Category Archives: Review

Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

triplusI decided to pick up a trio of these pens a few months ago for sketching. I picked them up at Blick for around $2 a pen. They are now available at Artist and Craftsman for a little less. You can get multipacks on Amazon for decent prices. I’ve only seen singles at Blick and A&C. Blick has a great range of colors, while A&C had only 24 shades.

The Triplus sports a very fine fiber point that is sheathed in metal. The ink flow is smooth, generous, and even. The feel of the tip is smooth on every paper I’ve used. It will soak through on some thinner and more absorbent papers. It performed well in Field Notes, though the black does soak through if I linger upon a word in my meandered thinking.triplus

While drawing I found that they performed well. The teal shade was a tad too light, while black and blue were dark. What is important that you can leave them uncapped for ages and they won’t dry out, hence the “dry safe” designation on the pens.

I found the size and shape of the pen comfortable but not for long periods of time. Like most narrow, triangular writing instruments I find the shape and size annoying. Why? I’m not sure. I tend to death grip narrow pens but add triangular to the mix, I’m attempting strangulation. The tip itself is nearly a full inch long and if you are a “near the point” type gripper, you are going to feel the transition from body to point, and likely find it uncomfortable.IMG_0064

These have been marketed with adult coloring books. Have I yet mentioned that the tips are incredibly fine? They are smaller than 0.5, likely in the 0.38 category. It would take FOREVER to do a coloring page. I colored in 3 ¼ inch squares in a Mt Tom and 2 hours later I finish. Yes, hyperbole. That being said, if you would like to use a fiber tip pen the Paperhate Flair, which is cheaper, has a wider tip, might be a more enjoyable choice.
triplusOn the other hand, I tend to be heavy handed with fiber tipped pens and crush them. These survived and still work really well. I could see drawing with these or using brighter colors for highlighting. Mostly I’ve been using them for doodles and occasional quick notes in my Field Notes.

Review: Field Notes Byline Summer Colors Edition

 

I don’t usually review the new Field Notes (FN) color editions as they come out, but Bylines is so different I think it really deserves a once over.

First, I’ve been digging Reporter Notebooks for the last 6 months and began to get interested in them about a year ago. Why? I don’t know. Universe synergy? Collective consciousness*. Clearly something is in the air, because reporter notebooks are booming. Field Notes and Write both came out with one at the SAME FRICKIN’ time. Whoa. Crazy cool.IMG_0107

Anyway. The Byline has been hailed as “reinventing” the reporter notebook among many other things that fans of Field Notes are wont to say. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Aaron Draplin design, but this is not reinvention. It is a fabulous interpretation of the reporter notebook, but reinvention? Well, if you count using floppy barely functional covers as radical. But then Tops, Portage, and Mead have been doing that since the 90s. So radical, what a  departure. Please, cool your hyperbolic jets, field nuts.daringfireballhyperbole.bmp

But the covered spiral binding? That’s surely radical. Err, yeah, you haven’t seen many annual reports for midsized companies** have you? The covered spiral binding is routinely used by print companies to dress up a company’s annual report. It’s relatively inexpensive yet looks great. It stands up well to being tossed around and shipped.IMG_0113

He made it narrower! By a quarter inch. There are also half as many pages as in a regular reporter’s notebook. Yes the paper in the FNB is twice as good and I’m able to use both sides. There is a pocket! Is that really your trump card? *shakes head* The pocket makes the last few pages lumpy and bumpy and hard to write on. It also gives some weight and thickness.IMG_0108

Here’s the thing, I LOVE this edition. I love reporter’s notebooks. The long narrow form factor is great for making outlines for stories, podcasts, videos, and other things that need outlines. It’s one of the reasons I love the Write Notes Ledger and I want to love all notebooks that are tall, open at top, and narrow. If you like this form factor it’s going to work for you. If not, well, my address is…
IMG_0112 IMG_0115One of the best aspects of his new design is the paper. It’s heavy, quality, and great with all manners of ink. This is a notebook for the fountain pen users of Field Notes, granted it’s not the right form factor, but you can’t get everything you want.IMG_0111

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Follow Up: Lightfast Testing

A month ago I created some samples of art and writing materials to see if their pigments were lightfast or fugitive. I’ve checked them here and there throughout the month to see which pens fared the worst. There were some surprises and with other expectations were met.

