Why You Should Carry A Pocket Notebook

Learn why and how you should carry a pocket notebook and check out our suggestions on the best memo books to get you started.

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Pen and paper are meant for each other, and one without the other simply does not work. Adding a pocket notebook to your carry is very easy due to their dimensions, thinness, and flexibility in a pocket. Adding a memo book to your back pocket adds a ton of utility without much bulk. Pocket notebooks are great for a variety of reasons:

  • Easy to Carry: Most pocket notebooks are made of around 24 sheets (48 pages), with paper covers. This means that they are thin enough to easily fit in a front or back pocket and you will hardly notice it’s there until you need it.

  • Convenience: If you’re already carrying a pen, adding a pocket notebook is the next logical step. Having your own personal notes in your back pocket or backpack makes them easily accessible. Never be without a place to write something down again.

  • Organization: Instead of writing down your thoughts, important phone numbers, notes, to-do’s, and more on scraps of paper - have them all safely unified in your back pocket. It is much easier to look back and compare notes when they are all in the same place.

  • Helps you remember: Jotting down notes by hand has been scientifically proven to help you remember things. It’s even a big part of the Field Notes mantra: “I’m not writing it down to remember it later, I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

What uses does a pocket notebook have?

There are countless uses for carrying a notebook. People have been writing things down for ages, whether it be observations, personal experiences, or what they have to pick up at the grocery store. Here’s just a few suggestions on what to write in your new pocket notebook:

  • To-Do List: What better place is there than your pocket to keep a running list of everything that needs to get done?

  • Ledger: Track your daily spending to stick to your budget in order to help save up for that custom knife you’ve been eyeing.

  • Micro Journal: Write down a few thoughts from each day. It’s a lot of fun to look back on what you were doing years ago on the same day.

  • Documentation: Whether it be gym progress, weight loss/gain, restaurant reviews, or tasting notes on your favorite coffees or beers, try keeping a log of things you like.

  • Creativity & Inspiration: It’s relaxing to let your mind go and put pen to paper and see what comes out. Write down fleeting thoughts, business ideas, sketches for an upcoming project, and much more. Who knows - you could develop an amazing talent (like Sam Larson did) or invent the next big thing right out of your back pocket.

Which book is right for me?

Not unlike writing instruments, there are plenty of options for a solid notebook to live in your back pocket on a daily basis. Some have thicker paper, more pages, less pages, different dimensions, and different properties. There are notebooks with everything from normal paper to synthetic resin-based papers that will stand up to incredible abuse. All of the notebooks below are great suggestions to get you started:

The Gold Standard…

Field Notes Kraft

Field Notes Kraft 3-Pack

The Kraft Paper 3-Pack is considered to be the standard, go-to pocket notebook by many out there. The books come in blank, lined, and graph rulings and are also available in a mixed pack. Field Notes draw inspiration from the old agricultural notebooks used by farmers at the turn of the 20th century and their clean aesthetic and nostalgic looks reinforce their roots. In addition to the standard kraft paper, Field Notes puts out a quarterly limited edition that is always worth keeping an eye out for.

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Something with a bit more personal flair…

Word. Notebooks

Word. Notebooks

Measuring in at the standard 3.5” x 5.5” dimensions commonly seen in the world of pocket notebooks, the Word. Notebooks come in a huge array of colors and patterns to match the rest of your carry. Inside, you’ll find 48 lined, acid-free pages that stand up well to gel, ballpoint, rollerball and even fountain pen ink. Increase your personal productivity with the built in bullet point to-do list system printed into the ruling in each and every book.

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Can’t decide between lines or a graph…

Doane Paper Utility Notebook

Doane Paper Utility Notebooks

The Utility Notebooks by Doane Paper feature the brand’s patented grid+lines ruling that will make any designer or engineer happy. With small boxes and thicker lines every three boxes, the ruling is ideal for technical sketches, writing notes, and even for aspiring calligraphers to practice their uniformity. Doane Utility books come in packs of three in black, or a 6-pack including navy, sky blue, rover green, crimson, amber and primer gray.

