Do you get great ideas, only for your sieve-like brain to leak them to the ether minutes later? It’s no way to live. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best pocket notebooks to help your ideas cheat temporality.
In this list, you’ll find four of the best bets out there, with each fulfilling a different set of criteria. They range from no-frills utilitarian pads that come in multi-packs, to artisanal pieces of animal skin so luxurious, they’ll make even your worst ideas seem profound.
The one thing they will all do? Make your ideas timeless and fore in your mind by being tangible things in your pockets. In many years—when you are gone, the iCloud has fallen, and your device has long since been re-sold to an emerging market—what will you have left behind for others to find? Perhaps a pocket notebook filled with ancient dreams, or a grocery list. It’s all valuable data to archaeologists.
Play your part in history with one of these great pocket notebooks.
MoleskineChances are, you already know this one. Hell, they even sell them at coffee shops at marked-up price points. But there’s a reason they’re so ubiquitous: they really are good.
Moleskines come in several options: this pocket Moleskine sports the color of darkness—black—implying the promise of an infinite vacuum of space, just begging to be filled with the entropy of your ideas. But it also comes in khaki beige, orchid purple, or underwater blue.
This version also features dotted leaves on the inside, which provide some guidelines for writing in a non-diagonal fashion, or reference points for drawing, or for doodling fake constellations that you name after your dog. But, if you hate dots, then there are versions with conventional lines. This pocket-sized notebook is 3.5″ by 5.5″, so you would have to be very small indeed for it to not fit on your person somewhere. The price tag will net you a single notebook, though it comes with 192 pages (96 leaves).
And, of course, all Moleskine notebooks are made out of 100 percent, genuine mole skines (i.e., vegan-approved cardboard and oilcloth). These—and the other pocket notebooks presented here—feature a soft cover, which is more accommodating against our soft, human bodies.
Field Notes ($10)
If you’re a counterculture type who doesn’t want to use a Moleskine because other people use a Moleskine, that’s fine. Field Notes provides a different aesthetic.
Maybe the statement you’re trying to make with your notebook is more along the lines of: “I am a scientist or some kind of naturalist, with an empirical mind. I need a pocket notebook that will assist me in untangling the mysteries of the natural world.”
That’s cool. Look the part with these simple, staple-bound notebooks that are kind of like the blue books you had to write SAT essays in, but are not of terrible quality and don’t come laden with aesthetics that inspire test-taking anxiety.
These come three to a pack for the price and, at 48 pages (24 leaves) apiece, they’ll all fit nicely into even the most discriminating of tight jean pockets. If you’re still wearing cargo pants, then you can probably tote a solid 30 of these at any given time, allowing you to reach Stephen King-levels of daily output on birds or kettle ponds or whatever you find out there in the field.
This version is not water-resistant, but they do offer such a thing. Be forewarned that water-resistant pages are less fun to write on, though arguably very necessary if your field in mind is a very wet place. Just make sure to use a good pencil or a Sharpie.
“I am not a modern scientist,” you say. “I am, rather, a 19th-century naturalist—the first to discover marine iguanas in the Galapagos; to sketch them and to kill and eat them.”
If you want to look like you arrived at your destination after weeks at sea aboard a clipper ship, this refillable Wanderings pocket notebook will do the trick. It even sports a (nonfunctional, unless you point it the right way manually) compass rose on the cover, as well as a handsome strapping mechanism that will prevent your pages and ideas from escaping your adventuresome grasp.
Embrace the aesthetic (but do, please, refrain from emulating the behavior) of New-World explorers with these high-end pocket notebooks. It’s 100 percent real leather, so vegans may want to return their attention to the other notebooks on this list. The dimensions: 5.1″ by 4″, and then however thick you pack it with paper.
Other nice things to say about this one: it’s pricey, but it’ll last forever as you refill it. If it doesn’t last forever, or if you do not want it to, send it back for a refund—no questions asked, no cops, nothing. Refills are available from Wanderings on Amazon.
Like the idea of the Moleskine, but you want something a little less Milanese (an Italian company owns that brand)?
Well, nothing is less Italian than Germany. Where the Moleskine prefers food, family, and gesticulating wildly with its hands after a few glasses of vino, the LEUCHTTURM1917 is slightly aggressive in its earnestness, announcing its name and age in all-caps at the get-go, so that you can then focus on its engineering sensibilities and raw utility of use.
What the LEUCHTTURM1917 may lack in sarcasm radar, it more than makes up for in intuitive extras, like a thread-bound cover that opens flat, integrated bookmark ribbons, labeling stickers, an elastic closure, and an expandable pocket inside the back cover.
Will this notebook make you look extremely professional and competent all on its own? Probably not—but it definitely won’t hurt. This one measures at 5.9″ by 3.7″ and includes 121 numbered pages, with an additional eight perforated pages for ease of ripping out.