Ever since I published a roundup of the best EDC pens a few months back, I’ve wanted to do a companion piece focused on EDC notebooks. Well folks, the time has come. A great writing utensil is only as good as the surface you’re writing on, which is one of the reasons a good pocket-sized notebook is a great item to include in your everyday carry.
My grandfather was a guy who would never be caught without a pen and paper in the pocket of his flannel shirt. In his case, it was usually a Papermate felt-tip and a classic black-and-white marble composition pad.
And for the record, I still think that particular combination will do just fine. But for these modern times, I really wanted to track down the best of the best EDC notebooks. So I bought a bunch. I tried each one. And I pulled out a few of my own all-time favorites. Here’s where we landed.
Field Notes: Original Kraft 3-Pack
Sure, Field Notes notepads are a bit of a cliché at this point, but there’s a reason these things are so popular. They’re well-made, with durable kraft paper covers, three-staple binding and sturdy interior paper that takes ink nicely. Plus, with their crisp, minimalist look and iconic font, they look good in an Instagram pic of your EDC. I’m not here to judge; we all do it.
Each Field Notes book contains 48 pages (i.e. 24 sheets), and you can get them with ruled, graph or plain paper. Or, better yet, you can get a mixed three-pack with one of each. Measuring 3.5” x 5.5”, they fit snugly in your average breast pocket.
At around $12.95 for a three-pack, these aren’t necessarily the best bargain out there, but they’re good quality memo pads. They hold up well, and I can find nothing to complain about with them. They’re even made in the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Top-Spiral Notebook
Some of the best little notebooks for the backcountry, Rite in the Rain Weatherproof notebooks are great for any situation in which your notebook might get wet. For hiking, camping, climbing and fishing trips, these are hard to beat. Heck, keep one in the shower if that’s where you have your best ideas.
True to their name, these are indeed great for writing in the rain. Just make sure you have an appropriate writing utensil. Standard No.2 pencils work great, as do waterproof ink pens. Standard ballpoint pens work when the paper is dry, but liquid ink pens don’t fare so well; the ink beads up and doesn’t adhere.
Rite in the Rain makes these notebooks in various colors and a few different sizes, but these 3” x 5” booklets are just right for pocket carry. The covers are made of sturdy yet flexible Polydura plastic, and contain 100 pages (50 sheets) of wood-based waterproof paper. Wire-O binding holds it all together.
LEUCHTTURM1917 – Pocket A6 Plain Softcover Notebook
I’m not going to even try to pronounce this brand name, but LEUCHTTURM makes some top-notch notebooks. Designed in Germany and made in China, these notebooks feature durable soft covers, with 123 pages of thin yet high-quality paper that takes ink beautifully and with minimal bleed.
There are a lot of cool features that make these notebooks stand out. Each page is numbered, making it easy to refer back to your old notes, and the notebook features two ribbon page markers, an elastic closure band and an expandable pocket inside the back cover for holding stray notes and scraps. It’s thread-bound, which holds the notebook together nicely, and also allows it to be opened flat.
LEUCHTTURM1917 notebooks are available in various cover colors and paper types (plain, ruled, dotted, graph) and sizes. The A6 pocket size is ideal for carrying in an inside jacket pocket, measuring about 3.5” x 5.9”. At about $15 for a single notebook, it’s not cheap, but it’s a fair price for a quality product.
Rhodia Staplebound Notepads
Rhodia is a well-regarded notebook brand, and although they make a broad range of notebooks in various sizes, colors and configurations, they’re mostly known for these instantly-recognizable school bus-yellow square bound notepads.
The particular notepad reviewed here measures 3” x 4”, and includes 80-sheets of squared graph paper. It’s small dimensions make it easy to carry in any pocket, even the hip pocket of your jeans, though its ample supply of paper makes it thicker than many EDC notebooks. The paper itself is smooth and extra-bright white.
These are simple and well-designed little pads, and they typically cost $5 to $ 7 apiece, which is not a bad deal. The pages are micro-perforated for easy tear-out, and the front cover is scored so it can be cleanly folded back like a matchbook.
