Product Review: Clairefontaine Roadbook

estimated 3 min read

Back in the grey and chilly days of early February, Karen of Exaclair put out a call asking for reviews of Clairefontaine Roadbooks. While my travel wouldn’t coincide with the review dates, I offered to put it through its paces around town.

What is the Roadbook? From their blog (and marketing materials), the “travel notebooks are part of the Clairefontaine Basics Life.unplugged lineup: “Rugged, essential and expedition ready, whether exploring the Silk Road or Soho, Clairefontaine Basics are the perfect companion for wilderness or urban adventures.”

They feature rounded corners, an elastic strap, and a flexible cover of heavy cardstock in four colors with a leather look-and-feel. The 8mm lined paper is acid-free, PEFC certified, and 90gsm. The Roadbooks contains 64 pages so they’re slim yet you won’t run out of pages overnight (well, you could…).

Clairefontaine Roadbook

While it is available in a smaller size, I opted for the larger A5 size and Karen sent me one in Red. No way was I going to loose or forget it among my other notebooks. It’s a nice red, closer to brick than primary. I’m surprised to find after weeks of use I like the color! I took it all over town to various coffee shops and let it hang out in the bottom of my bag or join me for my morning coffee even when I wasn’t using it.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

Clairefontaine Roadbook

Clairefontaine Roadbook

I took these pictures of the cover in my sunroom at about 4pm today.

Clairefontaine Roadbook Cover

Clairefontaine Roadbook

Clairefontaine Roadbook

It still, in my opinion, looks amazing. I would have no problem pulling this notebook out at a new-client meeting and worrying that I’d make a poor impression with a tattered notebook. I’m impressed.

I love most everything about it, from the size, to the weight, to, of course, the Clairefontaine paper, but I knew that going in. It put up with every pen I tossed at it, from several fountain pens to some pigma microns. I didn’t go through every pen in the house, but the ones I had in my bag I used. I love that the paper is white. I am surprised, I’d been veering toward ivory papers.

Clairefontaine Roadbook writing samples

Clairefontaine Roadbook writing samples

Clairefontaine Roadbook, writing samples, back

Clairefontaine Roadbook, writing samples, back

The rounded corners help it stand up to abuse in my bag, or if I drop it. I like that I can fold the cover and that it is sturdy enough to write on my leg, useful for taking notes on a train.

What do I wish it did differently?

I wish there was a pocket in the cover, perhaps on the outside so it couldn’t interfere with writing. When I travel there is always ephemera that I want to keep safe until it makes its way to the scrapbook (or recycling bin).

I wish that there was a grid option or narrower rule. I prefer 5-6mm so the 8mm is super wide spacing for me. It’s ok but not my preference.

I wish that the pages were indexed. I think? I don’t know. I go back and forth on this.

I wish that the lines were spaced more evenly on the page, I don’t need the header & footer margins to be so wide.

But really, those are all trivial issues.

How did it surprise me the most? I was skeptical about the cover material. It has stood up to quite a bit of abuse. While I couldn’t make myself purposely spill tea or coffee on it, I am very pleased with how it’s held up.

Clairefontaine Roadbook

A collection of thoughts and photos by recent reviewers can be found at this Rhodia Drive post.

You can find the Roadbook in two sizes and four cover options at many retailers, including Paper Bistro and Goldspot. There are similar notebooks in the Basic Life Unplugged line available at Jetpens and The Goulet Pen Company.

Thank you to Exaclair and Karen for providing this review copy in exchange for an honest review.