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 Field Notes:
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 Field Notes:
My impressions :
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! 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.