Portage Small Blank Notebook (Pack of 6)
Portage notebooks look a lot like Field Notes notebooks, with similarly minimalist design and identical dimensions. But they’ve been around since 1955 (Field Notes was founded in 2007) so don’t mistake Portage books for some cheap copycat.
Having said that, they are cheap. A six-pack of 3” x 5” 64-page Portage notebooks costs less than a three-pack of similar Field Notes books, making these a serious value buy. And they’re good quality too. The covers are sturdy kraft paper, and the interior pages are crisp and easy to write on. Expect a little bleed with fountain pens or wetter rollerball pens.
Similar to that “other brand” that Portage notebooks are so easily compared to, these are available with either blank, dotted, graph or ruled paper. They’re held together with three staples along the spine.
Elan Field Book – E64-8x4S
Elan Field Books are unique in a few ways, and although they’re a bit bigger than most EDC notepads at roughly 4.6” x 7.25”, there’s a lot to like about them. Ultimately, their only downside is their size. They’re great for carrying in your backpack, but a little big for pocket carry. They’ll fit a typical rear jeans pocket, but not without sticking out quite a bit.
That being said, I still consider these to be excellent EDC notebooks, especially for the outdoors. Elan Field Books feature cotton-based, high-quality water-resistant paper that holds most ink and pencil marks in wet conditions, and doesn’t fall apart when exposed to water. The soft covers and square binding are exceptionally durable, and the high-visibility red or yellow covers make them easy to spot.
Because they were originally designed for land surveyors, Elan Field Notebooks have distinct ledger-ruled paper. It may take some getting used to, but actually maximizes the writing surface very effectively.
Moleskine Cahier Journal, Soft Cover
It’s hard to go wrong with Moleskine notebooks, which have a classic look inspired by early 20th century Journals. Moleskine is an Italian-based company, and although the notebooks themselves are made in China, they still have a very European aesthetic and standard of quality.
Moleskine’s 3.5” x 5.5” Cahier Journals are comparable in dimension to Field Notes and Portage notebooks, though the craftsmanship and attention to detail is, I must say, better than either. The Moleskine notebooks have thick, black cardstock covers, with durable stitched binding that holds 32 sheets/64 pages of 47 lb, acid-free paper stock.
Ruled and blank options are available, and half of the sheets have perforations that make them detachable. A folder is built into the notebooks’ rear cover. These are great for hiking and note taking, and at less than $10 for a pack of three, they’re also quite affordable.
Pentalic 3″ x 4″ Pocket Sketchbook Traveler Journal
Different EDC notebooks have different uses. Many are designed for writing, whether it be journaling, jotting down stray thoughts or taking important notes. But the Pentalic Traveler Pocket Journal is made primarily for sketching.
As such, it has some of the highest-quality paper of any EDC notebook I’ve seen. Its stout 3” x 4” dimensions make it easily pocketable, though it’s also over half an inch thick thanks to its ample supply (80 sheets/160 pages) of thick, sturdy 74 lb. paper stock. It’s square-bound, with sewn binding and thick covers, and includes a ribbon page marker, elastic closure band and accordion interior pocket.
If you like to doodle or sketch while you’re backpacking or taking the train to work, this is a great option, and also attractively priced at less than $8. Pentalic also makes these in several larger sizes.
Camelmother 10-Piece Small Notepad Holder Set
This is a cool set that comes with a 50-page lined notepad fitted into a black notebook holder, complete with a pen that slips into its own designated elastic loop. Eight 30-page replacement notepads are also included.
The notebook holder, while not waterproof, does provide some protection for the paper inside, and fits snugly into a back pocket or shirt breast pocket. A couple of slots inside the holder can also be used to hold credit cards or IDs, so you could even use this as a wallet if you were so inclined.
Ultimately, the holder is what really makes this set stand out. The pen is a run-of-the-mill ballpoint, and the 3” x 5” notepads are filled with some pretty basic paper. But they’ll last you a while, and when you’re done, you can replace them with the pen and notebooks of your choice and have a nice little set. And considering this whole package costs just south of $8, it’s not a bad buy.
