Bellroy Notebook Cover Review
Bellroy, the maker of fine leather goods, and a company that fits in with the more environmentally aware customer of 2019.
They produce top quality products, and I’ve been fortunate enough to carry one of their wallets for the past two years – Nothing in that time has changed my mind about Bellroy, or their products, which seem to go from strength to strength.
If you’d like to see the review of the wallet I’ve been using, click here.
But, you aren’t here about the wallet…. So let’s get stuck into the Notebook Cover.
I’ll start by saying that I was sent this product for free, for an impartial review.
I’ve bought a few Bellroy products before (out of my own pocket), so I’ll be comparing this, to them, and offering my opinion on it as a whole.
If I think it’s poor – I’ll say so.
The only frustration I’ve had has been dealing with Bellroy themselves – The fact they are in Australia can be challenging to have slick communication with at times – But overall, when I did speak to them, I was impressed with their service and knowledge.
I should also add that I’ve been looking for a notebook cover for a while now.
There are 100’s of options on Etsy, ranging from the very cheap, to the very expensive. Some of these are very good, and others not so…..
My criteria was that I wanted it as small and thin as possible. The ones on Etsy seemed to add a few mm here and there, which I didn’t like personally, and I couldn’t see a style which really spoke to me like the Bellroy one did.
But my good friend Mark summed it up better than I could….
“You buy Bellroy for the same reasons you buy Apple. It’s consistent quality, the leather is fantastic, and the design is second to none”.
You said it Mark……
I enjoy a good pocket notebook, with a preference for Field Notes, but exploring other brands all the time. I’ve tried to get on with “Travellers Style” notebook covers in the past (namely, the Grand Voyageur Pocket from Paper Republic), but don’t like the “flimsiness” or the elastic band system too much.
Not to mention I only really need one notebook at a time, which takes away some of the unique functionality of the travellers style.
I looked high and low for a decent review on the Bellroy Notebook cover, but came up short. There were a few that looked at the Field Notes (FN) specific Bellroy cover, but from a personal POV, I’m not a big lover of Charcoal/Black leather, and try to stick with Brown or Grey.
So whilst it would have been nice to get the FN notebooks which comes with the FN Bellroy cover, it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.
As of writing (September 2019), Bellroy no longer offer the stand alone Notebook Cover on their website (although you can buy it through 3rd parties and Amazon for £65 whilst stocks last).
Instead, you have to stump up the £85 for the cover and the new Bellroy ballpoint pen. Personally, I’d rather see the two products on offer separately, with a “deal” if you bought both of them. At £85, it’s not a cheap way to cover your pocket notebooks, especially as a lot of the people who will want this, will already have a plethora of pen options available to them, and may not need the pen.
That being said, you’ll need a pretty thin pen if you want to carry it inside the Notebook cover, and the Bellroy pen does a fine job here.
Old vs New?
This could be a complete red herring, and I’ve reached out to Bellroy to clarify, but it’s possible they have used a slightly different leather – Or at least, it’s got a different finish.
I’d previously used a Cocoa notebook cover from when they were sold as a stand alone item – The leather on this was firm and smooth, and felt a little more plasticy in the hand. The downside to this was that it gave itself a slightly thicker profile when in the pocket or on a table due to the firmer leather.
On the other hand, the new Graphite leather has a pebble like appearance, buttery soft leather and lays very flat when on a table.
Bellroy have informed me that the new Graphite cover is part of their “dressed leather” range see here: https://bellroy.com/our-materials
You can’t go wrong with any of their leather, but if you’d rather your cover stayed newer for longer, you might be better off with the dressed leather – If you wanted a bit more patina and wear, the naked leather is the way to go.
The inside pocket where the notebook goes is also smaller on the Graphite one, which means you have to work quite hard to get the notebook in unscathed….. But I think this is more a design tolerance issue, than an active choice, and may well vary from product to product.
One thing that isn’t very obvious from the pictures or other reviews, is that if you wish to slide the notebook in all the way, the magnetic closure won’t work (or if it does, will be incredibly fragile).
Instead, you need to only slide it in so far, to allow the magnets to reach and make a secure connection. This isn’t a requirement if you don’t want that, but something to consider for those who are buying for this functionality.
The other inside cover allows you to store 4 credit cards comfortably, and still have some room for cash or receipts if you wish.
I’ve had a long debate about swapping my Bellroy card sleeve and just using this as my one wallet/notebook, but I figured there would be times where I’d much rather have a tiny wallet, than carry a notebook sized wallet with me.
But for those who are used to larger wallets and are looking to simplify things, this is a fantastic option.
I guess we should talk about the pen as it comes with the notebook.
It’s an anodised aluminium ballpoint pen which carries a nice weight to it.
The writing is as good as you’d expect from a Schmidt P900 refill, but it also takes any other full size refill which is great. I personally prefer a rollerball or gel refill, as it’s slightly easier to get the ink on the paper (and generally they don’t smudge in Field Notes).
But as far as ballpoints go, the Schmidt P900 is right up there, and will possibly suit more people taking notes on the go.
I’m not a fan of pen loops taking up space, and I’ve found that despite my best intentions, I’ll sometimes not have a loose pen in my pocket, despite having the notebook…… Being able to effortlessly slot the Bellroy pen inside the notebook cover is super valuable to me, and it’ll certainly live there nearly all of the time.
At £85 and with a heap of competition in the notebook cover space, the Bellroy isn’t necessarily an impulse buy.
However, there are a few reasons I’d buy it over and above anything else on the market.
- The style – I like the minimalist feel, and it’s about as small as you can make it (which is the main point of having a pocket notebook!)
- The leather – Top quality from a well known brand.
- The warranty/customer service – You simply can’t get this from an Etsy seller.
- Longevity – We typically don’t think much of spending £100’s or £1000’s on technology that we replace every year or two, yet painstakingly fret over spending £85 on an item that will last a lifetime – I’m certainly guilty of this. The Bellroy Notebook Cover will outlast all of your expensive digital products, and will look even better at the end. That is worth £85 and then some.
If you want a cheap notebook cover to protect the pocket notebooks you use once in a blue moon, there are certainly cheaper options that will do a similar thing.
Etsy and Amazon are two great places to look, and you’ll likely be able to bag something for £20-£30.
If you are looking for a pocket notebook cover made from premium leather, that will look and feel great, and that you are going to use on a regular basis….. I’m yet to find one that will beat the Bellroy……. which is pretty much custom made for the Field Notes sized pocket notebooks.
Thanks for reading – If you have any questions, please leave a comment!
I was sent this product for free, for an unbiased review. I’ll always be honest, and if something ins’t up to scratch, I’ll say so.
This article contains affiliate links where I’ll earn a small commission for each purchase.