First off, I would like to thank Galen Leather for sending me these gorgeous notebook covers so I could take a look at them. They let me pick out what I wanted to check out, so I went with a Navy A5 Moleskine & iPad Mini cover since it matches my company’s colour and would for sure be used a lot at work. I also got an A6 Moleskine leather cover that I will be reviewing at a later date.
I feel fortunate to be apart of Galen Leather’s recent marketing blitz. I was pretty excited when I got the email, and then a few weeks later I started seeing other bloggers posting about the products they received. Most of those bloggers were a lot quicker than me in getting their reviews, so be sure to check them out as well. I will include links at the end of the post.
I won’t get into who Galen Leather is too much since other bloggers have such a great job already, so I will just tell you that they are really nice people from Istanbul Turkey. You can read more about them on their “About Us” page.
Now on to the actual cover. Like I mentioned before, I specifically chose this size and colour to use at work. This means I have only used this at work (office environment), so I haven’t truly stress tested it against all environments. With that said, this cover still feels very sturdy and could probably take quite a beating. The extent of my uses is holding my A5 Leuchtturm 1917, which gets used at my desk and in all of my meetings. It leaves with me to people’s farms occasionally, but always stays in the truck.
I have gotten a few strange looks at work since everyone just uses the standard notebooks from our supply cabinet. No one has asked me about it yet, but I am sure it will happen soon.
Quick side story! I use all of my pens in the office, sometimes taking my Lamy 2000 or Pilot Vanishing Point (VP) to meetings since the are understated, so I have not received any comments about those either (a few strange looks again). The other day during a meeting, a co-worker’s ballpoint ran out of ink and asked me to borrow my pen since they were jotting something down when I wasn’t. I had my VP at the time, but no cheap decoy pens. I panicked for a second. My plan? Since I was slightly turned away from them at a board room table, I pretended to not hear them initially, and thankfully another co-worker offered theirs before I was asked again. Bullet dodged. From then on, I have always carried a decoy pen in my pocket for those types of situations. I am not yet know as “The Pen Guy” at work since I never talk about it, so people wouldn’t know why I am protective of my pens. I know a quick conversation about how to use it properly would have worked just the same, but apparently I am not ready to open up to non-pen people about my
addiction hobby. Sorry about the tangent! I should probably write a separate post about that. Back to the cover!
Now on to the backbone of this product, the leather. I will say right now that the leather for the Navy A5 cover feels different that the Brown A6 cover. I will make a few comparisons to the brown leather, but won’t go into details about it since I will be reviewing that on it’s own.
I already have a few different leather notebooks or notebook covers (DSKI Design, Popov Leather, Innovation Journaling), and they all have different kinds of leather (I think. I am going off of feel). The leather from the Navy A5 Galen Leather cover is by far the stiffest.
This makes sense to me. It covers more space, so if it wants to hold it’s form, it would have to be stiffer. The downside of this is that it doesn’t have that soft leather feel that I like. The brown leather in the A6 cover has much softer leather than this one. I absolutely love that leather!
Since the leather is quite stiff, the spine was quite stiff to begin with. Thankfully, this has softened up with some use. Now it is pretty much perfect with lying flat an staying closed.
Now on to the only negative aspect of this cover, which has to do with the leather itself. The inside of the spine is all cracked up. I don’t know if this was an issue with this particular batch of leather or the dying process, but it is definitely a problem that should have been taken care of before sending this out the door. Unless this is a feature that just does not appeal to me (the brown A6 inner spine is perfect, so I am guessing not), I would be asking for a replacement had I paid for this rather than receive it for free for this review. I sent a quick email asking what their policy is on receiving a flawed item (in my eyes), but have not heard back yet. It’s the weekend now, so I am not saying it is a bad thing that they haven’t replied yet. I will update here on what they say. I did find this tidbit on their “Leather Care” page – “We use locally sourced 2-3mm vegetable oak tanned cow leather.Every piece of leather absorbs dye differently,” so it is possible that I just got a piece of leather that didn’t agree with the dye. Even so, it still takes away from an otherwise awesome cover.
In this section, I am including the enclosure strap, pen loop, and the strap to secure the notebook.
The outside is a little different than you are probably used to. Let me explain. The strap can be used as both a closure strap, and when “not in use”, it is still tight along the back of the cover to be used to secure papers or other things I can’t think of to the out side of the cover. I’ve only used this feature once to take a loose page to a meeting, but just found it easier to put it inside the cover. I am guessing they built it this way so the strap would be out of the way when not keeping the notebook closed, which in that case, does a wonderful job.
