Rugged Minimalist Bullet Journal Cover Review – $129

How many of us really have it together when it comes to organizing our lists and schedules? I have my to do lists and the calendar on my phone, but nothing is really streamlined. I hadn’t even heard of the idea of a ‘bullet journal’ until Rugged Minimalist introduced me to their Bullet Journal Cover. This handsome, handy, bestselling accessory will help you organize and protect your bullet journal alongside a few other daily carry items.

About Rugged Minimalist

It’s been a pleasure to get to know Jason, owner and founder of Rugged Minimalist, over the last couple of years. Jason has a background in sales and marketing but, in an effort to pursue a more creative and more personally rewarding trade, developed an interest in product design that eventually lead him to leather. Over the last four years he’s been working on a variety of designs that focus on utility without excessive labelling or embellishment. Rugged Minimalist aims to make leather products of the highest quality. While using old world materials and techniques, Rugged Minimalist also strives to cater to the modern consumer: “Bags and accessories that do not feel out of place in the office, on a plane, or in the woods.” All products are handmade in Tennessee.

Logo, leather grain, and even a small scar from the cow (top left)

Leather & Construction

The Bullet Journal Cover is made with top notch materials.

Full grain bridle leather is both attractive and strong. This is a low maintenance leather that will last a lifetime. It strikes a nice balance in that it maintains some appearance of raw leather (read: visible grain) even though it’s actually a finished, protected leather. Leather is sourced from Wickett and Craig, a trusted American leather tannery.

The cover is hand stitched using waxed linen thread. Linen thread isn’t as common as polyester these days, but it has similar strength when properly waxed and has a great appearance. Needlework on the Bullet Journal Cover is precise and strong. Sturdy brass hardware is used for reinforcing rivets and closure snaps.

Sturdy stitching, reinforcing rivet

Rugged Minimalist offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products. I’ve had opportunity to discuss various build and design aspects with Rugged, and this is a company that takes pride in their work.


There’s a few things to look for when seeking a notebook cover, and Rugged Minimalist has managed to check all the boxes.

First and foremost, is the  journal well protected? Yes, by sturdy leather, from nearly every side. The top and bottom are exposed to the elements, but the edges of the leather are thick enough to make sure no drops or bumps can damage your notebook. Closure snaps are secure and the cover won’t be accidentally opening. Since the journal itself is well secured in place inside the cover, it should have no problems remaining pristine.

Held snug and protected

There’s some extra features Rugged Minimalist has provided as well. One must-have feature for me is a place to park your pen, which is provided via some slits in the spine. There’s also a variety of slots that could be used for cards, other small notebooks, receipts or spare papers, extra pens, etc. Since this is probably going to be part of your every day carry, may as well store some other EDC items within.

Holding some extras

Oh, one last thing I really like. The layout and choice of leather is such that, when opened, the cover lies completely flat. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you have to work and wear in a cover to lie flat, so big thumbs up from me here!

Bullet Journal

While our main focus is to review the leather product itself, it seems appropriate to speak briefly about the bullet journaling system. Bullet journaling is a mix of your calendar, to-do list, and journal. I didn’t often use mine as a journal in the ‘diary’ sense, as I found it more useful as a planner. I think what gives bullet journal a unique edge is the fluidity of the organization. There’s an emphasis on “migrating” tasks. That is, when you didn’t complete a task, it encourages you to think about it: worth my time? Needs doing imminently? Can I put it off for a few weeks or months? It’s a highly customizable and unique way of looking at organization.

Events, completed tasks, migrated tasks


I find myself annoyed when most protective cases tend to make an item uglier than without. You’re forced to choose between protecting the item or enjoying how it looks. Thank goodness leather doesn’t have this problem! Rugged Minimalist has made a cover that far exceeds the appearance of the journal itself. No extra frillies or designs…just beautifully finished leather, sewn with precision and edged to perfection. Rugged Minimalist is especially careful with attention to detail when it comes to edging. Sometimes an unfinished edge has a certain appeal too, but a smooth, polished edge matches this leather best. Just seeing this cover on my desk gives me a little spark of happiness.

Smooth, burnished edges

My review sample is the Bullet Journal Cover in English Tan. Rugged Minimalist also offers the cover in standard Tan, Black, and Chocolate.


