I received the Wanderings Notebook to review not long ago and wanted to give a good thorough field test before I wrote my review. It will look like most of the leather, Midori-like notebooks you’ve seen on Etsy and other sites and wonder “What’s the big deal?” And that’s part of the big deal. There’s no a big deal unlike Foxy Fix, Chic Sparrow, Buteo Bunker, ZenCraft, One Star Leather or any of the other more posh brands.The Wanderings Notebook doesn’t have a lot of bells-and-whistles. There’s no pockets, extra stitching, no “extra room”, no personal size, passport size, Moleskine size, pocket size, slim size, blah blah blah…. It doesn’t come with a bunch of different colored elastic options or charms or custom embossing. To be honest, a lot of those options cause me to seize up with too-many-decisions-to-make-before-I-can-place-my-order and then I never place an order. The only branding on the Wanderings Notebook is a literal brand on the cover of a compass rose.
Right now, the Wanderings Notebook is only available in dark chocolate brown leather in the original traveler’s size (closed it’s approx. 8.5″ x 4.75″ or 22.2×12.7cm). The elastic is brown. Henry Ford would approve.You can get it any color you want as long as you want it in brown.
I decided to do a bit of a side-by-side with a regular Midor Traveler’s Notebook. The only full-sized Midori I could find was the 2015 Blue Edition Midori Traveler’s Notebook. The Wanderings Notebook is a bit wider overall than the Midori. The added bit of leather on the Wanderings strap is a noticeably nice addition. Also, the stock Wanderings elastic is a bit wider than the standard Traveler’s Notebook elastic. From the top view, you can see that the leather textures are a little bit different. The Wanderings Notebook is a bit more rustic where the Blue Edition has a smoother texture.
The leather on the Wanderings looks a bit thicker overall but its still supple. Inside my Midori Traveler’s Notebook (it as still branded Midori in 2015) is one a refills of handmade sketchbook paper and a plastic sleeve or two.
The Wanderings Notebook uses brass toggles to finish the ends of the elastics. The Wanderings Notebook also does not include any bookmarks in its notebook unlike the Traveler’s Notebook though it would not be difficult to add your own if you wanted to customize your notebook.
From the side view, you can see that the Wanderings Notebook uses the side hole to attach the elastic for the closure which many people prefer over the back knot that the Traveler’s Notebook uses. Also, the Wanderings Notebook has the same brass noodle-like bead on the side. I prefer it to the Midori disc which sticks out away from the book quite a bit.
I tested out an assortment of my currently inked fountain pens on the notebooks that came with the Wanderings Notebooks.
The Wanderings Notebook ships with three blank inserts with kraft covers and ivory paper. I was surprised to discover that the paper was actually quite good for fountain pens. Most of my fine and medium nibs did quite well.
I usually clip a multi-pen to my Traveler’s Notebook since it ends up getting tossed around a lot or going to meetings and I like having a pen and a pencil with me. I was pleased that gel ink and pencil worked well on the paper that shipped with the cover but was equally happy to see that the paper stood up to a lot of different media.
There’s a little bit of show through on the reverse of stock but not too bad.
In the end though, with a Traveler’s Notebook cover, the most important aspect is always the durability of the cover and how well it wears and feels in your hand. The universality of the size means that finding a replacement insert is not a big deal. I will often just cut down old sketchbooks to make refills in a pinch. So I think it was wise for Black Mountain to go with this size to start. I know a lot of people don’t like this size or prefer the Field Notes or Passport size better but I find that once you adapt to the Traveler’s classic size, you re won over to it for good.
One of the things I talked with the Black Mountain Company about was that their notebooks are made in China and that is how they are able to keep their costs down. We talked about it at length and I hope that he won’t mind me quoting him here:
When I selected my supplier in China it was one of my top priorities to partner with a company that I felt good about in terms of how they treat their people and how the product is made. They pay their people well, source raw materials ethically, and produce a truly high quality product. I’ll leave that last point up to your judgement as well, of course.
I’m not an “artisan” as it is so popular to be these days, but that was not my goal when I started Wanderings. I wanted to provide a truly quality product to people at a price that a normal person can afford, along with stellar customer service (my specialty and what I enjoy doing).
Our planet is a global civilization and I run a micro-global company. My products are designed in Canada, made in China, and sold around the world, and I like it that way.
As someone who also works with Chinese manufacturers regularly, I can relate to his situation and his passion. I also his appreciate his honesty. Having walked through Chinese factories myself and seen the pride and hard work with my own eyes, I know what it means to see what you have envisioned come to life in the hands of craftspeople on the other side of the globe. Anyway… back to the bottom line.
The Wanderings Notebook is just $26.99 and includes three blank refills to get you started. Unlike the Traveler’s Notebook, it does not come with the cotton dust bag and the fancy paperboard box and extra elastics to keep those costs down. You can use that savings to embellish and add to your notebook however you see fit. If you’ve never tried a leather notebook cover before, there’s no better way to try one and I feel good about recommending a company who is both honest and honorable.