Finding Your Perfect EDC Notebook: A Guide to Making the Right Choice
In the digital age, the charm of pen and paper still holds a special place. An EDC notebook is not just a tool, but an extension of your mind, a place where your thoughts, ideas, and inspirations find a physical form. Choosing the right one can significantly enhance your productivity and creativity. Here are some key aspects to consider when picking the perfect EDC notebook for you:
1. Purpose and Usage:
Understanding the primary purpose of your notebook is the first step. Are you a writer jotting down story ideas, a student taking notes, or an artist sketching fleeting moments? Your profession or hobby can significantly influence the type of notebook you need.
2. Size and Portability:
An EDC notebook should be easy to carry around. Depending on your preference, you might opt for a pocket-sized notebook that can easily fit into your back pocket or a slightly larger one to have more space for your thoughts and sketches.
3. Paper Quality:
The quality of the paper matters immensely, especially if you are keen on using a variety of writing instruments. Consider the thickness and texture of the paper – it should suit your preferred pens without bleeding through or feathering.
4. Binding and Durability:
A good EDC notebook should be able to withstand daily wear and tear. Whether it’s spiral-bound, stitched, or glued, the binding should be robust, allowing the notebook to lie flat easily, and the pages should remain secure.
5. Layout and Design:
Notebooks come with various layouts – lined, dotted, grid, or blank. Your choice depends on the kind of work you intend to do. For instance, a grid layout might be beneficial for designers or architects, while blank pages offer a canvas for artists.
6. Additional Features:
Modern notebooks come equipped with various features like elastic closures, bookmarks, and pockets for storing loose notes or business cards. Depending on your needs, these additions can enhance your notebook experience.
7. Personal Connection:
Lastly, your notebook should resonate with you on a personal level. The texture of the cover, the color, and even the weight can influence your connection with the notebook. Choose one that feels like a companion, a confidant that holds your secrets and ideas.
Why a Old-School Notepad?
In a world that’s always buzzing, a little notepad serves as a personal sanctuary. It’s a space where you can disconnect from the digital chaos and connect with your thoughts at a deeper level. It encourages you to slow down, reflect, and observe the world with a fresh perspective. Moreover, the act of writing by hand has been shown to enhance memory and foster creativity.
Choosing the right EDC notebook is a personal journey. It’s about finding that perfect companion that suits your style, meets your needs, and encourages you to express yourself more freely and creatively. Remember, the best notebook for you is the one that you will use and cherish every day.
What is the best size notebook for EDC?
The best size for an EDC (Everyday Carry) notebook largely depends on individual preferences and the nature of the tasks you intend to use it for. However, a popular choice tends to be pocket-sized notebooks, which usually measure around 3.5 x 5.5 inches. This size is compact enough to fit in most pockets or bags, making it convenient to carry around wherever you go.
Here’s a brief guide to help you choose the best size:
- Pocket-Sized (3.5 x 5.5 inches): Ideal for jotting down quick notes, reminders, or sketches. It’s perfect for people who are always on the move and need something handy to capture thoughts or ideas spontaneously.
- Medium (5 x 8.25 inches): This size offers a bit more space for detailed notes, journal entries, or sketches. It’s still portable but provides a larger canvas for your thoughts and creations.
- Large (7.5 x 10 inches): Suitable for those who prefer to have ample space to write or draw without the constraints of smaller pages. It might be a bit bulky for everyday carry, but it’s great for comprehensive note-taking or sketching.
Remember, the “best” size is subjective and depends on your personal needs and how you plan to use your notebook. It might be beneficial to try out a few different sizes to see which one suits your style and needs the best.
What do you write in an EDC notebook?
Once again, if you read this far and this is your question, you are in the wrong place! In an EDC (Everyday Carry) notebook, you can jot down a myriad of things depending on your personal preferences, daily activities, and professional requirements. Here are some common and popular uses for an EDC notebook:
- To-Do Lists: Keep track of your daily tasks and errands. It’s always satisfying to cross items off your list as you complete them.