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Write under any condition…

Rite in the Rain Pocket Notebook

Rite in the Rain Notepad

Rite in the Rain pocket notebooks allow you to do just that… write in the rain. Featuring a special water-resistant coating, these books allow you to write in harsh weather. Regardless of blistering, freezing, or inclement weather, you'll be able to jot down important notes in the field or update your journal when enjoying the outdoors. It pairs well with the Fisher Space Pen to cover all of your bases for writing in extreme conditions. Available in a variety of configurations, there's a pocket-sized option for everyone.

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Pocketable premium paper…

Rhodia Staplebound Books

Rhodia Staplebound Pocket Notebooks

These books contain some of the smoothest, highest quality paper manufactured today in a compact 3” x 4.75” format perfect for your pocket. Available in either lined or graph, the Rhodia pocket notebooks are a great choice due to the thickness of the paper. The paper allows for you to write on both the front and back without having to worry about ink bleeding through, getting maximum efficiency out of one notebook. The cover is treated with a waterproof coating, making the book more durable for everyday use.

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Save precious pocket space…

Moleskine Volant Extra Small

Moleskine Volant Extra Small Notebooks

If your pockets are already feeling full, check out the extra small Volant by Moleskine. It’s the smallest offering from one of the most well-known names in notebooks, measuring in at 2” x 4”. The books come in packs of two and are filled with 56 micro-perforated pages, making it easy to share information with others when needed, without destroying your notebook.

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Cover it up…

One Star Leather Goods Notebook Cover

One Star Leather Goods Notebook Covers

If you have a little bit of extra room in your pockets, you may want to class up your carry with a handmade leather cover from One Star Leather Goods. Using top-quality leathers, each case is carefully made in the USA by a single person. Not only does a leather cover protect your notebook from getting thrashed in your pocket, but they also look great and age naturally over time. Available in several designs, the covers are capable of holding several books, a notebook plus pen, and more.

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Thank you for reading part two of our series on analog writing! If you're set on EDCing a notebook now, don't forget to check out Part 1 of the series on Why You Should Carry a Pen. We hope we’ve provided some valid reasons for adding a notebook to your carry. Check back next week for the final part in the series, outlining some higher end pens, larger notebooks, and more. 

Do you carry a notebook? Which one, and what do you use it for? If you're just now deciding to EDC one, which notepad are you planning to add to your daily kit? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hi all, I'm Jim from Rite in the Rain. I just wanted to share that Rite in the Rain does, in fact, offer a side-staple book in the style of the other models listed here. We also run a sample campaign in which we send one of those books right to you (for free) so that you can test out our paper's durability and waterproofing.

If you'd like to try Rite in the Rain, just email me at social@riteintherain.com$2@$3 and I'll tuck a sample in the mail for you.

P.S. - Big thanks to Ed Jelly for featuring our products in this article!
I think I am going to have to try Rite in the Rain. I currently use FieldNotes and I am on their subscribe list so I consistently get new ones as I am going through them. I will admit I do like my field notes but as you can see on my social media, Ive had a number of bad problems with my field notes falling apart due to moisture and the rain. Living in south florida it is an issue. I also work in the fire service so water can be a big issue for me!
Hey, sorry I'm a little slow to get back to you, but thanks for giving us a try. If you'd like that sample, I'm happy to send it to you. Just send me an email at the address above. - Jim @ RITR
Jim, that's a great offer! I've just sent an email to social@rightintherain.com$2@$3 to request a sample. Look forward to trying out a notebook...And a huge thank you to Ed Jelly and the team at EDC for putting all of these articles together. great reads, great find! ID
Missed your comment here - hope you've since gotten your sample. Shoot us another email if not.
Hey! I am a big fan of pocket notebooks and I have used moleskine and field notes many times. I have wanted to try rite in the rain for awhile but never got the chance. Could I try a sample? I have an instagram account with followers that would love a review and photos. I do mostly edc reviews and such! Anyway, thanks for your time. :) Just let me know!
I live in the Southern United States, where weather can turn on a dime and I am always outside. For me, the Rite in the Rain memo books, which have solid-lined paper with lighter graph lines. As you mentioned, they pair excellently with a Fisher Space Pen, the Bullet Pen in my case for a more compact package. Couldn't be more satisfied with my notebook/pen setup.
Hey, Thomas, thanks for the recommendation! We're proud that our stuff has worked so well for you.
I -love- the different Field Notes editions (the Expedition being my all time fav), but I most often find that I have a Rhodia in my front pocket. It is just that little bit smaller that makes it second nature to pocket along with a minimalist wallet. Add your choice of smaller pen and you're always ready to jot!
I always carry a pocket notebook! I'm a constant idea jotter and doodler. Great list!
I found amazing Field Notes sleeves, covers, etc at kochleather.com - pretty cool alternatives that let you slip in a journal, a pen and a knife, as well as more traditional journal covers. Now that I have 3 of them, I feel that I can vouch for the quality. Great stuff!

