If you’re a Bullet Journal enthusiasts, writer, or scrap-book maker, or just a notebook addict like me, you’ve probably used or currently use an A5 size notebook. A lot of the people in those categories care a lot about what book they use, weather it be the cover material, paper quality, printed page layout, and even cover color, there is a lot that goes in to picking a new notebook. So with all the time and care spent picking out the perfect platform, it stands to reason that you would want to keep it protected and in good shape for a while. And that is where the Lihit Lab Smart Fit A5 Cover Notebook comes in.
The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Cover Notebook is a durably constructed A5 size notebook with a removable insert, available from JetPens for $24. The cover itself is made out of the thick and durable Cordura fabric, commonly found on bags and pouches in the EDC and Tactical communities. Cordura is a brand of polyester fabric that is (literally) award winning for its durability, versatility, and wide range of applications. The material provides a smooth but tough surface that is abrasion resistant and holds up well to being shuffled around during daily use.
The cover features several pockets and features that adapt to the user’s favorite notebook. Starting with the front cover, you get one pen loop, a wide open-top sleeve pocket, and a flap-covered pocket with a Velcro closure. I find this front panel very useful for storing one pen in the main slot, with a backup pencil and fine-liner in the pocket and scraps or notes going in the sleeve.
The inside cover is very utilitarian as well. The left panel, which also serves as a sleeve to hold the left cover of a notebook, features two small two and a half inch wide business card pockets up top, with a wider five inch pocket on the lower half. The sleeve extends for the entire height of the cover and is open on both sides. This accommodates any notebook up to the size and thickness of a hard-cover Leuchtturm1917 A5 book, in either left or right facing orientation.
The right side of the interior is a little more plain and utilitarian. The sleeve holds the back cover of a notebook well, but is closed along the outside border. This allows you to use the space for loose paper storage, if you are not using a hard cover notebook. On the front of that panel, rather than three small utility pockets, you have a larger roughly 4/5 length slot that allows you to insert an A5 size top bound notebook. The Rhodia Dot Pad, for example, works perfectly in this section.
And finally, we come to the actual notebook. I don’t have much to say about the included notebook, and that’s because there isn’t really much of a notebook to talk about. The product comes with 15 sheets of decent quality paper and a unique multi-ring refillable binding system. You can get refills from JetPens, as well as a hole punch if you want to use your own paper. The Lihit Labs paper feels smooth under my finest nibs, and the lines are clean and solid on the front. Unfortunately the back side does not hold up too well, with bleed-through occurring with every Ink I tested. The ring binding is plastic and feels pretty fragile, but if the cover is doing its job that binding shouldn’t be an issue. Long story short, the paper system is not the key selling point of this product. This notebook insert can probably just go directly to the unused stationery shelf immediately.
All of this is held together with a thick elastic band on the front cover. This band serves the exact purpose of other notebook closure bands, but is extra thick and should last for a long time. A few months of use here, and it’s just as springy as ever. The case also has two built-in bookmarks if you’re notebook of choice does not have one built in.
After several rounds of testing different configurations and content options, I’ve landed on a pretty good configuration with the Dot Pad on the right for quick notes, and a Traveler’s-size Goulet Notebook on the left for larger notes or journal entries. Folding the front cover all the way over also allows for more mobile or compact writing and note taking with the top bound pad on the right. While the cover is considerably bulkier than using just a bare notebook, so far I feel it is worth the weight. It adds a considerable amount of functionality but maintains a clean and subtle look.
So. Should you buy it?
This product had a lot of competition when I started shopping around for notebook covers. Galen Leather and One Star Leather Goods both make beautiful A5 covers that, while I’m sure are worth every penny, are a little out of my immediate price range. There are also several hand-made renditions available from makers on Etsy, Ebay, and similar sites, but believe that Lihit Lab’s product really gets the job done at a very reasonable price. The Lihit Lab Smart Fit Cover A5 Notebook, while not the smoothest sounding product, is a great option at $24. It covers and protects your precious papers, it carries your extra accessories, it just works. No more. No less.
Disclaimer: This product was purchased by the author at full retail price.
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