The passport sized notebook cover is a classic staple amongst leather goods, and there are many great options out there. However, most of them aim for a sort of rugged, outdoor feel, rather than a modern, formal one. With a sleek, minimal style and several small design factors to make use above-and-beyond the typical experience, the Alstad Carry is a high-end entry into the notebook cover category.
Formerly known as Avund, Alstad Goods is led by the tag team of Mika Bektor from Sweden and Tom Hayes of the UK. This pair of designers both aim for simplified, minimal utilitarian designs without excess, utilizing nothing but the best in terms of material and construction. They strive to take persistent designs and ideas and improve them, taking away anything not needed, and leaving only timeless, functional pieces.
Alstad pieces come carefully packaged and include a note with the date of creation and signature of the craftsman.
The Alstad Carry is made of full grain, vegetable tanned, 1.2mm (3oz) cow shoulder, sourced from the United Kingdom. Leather is dyed through from both sides. Edges are saddle stitched with thick waxed polyester thread (thick to the point that “rope” may be a better word). Edges are hand beveled and burnished with a contrasting black color on my ‘brick red’ version.
Construction quality is immaculate. Stitching is uniform and strong, edges are all precisely lined up (compliments of the laser-cut leather) and beveled uniformly, color is rich and deep, and the overall feel is both elegant and extremely strong. Alstad products are assembled in New York City.
A quality sword is often said to have good “balance,” meaning the weight is distributed to help the user most efficiently use the sword in the way it was intended. This is the metaphor that comes to mind when I think of the Carry’s design: it’s very well balanced. The center of the Carry, where it folds, is the thinnest and lightest point. This allows the weight of the pockets on either side to lie flat both when opened and closed.
The leather used is thick enough (and quality enough) to be very strong, but thin enough to maintain a very sleek form. It’s a finished leather, and water rolls off rather than being absorbed as with less treated leather.
There are notebook pockets on both sides, with an additional card pocket layer on the front. The Alstad Carry is great for holding just your Field Notes, but can also be packed quite full, if needed. Though this definitely stretched the leather a bit, I’ve gone as far as to squeeze my iPhone 6s into one pocket, my passport in the other, one cover of the included Field Notes into the pocket with the passport, and some cards and cash in the card slots.
The pen closure is a great addition to the Carry. It securely holds a pencil or pencil-sized pen, such as the included thin ballpoint (which, while incidental, is also a very quality pen), and can be used to either lock the Carry closed or, if only one of the two loops is utilized, hold your pen in place when you’re between notes. The pen closure is what allows the Carry to hold many items when needed.
The notebook cover is overall a pretty simple product, but the Alstad Carry enhances it in several ways that makes it stand out functionally.
The high level of functionality is matched with a beautiful look. The brick red color of this Carry (Alstad offers a handful of colors) is a very true and rich red, and the somewhat contrasting black edges and white thread add some subtle variance.
Lines are overall very sleek and modern. While the Carry is, of course, more than tough enough to handle the adventurer’s backpack, at first glance you’d be much more likely to think of sliding it into the pocket of a suit coat or dark attache.
One thing that did occasionally distract from the overall seemingly flawless look was where the stitches inside, that separate the card slots, leave an impression on the leather visible from the outside of the Carry. This didn’t bother me, but it is certainly noticeable.
The Alstad Carry is a luxury product with a luxury look.
Lately the trend in many leather products is to go for a rugged look and feel. The Alstad Carry has all the durability of these goods, but vies for a best dress look, with the functionality to match. The high price of the Carry may be a hesitation point for some, but the skillful handmade construction, quality of materials, and careful design all combine to justify it. This is unquestionably a recommended, Buy It For Life product.