November 19, 2017


I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the physical Milligram (formerly Notemaker) store at Melbourne Central recently, and managed to pick up some new notebooks to use (because you can never leave empty handed!). Newly opened on the 4th of November, it’s a store you will have to visit if you’re ever in town. There were three sets of notebooks that I picked up in my time there, and I’ve decided to do a little review comparing each in terms of size and paper quality.

These were the three notebooks:

1- Octaevo Passport Notebooks
2- Field Notes Campfire Edition
3- Milligram A6 Ruled Notebook

I’m currently predominantly using my Passport notebook for everyday planning and journaling, but have yet to find the perfect size for regular note-taking and documentation. As much as I love the Midori branded notebooks (because they’re a perfect all round notebook), they're limited variety means I'm always on the lookout for something different (and it's hard when not many companies do a Passport size notebook!)

But anyway, let's start with my review of the three notebooks. I'll go through size, variety and most importantly, paper quality tests:

1- Octaevo Passport

The Octaevo brand is new to Milligram and boasts colourful notebooks of varying sizes. Octaevo harks from across the Mediterranean seas of Barcelona with each piece they create being made to last. I purchased the Travel Notes Notebooks, Set of 3 in Alexandria, Barcelona and Athens, because they were the exact Passport size notebooks I needed. They come in a set of three, with each colour (yellow orange and blue) holding either plain, ruled or dot-grid pages:

Unlike Midori Passport notebooks, the cover is in fabric, giving them a more lasting and luxurious feel. Not to mention, their bright colours makes everything pop:

I do have to mention though, that these Octaevo notebooks are actually slightly larger than the Midori Passport notebooks:

However, they still fit perfectly in the leather cover with no overhang:

The pages feel thick and sturdy, but of course, we'll only get to know the quality of it with every day writing equipment. So on to the pen test:

I've decided to try out the most frequently used pens currently in the planner community (although do bear with me, I don't have every favourite pen in the planner community!) which included:
1- Midori Fountain Pen (with De Atramentis Documenter ink)
2- Pilot Juice 0.4
3- Muji 0.38 Gel Pen
4- Ballpoint pen
5- Kaweco Fountain Pen (F)
6- Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen (EF)
7- YStudio Fountain Pen (F)
8- Tombow Dual Brush

I will speak in terms of feathering, bleed and show through.
Feathering: ink spreads beyond where it is applied to the paper, usually along the fibres
Bleed through: seepage of ink from one side of the page to the other
Show through: the ability to see words / images printed on one side of the page on the other. Note that just because a paper has show through, doesn't mean it has bleed through!

I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed. The thick paper really held up well with all pens. Here's a closer look at how the different pens fared on the page:

There was minimal feathering in all the non-fountain pens, with feathering increasing with nib size. It wasn't too obvious to cause any blurring of words. And here's how it looks like on the back of the page:

Again, impressed. The YStudio Fountain Pen seemed to cause the most trouble in terms of feathering and slight bleed through, but only because of the size of the nib (even though its F!). The page fared very well with all other pens with only a slight show through with the other two fountain pens.

Overall: I would definitely consider using these notebooks if I were to ever need a change from the Midori variety.  They're a great size (slightly larger than the normal, which also means more space!), contains great paper and are aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention, they have a dot grid notebook which is a big plus considering I can't find one anywhere else! Highly recommend!

2- Field Notes:

Field Notes are a well known brand for their notebooks. Although slightly larger than a Passport size, I love having them as an extra notebook tucked at the back for random notes and doodles. For me, Field Notes are kinda like a brain-dump-disposable notebook. It allows my thoughts to run free on the page with no pressure to be neat.

I bought myself the Campfire Edition seeing it was one of the many versions I've been eyeing for a while mostly because of the cute patch it comes with, and the fact that the grid lines inside came in gorgeous blue, orange and brown colours!

But having used Field Notes before, I knew what to expect with the paper quality, which to be honest, isn't fantastic for the pens I use. And here's why:

Using the same pens I trialled in the Octaevo Notebooks, I have tested them out in the Field Notes pages again. Here's how it looks:

And here's a closer look:

Feathering is slightly more evident in the fountain pens in the Field Notes as compared to Octaevo, which was mostly only evident in the Ystudio Fountain Pen. The Tombow Dual Brush marker colour created little blots on the page rather than a smooth colour lay like with the Octaevo, so don't expect colouring in these pages to turn out too artistic. The non-fountain pens fared equally in both Octaevo and Field Notes notebooks.

A look at the back of the page shows that the Fountain Pens definitely has more show and bleed through in the Field Notes page than it did in Octaevo. All other non-fountain pens did not show through:

Overall: Field Notes is great for the every day user. If you're looking for something relatively affordable to jot down notes on the go, that will hold up to most pens, this is the notebook for you. Their variety of colours, page size and the ability to choose between ruled, plain and grid paper means that there is definitely something for everyone.

3- Milligram:
Designed in Australia, with features like fountain-pen friendly paper, colourful covers and a variety of page ruling for everyone, Milligram's A6 notebooks are the next up in line in my review:

Milligram A6 notebooks comes in a pack of two, and in this case, I received a pack of two ruled baby blue and peach notebooks to try out.

They contain 40 sheets of ruled paper with 85GSM Italian Milled Fabriano Boutique Bioprima Book Paper (sounds super fancy!). But of course, this would all mean nothing without the crucial pen test. And spoiler alert: their paper definitely lives up to expectations! Here's a look at all the pens I tested out on the page:

Compared to Octaevo and Field Notes, the fountain pens on this paper had minimal to no feathering. What used to be quite evident feathering of the Ystudio fountain pen in the previous two notebooks were absolutely minimal in the Milligram notebooks. All other non-fountain pens fared well. I added extra pen tests including the Faber Castell Pitt, Versamagic ink and Pentel Brush Pen and Pentel Touch, and they all fared just as well. Exciting!

Things from the back:

Now, unlike the previous two notebooks which had minimal show-through but had some bleed through, Milligram notebooks do have show-through. There is minimal bleed through with some inks like the Pentel Brush markers, however, as these were not trialled in previous notebooks and are not exactly 'everyday pens', I will exclude them from this comparison review. There is minimal bleed through with the YStudio Fountain pen (which seems to be the trouble maker here!), but it is worth noting that no bleed through is evident with all other fountain pens. Depending on how you are with show-through pages, this might not be a deal-breaker for some. After all, writing on top of show-through pages are not as distracting as compared to writing on top of bleed-through pages. Bleed-through tends to affect the opposite page only because it can obscure words with the ink blots from the previous page. Show through, on the other hand, will be masked once something else is written on top of it.

Overall: the paper does stand up to Fountain pens beautifully as boasted in its book jacket. There is show-through at the back, but it is an overall great notebook with impressive paper!

When comparing all three:

Top to bottom: Milligram, Field Notes, Octaevo

From the above, you can see how each notebook fares with the other. Overall, the choice of your notebook will depend on their size, quality and use of each. As I am a Passport size user, the Octaevo brand is the winner if I were to need a change from the Midori branded notebooks. Although not the best quality paper, Field Notes are still here to stay due to its size and just their overall fun look and page size.

Hope this review helped!

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