A journal is a great companion. It can be for recording thoughts and experiences or for organization and scheduling. Protecting your journal with the Rugged Minimalist Bullet Journal Cover is a great way to enhance the experience. It will help your journal last, make it beautiful, and carry a few extra small items. I’m happy to recommend the Bullet Journal Cover as a Buy It For Life item.

Olpr. Leather Goods Co. Pocket Moleskine Journal Cover- $29

In studying the lives of great men, I’ve noticed a common trait: they were all consistent journal writers. I, myself, consider myself an avid and consistent journal writer.

My grandpa kept a journal his entire life. His journal was quite simple. He just kept a small notebook in his pocket of his shirt and jotted down a short description of the things he did and the people he did it with. This is something he did pretty much every day for his entire life.

Whether or not you want your future grandkids to read it or you just want an attractive piece to store some notes or important information, I loved giving these leather journal covers as groomsmen gifts to my brothers. I do believe that our grandkids will get a kick out of the fact that we once had to go into a shop to rent movies or that phones used to have cords attached to them.

About Olpr. Leather Goods Co.

Olpr. Leather Goods Co. is a small family business, started in Ukraine. All of the items are made to order, but they also have a showroom in the workshop where the customers can come and choose something from stock.
One day, Viktor, the company’s tailor, decided to sew the kind of wallet he had always wanted—a simple pocket wallet with a straight seam. It was so well made that he sold it the next day. He made another; he sold another. Soon, we were making leather goods for all of their friends. Their goods became so popular that they were invited to the arts markets. They sold everything they made. They had found their calling—creating leather goods.
The Internet gave Olpr. the exciting opportunity to sell their goods outside Ukraine. They could share their passion all over the world. But the distance caused a problem-shipping to the U. S. could take up to a month. That was not the type of service they wanted to provide, so they moved to North Carolina to be closer to their many American friends who value the handmade leather products.


All of the leathers used are the full-grain cowhides sourced from Horween tannery. High grade thread comes in several different colors.

The pocket sized cover measures 3.5″ x 5.5″ and fits the small Moleskine hardcover journal.

Products can be customized with the colorful stitching and personalization. Olpr. Leather Goods Co. offers two types of personalization – the embossing and laser engraving.


This leather journal is perfect for that everyday carry item for your briefcase, car or just to carry around with you without having a larger sized journal. The back flap has a perfect cut seam to fit the elastic holder in place. The front and back inside flaps can also serve as perfect places for loose papers, receipts or cards.


Each leather offered for this journal cover is as rich and beautiful as they come. They smell great too! Although only a month old, My journal is getting some nice wear, ‘beauty marks’ and patina. I suspect it will look really stunning and weathered in the years to come.


At $29 this pocket sized journal cover is well worth the money given the materials used and the handmade nature. As another famous man once said, ‘One cannot put a price on a journal for the text and contents of one’s journal is priceless’. Believe me when I say, the contents of my journal will surely exceed the amount the journal and cover originally costed. Check them out -here-.

The Ongoing Leather Notebook Cover List – Field Notes, Moleskine, Rite in the Rain, Rhodia

To have your notebook cover featured here, contact Bobby at [email protected] to arrange. This is an ongoing list.

Here we are featuring great notebook covers sent to us by reputable leather companies in the business of making quality goods. The links are in the product titles. Continue reading “The Ongoing Leather Notebook Cover List – Field Notes, Moleskine, Rite in the Rain, Rhodia”

Koch Leather Company Horween Leather Sleeve Review – $58

koch sleeve

Field notes have always been a part of my daily carry. Despite the advancement of cellphones and tablets, to me, nothing beats a hard pencil or pen and a notebook. From tracking spending, writing to remember or revisit, or to exchange information, the field notes journal is my go-to medium. When using covers to protect small notebooks such as Field Notes or Moleskine, there are plenty of options to choose from. Josh and Jen Koch of Koch Leather Company offer a Horween Leather Sleeve that provides a nice breakaway from traditional covers. By utilizing a design in which you insert the journal between the leather, the product provides dual functions and protection.

Koch leather goods come packaged nicely which adds to the overall presentation

The field notes sleeve is constructed of three pieces of Horween Natural Dublin. Koch Leather Company refers to this as their chestnut color. Natural Dublin is a vegetable tanned leather which gives a bit more toughness in feel compared to its Chromexcel counterpart in my opinion. Koch also offers Horween Chromexcel in burgundy, black, and brown, and a vegetable tanned leather from Hermann Oak. The sleeve is hand stitched with waxed thread and edges come in nicely burnished.