Let’s start with lightfast expectations met. The Uniball and Zebra pens all proved to be lightfast. This was expected, every Uni pen I’ve ever tested has been lightfast. In this case I tested the Air and  Jetstream 3.0. I also tested the Zebra Surari 3 and Sarasa 3, both were lightfast.IMG_0056

The lightfast surprise was that all of the highlighter pencils did not fade, at all. I tested all shades of the Yoobi,  Very Best, Koh-i-Noor Dry Marker, as well as the Koh-i-Noor MagixFX series. None of the colors shifted, changed or faded. Quite amazing given that the general rule is that highlighter and neon colors shift.

For fugitive properties I expected that all of the Bic colors would fade or shift within a short period of time. Most met this expectation in both tip sizes. Purple, red and pink all shifted in a week and at the end of the month we’re extremely faded. I have no doubt that if I were to continue with the experiment these colors would be gone in months. Blue and Black had noticeably shifted in shade and begin fading at the end of the month, with the black fading the most. Interestingly light blue, light green and dark green exhibited the least amount of color shift and fading.  I would not suggest that these 3 colors are lightfast merely that they did not shift as much as the other colors.IMG_0060 IMG_0059 IMG_0055

I also expected that the 4 fountain pen inks I tested would show fading and color shifting. There was no surprise here. Both Edelstein shades faded within a week, and by the end of the month the Turquoise was on it’s way to being gone and Tanzanite had only the black left behind. Emerald of Chivor had shifted shade noticeably and was showing signs of fading. Interestingly of the fountain pen inks tested only one was lightfast, the Platinum Preppy black cartridge used in an EF Preppy pen.IMG_0054

I tested 2 ballpoint pens- the Retro 51 REF71 (a Schmidt refill) and a Schmidt mini refill. Both proved to be fugitive but still easy to read at the end of the month. The black ink was quite faded.

Finally as predicted the Papermate Flairs proved to be incredibly fugitive. They showed rapid color shifting- radical color changes in a week and several colors complete gone from the page at the end of the month. Both shades of purple and pink were gone and no longer at all visible. Yellow and Peach were nearly gone. Red, both shades of blue, black, both shades of green showed fading and massive color shifts at the end of the month.IMG_0058 IMG_0057

What does all of this mean? For me, anything that shows color shifting or fading should only be used in an art journal, or something that will not be displayed. Because even artificial light can fade and alter colors it’s not safe to allow work done with these fugitive pigments to be anywhere the sun or light shines.

Review: Handbook Trav-e-logue Series

I’ve been using the Handbook Trav-e-logue (HBT) series of notebooks for a few years and it is time I do a review. I’m in my 3rd of the 5.5×8.25″ 128 page sketchbooks. I’ve used both the landscape and portrait versions, with 128 pages each. The paper inside is buff or creamy colored and has a nice texture that is fantastic with pens, ink, graphite, markers, and light watercolor washes. The paper has a nice tooth and it is decently thick. The covers are a rough linen and hard. They are available in blue, red, green, and black. The colors are warm and invite you to fill the pages. The sturdy elastic is gray and charcoal. The journal is stitched and glued. The page marker in all colors is made of nylon and bright orange. Inside the back cover is a clear poly envelope. Overall the HBT is very well designed.HBT

There is a reason that I keep buying these, they perform as well as they are made. First, the feeling of the cover is fantastic. It’s smooth and not too rough. It is not sealed so it can collect dirt but you can wipe most dirt off easily. I did have a few instances where I spilled watercolor and it stained. The cover is hard and offers very little flex so you can sketch in hand. The elastic is very strong but stretches to encompass a great deal of stuff added to the sketchbook. The stitching is tight and well done on all the HBT I own*. The orange page marker is heat sealed so it does NOT fray.HBT

Global Arts, the parent company of Handbook, describes the paper as able to handle a light wash of watercolor. I’ve gotten really sloppy with my watercolors, layering on wet sloppy washes. While the paper had some cockling none of it was bad and the paper survived quite well. In addition to the wavy pages I found that the paper would pill if I worked the very wet paper with a stiff brush. I did all my politician series in these sketchbooks and I was very happy with how the HBT responded. They handle pencil, colored pencils, layered brush pen, and collage with ease.HBT HBT