Excellent, informative article. I am a Moleskine fan myself, but never pocket carry my journals, so I have more room - they live in my Saddleback Leather satchel along with most of my other EDC until I get where I'm going. I stick with a soft-cover pocket size Moleskine (elastic, 190 pages) and one Cahier. They hang out together in my Koch journal cover, one on either side, Rotring rapid pro clipped in between.
While I love Field Notes, and have even been a Colors Subscriber for years, my EDC is the Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid. There's nothing that compares, and its the right bang for the buck when you consider how much quality paper you get, numbered pages, table of contents, back page pocket, hard cover and place holder ribbon. They also come with archival labels and the last ten pages are perforated for when you need to rip out a page. I've never had one fall apart, and each one easily withstands the six months of beatings it takes in my EDC bag. Sure, I use Field Notes and others for the garage notepad duty, etc., or when I really need a project-specific notebook, but my all day every day carry is the Leuchtturm. It's about the same footprint as these softcovers (roughly 3x5 in) although much thicker and with a hardcover. I wouldn't want to pocket carry everywhere due to its bulk, but it gets most its carry in my pack (MaxPed Kodiak, in the small external pocket).
I know not everyone needs a thicker notebook, but if you do the Leuchtturm is the hands-down winner in every category.

Also mentionable and not present in the list above is the DIY Scout Books. They are worth mentioning because they are available in dot grid (a relatively new and less design intrusive alternative to traditional grids), can be bought by the 12 pack and are made in the US.

Excellent article, can't wait to read more.
I'm a Field Notes fan myself. Those notebook covers are incredibly tempting, I think I'm going to have to save up for one.
Check out the Gfeller cases. I have two, both for my Moleskines and I love them. A little pricey but they will last forever and they can be dyed whatever color you want or go a-natural. With a nice EDC pen = Perfection!!
I have a really nice case from This Is Ground.
For me, I find that carrying a PocketMod is the most convenient for me. It fits in my wallet, and I always have paper on me if I need it (plus a calendar, contacts, or pretty much anything else you would ever need). The only cost associated with one is printing it out and folding it (it takes less than a minute to fold it).It's small enough to fit in a wallet, too! The only stipulation is that you have to kind of destroy it in order to share some paper with someone else... But it's not a big deal because you can print out another one.
Great Post! I use field notes and a space pen for my EDC. For meetings at work I use the classic moleskine notebook. This post gives me some other brands to try out. I particularly like the doane grid + line option. I think I will try that next.
These days, I flit between Moleskine and Field Notes, with a greater liking for the old-school look (and trivial information) of the Field Notes brand. Spiral-bound? Not a fan. I suppose, Doctor, it all goes back to my school days, when the wire spiral bindings would get bent out of shape at the bottom of my school bag, making it aggravating to turn pages afterwards. Rhodia also gets the thumbs-up for their range of different sizes. Now, I just have to get a leather cover for my notebooks. Even though back-pocket carry tends to mould the books to the shape of a potato chip by day's end.
Mine is definitely a potato chip
I like the Volant Extra Small for the size, and especially the perforated pages, when i'm done, can yank it out, and open to a fresh, empty page every time. For things I want to keep, shopping lists, reminders, etc, I use the back page
Great write up, but I find it quite biased towards high priced jotters, rather than a truer picture of what is available from drug store buys all the way to specialty shops who cater to higher quality notebooks. It's a great start but it is obviously catered to what's hot at the moment, or to who is possibly buying advertising space on this particular site.
Shane, I respectfully disagree about your assertion at the end. I've been carrying around pocket notebooks for years, and without question the "high priced jotters" are worth the extra few dollars. Field Notes, Rhodia, and Moleskin all show up not because they're "hot at the moment", they are all established brands with a loyal following simply because they make a product that works well. Not quite sure what you're referring to as "higher quality notebooks", as all of these listed here have very good to excellent paper and other functional qualities that suite the rigors of EDC well. Is there better paper out there? Or notebooks that reach for a higher design ethic? Sure, but as far as something to bang around in your pocket or bag the list above represents the standard bearers.
Shane, thanks for the kind words! Ultimately the brand of the notebook does not matter, as long as you find it useful in your EDC. I picked these books for the guide because they are readily available for purchase on the web by anyone who reads this article. I'm sure there are tons of great pick ups in your local store, but not everyone may have access to those! I also picked these because I am a stationery fanatic and I find the extra few bucks for a great looking and performing notebook to be worth it to me!
Drug store buys, I'm pretty sure almost every body has access to those. I understand your desire for higher quality paper, but if you think that field notes paper is high quality, then you are not raising the bar too high. Field notes. Sure you can get grid paper but........... They are made in the U.S.A. I do have high quality journals, sketch books, and papers for doing design work but as far as banging around in your back pocket. I guess to each is own, and I respect your opinion, I do have an eye for quality and well designed materials and products. Just curious what your background Is?
From a writing standpoint, it would be hard to recommend something from a drug store that readers across the globe could go and find if they wanted to. I could say "check your drug store stationery aisle", but that doesn't provide any specifics for those unfamiliar with notebooks whom are looking for direction. Field Notes don't have the highest quality paper, but they do a great job of absorbing ink and keeping it in place when you write something down and quickly close the book. It would be untrue to say that readers of the site do not pick up items based on their aesthetics as well, hence the Field Notes pick. As far as background, I'm an Operations Manager by day. On the side, I been writing a blog about pens, paper, notebooks and other stationery goods for the past three years. You can check out an article I wrote about pocket notebooks and paper quality here - http://edjelley.com/2014/01/12/pocket-notebooks-what-does-fountain-pen-friendly-really-mean/

