A few months ago, I was contacted by Galen Leather and asked whether I wanted to review some of their custom handmade leather goods. This apparently was part of a marketing blitz, since pictures of their notebook covers have appeared all over Instagram and Twitter as bloggers and stationery enthusiasts receive their Galen Leather packages.
Galen Leather is an online storefront run by a brother and sister in Istanbul, Turkey. According to their "About" page, they've been in operation since 2011 and selling online since 2012. Galen Leather specializes in making all sorts of leather goods, but what's attracted the most attention are their leather notebook covers, which they make to fit Midori Traveler's notebook refills, Moleskines, Field Notes, and the Hobonichi Techo. Since I've really enjoyed the Fountain Pen Day-branded notebook cover that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show, I decided to go for the Traveler's Notebook-style cover in the "pocket notebook" (i.e., Field Notes-compatible) size.
My Galen Leather notebooks are each made from a thick piece of leather with burnished edges. The leather is a touch stiff, at least initially, but with use and wear it should soften up. The company offers at least 13 different color options (in both leather and bands), many of which are not options for the original Traveler's Notebook. What I really like is that the Galen Leather notebook comes set up to hold four notebook refills, whereas the Midori notebook comes setup for one or two before you have to purchase more bands.
Galen Leather allowed me to pick two notebooks, complete with bands of my choice and brass "charms" which can be woven onto the belly band. They even stamped my initials onto the front of the notebook, and the impression is nice and deep. I chose the dark brown and the navy blue, both of which are attractive.
Galen Leather products are nice looking, well-made, and reasonably priced. I really like this product. I've only had this notebook for a bit, but over the course of two weeks it's become part of my daily carry. I use it as a sort of "carry all" that fits my pocket notebooks and all the loose papers that I tend to accumulate over the course of the day. I've kitted it out with two Field Notes-brand pocket notebooks, an Expedition and a Shelterwood, and I've even been able to comfortably tuck my Write Notepads pocket ledger in the back. I found the brass charms a bit much, to be honest, and felt they got in the way of opening and closing the notebook quickly at work, so I swapped the charm on the brown notebook out for the "evil eye" talisman that Galen includes in every shipment.
Galen Leather prices their products quite reasonably. One knock many people have had on Midori is that the Traveler's Notebook is fairly expensive for what it is ($49.99 for the large one, before any refills or accessories). On the other hand, the Galen equivalent is priced at $32 (and ships without any refill). I see no reason why Traveler's Notebook accessories, such as the paper and cardholders, would not work with the Galen Leather notebook covers. (I've not checked the compatibility myself, so proceed at your own risk.)
As you can tell from the pictures, I've been carrying the dark brown leather notebook with the navy blue band. What do I intend to do with the Navy Blue/Gold Band notebook? Father's Day present for my Dad, since we have the same initials. (No spoiler risk here, pretty sure he's not a reader of the blog!) I think my next purchase might be a leather cover for my Hobonichi.
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