The HBT are $17.99 at Artist & Craftsman. While this is not a cheap sketchbook it is a good sketchbook. Every single one that I have looked at in store and later purchased has responded well. The paper, binding, elastic, and stitching are consistent. The poly pocket is just big enough to be useful. Finally, there are the lovely colors and fabric covers. I just purchased a green version and man, what a nice warm shade of olive green. The red is brick colored. The blue is the brightest of all the covers, but still quite nice. The black is charcoal-ish and rather nice.HBT HBT

Overall these are simply fantastic sketchbooks. They are not available lined but if you are looking for something in the moleskine size of large or pocket, these are a great replacement. Personally, I look forward to filling my shelves with these.

Nitty gritty detail at a glance:

  • 128pp
  • Buff/cream colored paper
  • Stitched, Smythe Sewn binding, opens flat and folds over on self.
  • Orange page marker
  • Sturdy, well glued elastic closure
  • Hard covers covered in linen, available in red, blue, green, black
  • 3 sizes large 5.5×8.25, pocket 3.5×5.5, square 5.5×5.5
  • Landscape and portrait orientation
  • Rounded covers, very little overhang
  • Minimal branding, Hand-Book logo debossed on lower right corner
  • Large size retails for $17.99

John "boozo" Boozman voted against background checks for gun purchases, so we can #blameashitbag here.

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Review: Write Notepads Pocket Ledger

 

Given my usual disdain for spiral bindings it might be considered unusual for me to put up yet another positive review of another spiral binding, but I am. So for those of you who need no other info, I like these so read no further.

Let me get into WHY I like these notebooks so much.

Let’s start with the insides. These notebooks sport 120 super thick eggshell colored pages. The paper is smooth yet toothy. The ruling is a pale shade of green that melts into whatever is written. The combination of warm paper with pale ruling just gets me. The paper isn’t so warm or off-white that it interferes with ink color or pencil has difficulty showing on it’s page, rather it compliments everything I’ve put onto the page. Everything simply looks good on this paper.Write ledger

As for what I’ve put onto these pages. Well I’ve used Akkerman Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen, Sailor Yama-dori, Platinum blue black, and every grade of graphite available to me. I’ve been sticking to fine and extra-fine pens so the paper works okay with fountain pen ink with a minimum of show through and bleed through. Larger nibs, well they are out of the question. Ink spread out to a bit more than nib size, and the wetter the nib, well that just invites disaster. Pencil, on the other hand, oh mama, that might be what this paper was chosen for. Pencil slides onto this paper without grinding the tip down quickly. Yeah a large amount of graphite is taken, but tips seem to last well.My favorite grades were HB and B. Which were plenty dark and were complimented by the cream shade of the paper.Write ledger Write ledger

While I adore the paper inside the covers, the covers might be my favorite part of these notebooks. The chipboard is heavyweight and perfect for writing in hand. There is just enough flex in the chipboard that it conforms to my hand as well as to a pocket. Over time the cover also gets softer with use, not just in stiffness, but in feel. I’m a fan of the worn in and well used look and these covers get that look oh so well. Yet, they don’t look like the dog chewed on them either. This notebook has been with me for about  a year and it’s gotten better looking with age.Write ledger

Now, my least favorite topic, spiral bindings. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I don’t despise them as much as I thought I did but rather, I like them for some uses. It seems I like them for some small pocket notebooks. Which makes sense, the way I got into pocket notebooks was through the free 3×5 pocket notebooks we were given at my old DayJob to keep track of things. I must’ve used hundreds of those things. For journals, I hate spirals, for day-to-day notes, ideas etc… spirals are a-ok. The good thing about the Write Notes spirals- they don’t crush or smush in my bag- they stay strong. I can get behind that.

I think it’s worth examining the size of these ledgers. By modern standards it’s weird at 3×6 inches; bigger than a 3×5 notebook and too small to be a reporter notebook. That said, it is a perfect size- it fits in the hand just right and is easy to write in.

