They may be old-fashioned, especially with the proliferation of smartphones in recent years. But for those of us who prefer a more tangible, tactile way of jotting down our ideas, they are also a far preferable option. Sure, you can use any number of smartphone apps or utilities (and hey, we have Evernote stickies too), but there’s just nothing quite like holding old-fashioned pen and paper in your hand while recording your thoughts for posterity. And with that in mind, we’ve put together a short buying guide for you, rounding up the 10 best pocket notebooks out there right now.
Of course, carrying a pocket notebook that is just too bulky or doesn’t fit in your pocket along with everything you need (keys, pocket knife, wallet, etc), is just plain annoying. You need something light and thin to blend right in and not take up too much bulk. With one of these in your back pocket and a trusty pen alongside, you can be assured you’ll never forget anything important again.
Let’s just get this one out of the way. If there’s a gold standard for pocket notebooks, then Field Notes must be it. They make a wide variety of different notebooks, built from sturdy tough workshop-grade materials. The chipboard cover is thick enough to keep the booklet safe and sturdy, but thin and flexible enough to fit in your pocket comfortably. If you want something reliable and vintage, Field Notes are your best bet. Downsides? The paper isn’t thick enough for fountain or gel pens.
Designed by popular notebook maker Word., in conjunction with Bradley Mountain outdoor outfitters, the Adventure Log notebooks are classic and durable pocket journals, just like Field Notes. Intended for keeping track of daily escapades, Adventure Log’s contain spaces for location, date, conditions, even who accompanied you, in addition to blank lines for regular notes. They’re slightly whimsical, sure, but versatile and perfect for anything. They’re also made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper in the cover, and the pages are acid-free. They also fit well in your back pocket.
Another absolute classic of notebooks (it’s right in the name), Moleskine’s are premium-quality, durable and traditional pocket notebooks. The Moleskine Classic Pocket is small enough to fit in your back pocket, but with a hardcover, sturdy enough for anything and won’t bend out of shape. It also has an elastic, to keep it closed, and a bookmark for convenience. Really, the only problem with Moleskine’s is how pricey they are. Still, like the Field Notes above, you can’t go wrong with this book.
If you’re a Moleskine fan, but find the Classic notebooks a little too stiff and uncomfortable to fit in your back pocket – or a little too pricey – take a look at their Cahiers. These pocket notebooks have a durable cardboard cover, that bends for a little bit more flexibility wherever you take them. The last 16 sheets in each book are also detachable, the back pocket holds loose notes, and the paper is acid-free. They come both ruled and lined.
With a name like that, it’s pretty obvious what this notebook does. Rite in the Rain notebooks have 50 sheets of paper that are not only waterproof but mud-proof, grease-proof, sweat-proof – and still completely recyclable. They also have what Rite in the Rain calls Wire-O binding, tough enough not to become bent out of shape in your back pocket. The cover is made from flexible and tough Polydura material. No matter the weather or whatever situation you find yourself in, this notebook will keep your thoughts and ideas safe and secure. Rite in the Rain recommends an all-weather pen (they make their own), or ballpoint if the pages are dry.
This pocket notebook from TOPS isn’t anything special but is a cheaper alternative to the Moleskine Pocket Classic. In fact, it’s pretty much a clone, measuring 5.5” x 3.5”, small enough to fit in your back pocket, and with a black hard cover and cream white, wide-ruled pages. It’s also got an elastic closure strap and yellow bookmark. For roughly a third of a Moleskine, you can’t go wrong with this for classic convenience.
For ultra-convenience, grab this flip-top, wire-bound notebook from Doane. At 2.875” x 4.75”, it’s the smallest notebook on our list and designed to pop right into your shirt pocket. It has 50 wide-ruled pages with a double-sided grid, perfect for drawings and diagrams. Each page is made from 100% recycled white paper, and the covers are recycled 20pt chipboard. And thanks to the Wire-O-Bound binding, pages lay perfectly flat. Small, light, convenient.
Looking for something a little nice and more substantial? This pocket notebook by Dingbats has a gorgeous imitation leather-bound hardcover that comes in 6 different colors, with a complementary animal-print interior, ie., Blue Whale, Brown Bear. This animal also adorns the front cover.
The pages are 100gsm, acid-free in a silk cream color, thick enough for fountain pens, and with the option to choose between lined, grid and plain. The whole thing is completely bio-degradable and recyclable, as well as 100% vegan. At 6”x4”, it’s bigger than its counterparts on this list but still small enough for EDC.
A few things set this notebook apart from other ones like it. First, it’s got numbered pages, and an accompanying Table of Contents, so you know exactly where you’ve written down your own thoughts and ideas. Second, the pages have dots instead of ruled lines or a grid. Dots act a sort of hybrid, less busy than a grid but enough as a drawing and writing guide. They’re actually pretty subtle and blend right into the acid-free white pages when writing. The cover is hard, like the Moleskine, making it a durable EDC accessory.
DIY Indispensables notebooks take after Field Notes, but with a vinyl cover as opposed to cardboard. They’re just as flexible, but even more durable, with military grade binding as well. In fact, these notebooks proudly their military-inspired heritage, decorated in dark Ranger green. They’re also cheap, with a pack of 6 costing about the same as a Moleskine. Cheap, small, and strong – what more could you need?