Word. notebooks are produced by a team of online publishers based out of New Jersey. Though the notebooks started out as a side project, over time they have come to produce a variety of interesting designs. I decided to pick up one of their more unique editions, The Adventure Log, to see if it’s worth spreading the word.
Materials & Construction
The Adventure Log, like Word.’s other notebooks, is offered in a 3-pack and includes 24 sheets/48 pages per notebook. The cover and interior pages are made from acid-free paper, which makes sense given Word’s claims that their notebooks are meant to be archived. The paper is absorbent, has a bit of texture to it, and doesn’t appear to have any sort of noticeable coating.
Moving on to the cover, it’s made of flexible card stock. While it’s generally sturdy enough for day to day use, it does crease easily and I doubt it would stand up to water very well (though I have admittedly not tested that). The corners of the cover are rounded, but are cut somewhat unevenly; each corner on my notebook has a slightly different shape to it, and the corners on the back cover have sharp flares on them. It’s not the biggest gripe in the world, but it is noticeable.
The binding is staple-bound and generally works well given the smaller page count. I can get any section of the notebook to lay flat, but it does require creasing the spine a little bit. There is no bookmark or other page indicator, but in a notebook of this size, I don’t really expect that.
The Adventure Log is the result of a collaboration between Word. and Bradley Mountain, a California-based maker of bags and other outdoor gear. As such, this notebook is concentrated on filling one need: documenting your (ostensibly outdoor) adventures. This laser-like focus on adventure permeates every aspect of the notebook, for better or for worse.
The notebook is 3.5” x 5.5”, the same dimensions as what you’d find with Field Notes. The cover is titled with “The Adventure Log” name and features a stylized image of a compass. Below that is a space for numbering your notebooks. I question the value of allocating dedicated space for numbering the notebooks, as I feel the design could have been cleaner without this feature, and those who may want to number their notebooks could always do so using the abundant negative space on the cover.
On the inside of the front cover, space is allotted for your name and some notes. Below that is a table that lets you write the year and indicate which month(s) you’re using the notebook by checking off one or more circular indices. Below that, there’s a space to input contact information in the event you lose your Adventure Log. Personally I don’t find the table for the year and month all that useful, and they take up more space than they need to. It would have been easy enough to have a smaller space allocated for date information, which would free up space for more notes or another, more useful design element.
The inside pages are all printed with the same template: a table that occupies approximately the top 40% of the page, and lines for notes that take up the bottom 60%. The table has cells to indicate the location of your adventure, as well as the date, the conditions, and your companions. I like that this notebook prompts me to document the conditions of my adventure and my companions, as that information doesn’t always make it into my more traditional journals. Having said that, the decision to present this information in a table that takes up almost half the page often feels like it limits the utility of this notebook. My “adventures” frequently consist of solo trips to parks to shoot photos or videos for my reviews, or trips to the dog park with Coopsy Bear, in which case I could be capture the conditions and my companions in a line or two.
The inside back cover has space for your “Bucket List.” For those who may be unaware, a bucket list is meant to capture the things you’d like to do before you die or “kick the bucket.” It strikes me as a bit of an odd choice to include this as a design element in the notebook. I suppose the intent is for the user to document the inspirational goals that spawn during his/her adventures, but personally I don’t find myself getting that reflective on my adventures, even when those adventures are more interesting than simple trips to parks. Moreover, on those few occasions when I do go on more exciting adventures, I’m often achieving a bucket list item by doing so, rather than thinking of a new one. I also question the value of having the random “Live Adventurously” text at the bottom of this list; it feels like that space could have been better used for more lines for the bucket list.
One thing I don’t enjoy about this notebook is the mish-mash of different typography that appears throughout it. Don’t get me wrong, some of the fonts are totally pleasing; for example, the playful script used in “Adventure” on the cover and for “Bucket List” on the inside of the back cover add some visual flair that’s in keeping with the adventuresome theme. But the font used on the inside pages appears to be boring old Times New Roman in italics, which just feels so…corporate.
Finally, for those who may not enjoy the mustard hue of this notebook, it’s also available in a black version that may be more pleasing, if a bit less adventurous.
The paper in The Adventure Log performs acceptably but doesn’t exactly impress. I did experience some bleed and significant show-through. The latter was particularly frustrating at times, as it often rendered reverse sides of unusable or, at the very least, visually unappealing. What’s most annoying, though, is that feathering was more apparent than I would prefer, and some may find it completely unacceptable, especially when using heavier, more saturated inks. The paper doesn’t stand up well to flex writing, but I’m not sure that I’d ever really be using flex writing in a notebook like this anyway. Finally, the paper doesn’t really do anything to enhance the shading or sheening properties of inks. Overall, the paper works well enough with fountain pens, but there’s certainly better paper out there.
As of the time of this writing, The Adventure Log is sold in 3-packs for $12. While that price is not far out of line with other notebooks of this size, the trouble is I just don’t know what to do with three of these notebooks. In the several months that I’ve owned them, I’ve struggled to find uses for this notebook and have only filled a few pages of it. Consequently, buying a 3-pack feels quite ambitious, and I wish The Adventure Log was available as a single notebook, or better yet, as one notebook in a variety pack of three.
Final Thoughts & Score
- convenient size for its intended purpose
- handsome cover design
- page template is unique and different from most other notebooks
- focused design limits utility (unless you go on a lot of adventures)
- show-through can make using reverse sides of pages difficult
- typography on pages is a little boring