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Field Notes Pocket Editions Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook Bull & Stash Market Notebook

The Best Pocket Notebooks

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Field Notes Pocket Editions

  • Great, durable everyday option
  • Sold in packs of three
  • Made with style in mind
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Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook

  • One of the oldest notebook makers around
  • Slightly larger than other pocket notebooks
  • Tons of color and paper-type options
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Bull & Stash Market Notebook

  • Soft leather cover with classic fabric interior
  • Sturdy hardware to hold your notebook in place
  • Might just be the last notebook you’ll ever buy
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You probably have a notes app on your phone that helps you keep track of all your important (and also totally inane) thoughts. And there’s nothing wrong with that! Enjoy your little pocket computer. But in the name of disconnecting and the ancient art of longhand writing, allow us to suggest a stylish and more effective alternative: the pocket notebook.


Pocket notebooks have become more popular than ever, thanks to the fervent fandom of the
everyday carry community — folks devoted to being prepared for nearly every situation (think adult Boy and Girl Scouts) — and a growing interest in bullet journaling. Both camps see using notebooks as a way to live more efficient and effective lives, a return to an analog method of recording moments in an overstimulated digital world.


And if that doesn’t sell you, consider this:
Recent studies have shown that jotting down your thoughts actually helps you retain information better than simply typing them into a phone or computer. To that end, we rifled through over 30 different pocket notebooks to find the best ones, judging each on quality, usability, and durability. Take a look below, and get to writing already.

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Field Notes Pocket Editions

Starting from $10

The Details

Made in the USA

Staple-bound

3.5” x 5.5”

48 pages

Available with blank, graph, and lined pages

Available in a waterproof edition

Bright-white 60 lb Finch Opaque paper

What / Who It's Best For

  • Adventure addicts
  • Wes Anderson superfans
  • People who want a lightweight everyday carry option

Why We Love It

If you’re looking for a solid notebook at an affordable price point, there are tons of options. From ruled to dotted to blank, spiral-bound to saddle-stitched, there’s a pocket option for everyone. But for our money, the pick of the letter litter is Field Notes’ pocket editions.

It seems like Field Notes notebooks have been around forever, but company cofounder Aaron Draplin only launched the brand in 2007, after several years of making notebooks for himself. Draplin collects vintage farm and industrial notebooks, and their influence can be felt in the Field Notes aesthetic — a little bit Wes Anderson (Field Notes employs Anderson’s favorite sans serif font, Futura) and a lot midcentury modern.

Inside cover of Field Notes notebook, held in hand

Draplin launched his company with a scant 200 handmade notebooks for sale. These days, we wouldn’t be surprised if Field Notes sells 200 of its notebooks an hour. The brand offers nearly half a dozen pocket-size options, but our favorite is the classic Kraft cover. You can also customize your pocket-notebook experience with limited-edition embossed covers or even choose a fully waterproof version made with Yupo Synthetic paper (though people looking for a wide variety of waterproof options may want to check out Rite in the Rain’s collection of spiral- and sewn-bound books).

At a slim 48 pages, these Field Notes Kraft notebooks can fill up relatively quickly and be used for almost anything. As the back page of every Field Notes notebook elucidates, the notebook has a slew of practical applications, including recording “sober realizations, shady transactions, and loose promises.” And because each book is just 3.5” x 5.5”, they provide a discreet way to take notes in office meetings or about your office crush (you know, whatever applies), and can actually fit in a back pocket. Plus, you can purchase them in ruled, graph, or blank paper (and as a variety pack with all three).

Cover of a Field Notes mixed three-pack

Field Notes designer Bryan Bedell says the books are meant to be taken with you. “It’s like they say about cameras: ‘The best camera is the one you have with you,’” he told BuzzFeed Reviews. “The best notebook in the world isn’t doing anyone any good packed away in a desk. Our books are interesting and attractive, but not so precious that they won’t get used.”

Made with 60-pound Finch Opaque paper — heavier than copy paper but lighter than stationery stock — each book is sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear, but pliable enough to allow for an elegant writing experience with minimal bleed-through. The Kraft cover is made from 80-pound French Dur-O-Tone cover paper, and while it’s certainly sturdy, it’s not tear-proof.