The part that you won’t be used to is the fact that you loop the closure strap around the spine instead of the open side. It is weird at first since it the first to do so that I can think of, but it is easy to get used to and I have learnt to love it.
Now let’s talk about the strap that actually holds the notebook in the cover. It does the job. Does it do the job well? For the most part. I haven’t used any other notebook holders that secure a notebook with elastic straps like this before, so take this with a grain of salt. It does a good job in holding the notebook where is it supposed to be, but is not 100% snug. What I mean is that it is not going to fall out on you, but you will notice some play where it can slide out of place slightly. I have found this just to be a minor annoyance and doesn’t deter me from wanting to use the cover. Also keep in mind that the thicker the cover is on the notebook, the more snug it will be. Common sense right?
Last of the elastics is the pen loop. No a whole lot to say other than it can hold basically every pen you own with enough willpower. For the larger pens, it requires a bit of coercion to get it in the loop, but it will stretch enough to accommodate it. I haven’t used enough large pens with it yet to notice any permanent stretching, but I am sure it will happen with enough use.
On the opposite side of the size scale, it can fit fairly thin pens as well. I went and found the thinnest writing instrument I could find (a vintage mechanical pencil of some sort) and it would have slipped right through the loop had it not had a clip. Out of the box, it seems to be the perfect size for a common pen from a big box store as it holds a Uniball Vision Elite nicely. This loop is secured to the leather with a fairly hefty brass fastener, so it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
Other Features & Pockets
This cover was built for more than just holding a notebook. To state the obvious (see the name of the product), it was also designed to hold an iPad Mini. Unfortunately I do not have a iPad Mini to test it out, so I can’t really comment on this feature.
Looking to the side of the cover, we have a few more features that can hold our stuff. First off, there are 2 card holder slots for banks cards or business cards. To begin with, they are very tight and could only hold one credit card comfortably with out bending the cards. I have stored 8 business cards in one of the slots and the leather has loosened up nicely to the point where 3 credit cards can fit without worry.
Behind these card holders is a pocket where you can store a pocket notebook, such as a Field Notes, a cell phone, or anything else you can imagine (within certain size restraints of course). There is also a leather strap that will help secure taller items or allow you to store them higher up in the cover. A few warnings though. The more you put in that pocket, the more it pushes on the card holders, which can make the cards bend slightly. The leather also has enough give to hold both a Field Notes and an iPhone 6 in that pocket, but if you do this and also want a pen in the pen loop, the cover may be too thick to close properly and bulge depending what is all in there.
There is also the same pocket as the iPad Mini holder on the opposite end of the cover where you can store things such as receipts or other randoms items. I have not explored this pocket yet, but keep in mind the more you put in it, the bulkier the cover will be.
Last but not least, this cover will fit any A5 notebook out there. I have used a Rhodia Webnotebook, a Leuchtturm 1917, and a hard cover Black n Red notebook, all without any problems. Like I mentioned before, the thicker the cover, the more snug it will be.
Since this cover was sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review, I didn’t pay too close of attention to the price through out picking it out and using it. A few times throughout everyday use, I caught myself thinking about how much I thought this cost, and I was always guessing in the $100 range. Well I just went back to their site again to double check the price and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was only $65, so a pretty good value in my books!
Besides the cracked leather on the spine, which I hope they would replace for paying customers, everything about this cover functions great. My current use for it doesn’t require me to use all of the features, but it is nice to know that they are there if I ever mix that up.
If you are reading this review, I am going to assume that you have already seen at least a couple other reviews of Galen Leather products who echo a similar message as me. This is a good leather cover with a lot of great features. Do I recommend this cover? Absolutely. If I ever find myself wanting a colour other than Navy, I wouldn’t hesitate to check out Galen Leather first.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, I also have the A6 Moleskine cover to review. That one doesn’t get quite as much use as this since Field Notes dominate that size category for me (Spoiler alert, they are not made for Field Notes), so I will wait until I get some better use out of the cover before sharing my thoughts with all of you!
Don’t forget to check out the other great reviews of Galen Leather below.
You can find more by searching Galen Leather into the wonderful pen search engine, Pennaquod.
Disclaimer: This cover was provided to me free of charge for exchange of an honest review. All thoughts are my own.