22 Jul 2014

preparing for a new academic year with Viking

With just over a month until I start back at university again and working full-time, I don't have the luxury of being able to spend a day buying new stationery to prepare for a new year. The internet has been a God-send in this sense and Viking is definitely a place where you can find all that you need to be adequately equipped to do some learning and studying.

Each year, I struggle to find A4 lever arch files that fit all of my notes from a single module so this year, I'm going to try out a Leitz lever arch file and an Elba one.  

Leitz is a brand that I've not personally come across before but I like the curved design of the file and also the elastic fastening to ensure that the file stays closed. On the inside left of the folder, there is a pen loop and a few pockets to store those loose bits of paper.

Leitz's offering manages to hold an entire module's worth of notes and it does look as if it could hold a bit more too! However, I'm aware that overloading rings is never a good idea so I'll happily leave it to hold one module's notes. The rings seem very sturdy and the lever is not too weak, nor too strong - just right and time will reveal how good these rings really are but they do offer a five year guarantee on their lever arch files - could this be an indication of the amount of confidence they instil in their own organisers?

Aaaand, onto Elba's lever arch file. Although it doesn't seem as spacious as the Leitz one, it actually has 80mm rings (whereas Leitz possesses 75mm ones) and boasts a potential capacity of 800 sheets. This should be ample room for my biggest module then, right?

Extra labels for the spine is included with the file - always a nice touch as you never know when you might want to switch out the contents of the folder. My only problem with the Elba file is the design - it is too simple with its white exterior and purple interior and I don't find it aesthetically pleasing at all.

Notebooks are something I get through quickly during term-time and next year, I want to use a mix of A4 and A5. I'm also going to try a thing where I don't use the lecture notes and take my own notes instead - here's hoping that falling asleep in boring lectures will be a thing of the past and that things will enter my brain quicker and more efficiently!

I chose an A4 notebook from Foray and an A5 offering from Moleskine. Moleskine is a brand I haven't exactly been complimentary about in the past - their paper being my main gripe and I just find them a bit overpriced and lacking in quality. Here's hoping they've improved since 2011 when I last bought a Moleskine product...

Foray is another brand I've yet to come across but this notebook does look impressive. It comes with a pen loop on the right hand side, a secretarial pocket in the inside left cover and a full length pocket in the inside right cover. The cover isn't rock hard but it isn't soft either - it kind of feels like PU leather and is mildly pliable but still sturdy enough for me to feel confident that it won't bend and shape-shift in my bag.

The rule is feint against the cream-coloured paper and has an air of luxury to it. It feels smooth and of a decent thickness too - I'm guessing 80gsm or 90gsm. In its product description, it states that the paper is partially recycled or from an FSC forest - always a positive but in a world where we are becoming more and more electronic, I do wonder how long this sort of thing will influence consumers. Just playing devil's advocate there...

In terms of performance, the paper does well with ink that isn't too pigmented or wet - the only pens shown here that I wouldn't use with this notebook are the Kuretake Cocoiro brush tip, Uniball Eye Needletip and any fountain pen.

The Moleskine notebook design is as minimalistic as always with its black hardcover and feint narrow ruled cream paper. It is classically stylish and is designed for pretty much any purpose.

It seems that my post back in August 2012 may no longer ring true... If you want to see what inspired that post, see this post here.

Anyway, compared with the ridiculous show-through experienced when I used a Moleskine diary back in 2011, the paper seems to only have trace amounts of show-through. There is a tiny bit of bleeding with a few of the pens but not enough for me to complain about so I definitely think the quality of the paper has increased significantly. I'll definitely re-visit the notebook once it is in full use to see if it really is true but this brief pen test is definitely promising.

Finally, pens are an important part of my university life - the type of pen I use can determine how neat or messy my handwriting is. Muji Erasables have come in super handy in my planner but seeing as I decided to give Moleskine a second chance, I opted to also give Pilot Frixions a second chance. I first reviewed them in 2011 and I wasn't really that impressed - the rubber didn't rub the ink out cleanly and the flow of ink just wasn't as good as the Muji Erasables.

Fast forward a few years and there are now Pilot Frixion Clickers that have 0.5mm nibs! In my original review, I had a 0.7mm Frixion and I didn't like how thick it was so there's one thing I already like about the Frixion Clickers. Another thing these Frixion Clickers win on is the fact that they are retractable - no faffing about with pen lids and also, the rubber is much better this time round.

You can see that the 0.5mm nibs aren't as thick and gloopy and the rubber left no residue behind (you can just about make out the 'test test' bit at the bottom which has been rubbed out.

With all of these items, I definitely feel more prepared for the new academic year. Thank you, Mark of Mediaworks and Viking UK for sending me samples to review :)

NB: Although I received these products as review samples, I have reviewed them just as I would have if I had paid for them.


  1. Great post
    Those "binder" at the top of the post are interesting. Do you like more then regular 3 ring binders?
    I love when people show the back is the paper to show bleed through. Great to compare when wanting to try out new pens.
    Hopefully you will have a better experience with moleskine this time. I'm thinking of picking one up, but they are on the pricey side.
    Good luck with your upcoming semester.

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      What do you mean by 3 ring binders? I've only ever known two ring binders?

      I hope this Moleskine proves my previous opinion wrong - it's very promising if the pen test is anything to go by :)