- Quick Sketches: If you’re artistically inclined, your EDC notebook can serve as a mini sketchbook where you can draw or doodle whenever inspiration strikes.
- Personal Reflections: Write down your thoughts, feelings, and reflections throughout the day. It can serve as a personal diary to document your life’s journey.
- Meeting Notes: Quickly jot down important points during meetings or discussions, which can be a handy reference later.
- Creative Writing: Use it to scribble down poems, short stories, or even snippets of dialogue that come to your mind.
- Learning Notes: If you’re learning something new, be it a language or a skill, your EDC notebook can be a place to jot down notes and insights.
- Quotes: Record inspiring or thought-provoking quotes that you come across during your day.
- Idea Journal: Whenever a new idea pops into your head, be it for a personal project or work, jot it down immediately so you don’t forget it later.
- Travel Notes: If you’re traveling, use your notebook to jot down interesting observations, places visited, or even sketch scenes that catch your eye.
- Expense Tracker: Keep a log of your daily expenses to manage your budget more effectively.
- Fitness Log: Record your workout routines, progress, and dietary habits to stay on track with your fitness goals.
- Gratitude Journal: At the end of each day, write down one or two things that you are thankful for. It can be a great way to cultivate positivity in your life.
- Dream Journal: If you remember your dreams, jot them down as soon as you wake up. It can be a fascinating record to look back on.
- Recipe Notes: If you love cooking, use your notebook to jot down new recipes or tweaks to existing ones.
- Contact Information: In case your phone battery dies, it’s always handy to have important contact information written down.
Remember, there are no strict rules when it comes to what you can write in your EDC notebook. It’s a personal space for you to record anything that matters to you or helps you in your daily life.
Why do I need an EDC Notebook in the first place?
If you have to ask this question, then this article is no for you. Having an EDC (Everyday Carry) notebook can be a valuable asset for several reasons. Here’s why you might consider incorporating one into your daily routine:
1. Unplugged Creativity and Reflection:
In a world dominated by digital screens, an EDC notebook offers a tangible, unplugged space to jot down thoughts, doodles, or reflections without any digital distractions. It encourages a deeper connection with your thoughts and fosters creativity.
2. Quick Access and Convenience:
An EDC notebook is always ready to use, with no need to worry about battery life or technical glitches. It provides a quick and convenient way to capture thoughts, ideas, or information on the spot.
3. Enhanced Memory and Retention:
Research has shown that the act of writing by hand can help to enhance memory and improve retention of information. Jotting down notes, lists, or ideas in a notebook can help to reinforce them in your mind.
4. Personalized Organization:
An EDC notebook allows you to develop a personalized system of organization that suits your style and needs. Whether it’s creating to-do lists, tracking habits, or planning your day, a notebook can be customized to support your individual routines and preferences.
5. A Canvas for Your Ideas:
A notebook serves as a blank canvas where you can freely express your ideas, without the constraints of digital formats. It’s a space where you can explore your thoughts visually and creatively, whether through sketches, diagrams, or mind maps.
6. Emotional Outlet:
Writing in a notebook can also serve as a therapeutic outlet for emotions and thoughts. It can be a safe, private space to explore your feelings, work through challenges, or document personal growth.
7. Documenting Your Journey:
Over time, your EDC notebook can become a valuable record of your life’s journey, capturing moments, experiences, and ideas that have shaped you. It can be a source of reflection and inspiration, offering insights into your personal evolution.
8. Boosts Mindfulness:
Taking time to write in a notebook encourages you to slow down and be present in the moment. It fosters mindfulness by encouraging you to engage deeply with your thoughts and surroundings.
9. Emergency Information:
Having a small notebook on hand can also be practical in emergencies, providing a place to jot down important information, directions, or contact details when needed.
10. Fosters a Habit of Writing:
Carrying a notebook encourages a regular habit of writing, which can help to hone your skills, clarify your thinking, and develop your voice as a writer.
An EDC notebook is more than just a tool for note-taking; it’s a personal companion that supports your daily life, fosters creativity, and encourages a deeper connection with your inner self and the world around you. But really, they just look cool in your EDC pictures!
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.