productsTed Walker

Review: Thick in the Pocket: a review of this Clairefontaine pocket notebook

productsTed Walker
Review: Thick in the Pocket: a review of this Clairefontaine pocket notebook


  • Papier Velouté 90g/m²
  • 5 ⅜” x 3.5”
  • 48 pages
  • Staple-bound
  • Made in France
  • PEFC
  • Purchased at Dromgoole’s in Houston

I hand-counted the number of pages in this notebook because it feels like more than the page count you’d find in a Field Notes pocket notebook. My spidey sense was off, however; the page count was a perfectly Field Notes-ian 48 pages.

Nonetheless, this handsome potential alternative to our factory standard felt like it was in a slightly different category, and the result was that I thought it was taking me forever to fill. But it was an illusion. It didn't contain more pages; it contained fancier paper, featured a more delicate overall presentation, with less emphasis on ruggedness and storytelling. 

It feels thicker and heavier than the typical FN, with a staple binding that takes up space like it was PUR-bound (binded? bint?). In fact, the thickness is such that the staples are all askew on the spine. No biggie, in the end, but indicative of this aspiring pocket notebook’s skew towards paper quality over function.

The benefit: the paper is awesome. A little slick, but thick and smooth and satisfying. If you’re a “paper-first” type, this will satisfy. My TWSBI Eco with a fine nib took to this paper like an otter to a clear stretch of Alaskan river. The purplish rule is light but clear, perfect for my style.

The drawback, which for me is substantial, is its pocket performance. The function factor. I am a back pocket notebook person, and when a notebook doesn’t fit that profile pretty squarely, I’m less apt to enjoy it. This Clairefontaine, for all of its aesthetic qualities, technically fits in my back pocket, but it’s too thick. Costanza-level problems ensue, and added to some additional wear.  

This book shows what happens when the balance between nice paper and functionality swings too far toward the former.

That said, it’s always good to try alternatives to Field Notes, just to confirm what a great balance our favorite always seems to strike.  

Overall assessment: if you’re a non-pocketer, you’d probably love this notebook. I still really liked it.