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Review: Galen Leather XL Cover for Tablet and XL Moleskine

I’ve been using the large sized Teffa Bag-in-Bag to carry my tablet*, composition notebook, keyboard, pen, pencil, and the sundry other items I need for daily use. I’ve been looking for a portfolio style case that lets me carry the tablet safely along with the other tools I use for writing in one compact case. Most portfolios integrate in a legal pad instead of a side bound notebook. They also attach the tablet into the portfolio. I wanted to be able to write in the notebook and not have the tablet in the way. Also, I didn’t want to be tied to the case if I wanted to use the tablet. It was a conundrum

Enter the Galen Leather XL Cover for Tablet and XL Moleskine, what I will call the XL Portfolio. I’ll state here that I was offered the case in exchange for the review. I do believe I’m going to offer an honest review, so please continue. The XL Portfolio arrives via Fedex, signature required so be sure you are home when it’s scheduled to appear. The tracking was pretty accurate once it hit US soil, which was in about 48 hours. Shipping was very fast, roughly 4 or 5 days from the shipment notification. The Fedex mailer was stuffed with the box which was securely wrapped in bubble wrap.

Daaaayum just stopped at fedex to pick up this bad ass piece of leather. That blue is gorgeous.

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The packaging must be noted. It’s gorgeous. It’s a perfect gift presentation- a nice kraft box with a nice logo printed in black ink. Opening the box I was hit with the scent of fine leather. The XL Portfolio arrive with a belly band, a maker’s card, and an Evil Eye charm. The whole package tells the story of the company and makers- Galen Leather. It’s very personalized and looks great.

I chose the XL portfolio in blue. The color is awesome. It isn’t bright and it’s not dark, it’s a deep, intense shade of blue. It is perfect. I love this color and the look of the portfolio.Galen

The XL Portfolio fits an XL Moleskine or standard US composition notebook and likely other sized notebooks as well. The notebook’s back cover slides under an elastic where it is held pretty snug. I find that my elastic is a tad too loose on the inside and the comp books slides around a bit, but mostly, it stays put. With a thicker covered notebook, this would not be an issue.

Behind the spot for the notebook is a pocket, this is for your tablet. It slides in and stays in place when the covers are closed. I’m using my XL portfolio with a 10 inch Galaxy Tab 3 which is a tad thicker than the iPad Air it is designed for so it is quite snug. Because the case is leather it is slowly forming to the tablet and the tablet is easier to insert and remove. There is a second pocket on the opposite side of the case, this should also fit an iPad air, but it does not fit my Galaxy tab 3. So please be aware that if you are not using the iPad with your case, the individual variations in the handmade product may mean that your tablet does not fit. That being said, the newer 8 and 9 inch tablets should fit. My partner’s Kindle Paperwhite fits into the opposite pocket perfectly well.Galen

The left hand side of the case has a few card slots, a pocket notebook slot, a larger slash pocket to hold a pencil roll, and there is an elastic pen holder. In the larger pocket designed as the secondary iPad pocket, I stash my tablet stand. The slash pocket houses my pencil case and the pocket notebook pocket has a notebook in it. I don’t use the card slots, yet. I have my TWSBI Eco in the elastic pen holder. All of these pockets work well for their intended use. I may adapt them over time as I use the XL Portfolio more. At this point I’ve been using it for about a month and I can see myself adapting the pockets for other uses.
GalenTo close  the case you close it like a book but there is a thick elastic you can pull from the back and over the spine to hold the XL Portfolio close. The elastic holds everything secure and tight.

Overall I find the XL Portfolio very usable, and distinct. It’s classy and polished looking. I feel sorta, you know, professional and stuff when I pull it from my backpack**… There are a few things I had to give up in comparison to carry my tablet in the Bag in Bag- namely I can’t also carry my keyboard in the same case, nor can I have my charger and cable in the XLPortfolio. The XLP might be more contained but that means sacrificing carrying the kitchen sink…

In addition to not being able to carry my charger and cable is that the XLP weighs 1lbs 2.4oz without anything in it. I add an additional 2lb 10 oz, so altogether I’m looking at carrying around 3lb 14 ounces. Fortunately I’m pretty minimalistic in my EDC because this is heavy. Comparing it to the bag in bag, which weighs only 6.4 ounces just shows how heavy this case it. However, the XLP is very protective. The Bag in Bag always left me worried that when I arrived at the cafe my screen would be cracked and that maybe my keyboard would no longer work. I do not have that fear with the XLP. I know that there is no way my screen is getting cracked in the XLP.