The front of the sleeve presents two pockets. One is for a pen, which I thus far have carried a variety of averaged sized pens in from Pilot G2’s to Parker Jotters and Fischer space pens. The secondary pocket fits a few cards, a single AAA flashlight, or a small to medium sized knife. The design protects both accessories in a way such that I was not worried about breaking a plastic pen while sitting on the sleeve. As you can see, the pull-up in the leather is great once flexed and reveals the lighter color as the oils are spread out. The color settles from the lightest color once items have been regularly stored.


I normally carry my field notes in a messenger bag, but for the purpose of this review, I also implemented carrying it in my back pants pockets. Though the Natural Dublin is vegetable tanned, it is soft enough to form to your backside, but not to an extreme bending degree. On a few occasions it also fit into the breast pocket of my suit jackets. The sleeve design allows the back of the sleeve to be used as a writing surface. This worked fairly well when making sketches wresting the sleeve on my knee.


With a lot of companies using Horween their leather of choice, products must rely on design and craftsmanship to separate themselves. While Koch Leather also offers more traditional notebook covers, this sleeve offers a nice separation from the pack. The finite details such as the thumb slit to remove the notebook is properly placed and adds a touch of ergonomics. The burnished edges have held up nicely over frequent use and it has done its standard job of protecting my Field Notes. The logo on the back end blends itself in with this particular leather finish, but can easily be felt.


The Koch Leather Company Horween Leather Sleeve offers solid protection for your journals with an alternative design and dual functions. I could easily see this piece being used with a passport and travel identification. Being able to carry a Swiss Army Knife or flashlight has led to me favoring this setup over a traditional cover. At the price of $58 it presents itself well, especially with the quality of materials used and overall craftsmanship. As it continues to darken and gather small scratches and abrasions, I can only see it becoming more beautiful.


E3 Supply Co Passport Notebook & Tactical Keychains Review

The first time I went to E3 Supply Co’s website, I thought my web browser had auto-filled in a website from my history–why was I going to a page about motorcycles? I was in the right place though. E3 began by making custom motorcycles, and carried that spirit of freedom into making killer leather accessories. We’re going to look at a couple items that would fit right in with any biker’s every day carry–E3’s Passport Notebook and Tactical Keychain series.


Horween Leather Passport Notebook

There’s lots of great options out there for a small leather notebook cover. E3’s Passport Notebook is distinguished in that it’s kept very simple (no card or pen slots), but can hold two smaller Scout notebooks. The Horween Chromexcel used is nice and thick, and as soft yet strong as we’ve come to know and love of this leather. It looks great and E3’s wing logo is very cool.


Elastics at the centerfold are used to hold the notebooks in the cover, and another elastic is used to keep it closed when not in use. This is a great system that makes the Passport Notebook very easy to use. It’s quick to pull out and jot notes when the moment comes, and with some flexing can lay nice and flat. One unexpected use I found when I only needed one notebook was to use the freed-up elastic to hold cash or receipts. A drawback about the elastics is that they’ll be far outlived by the Chromexcel, but they should be quite simple to replace once they wear out.


Chromexcel Tactical Keychain V1 & V2

Everyone needs keys, and every key needs a good keychain. E3 offers two options of their Tactical Keychain, and I’ve had the chance to test out both. V1 is for those who prefer to clip their keys to their belt loops, and V2 is for those who like to snap the entire keychain to their belt and unclip their keys when they need them (or perhaps those who want to save a few dollars on the less expensive of the two). I’ll let the visible wear-in on mine show which I preferred!


Both versions are well made with the same thick Chromexcel as the Passport Notebook. V1 uses a thick stitch at each corner to hold three folded layers of leather together and the hardware in place, and V2 uses a single snap rivet to keep its two layers of folded Chromexcel in place. Hardware is military spec Hk style rifle sling clips. The PVD coating on the clips is starting to wear on the contact points of my clips, but this shouldn’t affect function or longevity. Everything involved is tough enough to handle the abuse a keychain takes for years to come.


BestLeather Conclusion

E3 Supply Co. is a cool company with some great products. Their Chromexcel Passport Notebook and Tactical Keychains are simple, well put together items with our recommendation. Prices are reasonable as well–the Passport Notebook is $45, and the tactical keychains are $39 for V1 and $29 for V2. 



