New for 2010, Clairefontaine has come out with a new collection of notebooks called Life.Unplugged. They are a series of notebooks covered in a rugged material, available in 4 different colors: black, red, green, and tan. For anyone familiar with the Clairefontaine Basic Clothbounds (which were around before the ‘Life.Unplugged’ brand), the notebooks have this same rugged cover material.

There are 3 different types of notebooks in the Life. Unplugged. family. There are the Clothbound Basic notebooks that you may be familiar with already. They are available in 2 sizes: A4 and A5.

The A4 Clothbound Basic is 8.25″ x 11.75″ with 96 sheets of 90g smoooooth Clairefontaine white, 8mm ruled paper (list price is $12.00). The A5 Clothbound Basic is 6″ x 8.25″ with 96 sheets of the same 90g Clairefontaine paper (list price is $9.00). Both notebooks have high-quality stitched and glued bindings.

But these clothbounds were already available before! They are now a part of the ‘Life.Unplugged.’ family, but they were not a new release in 2010. The one change that is coming on these new clothbounds is that they will come with elastic bands (to keep it closed). They are coming slowly but surely, being sold under the same product code as the ones without the bands. It will take some time for them to cycle through retailers’ old stock, but I can say that I have received the large red clothbound basic with the elastic band a few months ago, and I’m starting to get more of them like in black. If you REALLLY want one with a strap, ask your retailer of choice when you make your purchase if they are willing to do that for you (I am!).

The new 2010 products are the Life.Unplugged. Staplebound Duos, and the Roadbook. The staplebound duos are very similar to the staplebound Clairefontaine classic staplebounds, but with the more rugged cover material. There are two different sizes of duos, an A5 size and A6+ size. The A5 size (list price $9.00) is 5.75″ x 8.25″ with 48 sheets of 90g Clairefontaine 8mm lined paper.

The smaller A6+ size (about half way between an A6 and A7 size, list price $7.00) is 3.5″ x 5.5″ with 48 sheets of 90g Clairefontaine 7mm lined paper. I’ll point out in case you didn’t catch it, the large staplebound duo has 8mm ruling, the small one has 7mm ruling!¬†

The Staplebound Duos are offered in two different products: a two-pack of red and green, and a two-pack of black and tan.

This is the same for the larger and smaller sizes. I wanted to test the durability of the Life.Unplugged rugged construction, so I carried one of these around in my back pocket for about 2 months.

I figured my back pocket would really test it, since my large 250lb butt would be sitting on it every day and stress it to the max! I have to say, it held up surprisingly well! It’s no wonder these little notebooks are getting such rave reviews!

Another new notebook is called the Roadbook. The Roadbook (list price $7.00) is the exact same size as the smaller Staplebound Duo (3.5″ x 5.5″), but has some significant differences that set it apart.

First, the Roadbook is sold as individual books, not in a duo set. The sheet count is higher (64) vs the duo’s 48 sheets. The same high quality, 90g paper is used in the Roadbook as in all other Clairefontaine notebooks like the Staplebound Duos. The ruling is the same 7mm, but the binding is better. The Roadbook has the same stitched and glued binding as the clothbound basics, which is a step up from the staplebounds (even though the staplebounds are pretty darn rugged as they are!).

Here’s the front and back of the Roadbook:

Lastly, the Roadbook has an elastic band. It comes in all four colors, but are sold to retailers in a mixed-pack set, so I doubt you’ll find a retailer who sells them by color (though you can certainly request a color preference).

The paper is the same smooth Clairefontaine 90g paper in all the notebooks. It takes fountain pen ink extremely well and resists feathering and bleedthrough. Here is Pelikan Blue-Black in a medium Pelikano.

And with J. Herbin Poussière de Lune in a 1.5mm Pelikan Script.

All in all, the new Life.Unplugged. series is quite impressive. It’s a premium grade product with a fairly premium price, but it’s a good value if you are looking for a rugged notebook that has quality paper.

All of these products are available at The Goulet Pen Company as well as other fine retailers.