Carrying a pocket notebook helps you to be prepared for when inspiration strikes. Here are our best EDC pocket notebook options.
A pocket notebook is a tool that you can carry every day to help you stay focused and be at the top of your game. In this article, we’ll discuss why you should carry a pocket notebook, how to choose the best pocket notebook for you, and we’ll share our favorite pocket notebooks.
Short on time? Here are our top choices for the best small pocket notebooks for your everyday carry:
Keep reading for our other recommended options…
Why Carry a Pocket Notebook?
In today’s digital age, why would anyone want to carry a pocket notebook?
While you certainly can use your phone’s notes app for jotting down (tapping out) your thoughts, there is something freeing about putting pen to paper. Many people, myself included, find it easier to express their thoughts through the tactile experience of physically writing.
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s impractical to pull out your phone, enter your password, and scroll through your apps, just to type out a quick note. If you need to record information quickly, it’s likely that it will be faster to write in a notebook than it will be to enter into your phone.
Also, if you’re on a phone call and want to take notes, it can be tricky to do on your smartphone. Another advantage of using paper is that you can quickly create sketches, charts, and bullet point lists, whereas on a phone formatting can be cumbersome.
If you’re looking to take a break from technology but find it hard to leave your phone behind, a pocket notebook might help.
With a pocket notebook, you can navigate with handwritten directions instead of GPS, take a distraction-free walk and record your thoughts, or run to the store to get groceries — all without your phone.
Whether you are a fountain pen aficionado, an outdoorsman that isn’t afraid of getting dirty, or a college student on a tight budget, there is a pocket notebook that can fit your needs.
How to Choose a Pocket Notebook
Consider your environment and what you are going to use your pocket notebook for. A scientist that spends his days in a lab will probably have different notebook preferences from a farmer who works in the fields.
Choosing the wrong pocket notebook will lead to a poor writing experience and, potentially, the loss of your notes. The wrong notebook can also create unsightly bulges in your pockets, leave ink on your clothes, and, as a result, contribute to a poor first impression.
Here are some things to consider when you’re buying a pocket notebook.
How large do you want your notebook to be? Most pocket notebooks are about 3 inches wide and 5 inches tall. For most people 48 to 80 pages is a good range for page count. Obviously, the larger the notebook, the less practical it will be to carry.
Notebook construction refers to how well the notebook is built.
Look for flexible, water-resistant covers. A well-constructed cover will protect your valuable notes and will help make the notebook comfortable to carry.
Check the binding. If the notebook has sewn bindings, open to the middle of the book to the centerfold. You should be able to see stitching down the crease of the page.
Loose threads or sloppy stitching are signs that the notebook was poorly bound. Beware, you risk losing pages from bad bindings.
Check staple-bound or spiral-bound notebooks to make sure that there are no loose pages.
You may think “paper is paper,” but there are so many different types of paper — each best suited for a particular purpose.
Paper weight, texture, finish — don’t get overwhelmed by all the details. What really matters is that the paper works for you.
Experiment with different papers. If you’re buying in a brick-and-mortar store, bring your writing implement of choice with you and ask the associate if you can test the last page of a notebook.
They usually don’t mind. You’ll quickly be able to tell whether or not you like the paper. If you are ordering online, consider reading a few paper reviews (yes that’s a thing).
People that prefer to write with fountain pens or rollerballs need to pay special attention to paper quality. With these pens, low-quality paper can lead to ink feathering (absorbing too quickly and spreading out) or ink bleeding through the page.
Realize that your choice of ink matters just as much as the paper. Some inks are much more prone to bleed than others. Before buying a notebook you can search online to see if it is fountain pen friendly.
Pocket notebooks come with many different paper rulings. This refers to the structure of the page. Here are the most common rulings:
Lined ruled is best for people who use their pocket notebooks for journaling or jotting down ideas.
Square grids are great for solving math problems and keeping quantitative information organized.
Dot grids are for those who want some structure without cluttering the space on the page.
Blank pages work well for artists who like to sketch on the go.
5 Small Pocket Notebooks for Your EDC
Here are 5 pocket notebooks for your everyday carry in no particular order.
Rhodia Side Staplebound Pocket Notebook
There is a reason that among paper snobs Rhodia’s stock is the gold standard.
This is the best paper for fountain pen users. Ink glides across the page without feathering or bleeding through.
Rhodia offers a wide array of notebook sizes, rulings, and bindings.
- Outstanding paper quality
- Durable cover
- Paper may be too smooth for some writers
- Rollerball and fountain pen ink may take a while to dry
I’ve found that their thinner side-bound pocket notebooks are preferable for everyday carry to their thicker, top-bound notepads
Moleskine Volant Notebook, Extra Small
At 2.5 x 4 inches, these are some of the smallest pocket notebooks out there.
While the notebook is well constructed, the paper quality isn’t anything to write home about.
- Solid construction
- Small size
- Poor paper quality
If you’re looking for something small and durable and aren’t worried about ink feathering or bleeding through, this notebook is a great option.
Walmart Pen + Gear Mini Composition Book
While obviously not as well built as some of the more expensive options, at just 88 cents for a three-pack, these notebooks offer incredible value for the price.
That said, they aren’t the most durable pocket notebooks on the market. After going through 3 of these notebooks I’ve had three pages fall out.
Surprisingly, even when writing with roller balls and wet fountain pens I have not experienced any severe bleeding through the page. The paper, while not of the highest quality, is adequate for the average user.
- Incredibly low price
- Fountain pen friendly
- Not very durable
- Flimsy cardboard covers
These notebooks are great for those on a tight budget.
Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook
Rite in the Rain waterproof notebooks were originally designed for lumbermen in the Pacific Northwest to more easily keep tallies of their logs in Washington’s famously wet climate.
Rite in the Rain is probably the most durable pocket notebook on the market.
As a test, I soaked a piece of Rite in the Rain paper in a bowl of water for over a half an hour. Not only did the paper retain its strength and form, I could still easily read what I had written.
If you’re looking for a pocket notebook for outdoor use, Rite in the Rain is the best option.
- Extremely durable
- Recyclable (Unlike most other waterproof papers)
- Not designed for gel pens, fountain pens, or highlighters.
Pro Tip: When writing in wet conditions opt for a pencil or an all-weather pen.
It’s not a coincidence that this brand has a cult following.
The folks at Field Notes are constantly trying new notebook sizes, rulings, designer covers, and paper types.
Thousands of people eagerly await the quarterly editions of their notebooks.
- Options galore
- Unpredictable paper quality
If you’re someone who likes innovation and testing new products Field Notes is the pocket notebook brand for you.
Most people could benefit from carrying a pocket notebook. It is a valuable tool for recording things on the go — be it your next big business idea, notes from an important phone conversation, or simply a reminder to pick up eggs at the store.
There are many options when it comes to pocket notebooks. Try different notebooks and see what works best for you!
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!