Thanks for your comments
Cool thanks, I just wish you would have covered a wider variety from under a buck through higher quality, and finer papers. By the way the article was written very well, and I can see that you are passionate about your interests. I myself have been carrying pocketable pen and paper since the mid 90's. The first note pad I started carrying was a pocket sketchbook when I first enrolled as a product design student. My first drawing class required us to turn in a sketchbook a month, with the stipulation that the first one be pocketable. As I was working my way through school in a restaurant, I began saving all sorts of packaging paper scraps that I would come across while prepping food. We use to buy lots of Chinese crawfish, and between each pound , they were separated by a nice brown craft paper that I could not part with. I started folding the small papers in half and staple them down the middle, and they made an interesting little jotter. I am and always have been drawn to paper and pen products, and do appreciate well made goods. I get heckled at work all the time because I am always with a small jotter and a wide range of writing instruments. I stress to my students how important it is to carry one at all times, inspiration can strike when you least expect it, or some beautiful young lady may spark your interest, and you will be prepared to take her number, and possibly score a date to meet at a later day. Lately I have been using the three for a dollar guys you can purchase at many dollar general, or dollar stores in most areas. I do get creative with them by beefing up the covers with decorative duct tape, and creating pickets on both the inside covers. I have no interest in making a single interchangeable holder, like the one mentioned at the end of your article. I enjoy creating a new color combination to keep it fresh, and I really love the patina it takes on by being well worn. I do save them, and have them cataloged for future reference. I try to have about 4 to 5 made in advance, and will tuck in a nice tip when eating out I'm sure the waitresses like me are working their way through college, I get a kick out of doing corney stuff like that. Once again, thanks for your kind words, and I look forward to many more articles written by yourself. Shoot me a private message, I would love to send you an assortment of the duct taped jotters that I have been addicted to, treeshackler@yahoo.com.$2@$3

I went from Moleskin 2016 a6 weekly planner to a Leuchtturm1917 A6 weekly planner for 2017. And from a bullet Spacepen to a Kaweco SL sport stonewashed rollerbal.
It's in the details...
Anyone know of any cordura covers? The only ones I could find were the Rite In The Rain ones, and the zipper doesn't seem like it would go well in my back pocket. Currently carrying a standard Word. and an Adventure Journal, so the ability to hold 2 books is preferred. Thanks in advance, fam!
looking into getting a nice waterproof notebook for my collage coarse.
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