8 Jul 2013

review: Quo Vadis Equology & Habana Notebooks

Quo Vadis is a brand that you've probably heard of: they are known for their high quality paper and are currently in the process of making Filofax-sized refills. They are also related to the Rhodia and Clairefontaine brands, so clearly, nice paper is in their blood. With all this in mind, can you believe that the notebooks I will review are actually my first Quo Vadis notebooks? I used to have a planner but because I was using a Filofax at the time, I gave it to a friend instead. I'm no stranger to the Rhodia brand of notebooks though - I own about eight or nine of them.

Anyway, onto the notebooks I was sent: an A5 Equology in red and two A6 Habana watermelon notebooks (these come in a pair).

First up, the Habana. Although the colour is called 'watermelon', it is really quite a pale green and nothing like the dark green I normally associate with the fruit. The cover is indeed quite smooth (as the label says).

The cover is also quite thick! It is thick enough to protect the notebook, but without making it overly stiff.

These notebooks came with a leaflet about the Quo Vadis pledge to plant trees in exchange for each Habana product bought. Sounds like a good deal to me!

The paper inside has quite a narrow rule that isn't too dark, nor too light. There is a wider margin at the bottom of the pages than at the top and I'm not sure I like this. I like to write titles in slightly larger handwriting at the top so that they standout and with this layout, I wouldn't be able to do that. With the top line so narrow, it's unlikely that anyone would write anything on it anyway.

And, the obligatory pen test. The paper absorbs the ink well with no feathering and with little show-through. The only pen that was obviously visible on the other side was the Staedtler Lumocolor but I have yet to find any paper that is of a similar type (i.e. 80gsm, 85gsm or 90gsm) where it doesn't show-through. All in all, pretty impressive with gel, rollerball and erasable pens.

Overall, the Habana Smooth is a neat and functional notebook that comes in a range of pretty colours. As mentioned earlier, there is one minor flaw with it, in that there is one line too many at the top of each of the ruled pages but aside from that, the notebook is light (being 10cm x 15cm, that isn't too hard I guess) and easy to carry around. The Habana Smooth is a notebook that looks good and is also functional.

Next up is the Equology A5-sized notebook in red. The colour is very striking but not overpowering - it is more of a red with a dark side than a sharp pillarbox red. The elastic band closure is a sharper shade of red but I found the elastic in it lacking slightly - it felt a bit too loose and lackadaisical for my liking and I do worry about how long it will last for with continual use. The Equology logo is visible on the front of the notebook.

The paper in this notebook is 100% recycled, which can't be a bad thing - there are only so many trees to chop down in the world! However, my experience with recycled paper isn't a good one - I remember when I was in high school and we once bought a 100% recycled refill pad from Woolworths. The paper was an ugly light brown colour and it absorbed ink to the extent that the show-through was shocking. This notebook could change my opinion though - 90gsm recycled paper!

The paper has a grey-ish tinge to it and it definitely felt like an improvement compared to the Woolworths recycled paper I had used in the past.

At the back is a pocket for all those loose bits and pieces you might want to carry around with you.

The only way to judge how good the paper is, is to do a pen test and the results are similar, if not the same, as the Habana Smooth pen test I did earlier in this post.

And, if the recycled paper isn't a good enough feature, the cover is also biodegradable...

All in all, I had high expectations for these Quo Vadis notebooks. Others have given their paper rave reviews and they definitely delivered on that front. The design is practical (on the whole) but they are just missing that 'x-factor' that make other notebook brands, such as Pantone or Leuchtturm, fashionable. However, for many people, whether or not a notebook is fashionable is irrelevant and if that is the case, these notebooks definitely score highly in the functional stakes.

Thank you Graham, for sending me these notebooks and affording me the opportunity to review them at length :)

Note: Although these products were sent to me as samples, this does not affect my opinion in any way and I am still reviewing them as I would if I had paid for them.


  1. I have yet to find some good recycled paper, so this is nice to see! I've never tried these notebooks before..!

    1. Yes, I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the recycled paper. Definitely worth a try if you have had a bad impression of recycled paper like I had :) x