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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

First Look At: CTF's HitList Notebook (again!)

Finally, at long last I actually have something to review! I've been hard at work, but I haven't spent much time at all with my own personal  fountain pens. Saving money means buying less pens and inks, so for the last few months, I've had nothing new to write about.

That changes today thanks to "CTF" the creator of the HitList Notebook. He's been kind enough to send me one of his new notebooks for preview/review.

If you haven't read my original review of the HitList, or you simply have never heard of this notebook before, I highly recommend you stop here, and go check it out, as today's post will just be about the changes made in this new rendition of my favorite notebook (spoilers!). Let's get going.

I'll go ahead and apologize right now for the coloration of these photographs. New photo setup, and new computer mean that my editing and pictures aren't up to par yet. But I really didn't want to delay this any further.

Also, keep in mind that just because I've been given this notebook for review, does not mean that I automatically love it, or give it praise. Any praise I give is well earned, but you will also notice some criticisms in the "review". Disclaimers out of the way, let's get into it.

First of all, what's different!

  • The HitList now comes in two sizes - pocket and large. I am very grateful for this option. More buyer choice is always better.
  • The entire series is now printed with lined paper. This is a godsend for people like me who cannot write straight on blank paper. I will make a minor complaint, in that the notebooks are now only available lined. CTF, if you're reading this, I personally suggest offering both blank and lined! : ) Again, the more buyer options the better.
  • The paper has been refined further. Not sure of the exact changes, but I like it for the most part.
Here are the technical specs from the official website:

  • Size: 5.125” x 8”
  • 32 pages of fountain pen friendly 118g patented archival quality acid free paper.
  • Super tough tear resistant cover.
  • Easy access subject and date area along spine.
  • “CTF Dock” to show off your pen!
  • Big Hitlist notebooks are plastic wrapped in packs of 2.

And that's about it for major changes. They're subtle, but they mark an excellent evolution in this awesome notebooks history.

Just like before, the HitList is beautifully minimal and elegant in it's design. The front sports the logo, and a thin stripe along the left side, with an area to put some information about the notebook, i.e. - what the notebook is for, the dates the notebook was used. Kinda cool for archival purposes.

The back has nothing more than a "Made In Canada" imprint, and a lot of black. Again, I appreciate the simplicity.

As with the previous HitList notebook,"CTF's Pen Dock" makes it's appearance. This is such a simple and elegant solution that every time I use another notebook, I cut one of these into it now. It's kind of a must have for me these days.

Alright, as with any "review" that I do, I like to keep it honest, and there are definitely a few small criticisms I can level at this notebook. The first one is very minor, but it's the appearance of the paper. It looks... Recycled? Not sure, but there are a fair amount of visual "artifacts" on each sheet. Go ahead and click on the photo below to get a closer look, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

While this doesn't really bother me, I did stop for a second, wondering why exactly the paper does look like this. Whatever it is, it writes nothing like the recycled paper I've used, so that's a good thing! :)

So, about that paper? Well, it's everything I've come to expect out of a HitList Notebook. It is as smooth as I want, without feeling like plastic instead of paper. I myself have stopped using papers such as Clairefontaine, simply because I don't like the overly glossy texture. CTF's HitList strikes a perfect in between for me. It's incredibly smooth to write on, but I still feel like I'm using paper.

So, here's a  very extreme bleed-through test. For starts, the two stubs I was using were tweaked to about 10/10 wetness. I was trying to soak the paper. Also, the second swab on left (the one on the right in the above picture) was done as wet as possible.

Overall I'm extremely impressed with the bleed-through qualities of this paper. Obviously, with a large 1.1mm stub, set to maximum flow, you're going to get some slight bleed-through, really on any paper, save perhaps the Quo Vadis Habana. All of my other nibs, 0.7mm stubs and the like, had zero bleed-through whatsoever. Your Mileage Will Vary, depending on the nib and ink combo, but It's definitely paper made for fountain pens.

CTF's claims to virtually no bleed-through or feathering are indeed well founded. Feathering was completely a non-issue, even with the soaking ink swab I did!

Another very minor quibble I have, is how the lines are printed. The ink used seems to not allow the fountain pen ink to absorb "over it". Just check out the photo below, and you can see what I mean with the swab. The lines show right through the ink. It's actually a rather cool effect, but I can also see it becoming a little annoying to some folks. Pick your poison, but it sure won't stop me from enjoying the notebook. 

It's still got that touch. :) This is just one of the reasons I love this notebook. I like how personal it is. I like the guy who makes them, and his attitude toward pens and paper. I much prefer giving my money to CTF over some large company that just pumps out notebooks by the thousands. Though the HitList isn't handmade, it still maintains a very personal touch.

And there you have it. That's a quick wrap of the new notebook. Hopefully I've showcased it well enough for you to get an idea of the changes made. Again, if you haven't read my original review, consider doing so, as it'll make everything I've written here make a whole lot more sense.

I really enjoy the CTF HitList notebooks. They are what I've come to prefer above any other notebook currently on the market. For me they strike all the right chords - elegant, intelligent, and minimal design, great paper, smart features, and a really awesome guy behind it all.

You can pick up your own HitList from here if you're interested. If you're like me, and you're still on the hunt for the perfect notebook, give it a shot!

Otherwise, let me know what you think of these notebooks in the comments below! They're still pretty new, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on them, be it positive or not.

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