It is also worth noting that I use my tablet in conjunction with a keyboard as a replacement for a laptop. Mainly it is used in this manner for word processing. I occasionally check social media. I also use it for reading books, though this is an occasional thing as I prefer other tools for reading, like paper. To solve the problem of protecting my keyboard I bought an inexpensive neoprene case, which seems to keep it safe.

Anyway, I feel pretty safe suggesting to someone who might want a notebook and tablet case that looks quite professional,  to check out the XL Portfolio on Galen Leather’s website. It is an amazingly tough product that does its job very well. Continue reading

Review: Story Supply Company Pocket Staple Notebook

Story Supply Company was a fantastic Kickstarter back in Fall of 2015. I’m happy to say that I backed it to the tune of 2 packs of notebooks. I chose a pack of lined and grid rulings. I regret that I did not get a pack of their pencils at the same time.SSCPS

SSC notebooks sport nice thick covers, some of the thickest on any of my pocket notebooks I own. I compared them to Furrow, Field Notes, Calepino, Word, Write, Public Supply, etc… Though I did not get out the calipers, the SSC covers are the thickest. I feel that this makes using the SSC notebook very enjoyable for notes on the go. I don’t have to rely on a cover to give the notebook needed heft, the notebook’s got that on it’s own. The covers sport a simply logo in a creamy yellow shade in a field of navy blue. I really dig this color combination. It is sedate and even professional. These notebooks can be used at work without garnering too much attention, unlike a neon Field Notes.SSCPS

Inside the cream color is mirrored in the shade of the pages. The page is warm with pale blue gray lines (in both the lined and grids). I adore how the pale lines melt into the background when I use a dark pencil or ink color. I forget their presence. So very nice. The paper is smooth and really nice with both pencil and pens. Softer pencils tend to smudge a bit, but rollerball and fountain pens do really well. I also found that felt tip pens, like Staedtler Triplus fineliners did really well on this smooth paper. Also, only the wet fountain pens soaked through the page and made a mess. I was able to use a lot of my fine and extra fine fountain pens. While Field Notes tend to require rollerball or pencils, SSC paper lets me use whatever writing tool I want, options are good.

Terrible picture, cannot capture the color with a camera

Terrible picture, cannot capture the color with a camera

What more can I say about these notebooks? The paper is great. The covers are sedate and thick. In addition to being a great notebook the company gives back by donating writing utensils and notebooks to schools in need. What’s not to like?SSCPS SSCPS

Oh, they also have a new series of covers drawn/designed by a guy who has drawn Deadpool. You can support education and get a cover that is a little less sedate but wrapped around a still awesome notebook. Great stuff. (The new covers will be on  a larger size notebook- 5.5×7.5)SSCPS

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Review: Lihit Lab Teffa Bag-in-Bag A5 (Small)

Recently Brad over at the Pen Addict mentioned that he had both sizes of the Lihit Lab Teffa Bag-in-Bag (BIB) and didn’t find the smaller size as useful. Like Brad, I have both sizes but I’ve found a use for the small size, but I don’t use it for stationery. I use it for personal care items that I want to have in my bag but don’t want to have duplicates of for every bag.ospreyflapjack

If you’ve read my previous bag reviews you know that I was basically using my backpack as a mobile office while I was in school.   A good part of making this comfortable was being organized. There is nothing quite as bad as realizing I’m away from home and that I forgot the charger for my phone, and that the cheapest charger at CVS/school bookstore/etc is $20 that I don’t have. I was spending entire days away from home without the comfort of a locker or desk to stash the usual stuff I would leave at a desk. My small BIB became that carry all for those desk drawer items you don’t always think about. It made it really easy for me to swap bags from day to day. On school or cafe working days I’d put the BIB in the Flapjack, on internship days it went into my professional leather bag. Much easier than moving all the small items from bag to bag.LLTBIBMy small BIB contained the following:

In the main compartment:

