Backpocket Ink Tester – Review & Giveaway

I have lately received an interesting product from Straits Pen, and the product is from a company I have never heard of before. It is the Backpocket Ink Tester. I love new products from new brands, so I was pretty excited to review this notebook!


The Backpocket Ink Tester is a pocket-sized notebook which reminds me much of Field Notes, the super-popular pocket-sized brand of notebooks that everyone seems to love. It is made by Curnow Bookbinding & Leatherwork, from Dixon, California. These are handmade journals, which makes it even more appealing to me!



When you flip to the middle of the book, you will be able to see the binding, which seems to be some sort of wire or twine. It’s an interesting way of binding (while Field Notes are bound by classic staples).

Within the book, there are 46 pages of forms for you to fill out your ink records, so you can record 46 different kinds of inks in one single book. The fields allow you to record the ink brand, ink name, the pen and nib you used for the record, and the date. Following those, you can give star ratings for ink characteristics like shading, saturation, and flow, as well as an overall rating. Drying time of the ink is also important to know, so there is also a section that allows you to do 5-second, 10-second, and 15-second testing. Very convenient, and covers pretty much all the general characteristics of ink that one would like to record!


After rating the ink, you can write your comments on how you feel about the ink, and to see how a written sample of the ink looks like. Below that, there is also an empty box where you can apply a swab of ink so that you can observe its characteristics at a glance. They’ve gotten it all covered!

The only thing I probably can’t do with this pocket Ink Tester is the water resistance test. Dripping water onto the page may cause the ink to bleed through to the next page, which would then reduce the number of entries I can make in this book. But for a pocket sized journal, it’s not a huge issue!


This ink journal was supposed to have fountain pen friendly paper, but when I did my ink record, I found some slight feathering as well as show-through and some signs of bleeding through as well, on the back page. Granted, the Pelikan Edelstein Topaz ink is a very wet ink, making my M400 EF nib write more like an F, but it’s a pity that the ink affected the back page, which means that to OCD people like me, I wouldn’t use that page anymore. I imagine that if I happened to record a bunch of very wet inks in this notebook, I would have to skip using all the back pages! On the positive side, the fact that certain inks bleed through the paper does mean that the ink record will capture such a property of the ink, which fulfils the true purpose of making ink records in the first place. Surprisingly, the ink swab, which was made using a totally soaked Q-tip, did not exhibit any bleed-through, and only slight show-through.

I’ve done a video exploring the notebook. Check it out below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!

Check out The Modern Stationer’s review of the Backpocket Journal that uses Tomoe River Paper for an alternative type of notebook.

Now for the giveaway!

As the Ink Tester comes in a pack of 3, and I’ve used one of them, I have another 2 books that I can give to 2 lucky readers of my blog (one book each). Just enter the Rafflecopter contest widget below (following the instructions) and you’ll stand a chance to win one of these notebooks!


Mandatory entry: Leave a comment under this post.

Optional entries:
1) Subscribe to via email (in the sidebar or the pop-up box)
2) Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
3) Follow me on Twitter
4) Like my page on Facebook

Contest ends in 5 days (on Sunday June 7, 10pm, GMT+8)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Once again, thank you very much, Straits Pen, for sponsoring this product for my review. Opinions in this review are my honest opinions, and not influenced by anyone else. Visit Straits Pen if you’re interested to buy the Backpocket Ink Tester, or other writing materials:
Straits Pen

52 Responses

  1. Erin 10 June 2015 / 10:19 PM

    Hope springs eternal.

  2. cambookpro 7 June 2015 / 11:02 PM

    These look great. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Erica Smith 7 June 2015 / 10:39 PM

    I’d love to win one of the notebooks. Thanks for the chance!

  4. HopefulPT 7 June 2015 / 9:30 PM

    Here’s hoping!

  5. Brandon Si 7 June 2015 / 9:19 PM

    My plethora of inks can see proper documentation now haha.

  6. Sahil Gulati 7 June 2015 / 9:01 PM

    My Topaz doesn’t seem so saturated! D:

    • Maybelline T. 7 June 2015 / 9:02 PM

      Really? Somehow the Topaz is really wet for mine, making it look so saturated!

  7. Vida P. 7 June 2015 / 5:59 PM

    Thank you for the giveaway!

  8. jagarpether 7 June 2015 / 5:00 PM

    That would be nice to win so i can get a nice place to test my inks.

  9. Chris C. 7 June 2015 / 4:50 PM

    I’ve been meaning to get one of these!

  10. T-naka 7 June 2015 / 1:13 PM

    I was just thinking about how to start documenting my adventures into the work of ink sampling. This is a beautiful notebook! Thank you for hosting the giveaway

  11. Henry W. 7 June 2015 / 11:50 AM

    Cool review! I’d love an entry 🙂

  12. Marco Perez 7 June 2015 / 11:31 AM

    If I win this I definitely need to buy more inks. Thanks for the opportunity!

