Calepino appears to be the French equivalent of Field Notes. Calepino focuses on small pocket notebooks with a simple core line of 100% French-made notebooks numbered one through four. No 1 features a red striped cover with ruled paper, No 2, the version I purchased, has green stripes and grid paper, No 3 has blue stripes and blank paper and No 4 has grey stripes and a dot grid.
Notebook numbers 1-4 come in packs of 3 for $13 compared with Field Notes’ 3 for $10. The No 2 measures 3.5″ x 5.5″, though up against a Field Notes, the No 2 is a hair shorter and a hair wider. The page count is the same 48 pages. So are they better than Field Notes? Let’s find out!
The Calepino notebooks come in very nicely branded box that features the same design and same cardboard as the notebook covers. The inside of the box lists all the specs of notebooks much like on the back inside cover of a Field Notes.
The cardboard cover is much rougher than a standard Field Notes cover and is noticeably thicker. The cardboard is made by a company in the Creuse area of France that has been making cardboard since 1927. The design is quite nice but I definitely prefer the simplicity of the Field Notes covers. The Calepino has three fonts on the cover where Field Notes only has one.
Inside the cover is a place for your personal information and a place for the start and finish date.
The pages are made of a bright white recycled paper with a green grid. The 5 x 5 mm grid is a bit larger than the 4.7 mm x 4.7mm grid found on a standard Field Notes. I prefer the smaller grid and the light brown ink the Field Notes uses.
In my testing I found that the Calepino’s paper handled relatively well for a recycled paper. It does bleed and feather a bit but overall it holds ink better than the standard Field Notes paper. To my touch the Calepino paper is a bit rougher and it provides a bit more feedback when writing which I like.
The Calepino is bound with two staples vs Field Notes’ three. The back cover has a little blurb about the company (I hope you speak French) and a metric ruler.
I have been carrying around a Calepino for about a week now and I definitely like the notebook but I don’t like it better than Field Notes. I fold my covers over when I am writing on a page and the Calepino is noticeably less pliable than a Field Notes notebook. I can fold the cover over but its more difficult and the two staple binding does not do as nice a job of holding the pages in place.
The Calepino offers better paper and better packaging than Field Notes but in the end I prefer the softer cover and overall look and feel of Field Notes.
The Calepino limited editions are quite interesting and I hope to get my hands on a set. The Limited editions feature collaborations with artists and famous design houses. What I particularly like is that the limited editions I have seen come in sets that include other limited edition items like pencils, pens, buttons and bookmarks.
Here are links to some great reviews of Calepino notebooks:
(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)