View Full Version : My 'review' of Rhodia, Field Notes, and Moleskine (as promised!)

10-23-2009, 06:52 PM
For some background:


As promised, my painfully amateur 'review' of three higher-end notebooks: Rhodia, Field Notes, and Moleskine. I have only just bought my first fountain pen and know basically nothing about paper but here goes...

Here they are in their full-frontal glory:


I used a Lamy Safari fountain pen with and EF (extra fine) nib and Lamy purple ink. I tried to be uniform in my pressure and speed when writing in each book. I'm printing simply because my handwriting looks like a dog's breakfast. From left to right again: Rhodia, Field Notes, Moleskine. The three smudged bars on the left of each page was a little test I tried to see how quickly the ink dried on each type of paper. I waited a second after writing and ran my finger across the ink (I'm left handed so my hand tends to drag through what I've just written so this is important to me).


The Rhodia:


The Field Notes:


The Moleskine:


I also wanted to see how much the ink showed through on the backs of the paper. I don't think I'd be writing on both sides of any of these to be honest.

The Rhodia:


The Field Notes:


The Moleskine:


My impressions :confused::

I still don't know which one I like the best but the three are certainly different from one another. I should also point out that I have no idea now these papers would work with a rollerball or other type of pen; I'm also not sure if the types of paper used in these little notebooks are used throughout each brands' product line or not. I also don't know how these are priced in relation to each other so that might be something else to take into consideration.

The Rhodia was nice and the paper almost feels plastic-like if that makes sense. It is very smooth to write on and doesn't show through the back side very much. Due to it's 'plastici-ness' the ink tended to sit on top of the paper for a few seconds which is why it smudged the most. If you also look closely the edges of the writing are a bit jagged (feathered?) but this isn't really a problem for me. I find the blue-grid distracting but maybe it's available without? Anyway, nice paper! I can see German engineers solving the impossible on this paper. Swedish forestry officers probably use this too, though I may just be subconsciously influenced by the two trees on the cover.

The Field Notes has a kind of 'war time' retro feel to it and although the light brown grid is less obtrusive than the Rhodia, I'm still not a big fan. This paper really absorbs ink quickly but this also means that the ink can soak right through if too much ink is laid down. The ink also comes out lighter than it does on the Rhodia paper. The paper itself is quite fibrous and the pen would kind of scratch at times and even pick up little filaments of material from the paper. Could be just my technique though. Might be nice with a rollerball pen or pencil (or a fountain pen with a less scratchy nib?). I can see General MacArthur scribbling coordinates on this.

The Moleskine has a nice thread-stitched spine (Field Notes uses three standard staples). The paper itself is really off-white (almost yellow actually) and is quite smooth...seems almost coated or something. The ink came out quite light again when compared to the Rhodia. Whereas the Field Notes tended to let the ink right through the paper, the Moleskine showed the impression of the writing quite prominently through the back but not the ink itself. Writing was smooth but the ink tended to pool right at the point where the nib left the paper leaving lines dark at one end and light at the other. Kind of a cool effect I guess. To me, this is the coolest 'looking' paper if that counts for anything. I can see DaVinci using this stuff (must be the color?)

So this test basically decided nothing for me but damn it was fun! :biggrin: But seriously, I probably wouldn't buy the Field Notes for a fountain pen because the surface is just too rough. The Rhodia is really very nice but the graph is just distracting for me. The Moleskine is also very nice to write on though I wish it didn't show through the back side so much. All three of these notebooks were nicer than anything I had tried previous so it's all good. I would suggest trying each out for yourself before buying.

10-23-2009, 06:58 PM
Thanks for posting. Really interesting to read!

If you don't mind me asking, what kind of journal were you going to write? Our first child will be born in a couple of weeks and I'm toying with the thought of trying to write something about her life on a regular basis to save for her when she's older. That would demand a pretty good paper though ...


10-23-2009, 06:59 PM
Great contribution to a never ending debate. I like the Rhodia paper, though I am not sure if I like the pad format.

10-23-2009, 07:09 PM
Great contribution to a never ending debate. I like the Rhodia paper, though I am not sure if I like the pad format.

I'm not such a fan of that format either to be honest, though I imagine it depends on what you are using it for. Awesome paper, but the Rhodia does have the feeling that each page is meant to be ripped out and stuck somewhere else.

10-23-2009, 08:15 PM
I appreciate the review. I can probally get more out of a review from someone with little experience than someone who has used lots of different papers and compare them to other papers I know nothing about.