E3 has many other great accessories to offer, as well. Be looking forward to a review of their Holster Style Slim Wallet in our upcoming wallet roundup as well as a review for their Apple Watch straps in the coming weeks.


Alstad Goods Carry Review – $199

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.

The Goods Nota Bene – $120

As much as I love technology, there’s just something about writing things down that is so helpful. I’ve tried to take advantage of countless digital calendars, notepads, and productivity apps, but nothing compares to a trusty notebook. The Nota Bene from The Goods is a small, stylish notebook cover that aims to keep you organized the old-fashioned way.

The Goods Nota Bene 1

About The Goods

The Goods is a Los Angeles-based lifestyle brand that creates essentials for the modern man. Their product line is full of simple, sophisticated products for stylish people on the go. Founded in 2013, The Goods keeps things minimalist, selling only a few products on their website. Their product line has gradually expanded to include home goods and sunglasses, but their main focus is on electronics covers and everyday carry items.

The Goods is actually home to one of my favorite products I’ve reviewed here on BestLeather, which I am constantly evangelizing about. It’s a MacBook cord case they call The Loop. Check it out! 

The Goods Nota Bene 3


The Nota Bene is constructed with the same thick black vegetable-tanned leather as the rest of The Goods’ product line, and lined with suede. It is a very simple design with two card slots on the left side, and a notebook slot and a triangle shaped pen holder on the right. It measures in around 4″ x 7″ x 2″ and holds a small (3.5″ x 5.5″) Moleskine notebook or a regular Field Notes notebook if you are looking for something thinner and lighter. The bottom extends out a little further, allowing the user to access the pen without unsnapping the entire notebook cover.

The Goods Nota Bene 4The Goods Nota Bene 2

The card holders are great for holding business cards and other little notes from meetings. It’s a great little tool for writing down thoughts on-the-go or in meetings. The black snap is sleek and sturdy. I appreciate having a snap closure because I like to tuck little papers in the pages of my notebooks and this way nothing falls out.

The Goods Nota Bene 6


As to be expected from The Goods, the Nota Bene has a beautiful, sleek style. It fits in perfectly with the rest of the product line and looks sharp with The Loop and The Crew which are breaking in nicely. The black leather is a nice matte color that looks at home in both business and casual settings.

The Goods Nota Bene 7


The Nota Bene is a sleek, attractive accessory that I’ve found myself carrying with me nearly every day. It’s made in the USA with high-quality materials and will outlast many, many notebooks. It fits in very nicely with their sleek product line and looks great as a matching set.


Pocket-sized notebooks have always been around, but recently more and more people seem to have these handy little things to whip out and quickly write something down. While some people have their phone do the job, I personally prefer writing it down. The Thirteen50 Leather Whiskey Traveler Wallet not only conveniently holds my Field Notes; it also functions as a wallet. This is the type of functionality I see so many people needing, and this high-quality item is sure to impress.

thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 4ABOUT THIRTEEN50 LEATHER

Thirteen50 Leather was founded after a successful Kickstarter campaign that concluded back in July of 2015. After beginning with belts, their impressively priced selection of leather goods has expanded to various wallets and accessories. The brands name is derived from the 13 stripes and 50 stars on the American flag, where all of their products are crafted and materials originate from.

thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 15CONSTRUCTION

The Whiskey Traveler is constructed out of full-grain, vegetable-tanned leather. The leather is not your average cheapo, flimsy, mass-produced product you would find in a department store. This stuff is the real deal, and I was blown away at what you get for the price. The team at Thirteen50 Leather machine-stitch their wallets, and the end result is a quality item that encourages confidence that it will last a very long time, and look even better after use. The Traveler Wallet that I reviewed quickly started to darken and age making it an even more personal product.

thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 11FUNCTIONALITY

I personally really enjoy these types of wallets that function as a cover for my Field Notes, as well as being a true wallet, without being too bulky. I am a college student so I am always needing easy, quick access to what is in my wallet. This wallet definitely delivers, because of the ability to hold at least 4 cards initially, folded cash, and business cards. I found that it simplifies things quite a bit if you tend to have multiple wallets to carry all your stuff.

thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 29AESTHETIC

I love the simple look of this wallet. The Thriteen50 logo is neatly and subtly placed in the bottom-left corner inside along with uniform, contrasting white stitching to hold it all together. As mentioned above, the leather is a beautiful Whiskey color that darkens a bit over time as you use it, making the aesthetic even more pleasant to show off to your friends. And then they will probably buy one too because of the great price of this piece.

thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 2CONCLUSION

After several weeks of use, I can confidently say that the Thirteen50 Leather Whiskey Traveler Wallet is a steal for what you can get at this price for a product of this quality. Thirteen50 offers this wallet in Whiskey, Black, Natural, and Natural Horween Chromexcel. Don’t forget to check out the other quality products they offer on their website and keep up with all the action over on their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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thirteen50-leather-whiskey-traveler-wallet-review - 8

REVISIT Journal Review – $210

What’s your favorite National Park? Mine is Yosemite National Park, but it’s hard to choose given all the incredible places America’s park system has to offer. The U.S. National Parks Service has been caring for our park lands since 1916. Today they manage 401 separate parks, monuments, and preserves– over 84 million acres of some of America’s most beautiful and historic places.

REVISIT, a lifestyle brand out of Los Angeles, California, knows how to appreciate these parks. A quarter of their profit goes to directly supporting national parks preservation projects. Today I’ll be looking at the REVISIT Journal.

Revisit Journal 8


REVISIT’s founders were inspired by traveling in the National Parks and recognizing the need to preserve them for future generations. REVISIT operates on a quarter-back model, meaning they have pledged to donate a quarter of their profits to parks preservation in the U.S. National Parks system. Their goal is to both support our parks system and create a conversation about preserving the stories and places that are dear to us as a nation.

REVISIT partners directly with the national parks and their support organizations and currently contribute directly to specific projects occurring in three parks systems across the nation: Sequoia Parks Foundation in California, Olympic National Park in Washington, and Glacier National Park in Montana. In the past, they’ve supported other projects in Acadia National Park in Maine and Independence National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Take a look at their Vision page to learn more about the specifics of these important projects.

Revisit Journal 11


The Journal is part of the Founder’s Collection, for which REVISIT uses vegetable tanned leather that is hand treated with natural waxes, oils, and water based pigments during the finishing process. The cows are farm-raised and the hides are treated with mimosa tree extract and lime in order to be as environmentally friendly as possible. The process occurs at REVISIT’s leather finishing factory in Los Angeles, California, the only finishing plant on the West Coast.

The leather used for this journal cover is extremely soft and supple. It has a very smooth, luxurious feel. The brown has a reddish chestnut hue with a subtle sheen.

Revisit Journal 14

Construction & Function

Each REVISIT product is designed and constructed entirely in the United States, at their factory in Los Angeles. You can read a bit about the process on their Artisans page. The journal cover is constructed of one solid, supple piece of leather, envelope style. The flap is secured with a small piece of leather threaded through a logo-emblazoned loop at the front, held together with small brass rivets.


The journal is made to fit a 7″ x 9″ Shinola Journal, which is included. There is also a sleeve for an iPad Mini as well as three standard-sized card slots, a windowed business card holder, and a pen loop.

The supple leather means this journal cover opens easily and lays flat when writing in the notebook. The iPad is meant to slide into a pocket on the left side, however there is a bit of an issue with this. The rivets from the front of the journal also extend into this pocket, meaning there is a little piece of metal just waiting to scratch up your iPad. I’ve found that you can swap the position of the journal and the iPad, but this is a bit of an oversight. Hopefully this issue will be fixed in the next round of design.



The REVISIT Journal is a very useful piece made of a gorgeous piece of leather, all crafted by American artisans. If you’re not planning on using it for an iPad, it would be a great piece for everyday use. $210 is a hefty price for a journal cover, but you are getting a beautiful Shinola Journal that retails for $14, as well as making a direct donation to our priceless National Parks. There’s also a 10% off coupon that pops up on their website for new customers, so be sure to grab that when you pick up your new product from REVISIT.

Revisit Journal 12 Revisit Journal 13

Revisit Journal 15



Shinola Journal Cover for iPad Mini Review – $150

Should I write that down or try to type it in on my iPad Mini? Do you ever have those thoughts run through your head in the midst of a meeting or class? I do. It’s a first world quandary. Fortunately, there’s a stylish chunk of leather that will house both paper and electronic tablet for you. Enter the Shinola Journal Cover for iPad Mini.


