If you are considering getting a set of travel watercolour brushes, you are probably wondering which of these two to get - The Escoda Reserva Kolinsky-Tajmyr Sable Travel Brushes or the Da Vinci Maestro Travel Pocket Brush.
Parka lent me his Da Vinci brushes so I could compare them with my Escoda brushes. So here is what I found.
They are both delightful. The brush hairs are the most important. And since they are both Kolinsky hairs, their performance is quite identical. Though I did find that the Da Vinci's #8 brush was a little bit more lush to paint with. But I believe that has to do with its size. Even though both are #8 brushes, the Da Vinci #8 had more hair and also the hairs were slightly taller. The hairs on the other brush sizes are also a bit longer for the Da Vinci (1-2mm) and a little thicker than the Escoda brushes. Because these brushes are assembled by hand, do expect some slight variations from this review.
I weighed the brushes. Da Vinci is made of a hard matt plastic kind of material while the Escoda is metal.
I thought the Escoda would be heavier but...
#8- both weighed 16gms
#4 -both weighed 8gms
#2- Da Vinci #2 weighed 6gms while the Escoda #2 was 8gms.
Another difference is how the two halves fit together. The Escoda is a friction fit (the top half of the brush has small bumps in the metal) while the Da Vinci is a screw fit.
I don't know if the Escoda's friction fit will wear out after many years. But to me, it looks like it will stand the test of time.
For the opening of the cap part, the Da Vinci has a smaller opening due to the screw threads. The Escoda doesn't have screw threads so it's much wider.
This might be important to some people who are concerned about accidentally bending brush hairs when keeping their brushes. As a tip, I always wet my brush a little to make it sharp, then keep it for my journey home from the outdoors. At home, I'd wash and open them up for proper drying.
I don't have a photo for this, but the air drying hole at ends of the brushes are different too. The Da Vinci has a smaller air hole while the Escoda has a bigger one. In any case, so long as you air dry them when you get home, it won't matter too much.
My personal preference is the Escoda brushes because I like how the metal feels. It looks and feels like a refined brush to me even though I'm not into shiny things. And I like the wider opening. But some of you might like the Da Vinci for its utilitarian look. But whichever set you choose, they are both great brushes and they will likely motivate you to paint outdoors more often.
Price-wise, Escoda is cheaper than Da Vinci at same brush sizes. So Escoda is more worth the money.