What size nib does your pen have?

10-23-2009, 08:38 PM
I appreciate the review. I can probally get more out of a review from someone with little experience than someone who has used lots of different papers and compare them to other papers I know nothing about.

What size nib does your pen have?

EF (Extra Fine)

Thanks for the reminder actually...I might go back and put that in. :smile:

10-23-2009, 09:11 PM
You're right about the Rhodia. It's my favorite: heavy, smooth, and takes a fountain pen beautifully.

I use the grid paper sometimes, but I can't get used to it. It seems to be very popular in Europe, so it's a mainstay of Rhodia's line. They make lined paper in the larger format notebooks, but I'm not sure they make them in the small notebooks like you're using here.

Rhodia's sister company, Clairefontaine, makes 4x6 wirebound notebooks (and larger) with lined paper.

10-23-2009, 09:35 PM
I use the moleskine myself. It's what I first started using several years ago when I got away from keeping a journal in the marble covered composition books. I have never seen the rhodia before, I'll have to keep my eye out for one to give it a test.

Nice review, and thanks for sharing.

10-23-2009, 09:41 PM
I think I saw Rhodia notebooks the last time I was in Target. I didn't look at the price, but I would hope they're cheaper than my usual supplier -- which is good as my shaving AD is cutting into my pen, paper and ink budget.

10-24-2009, 05:42 AM
My favorites include Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Fabriano Medioevalis and HP 32# Premium Choice laserjet paper.

Ken Tanaka
10-24-2009, 06:47 PM
The Rhodia and Moleskine companies make journal size products with blank, lined or graph paper.

However, the Rhodia webnotebook apparently uses a lesser grade of paper than their other products, but seems to be better paper than the moleskine.

The Fieldnote brand only comes in the pocketbook size in blank, lined or graph.


10-24-2009, 06:55 PM
My Rhodia is lined paper and spiral bound at the top. Awesome notebook. I prefer it to Moleskine and it is fairly equal to Clairfontaine.

10-25-2009, 02:56 PM
A huge thanks to you Ken for making this review even possible! :thumbup:

10-25-2009, 07:23 PM
What is the general cost of these 3 books? I know someone said they were all about the same price, but how much is that, and for what size book and how many pages?

10-25-2009, 08:32 PM
I've used all three of these brands with fountain pens and my favorite is the Rhodia. I like the format of the Moleskine the best, but the paper quality is too varied. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. I only buy Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks now.

J.B. Books
10-30-2009, 11:01 AM
I use the moleskine myself.

Darjeeling Express
10-30-2009, 12:36 PM
Dave (Thunderball), wonderful, wonderful thread. Rhodia mmm.

11-12-2009, 06:08 PM
Very nice reviews. I have been using Moleskine for a few years now. I just like the format and feel of the oilcloth covers. That said, I am now dabbling with another new contender, Whitelines.

11-12-2009, 06:35 PM
Excellent comparison. Thanks!

11-13-2009, 10:33 PM
Wow, this is so up my father's alley. I just emailed him the link. He is really into fountain pens and paper.

11-14-2009, 12:03 AM
Nice review! IMO Rhodia and Clairefontaine make the absolute finest paper out there, if you don't mind waiting an extra couple of seconds for drying time. They really come into their own when using a wet nib and an ink with lots of shading, like Noodler's Apache Sunset. Gorgeous.

Wil Dorenbos
11-14-2009, 06:44 AM
I never tried any others, just took a Moleskine, and am happy with it.

11-14-2009, 07:31 AM
Try the Black n' Red notebooks. I really like their hard-cover double-wire notebooks. Rhodia's "polished" paper comes in second for me, but I don't like their formats. Clairefontaine's bound books are classy, but I don't like the paper as much.
Levenger Circa paper works well, but is expensive and the system isn't for everyone. Best tried during one of their sales. I really like a lab notebook size and hard covers, but haven't tried Levenger's due to the absurd price.

11-14-2009, 07:40 AM
Custom pen nibs for left handed writers. http://www.nibs.com/

07-15-2010, 03:34 AM
I have a Moleskine Soft Cover Monthly Calendar book and a Moleskine Soft Cover Journal. I actually just ordered the small 3 x 4 3/4 Rhodia pocket notebooks to carry around at work and such. I am so tired of cheap wirebound notebooks falling apart in my pocket within a few days of walking around and having a notepad on me is important.