About Shinola

This is the second piece we’ve reviewed for Shinola. The first being their beautiful Envelope for iPad Mini.  Shinola is becoming a powerhouse brand, gaining momentum all of the time as a top notch, high-end design and crafting firm based in the USA. Everything they make is proudly made here.



As with Shinola’s other fine leather goods, the Journal Cover for iPad Mini is crafted in St. Genevieve, Missouri. The premium leather is sourced from Horween of Chicago, IL. My Journal Cover is black with black thread. It’s expertly cut and stitched together. In fact, Eric Scott built it. I know this because of the impressive metal card included with my Journal that has his name stamped in the “Built By” section.



The Journal Cover for iPad Mini exudes luxury. The leather is soft and supple to the touch. It’s thick and protective of my iPad Mini, but it’s not bulky in the least. When I first received the Journal Cover, I only used it to contain my iPad Mini and some business cards. Without a paper journal in it I found the cover to be too floppy and kind of a nuisance to handle. So, I ordered a set of Shinola’s Medium Paper Journals. Once I had one of their 72 page premium journals in there, the Journal Cover suddenly became the perfect meeting companion. I now carry it all of the time. If you want, you can probably insert your favorite type of journal in there without issue (i.e. Rhodia, Moleskine, or others of similar size). The only thing that’s glaringly absent is a pen or pencil slot. I wish this was integrated into the design, but at least there is space to secure a writing utensil within the cover.



The Shinola Journal for iPad Mini is available in 14 different leather colors. And, you can order their very useful journals in 8 colors. The black leather of my Journal Cover, combined with the grey journal and my Space Gray iPad Mini combine for a trifecta of visual awesomeness. It looks good…really good. And, it generates comments. Also, people want to touch it and hold it. I don’t mind.






If you are like me and need/desire/want to have the ability to jump on the Internet, check your email, or perform other functions in our technology laden world, but still yearn for the ability to write things down, and you want to keep it all organized and looking good, consider getting yourself a Shinola Journal Cover. At $150, it’s a great way to protect your technology, keep your business cards at hand, and still have a spot to keep good old fashioned notes written down.



Craft & Lore Northwestward Field Notes Review – $80

If you’re a scatterbrain like me and need a mini notebook to carry around with you to keep track of life, you will know that notebooks break apart quickly when carried every day. That’s where the Craft And Lore Northwestward Field Notes cover shines. It is a leather cover for the supplied Field Notes notebook with a few card slots on the inside.

Chad Von Lind is the owner, and maker of Craft And Lore. He produces fine hand made leather goods out of his home shop Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He is both “In word and deed” an honest, hard working, and skilled craftsman.



The Craft & Lore Northwestward Field Notes cover is made from quality Belgium tanned 4/5oz saddle leather. This weight of leather is ideal in my opinion. Thicker and tougher than a 2/3oz however any thicker and it would be a pain to carry. The dye is applied evenly and the finish is smooth, with a nice sheen. It closes via two quality snaps that are set firmly. The piece is hand stitched together with heavy duty waxed thread. He pays every attention to the details when stitching. Backstitching is done at the beginning and end of all stitching lines making the strongest bond.



Having used the notebook cover daily now for 2 weeks or so, I am a big fan. It is like my organizational hub. I run two business in addition to writing for BestLeather so I have lots to keep track of and it is great to have a notebook on me at all times. I also need to carry two sets of business cards and the two card slots are perfect for my needs.


My only issue with it is the pen slot. You cannot fit a full sized pen in the designed slot. It is designed for a mini pen, which I don’t have. However this may be a positive for you. Now the biggest plus in my eyes is that the leather cover prolongs the life of the notebook inside, by quite a lot. This allows me to keep my important ‘scribblings’ safe for much longer than if I were to throw it in my pocket un-protected.



Aesthetics is a difficult topic, as it is purely subjective. However as leather connoisseurs, most of us can agree on how quality leather good looks. Quality leather consists of a nice even dye, a good finish with a pleasing luster, even straight stitching, and properly set snaps. The Northwestward Field Notes encompasses all of those aesthetics making it a very high quality, aesthetically pleasing cover.


