Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quo Vadis Habana Large Notebook

The small Quo Vadis Habana has long been one of my favourite notebooks (in fact, it was the first notebook I bought after I became interested in pens and paper), so I was excited when I recently had an opportunity to try out a large Habana with unlined (blank) pages.  Just like the small, the large Habana has a leather-like, flexible cover with rounded corners; an elastic closure, ribbon bookmark, and back pocket; and 80 sheets (160 pages) of creamy-coloured, 85g Clairefontaine paper.  It is similar to the Rhodia Webnotebook, but with a more flexible and textured cover that lacks Rhodia's prominent branding, and with thinner paper (85g compared to the Webbie's 90g).  The Webbie is also not available in this large of a size.

The Habana is available in three sizes: A4 (large), A5 (compact), and A6 (pocket).  At 21 x 29.7 cm or 8 1/4 x 11 5/8 inches (A4 size), this large Habana is definitely the largest bound notebook that I have ever used - so much so that I actually feel a bit intimidated by it.  The cover has a leather-like texture and it is firm but still relatively flexible.  I actually prefer the Habana cover to the cover of the Rhodia Webnotebook, as it seems to be less likely to show scuffs and scratches.  The covers of the small Habanas that I have been carrying around with me for the last four years still look like new, while the cover of the Webnotebook that I haven't been using for as long has a number of minor scratches on it.

From top to bottom: pocket (A6) sized Quo Vadis Habana, desk (A5) sized Rhodia Webnotebook, large (A4) sized Quo Vadis Habana.

Left: The name of the notebook is discreetly printed on the bottom of the back cover.  The photo also shows a bit of the leather-like texture of the cover.  Right: Checking out the back pocket.  This is a large notebook, so that's an especially roomy pocket!

Inside, the endpapers of the Habana are made of the same paper as the interior pages, allowing you to use them as the first pages of your notebook, if you so desire.  The paper is very smooth, with a lovely creamy ivory colour.  This colour may not be to everyone's liking, but I like it, and it is more soothing and restful to look at than bright white.  The Habana is also available with white pages.  The smooth texture of the paper makes it truly a joy to write on with all kinds of pens, but because it is so smooth, inks are going to take longer to dry than on more absorbent papers.  This isn't an issue with most of the pens that I use, but if you use bold, inky pens or if you are left-handed, please use caution when writing in this notebook!

My test pages, with a Lamy Safari fountain pen for scale.

The paper in the Habana is a bit thin, so most pens (especially the bolder, inkier ones) do show through at least slightly to the other side of the page.  None of the pens I used actually bled through and only the Pilot Petit1 fountain pen showed even the slightest bit of feathering (and that pen seems to feather on just about all papers that I use it on).

Strangely, my photo doesn't really show the show through.  But it is there.  Trust me on this.  And also my camera continues to frustrate me by making the front and back of the page look like they are different colours.  This is NOT actually the case and I have no idea why this always happens!

As I mentioned, the Habana I'm using is the large, unlined version.  Normally I prefer writing on plain paper over lined, but simply because of the size of this notebook I would hesitate to use it for a written journal.  My handwriting is usually so small that I think it would look lost on such a large page unless I used wider-nibbed pens, which I don't really want to do.  I will probably end up using this notebook as a sketchbook of some sort.  With that mind, I also practiced drawing a mandala with my Pentel Pulaman fountain pen, Faber-Castell Pitt brush pen, and Pentel Slicci fine-tipped gel pen.  It did feel freeing to have so much space to draw in, but I think it will take some time for me to become used to working in such a large notebook.

Overall, the Quo Vadis Habana is a great notebook that I can't find any major faults with.  The paper may not be ideal for everyone, but I love it and this is a notebook that I will always enjoy using - although I am still not sure whether this large size is the ideal size for me.  The Quo Vadis Habana is a notebook that I will not hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for a quality notebook.

Related reviews: Life Imitates Doodles, Plannerisms, Ink Nouveau.


  1. I was hoping to drop you a quick note about the issue you mention with your camera having issues with the front and backs of your paper looking like different colors...

    But first I wanted to say that I really like your site and enjoy your posts about all things pen and paper. I really like your reviews and how you put effort into making them interesting and informative at the same time.

    Okay, back to the camera issue... I would recommend that you check your White Balance settings on your camera and see if you have it on Auto White Balance or AWB. This will wreak havoc on all things white, gray, or well anything really.

    The best way of solving this without becoming a camera guru, is simply set the White Balance to a fixed setting that seems to work with your current lighting (Tungsten for indoor incandescent bulbs, Fluorescent for the pigtail CFLs, or Daylight if you're shooting with light from an open window). The results might not be perfect in terms of white looking white, so you might have to experiment with different settings.

    If you're still stumped after trying all the settings, pull out your camera manual if you still have it and see about setting up a Custom White Balance setting for your testing environment. It's easy once you get the hang of it but it will probably require a manual to figure it out (the more recent cameras are a little better but it's still a custom feature that's not well-documented in many cases).

    Anyway, thanks again for the great site and interesting topics. I hope this helps with your white balance issues...


    1. Thanks very much for those tips, Rich! I will be sure to check out my camera's white balance when I write my next notebook review. I'm definitely an amateur when it comes to photography, so any tips for ways I can improve are much appreciated.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...