  • Epipen
  • Travel pack of WetOnes wipes 
  • Travel tube of hand lotion
  • Snack sized zipper bag with tampons and pads
  • Snack sized zipper bag with OTC, bandaids, alcohol wipes, toothpicks, and a vial with 1 day of spare prescription medication, and the scripts for them
  • Travel pack of ibuprofen (not pictured)
  • Zipper bag with 2 pairs of nitrile gloves*LLTBIBinside

In the outer pockets:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Packets of tea**
  • Handmade cotton handkerchief
  • Spare 10ft charging cable for my tablet+wall jack (not pictured, FN in it’s place)
  • Emergency Bullet pencilLLTBIBfront

Some of this is obviously female centric- but someone of this works for anyone- the OTC meds and bandaids, you would be surprised at the number of occasions I found people needed a bandaid, or I did. Hangnail or paper cut the alcohol wipes and bandaids were there. Start to feel sick? Got dayquil tablets. Got raging diarrhea? Got some immodium right here. Bike chain jumped off? Got gloves and wipes. Stuck my hand in some gunk on the train? Hand sanitizer to the rescue. Friend needs a charge? Got that covered.

Thirsty and tired of sipping water? Well, shit, let’s not be uncivilized and let’s sip some chai or chamomile.*** Stung by a bee? Anaphylactic shock setting in? Well there’s the epipen, and 2 benedryl  in the pack.

Until recently I used the large size to corral my tablet, keyboard, and a notebook into one package, but I’ve swapped that out for a Galen Leather case. The large size is great for that purpose, but the small size has it’s merits as well, but perhaps those merits aren’t stationery related but more EDC related.

My zippers were smooth and work well. However I did notice a few stitching issues here and there- they were easily solved with the use of a lighter to heat set them.

You can get one here.

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Review: Bic Cristal

The Bic Cristal seems to be a heavily favored ball point for sketching, drawing, and doodling. One might wonder why when there are so many “better” options out there for pens. Please keep in mind that this review/discussion is abou the Cristal and NOT the shite Bic Stic.biccristal

First and foremost, I’ll point out that my strongest belief is that the best tool is the tool you use. If you have a Bic in hand and you feel like drawing, then  you should.biccristal

Bic Cristals are available everywhere. I found them in CVS, Walgreens, target, Staples, Walmart, and every other place I looked.  They are also very inexpensive. A 24 pack of mixed colored Xtra Bold were $4 at my local Staples while the 15 pack of Ultra Fine “Precisions” were $3.49 at my local Target. (Calling these two chains local sort of begs the question of what local is- in this case I’m using it to describe a location to which I could, if pressed, ride my bike to in a reasonable amount of time, that is roughly 5 miles from my home.*) For less than $10 I was able to purchase 39 pens in 8 colors and 2 tip sizes for under $10. That is very cheap.biccristal

Because they are quite inexpensive and easily available everyone knows what they feel like to use. Because of this they do not feel precious. You can use them to your hearts content and not be worried that you are going to use them up, because for another $4 you can get another 24-pack.biccristal

For the most part, they simply work. I’ve found that a few of the colors seem to flow more slowly than others, and that the Ultra Fines seem to skip a bit here and there, but that is also useful when sketching or drawing- using a pen with a “rougher” flow can give a bit of character to a sketch that otherwise might be flat and boring.biccristal

The various colors are all pretty standard. Their core colors are black, dark blue, red, and dark green. The new 4 seem to be part of  their “fashion” line up- dark purple, light blue, pink, and light green. The purple, light blue, and pink are okay but the light green is a sick shade of yellow green that borders on the color of bile. Nasty.biccristal biccristal

What makes the Cristal stand out from the Stic is that the Cristal body is hard, while the Stick flexes quite a lot in use. When I was a kid my Bic Stics ALWAYS ended up curved. In some part because I would use them as a worry and bend them as I read, but also because I’d put a lot of pressure on them. The Cristal doesn’t allow for flex. Too much pressure and it will shatter. Unlike the Clic, the Cristal’s point doesn’t flop all over the place as it is used. This makes the Cristal great for sketching, doodles, and drawing.biccristal

Currently, I’m testing the lightfast abilities of all the Cristals in my possession but I strongly doubt that the majority of the colors are lightfast, if any at all. I suspect that the light green, pink, red, and purple will be gone in a week or 2, and in a month the majority of the other colors, including black, will have shifted in shade substantially. I’ll keep you updated.

