The Most Useful Pocket Notebooks for EDC

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So you want to get organized… You might think, “Just carry a pocket notebook and take detailed notes!” Sounds easy, right? 

But if you've given it your best shot and page after page looks like a scribbly, doodly, indecipherable mess, maybe you need something more than a blank sheet. Leave those to the imaginative types, and try a notebook with structure to guide your thoughts. 

We've rounded up 7 EDC-friendly pocket notebooks with useful layouts and clear ruling to help you get your notes in order.


Word. Notebooks

Standout feature: Integrated bullet journaling system

Bullet journaling is becoming more and more popular as a way to organize your life and remember important events. Word. Notebooks come with their bullet journaling system already printed on each page, along with some simple instructions inside the front cover. There are tons of colors and patterns to choose from, making it easy to coordinate with the rest of your carry.

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Doane Grid + Lines Utility Notebooks

Standout feature: Unique gridded paper with a thick line every three spaces

The Doane Grid+Lines is a favorite here. The paper is great for a mix of sketching and writing, thanks to its ruling with both grids and lines. Yes, you could achieve similar results with regular graph paper, but that added bold line helps keep notes and sketches both organized and legible. It’s also a huge help if you’re trying to neaten up your handwriting with proper spacing and letter sizing.

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Field Notes Expedition

Standout feature: Dot Grid ruling with waterproof paper and covers

This Field Notes edition was designed to stand up to anything  you can throw at it, and the team over at Field Notes made sure of it. Check out their video series that puts the notebooks through 12 rigorous tests. These books feature dot grid ruling inside, a tear resistant cover, and completely waterproof paper.

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Word. Notebooks Adventure Log

Standout feature: Layout specifically made for experiences

The Adventure Log journal from Word. Notebooks has a layout made to journal your next road trip, hike, or adventure. There’s a place for the date, location, conditions, companions and a bunch of lines for a journal entry. On the back cover there’s a place specifically for your bucket list, so you always know where you're headed next.

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Moleskine 2017 Weekly Planner

Standout feature: At-a-glance weekly calendar with plenty of room for notes

If you're looking to keep track of important dates and appointments, why not use a traditional calendar? This pocket-sized planner displays one week across two pages, making it especially easy to see what you have coming up and what you've already accomplished. You can even use the planner as a micro journal, simply jot down a few notes about your day.

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Rite in the Rain Top Spiral Pocket Notebooks

Standout feature: Waterproof paper

Just as the name implies, these notebooks from Rite in the Rain allow you to do just that. The waterproof paper works well with ballpoint pen and pencil, so you can write outside under any conditions. This is one of the better waterproof papers that we’ve tested.

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Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebooks

Standout feature: Unobtrusive ruling that’s great for writing and sketching

The Nock Co. DotDash notebooks feature a dot-dash ruling. It’s somewhere in the middle of graph and dot grid ruling, and it just plain works. The light purple ink is dark enough to see, but light enough so that it doesn’t get in the way of your words. It’s stapled at the top so you can easily write in portrait or landscape without the binding getting in the way.

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Do you prefer notebooks with special ruling, or are blank pages the way to go for your EDC needs? Leave a comment and let us hear your thoughts.

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Discussion (21 total)

Muji makes good pocket notebooks in dot/ruled/blank versions for cheap... although I couldn't find the pocket "passport" size on the US website (I live in Korea and Muji is everywhere here). https://www.muji.eu/pages/online.asp?Sec=12&Sub=50&PID=8038
+1 on the Muji suggestion. If you're able to go to one on your travels and whatnot ('cause there aren't any in North America) stock up on their small A6 bound notebooks and pens! Cheap and smooth writing for basically all their writing instruments
There are a few now in New York and California, and it looks like you can order the A6 and other notebooks on their US store. But, they don't seem to have the pocket-sized notebook on the US site. http://www.muji.com/storelocator/?c=us
I have a Muji down the block (in NYC) and bought a bunch of the pocket notebooks around 2 years ago. I've had the Doane, Field Notes, Rite In The Rain, all that stuff. The Muji is the best. The covers are tough, the paper is excellent and best of all, the little suckers are cheap (about $1.50 per book). Highly recommend!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053DAIGU/?tag=bg999-20. Classic. Unpretentious. Rugged. Only $1.89 per notebook. Most importantly, perfect for back pocket carry. Notebooks that bind on the side get badly bent up in a back pocket. A notebook that's 5 inches or taller will usually stick out of many back pockets. This one, 4.5 inches tall and top-binded, is ideal.
I keep a bullet journal in a hardback Large Classic Moleskine and a Word. Notebook in my back pocket. Works alright with fountain pens too, for those into that. Plus, the bullet system in the Word. books is great for easy organization.
Moleskine was my first love, but lately the paper is a mess. Fountain pens ink feather or show through 😞 I'm giving away all my Moleskine because of that. I'll keep Word in mine in my next purchase cycle.
I've been using a moleskine too. But when I switched to Bullet Journal system I've changed my notebook to Leuchtturm1917 and I have no complaints.
Leuchtturm1917 is a keeper. Some show through but acceptable and the ink dry like a boss.
I buy the letter size rite-in-rain & use my own layout have it cut & bound at Office Depot. I use my own information setup specific to the client I'm consulting for
That sounds like a great custom application, I'd love to see it!
Anyone know a good pocket notebook that is smaller than the word and moleskin. I need it just a tad smaller to fit my uniform?
I use a similar Moleskine planner (limited Batman edition, slightly bigger in size, same layout/style as shown here) as well as 2 Moleskine notebooks (grid) for my daily tasks.
ha! Merlin Mann is great
I've tried Nock Co DotDash and is a marvel. There's any other notebook fountain pen ink proof within the list? (Field Notes isn't one of them :( )
I think you have to try something like a Claire Fontaine notebook for a fountain pen. Their notebooks aren't the coolest looking, but some of the better paper you can get for the money https://www.gouletpens.com/clairefontaine-1951-staplebound-pocket-notebook/p/c195196
Thanks man. I was so close to purchase some Word and Doane, but I'll wait 'til my next notebook purchase cycle. Really liked the Rhodia, but they don't have Field Notes size like or Nock Co. I'll be keeping Doane in mind 'cause they said to "support" FP ink. Hope so. Thanks again for coming by and replying my Q.
+1 for Clairefontaine, check out their "Life Unplugged" edition if you don't like the look of the classic notebooks.
Thanks Ed. I've looke for Clairefontaine but looks boring 😂 I'll keep Doane in mind on my next purchase cycle. I need to undo my notebook stock pile 😅 (maybe I should do some gift 🤔). Thanks again 👍🏼
You and me both, I have more unused notebooks than I care to mention!