Choosing a pen is one thing, but choosing a notebook for your EDC kit is another thing entirely. There are a lot of factors that come into play:
- Size: Does it need to be pocketable or will you carry it in a bag, case or cover?
- Paper: Does it need to be fountain pen friendly or will you use a ballpoint or gel pen?
- Rule: Ruled or plain? Dots or grids?
- Durability: Does it need to hold up to rain? Dirt? Moisture?
There is no one notebook to rule them all, but the team over at Nock Co. has come pretty darn close to creating one with their latest batch of dot-dash notebooks. Their first batch of fun, bright yellow notebooks stood out due to their dot-dash pattern (as seen in their Dot-Dash Notecards, which I reviewed here) and unique reporter-style top-flap binding. I loved those notebooks because they fit the soon-to-be-released Fodderstack XL case from Nock Co. and showed that Brad and Jeff were committed to that case size and to providing a complete EDC solution to their customers. But, the paper did leave a bit to be desired as it had a tendency to feather and also suffered from a bit of bleed through and ghosting.
We talked and Nock Co. listened. They have addressed these concerns with their latest batch of notebooks while keeping them made in the USA, which is important to them and important to me as well. Kudos to them for sticking close to their values.
So, how do the new notebooks perform? I have tested them with both a fountain pen with 0.4mm Cursive Italic and a 0.5mm Signo 207 Rollerball Gel Refill. Both performed very well. There was no feathering from either. The fountain pen did show a slight amount of ghosting, but absolutely no bleed. The gel showed no bleed and had even less ghosting than the fountain pen. I do write with a bit of a heavy hand and the slight amount of ghosting I experienced with the 207 may be a result of my heavy hand and not a fault of the paper. I did a test using an Energel 0.5mm Blue Gel Refill as well and used less pressure with no ghosting at all.
All three pens dried quickly (a little more than 2 seconds at the most from my limited testing). This is surprising given the lack of feathering. Most papers with quick dry times suffer from significant feathering as the paper soaks up the ink causing it to spread. I was also surprised to see that there was no bleed through, even where the fountain pen put down the most ink. I will say that the back side of the paper is unusable when using a fountain pen (especially one with a broader nib like the one I used) but given the reporter-style top flap design, I probably wouldn't be using the back of the page anyway. And, while I pushed the limits of this paper with a rather broad pen, most people won't be carrying a custom-ground cursive italic as an EDC pen anyway so this should be considered a worst-case scenario.
The paper they chose isn't as smooth as those offered by Rhodia and Tomoe River, but for an EDC notebook, I actually welcome the bit of texture. My writing can get a little squirrely on super smooth papers when I'm jotting notes and what not so the tooth in the Nock Co. paper gives me a little more control over my writing. Definitely a good thing. I imagine the texture of the paper also has a bit to do with the absorbency, resulting in those quicker dry times.
The paper still isn't perfect for every possible pen and ink combination, there likely isn't a paper that is, but this is close. Closer than the first notebooks, by far.
Nock Co. has done a fabulous job with these notebooks. They stuck to their guns with a product that is made in the USA and they were able to maintain a balance between a high quality paper that provides a tactile, quick-drying writing experience with a variety of pens and inks. Kudos to them on an excellent revision. Not only does this highlight what a great company Nock Co. is, but it shows their commitment to the customer and their readiness to address problems and concerns that arise in their products. For these reasons, I continue to purchase and use their products.
Disclaimer: I received these notebooks free of charge from Nock Co. so that I could give them a first look, but I will certainly purchase additional notebooks when these are full and I can easily recommend them to anyone searching for a great everyday notebook that departs from the average side-staple offerings from other brands.
Thanks for reading,