For the art journaler who uses acrylic in their journal, the Xtra Bold pens have the added bonus of being able to write over acrylic paints.

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Review: Osprey FlapJack (OriginalVersion)

For my final year of graduate school I realized I needed a smaller bag, my Brain bag was simply TOO big. I only had 2 classes, and only one of which met regularly in the city. Additionally, I didn’t need to cart around quite so much stuff. I established what I’d be carrying on a regular basis.

  • My tablet and keyboard
  • A notebook
  • Pencil case
  • Phone
  • Assorted daily items
  • Clipboard with printed articles (roughly 25 to 100 printed pages depending on the day.)

Obviously, my daily carry for classes had changed over time and had dramatically reduced. I wanted a backpack with an integrated laptop sleeve for my tablet and keyboard and enough room for my stuff plus occasional purchases and removed outer layers.ospreyflapjack

With this purchase I was far less concerned with the longevity of the bag and more concerned with it being cost effective and comfortable. With this in mind I checked out the bags carried by some of my peers and searched Amazon for something about half the size of the Brain Bag. The Osprey FlapJack fit the bill. I purchased the olive green.* The FlapJack includes several replaceable straps for the closure and sternum strap. These are easily replaced with a little oomph applied.ospreyflapjack

Inside the bag are two large compartments divided by the integrated laptop pocket. The pocket furthest to the back is slim and doesn’t hold much at all, only a few notebooks. I used this mostly to hold a clipboard with printed articles, or my tablet depending on the day. The integrated laptop pocket will hold up to a 15″ laptop and was plenty deep for my 10″ tablet and keyboard. The largest pocket, furthest to the front of the bag has a small mesh pouch that is not overly useful but will hold a water bottle to the side of the bag. The large compartment can hold several books and notebooks as well as an assortment of other items. There is a side pocket that is long and slim.It is perfect to hold a waterbottle, and on several occasions I’ve used it to corral a wet umbrella. The flap has a small pocket that is accessible when the bag is closed. This pocket is only big enough to hold keys, chapstick, and a few other things. This bag is not big, it has a slim profile that can be snugged down even more slim with the use of the straps. The flap can be used to secure a jacket or other loose items.ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack ospreyflapjack

There is no suggesting that this is a big bag, it’s just big enough for someone who needs to carry a few books and a laptop or tablet, maybe a few other things. This is not a bag for a long weekend trip or even a student in need of a lot of things. You aren’t going to pack this bag with things for more than 2 classes, and even then, you won’t fit all the books for 2 classes in it at a time. No, this is a bag for when you don’t need a lot of stuff with you. It is a perfect bag for grabbing and going to the cafe to work, or to the library for research.ospreyflapjack 20160528_133525 ospreyflapjack

The bag was very comfortable when packed full or packed lightly. The straps are very comfortable and the back utilizes mesh as well as foam to create air channels that help to keep your back cool. I found this very comfortable. I did find that the sternum strap did not adjust quite low enough for me and in several positions I felt as if it were strangling me. On the lowest position it worked just fine. The sternum straps are secured to the shoulder pads via a button and buttonhole type attachment. There are only 4 options for attachment. The zippers are smooth and work incredibly well.ospreyflapjack

I purchased this without expecting it to last past the school year, but even after repeated use and abuse the bag looks good and still works well. I’ve found that some types of foam flatten out with use and are less comfortable over time. The FlapJack does not suffer from this issue. The straps are just as comfortable today as they were a year ago at the day of purchase. I expected to toss this bag into the recycling bin at the end of the school year, instead I’m reaching for it again and again when I walk to the cafe or to the library to work on this blog. This is a high quality bag that I expect to use for years to come. For a backpack that I spent roughly $60 on, this has worked extremely well.

Nitty gritty details at a glance:

  • 1 large compartment divided in two
  • Zippered laptop compartment, fits 15″ laptop
  • Mesh organizer pocket inside main compartment
  • 2 small organizer pockets at front of bag- largest with organizing pockets, one with a key leash
  • 1 side pocket that fits a 1L water bottle or umbrella
  • Large flap keeps contents dry
  • Small pocket on flap
  • Sternum strap
  • Hip Straps
  • Holds 25Liters

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