Back in February I learned of the Clairefontaine Roadbook and was able to obtain one for review. The Roadbook I received is A5-sized with heavy, black cardboard covers. The flexible covers have the look and texture of leather.
The 64 sheets of smooth 90g Clairefontaine 8 mm-lined paper is stitched and glue-bound.
The notebook has an elastic closure â là Moleskine to keep the book closed. The corners are rounded which helps prevents them from becoming dog-eared.
The front flyleaf is off-white and printed with an antique looking globe map and has space for personalization. I think the map has a retro vibe which is quite nice for a travel log.
The back end leaf uses the same off white paper and sports the Clairefontaine logos.
The Roadblock is part of the “Life. unplugged” line which, as the motto says, “Takes you where no laptop can go. Rugged, essential and expedition ready, whether exploring the Silk Road or Soho, Clairefontaine notebooks are the perfect companion for wilderness or urban adventures.”
When I originally signed up to review the Roadbook, I envisioned using it in the car for all the out-of-town hockey games that my son and his hockey team would play in. As well, I thought I might have a trip to New York City that I could bring along the Roadbook to test.
Turns out we had gotten through the parts in the hockey game schedule with the longest trips. We still took with us on short trips and managed to squeeze in a few games of Tic-Tac-Toe and Hangman.
Fortunately, we also managed a last minute weekend escape to Niagara-on-the-Lake wine country. More games of Tic-Tac-Toe and Hangman ensued and my little guy even used the Roadbook to journal about the days’ activities. I would say the my 8-year enjoys the Roadbook. He has even rifled through my handbag at restaurants looking for it.
Towards the end of March I went on a day-trip to New York City for business meetings. Amongst my arsenal of fountain pens and notebooks, I also took along the Roadbook to use as a travel log. Alas, my day in the Big Apple was a blur of meetings and I barely had a moment to myself to enjoy using the Roadbokk. But I did have a couple minutes during one of my cab rides. Since I had the Roadbook stashed in my handbag, it was easy enough to take it out quickly for a short note.
Based on the car trips and my short trip to NYC, I would say the form factor of the Roadbook is well-suited as a travel log. The cover is tough and sturdy. It has held up well to frequent stashing into my bags and handling by an 8-year aspiring hockey phenom.
While the cardboard cover is flexible, it gives enough stiffness to the book to allow for writing on laps, which, I presume, would be a common writing surface on road trips.
The paper is classic Clairefontaine. It handled a variety of my fountain pen ink well. I wrote in it using Extra Fine to Music nibs. It didn’t feather and there was little ghosting or bleed-through from writing. The only time there was bleed-through was due to heavy inking on a lettering piece I did. Even then, the bleed-through was not so terrible as to render the back side illegible or unusable.
I find Clairefontaine paper to be silky smooth and I realize that means longer ink dry times. I try to handle the paper carefully so the long dry time was not an issue for me. As for my slightly impatient 8 year old, who does not understand so much the subtleties of glassy smooth papers and dry times, he did encounter some instances of smudging.
I would say that the one thing that I was not crazy about is the 8 mm ruling. This is a preference thing as my first choice of rulings is dot followed by blank, grid then lines. The 8 mm ruling is awkward for me as my preferred nib size is EF. Having said that, the 8 mm ruing is fine for the 1.1 stub or the music nibs with which I wrote this review. So, I would probably just choose to use a wider nib when using this lined book. I’m not sure if the Roadbook comes in other rulings. I think that blank pages would be nice for sketches on the road.
The other thing that I don’t like is that the book does not open flat nor does it close flat. Hence, the reason for the elastic closure. It’s a necessity. As for holding open, I must keep my left hand on the left side of the book at all times to keep it open.
The Clairefontaine Roadbook is a sturdy little notebook in a great form factor that makes it well-suited for it’s intended purpose. It’s great to stash in a bag without taking up much room. It has excellent smooth paper that can handle the widest of nibs and wettest of inks. I would not hesitate to pick up a few of these for future road trips, particularly if it came with dot grid or blank.
Thanks to Karen at Exaclair for providing me a Roadbook for review purposes at no cost. I was not compensated monetarily for my review. Everything you've read here is my own opinion. There are no affiliate links in this review.