechanism actually reminded me of the filler notebooks I used to stash into my backpack in high school, which made use of metal pins holding the fillers, and plastic clamps on the top and bottom of the spine to keep the pins from falling out. The TN’s filling mechanism is much simpler, though, making use of only strings to keep the very basic-looking fillers in place. You’ll see what it looks like in pictures as you read on 🙂

The Authentic Midori Difference

Before I got this notebook, I had second thoughts about getting an original Midori TN. At Php 2199, its price was equivalent to nearly one-fourth of my 15-day salary. My searching had led me to various crafters on Instagram who made and sold so-called “fauxdoris.” Like the authentic TN’s, these also boasted of a genuine leather make, and took refills much like the Midori’s, but were decidedly cheaper by at least Php 1000.

When I arrived at Scribe to buy a new notebook, I have to admit I was distracted by the new Hobonichi journals on display. Their pastel jacket colors appealed so strongly to my inner girly-girl that I almost completely forgot about my TN plans. I didn’t even care that the Hobonichis were actually planners! Good thing Jared and my officemate were there to set my head straight. 😛

So we went to check out the TN’s on display. And oh, the moment I laid my eyes (and hands) on a sample TN, it was love at first sight (and touch).

Jared’s a highly critical person when it comes to material things, especially expensive ones. He isn’t one to indulge on “stuff,” and he prefers to improvise rather than buy. He attended a leathercrafting workshop once, and has since done a bit of research on leather types. Yet even he was impressed by the type of leather Midori used to make the Traveler’s Notebook — a heavy sort of leather, possibly vegetable-tanned. Compared to the material of my Elias pen case, Elias leather is paper, whereas TN leather is Balikbayan-box cardboard. No wonder Midori claims their notebooks will last a lifetime.

Your Own Notebook

Another stand-out quality of the Traveler’s Notebook is that you can customize it — and make it truly your own. Most users like to add charms on the elastic, and adorn the wax-thread “bookmark” with beads. I have yet to do so for my own TN, but I promise I will very soon. I plan to thread crystal beads onto the bookmark and put a brass or silver charm up front. I’ll also put in two more refills for other purposes, and maybe a card slot or cardboard pocket, too. If I feel like it, I’ll probably get to making my own refills to save cash. Midori paper is pretty good, though.

One of the TN’s defining features, as stated on the official website, is that each TN will obtain its own character over time. Such is true for most leather products, but Midori TN’s appear to age relatively well. We’ll see what becomes of mine as time goes by. 🙂

Packaging

The Traveler’s Notebook comes in an unimposing brown cardboard package, and is wrapped in clear plastic to prevent tampering.

My Midori Camel starter kit, inside the brown packaging. Looks like it’s stuffed inside a brown office folder.

Inside, you’ll find the notebook with 1 refill already fastened inside. The notebook has its own cloth pouch, which acts as a protective sleeve.

I’m not sure how many people carry their TN’s inside this cloth bag, but since I’m fond of keeping my things pristine for as long as I can, I can see my cloth bag getting a lot of use.

Nonetheless, scratches supposedly give TN’s their character. I’m hoping that owning a TN helps me get over my abhorrence of damage or flaws — after all, they’re expected to become nuanced over time. Scratches = memories. The TN is meant to be a companion, something you take with you all the time. Get rough with it!

As a well-thought-out finishing touch by Midori, you’ll also find an extra set of elastics inside the package. The color of the extra elastics varies depending on the color notebook you buy. Since I got Camel, mine has a set of green elastic thread inside. 😀 Should (both) elastics give out, you can buy a repair kit composed of elastic strings in several colors. Hooray for DIY fixing! 😉

Writing Experience

I’m keeping this short and sweet, since I’ve only written in my Traveler’s Notebook twice. For the initial test, I used my TWSBI Eco fountain pen, a Sailor brush pen for the modern calligraphy, and a Zig Cocoiro ballpoint.

Midori’s signature MD paper was truly a pleasure to write on. Smooth, no feathering, only a bit of ghosting at the back. Nothing too hard to live with, though 🙂

There are three types of refills available in MD paper for the TN — lined, blank, and grid.

There are also specialty paper types — kraft, sketch, lightweight (made of Tomoe River paper!), and various types of planner. I was only able to spot the planner and kraft refill in Megamall, though I don’t think that’s all they have. Pretty sure stocks are coming along. 🙂

Filling mechanism

As promised, here are more photos of the filling mechanism. Simple as it gets 🙂

“Strings over rings!” — TN Philippines User Group (Facebook)

Final thoughts

I have absolutely zero regrets putting down Php2199 for this notebook. It may be just a slab of leather with strings, but its construction screams quality all over, and I can almost hear it begging to be customized.

I’m now beyond excited to begin #AnalogLife with this notebook. Like any other millennial out there, I’m sometimes guilty of spending too much time on the Internet (why, hello, Facebook!) and watching gloss shows on TV. To me, this notebook is a welcome reminder to get out in the world more — explore, make memories, and immortalize them on paper. 😀

If you’re Filipino like myself and are a Traveler’s Notebook owner, I highly suggest you join the Facebook group.

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