Compare and Contrast: Canteo and Moleskine Journals

Canteo Journal, (left); Moleskine Sketchbook (right)

It's been nearly a year since I received a Canteo journal to review, a year filled with reading about and using various journals and sketchbooks bought or gifted. Many of my purchasing decisions were predicated on the terrific, in depth reviews of Biffybeans and/or Black Cover, among others. And I have been fortunate to receive some terrific products to review and use from Exaclair, courtesy of its Marketing VP, Karen Doherty.

When I went off to Pittsburgh a month ago, I found myself taking the Canteo with me and have been using it ever since. In the evenings when I frequently make notes and doddle nuttins, I have been comparing the Canteo with a Moleskine sketchbook I discovered in my stash, half used.

Moleskine Sketchbook,
quick drawings on F train

Notes for a short story in a Canteo Journal
Lamy Safari 1.1 Nib with Mont Blanc Burgundy ink

How they stack up:

The Canteo and the Moleskine are both a good size to take on a road trip, throw into a messenger or hand bag, and have hard backed covers. The Canteo is linen covered but has held up with light to medium use.

Specifications for the Moleskine: 5.25" x 8.25" (13 x 21cm); Paper weight,Unknown; 100 pages, 50 blank leaves; vertical elastic closure; ample length ribbon marker; fully expandable back pocket

Specifications for the Canteo A5 : 5.4" x 7.6" (13.8 x 19.4cm); Paper weight, 100g/m; 192 pages, 96 blank leaves; slung elastic closure; ample length ribbon marker; front and back slip ins (not pockets).

The Canteo's off-white paper may be lighter in weight than the Moleskine and a writing tablet texture. Held up to the light or when turning a page some show through is exhibited with a Lamy Safari 1.1 nib (using Mont Blanc Burgundy.)

The Moleskine sketchbook shows no show through, and takes colour pencils rather well. It does not respond well to watercolours or wet media, but most other art media work better than average.

Testing the Canteo with wet media appears better than anticipated and as good as many of the drawing/sketching journals I own.

Watercolour (Schmincke and W&N, and Uni-ball Vision Pen)

Back of watercolour page (L); gel pen (R)

The Moleskine Sketchbook can handle nearly any pen I use, namely, fountain, gel, brush or otherwise.

Moleskine Sketchbook, (L) notes on process; (R) testing water media

Testing the Moleskine and pushing the limits of water media, I learned much more than I bargained for with watercolour. The sketchbook hates it! Beading, blossoming and poor drying had me feeling defeated. But I kept pushing the envelop. I added fluid acrylics, gesso, markers and tried various wipe off, wipe on techniques, all of which proved reasonably acceptable to the poor page. It did not buckle. It did however take umbrage with me and started to bleed through here and there on the backside of the page. (see below, left).

Moleskine water media test (back of page, L)

As the days and weeks go by, I will probably continue to test some of the sketchbooks and journals I have to see if I can find one adequate to meet my needs: sketching, watercolour painting, pencil drawing and good old fashioned writing with a pen, fountain pens at the top of the list.

If Canteo is a new name to you, here is a review of the Canteo with excellent photographs.


  1. Nice review of great notebooks. I love the Canteo as well as the Moleskine, but I think that the Canteo has more style. Great paper tests. Nr

  2. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    If you could chose between one or the other, could you?

  3. In every sences I'd say that Canteo is better than Moleskines. Style and tradition became as one. Pencil and metal bookmarks gives to Canteo the point of difference.

  4. Might anyone here have a sense of how well both of these notebooks hold up to wear and tear? And would the Brunnen Kompagnon be any better?

  5. Does anyone here have a sense of how well these two would hold up to wear and tear? Or whether the Brunnen Compagnon would be better?

  6. I am not personally familiar with the Brunnen Kompagnon, but here is a review

    I am most familiar with the Moleskines, several of which I have for 5-10 years. With the exception of the elastic stretching on one, they hold up well.

    I am using the Canteo for only one year so I can't say with certainty how it will compare with the Moleskines.