  13. Tim G 7 June 2015 / 11:06 AM

    Would love to try these notebooks. Thanks for the chance.

  14. John Foreman 6 June 2015 / 8:35 PM

    Seems like a good product idea. I really need to start keeping an ink journal or something. But the lack of fountain pen friendly paper seems troublesome.

  15. hanzhen 6 June 2015 / 2:42 PM

    Interesting book, has been writing on normal paper to test.

  16. cflee 6 June 2015 / 11:09 AM

    That’s certainly a very interesting product. It’s a lot more compact than the full A4/Letter sized review forms some people adopt.

  17. Joanna 6 June 2015 / 8:31 AM

    I love these themed notebooks. I just got the Adventure Log from Word notebooks not too long ago. I have heard of Backpocket journals, but mainly because of their pocket sized Tomoe River notebook. I’d be interested to try this one.

  18. Jeff 6 June 2015 / 3:46 AM

    I’ve seen these before and would love to try one out. Thanks for the opportunity!

  19. Rob M. 5 June 2015 / 10:22 PM

    I’d love to win. Thanks for the chance! Rob M.

  20. Cat 5 June 2015 / 2:29 PM

    I was just wondering how to make one of these so this contest comes in the nick of time. Thanks!!!

  21. CL 5 June 2015 / 1:12 PM

    Interesting notebook. Thanks for the review and the chance to win!

  22. Gini Cooper 5 June 2015 / 10:43 AM

    Thanks for the thorough review. Good to know about feathering and show through. I’d love to win one to catalogue my favorite inks.

  23. Duncan 5 June 2015 / 10:18 AM

    Looks great, would love to try one!

  24. Melanie yacobucci 5 June 2015 / 9:07 AM

    WoulD live to win this!

  25. Marsie C. McLendon 4 June 2015 / 8:45 PM

    I too would like to win.

  26. gourmetpens 4 June 2015 / 6:42 PM

    I think ink testing notebooks would be very convenient with a blotting paper added in! But I guess that would affect the ink color.. rats. Thanks for the chance to win!

  27. Joe P. 4 June 2015 / 12:22 PM

    Looks like something I could use to start tracking my growing ink collection. Thanks for the giveaway.

  28. Olli Massala 4 June 2015 / 8:15 AM

    I should get one of these to start reviewing my collection of inks. How much is a pack of 3?

    • Maybelline T. 4 June 2015 / 8:51 AM

      You can check Straits Pen website for prices 🙂

  29. Mark 4 June 2015 / 7:38 AM

    Very Neat idea, going to look them up right away! Thanks and enjoy your site!

  30. Kata 4 June 2015 / 4:40 AM

    This looks like the best frigging tiny notebook ever! (And thank you for the chance to win =3 )

  31. Yagan Kiely 4 June 2015 / 1:40 AM

    I have the normal Backpocket journal from Curnow. I haven’t got around to trying it yet but I’ve had my eyes on these!

  32. buntyw 3 June 2015 / 11:35 PM

    A great review – I would love to try one!

  33. mypenneedsink 3 June 2015 / 10:09 PM

    Thanks for the opportunity to win, certainly more elegant than my index card system

    • Maybelline T. 3 June 2015 / 10:16 PM

      No prize is more elegant than another! 🙂 thanks for dropping by…

  34. dale thele 3 June 2015 / 8:51 PM

    Thanks for the review – I’ve seen this product online, but not much product information. It’s a great idea and I could certainly use a system like this to record my inks. Thanks again for the excellent review.

  35. Adella Gonzalez 3 June 2015 / 7:28 PM

    I’m a planner addict, thus I love writing. I’ve been addicted to pens since I was a kid. I’m actually quite anal about the type of pens I use now. This notebook is insane. It will save me those pages in my journals, planners and notebooks that I’ve designated as my “testing” page.

    Never heard of this notebook before and I’m excited to try it. Thank you for the chance to win one. I know I’d put it use right away.


  36. Rob Maguire 3 June 2015 / 6:19 PM

    I would like to try one of these if I win. Thanks in advance.

  37. Cody H 3 June 2015 / 1:33 PM

    This looks like a great idea! Great review!

  38. DELively 3 June 2015 / 12:45 PM

    I like the Backpocket Journals. I hope these are as nice. (Of course, after I test the inks, then I have to find a place to store these testers…)

  39. Acasia 3 June 2015 / 12:25 PM

    Never seen this product before, it’s a great idea! It’s unfortunate that the paper isn’t a little better for shading, etc. Thanks for the review!

  40. David Forsythe 3 June 2015 / 11:22 AM

    I need to start tracking my ink usage. This could be a nice way to do that.

  41. Sharon A. 3 June 2015 / 10:18 AM

    Looks like a cool notebook. Thanks for the chance to win!

I would love to hear your thoughts!