BestLeather Conclusion

The Craft & Lore Northwestward Field Notes is a great addition for the unorganized. A very well built organizational hub for you notes and business/credit cards. You can also use it as a passport holder too! It is perfect for someone who needs to carry two sets of business cards. Aesthetically it is a gorgeous piece of art. Functionally it performs well, it will keep the contents safe and secure and is easy to use. However, it will require the purchase and use of a smaller pen. But with that said, it will prolong the life of your notebook in a beautiful handmade in Idaho package.

Norman Cahn Leatherworks Field Notes Cover Review – $42.99

I’m definitely one of those guys who always needs to have pen and paper handy at all times. As a business owner, family man, and generally busy guy, I am frequently in need of writing things down for later use – whether it’s an idea, a task that needs to be done, or contact information for future follow up. Field Notes Notebooks or similar products are a great way to keep those notes, thoughts, and information contained in a somewhat organized fashion. The problem with most of these notebooks is they are made with a thin cardboard cover. They tear and wear out quickly. But, if you cradle them in thick, gorgeous leather, they will stay crisp and clean for much longer periods of time. And, the leather cover can be used over and over again.



About Norman Cahn Leatherworks

This is the second great piece I’ve reviewed for Norman Cahn Leatherworks (actually, it’s the 3rd product…but the first two products were both passport cases). As mentioned before, Norman Cahn is a self-taught leather artisan. He started designing and crafting leather products in 1976. And since that time, he’s refined his skills and continues to strive for perfection in his craft. His expert skills and dedication to creating high quality products is evident in every piece…large or small. We suggest that you visit Norm’s Etsy store in order to take a look at all of the fine leather products he creates: This time around, we’re discussing the Norman Cahn Leatherworks Field Notes Cover.



In typical “Norm” fashion, construction of this cover is near perfect. It’s precision cut, perfectly sewn with a dark chocolate colored, bonded, nylon thread, and finished to an extremely high standard, which includes Norm’s signature waxed, polished, and finished edges.


Here are additional insights about the construction process straight from Norman:

“These covers are available in colors to match my vintage style messenger bags that are inspired by the US mailbags of old. I use Horween chromexcel leather because of its amazing feel, its characteristic rich pull-up and hand rubbed finish. It’s strong and durable while remaining soft to the touch. I love the fact that Horween leather is made in America, and uses tanning processes that are nearly 100 years old. There’s great synchronicity between my old world craftsmanship and Horween’s beautiful leathers. When ordering a cover, you also get the choice of either Ruled Paper or Graph Paper for your Free Field Notes Insert.”



The cover is 6 1/8″ high x 4” wide folded and will hold a classic notebook (it will also easily hold a passport in the cover as well if that’s of interest to you). The left flap contains a nice size pocket that will easily store business cards, receipts, or other materials. The thick, heavy duty Chromexcel leather serves its purpose perfectly…protecting your notebook in style. I do wish there was a pen loop in the cover – however, I suspect that it would create additional unwanted bulk in the cover that probably negates any benefit it would afford. It folds over so nicely and maintains a thin profile – even with receipts, business cards, and a notebook loaded up in it. So, forget I said anything about a pen loop.



It’s a simple design, yet it exudes a sense of class and sophistication. Its size allows you to slip it easily into a pocket – either in a coat or the rear pocket of your pants. The dark brown color and dark chocolate brown thread combine to imbue a rich, classy image. If you’ve got a favorite, good looking pen, this cover and your pen will create a stunning combination. I’m looking forward to seeing how this cover is going to age with use and time. I’m confident that it will just look better and better.



It’s Horween leather and it’s a Norman Cahn Leatherworks product. In saying that, you’re guaranteed that it’s made well and will outlast you while looking fantastic all the while. The Norman Cahn leather Works Field Notes Cover is a definite BestLeather Buy It For Life product. $42.99 is a fantastic price for a piece of this quality…and, it includes your first Field Notes Notebook at that price. You can also get a Horween Leather version of the cover for $50.99 in Norm’s Etsy store. The holidays are approaching quickly. This is a great gift idea…for yourself or anyone else on your list.

Gfeller Casemakers Notebook Cover Review – $73.50

Gfeller Casemaker is an artisan maker of fine leather goods based in Meridian, Idaho.  Established in 1946, Gfeller originally was founded to provide highly durable leather cases and tool holders for the geoscience community (click here for an article on our recent visit to the Gfeller shop).  Today, Gfeller continues to make goods for this community, but has expanded into goods of equally functional, but more universal applications, like their moleskine notebook covers.  I had the opportunity of reviewing their 5” by 8 ¼” notebook cover.

