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Review: Moleskine

When on a trip, I like to journal, keep notes, and make observations, and when I’m not on a trip, I like to read journals of other paddlers’ trips. It’s fun to travel along with a paddler as he or she travels down some river I’ve never been on or across an ocean or great lake or as the paddler portages from lake to lake. And I like to share my journals after I finish a trip. It’s fun to journal.

That main problem that I have is that I find it hard to write on any piece of paper or lightweight notebook and my old favorite journals weighed 11 ounces. My compromise journals weighed four. It never felt right to me to write on detached paper, which is the lightest way to travel. So, I’m always on the lookout for the perfect notebook to take on a paddling trip. And I may have just found one.

Moleskine notebook used for tripping.
Moleskine notebook used for tripping.

What’s All the Hype?

Moleskine notebooks and cahiers have been around for a number of years, and they trace their history (a history of Moleskine is included with each one you buy) back to small hand stitched notebooks available in stationary shops in Paris. They claim to directly descend from notebooks used by Hemingway and Van Gogh, and they’ve been catching on all over the world, so much so that they’ve been used on TV shows, they’ve been exhibited in museums, and every hipster uses one now instead of a PDA. I gotta admit, I’ve also been taken, but it didn’t happen right away.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

When I first heard all the hype, I dismissed the journals as just another fad, but when I actually saw one in a store, I just had to pick some up, despite their outrageously high asking price. They fit perfect in your hand, feel durable, and the paper just feels right. I bought a notebook and two packages of cahiers. Twenty dollars later and I was plugging them to my friends, family, and now you.

It’s Not Just a Journal; It’s a Way of Life

I don’t know if I buy into the hype (or maybe I do and they have me believing that I don’t), but I can see why there is hype. These little things are great and even more perfect for the paddler looking for a lightweight and small solution for journaling. The Moleskines come in several sizes and flavors, but the two smallest sizes are the most interesting. The Pocket Notebook has a hardcover, 192 3″ x 5″ pages, a built in rubber band to close it, a fabric bookmark, and a pocket in the back to hold stuff in. (i.e. your wilderness permit.) It weighs 4.6 ounces. The Pocket Cahiers have a soft cover, 64 3″ x 5″ pages with 16 detachable pages, and a pocket in the back to hold stuff in. It weighs 1.3 ounces. They all come with a variety of page styles, including: graph paper, lined, and plain. The lines on the lined version are slightly smaller than college paper, but still big enough to write on easily, and the graph paper version uses small squares than what I’m used to, but still plenty big. The paper itself is off white and the ink from my Pilot G2 (best pen on earth) is slightly visible through the paper.

So, Does It Work?

Oh yaaaah, it does. My journals typically take up around ten pages per day in the 3″x5″ size, so for a ten day trip, I need to carry two Cahiers, but still that’s only 2.6 ounces and saves weight over my old small journal. But more importantly, these small things feel weighty in your hand, they feel deserving of thoughts, and unlike other notebooks I’ve used, they seem to speak to you and say fill me, and fill me soon. It’s also the perfect size to carry with you everywhere. (Does this mean I’m buying the hype?)


It’s hard to say anything negative about these Moleskines. My ink shows through is about the only bad thing, but overall these are the best things since man figured out that a boat could float. If you like to keep a journal, you won’t be disappointed.

Date: January 6, 2006
Product Reviewed: Moleskine Notebooks and Cahiers
Weight: 4.6 ounces and 1.3 ounces
Cost: $4.99 to $9.99

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  • What a great site you have! It is very useful with tons of reviews, articles, and photos. Thank you for publishing this website!!

  • Once you put a Moleskine notebook into action, you understand what all of the hype is about. They are simple yet satisfying. The great thing about the Cahiers is that you can slide one under the elastic strap on the standard Moleskine notebook giving you 2 notebooks in 1 packet. Some pens do bleed through the paper, but Pilot G2 pens work well without going through the paper.

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