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Gfeller’s notebook cover is made of 2 – 3 ounce, vegetable tanned, fine calfskin leather.  This is the same type of leather you’ll find on a pair of fine, handmade shoes like Allen Edmond’s The Strand.  This leather is known for it’s tighter grain pattern, it’s high ability to resist minor scratches, it’s lightweight but firm feel, and it’s noticeable shine.  The feel of this leather was the first thing that really caught my attention.  It is a leather than is more fine than what you will see on high quality bags and apparel.  It is very thin, but there is a certain heft to it that is pleasurable.  The color of their notebook covers are a natural tan, the type that darkens beautifully with use and exposure.

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Gfeller has certainly made their notebook covers with loads of style.  Though the notebook cover appears to be precision made by a machine, it is in fact made by hand.  It has clean lines and laser straight stitching. The thread that Gfeller uses is a bonded polyester in Pebble Beige color, which is manufactured by Coats.  The color is a nice complement to the natural tan of the leather, and the polyester thread means ultra durable strength and uv resistance for long life.

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Gfeller’s notebook cover does precisely what it is supposed to, cover your notebook in beautiful leather.  Gfeller added a little more function than a simple notebook sheath though and cut a hammerhead slit on the back cover, to allow room for the elastic straps common on moleskine and similar covers to come out.  This avoids an unsightly bump, but also allows you to use the band to keep your place in your notebook.  It is a smart and functional design.

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BestLeather conclusion

If you are looking for a notebook cover with an extra measure of polish and class, look no further than Gfeller Casemakers notebook covers.  They have covers in a variety of sizes, so chances are, they will have one that fits your need.  The price point of $73.50 is right for a cover of this quality and it will undoubtedly last a lifetime.

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Opus Handmade Journal Review – $45

There is a small company on Kickstarter called Opus. They are selling, amoung some other really neat things, a leather wrapped journal. Kate Burrow from Opus sent me one to check out and share with you guys.

Opus Leather Journal Review6I’ve seen these hand bound notebooks but moleskines have always been my choice notebook because of how many pages they hold. What pops out to me with this Opus journal is the heavy paper and coptic stitching (here is a guide on doing your own coptic stitch binding notebook) for the binding which gives fantastic flexibility, unlike glued bindings. Several pages are already tearing off on my latest moleskin because of inflexibility in the glued binding.

So, with a coptic stitch binding you can do things like this without damaging the journal:

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While the journal is bound in leather it isn’t full grain. There is a light 1 oz stamped (for texture) leather sheet wrapped around book board, commonly used in hardbacks. It feels nice. It’s soft and the texture is nice. Nice but not full grain grade.

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The inside of the journal covers are glued down to the book board with a linen cloth lining.

The one problem that Kate assured me they were fixing was the weakness of the glue holding the interior fabric down to the backboard. I was able to gently tear the fabric away from the book board revealing the secret message; “Your determination will bring much success.”

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The paper is heavy weight at 98 lbs and it is pretty nice to write on. My pen, a Pilot G-2 and a Parker fountain pen, glide right over the heavy paper.

If I were more of an artist I could use this journal more completely since the heavy paper allows you to draw and paint quite easily. If you paint in the journal I suppose you can’t close it, but a journal of paintings would be cool. Point is; you can use it for a lot more than journaling about your annoying boss.

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Dimensions are the standard journal size, 5.5 inches by 8.25 inches. Normal.

I think this journal is for a lot more than just daily journaling. It deserves an artist with cool handwriting and an eye for pastel colors. Or use it for a special event where you write a series of meaningful letters that you want to save.

With the improvements to the book board adhesive that Kate is going to make I would recommend this journal for serious writers, artists, and people who want a memorable notebook to hold special memories (which is exactly what Opus designed it for).

Check out the other rewards Opus is offering as well. Some of them are pretty intriguing. Handwritten Shakespear scroll anyone?

Check out Opus on

Davis Leatherworks Field Notes Cover – $17 to $25

The Davis Leatherworks Field Notes Cover by Chris Davis is a well made, simple, and least expensive option for sheathing your favorite little notebook in some nice leather. At prices between $17 to $25 this cover is a bargain when compared with covers from Field Notes and others especially because it comes with a Field Notes notebook preinstalled! Continue reading “Davis Leatherworks Field Notes Cover – $17 to $25”