Our only qualm with these books was the choice to use saddle stitching over the more elegant sewn-bound stitching. Where saddle stitched books are bound with staples (the name derives from the books being placed on a saddle-shaped device during stapling), sewn-bound books are sewn through. Each Field Notes book is bound with three staples, though, so they’re definitely sturdy.

Field Notes notebook lying flat with handwriting as hand flips page

We’d be remiss not to mention our runner-up to Field Notes, Public Supply. A New York–based notebook company, Public Supply was inspired by classic school composition books and offers beautiful staple-bound notebooks in more than a dozen colors. Its pocket notebooks run $14 for a set of three, which, yes, is on the high end for budget notebooks — but 25% of each purchase you make goes to educators in high-need classrooms and school art programs. And every notebook contains at least 10% post-consumer waste and is Forest Stewardship Council–certified, which means PS’s supplies come from responsibly managed forests.

If you choose to go with Field Notes, the Kraft pocket notebook is almost like the gateway notebook to the brand’s vast array of use-specific books. You can get a Field Notes Resolution notebook just for checklists. Or a Field Notes Steno pad for jotting down quick reminders. In all, there are more than a dozen Field Notes styles, so you may want to clear up some shelf space for your impending collection.

User Reviews

“This is a good product. I was looking for a scratch pad of paper to carry around with me but I didn't want just a cheap flip notebook I could get at Walmart. I wanted something that would last a long time and was stylish for my everyday carry. I ran across this and grabbed it up. I went with the graph paper as opposed to the other options. I'm an engineer so I've ‘grown up’ on graph paper and use it all the time, so it was only natural to use this. I can't remember if it has it listed in the description of the item or not, but one thing that surprised me (in a good way) was that on the inside of the back cover there is a printed ruler that has come in handy more than once. I've carried the same notepad for about a month and it's holding up very well to everyday carry.”
— Mitchel From Amazon
“I cannot recommend these notebooks enough. It has changed how I view work, and I can't wait to see how I'm able to utilize these during my school semesters. Amazing product, all in all.”
— Grant Gravitt From Amazon
“As a sketchbook, this thing is beast. It fits perfectly in my Sketch Wallet and is made of much more durable materials than the other sketchbooks. The paper doesn't bleed and holds up well to pocket abuse. Paired with the 400B Space Bullet Pen, any aspiring sketch artist or note taker couldn't ask for more.”
— Frank E Sanabria II From Amazon

Field Notes

Simple and cool

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Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook

Starting from $15

The Details

Sold individually

Elastic enclosure band

3.5” x 5.9”

185 numbered pages; 8 perforated pages

Stickers for labeling and archiving

Page marker

Gusseted pocket

Available in ruled, squared, dotted, or plain paper

Available in 21 colors

80 lb paper weight

What / Who It's Best For

  • Bullet journalers who want to start small
  • Anyone looking for an alternative to the classic Moleskine
  • People who put their products through significant wear and tear

Why We Love It

Whether you love or hate the bullet-journaling craze, you’ve got Leuchtturm1917 to thank for it.  The German stationery company was the first to create the dotted-page journal back in 2005, as Richard Bernier, Leuchtturm’s North American sales director, told BuzzFeed Reviews. Bernier says the bullet-journaling trend helped to revitalize a struggling notebook industry: “Everybody was going digital, but they found that with this analog system, people were getting things done.

Front cover of a closed Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook, held in hand

Leuchtturm’s hardcover pocket notebook, our winner at this price point, comes in 21 unique shades and your choice of blank, dot, graph, or lined paper. And it’s full of bells and whistles: For one, the book offers an elastic enclosure band to make sure your notebook doesn’t flip open while you’re on the go. Its pages are sewn, rather than glue-bound, so count on added durability. Plus, as Bernier notes, the paper is specially treated “so that the ink sinks into the paper but doesn’t bleed through,” adding that “it costs more money on our side, but that’s an example of how we go one step better.”

Each book also has a fabric bookmarker and a gusseted back folder pocket to keep important (or hell, even unimportant) documents close. While the extra pocket isn’t really sturdy enough to hold your license or credit card, it would work nicely as a place to store receipts or paper scraps that might otherwise be floating around in the bottom of your bag.

Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook open with a card in its pocket

If you’re thinking this all sounds a helluva lot like, say, a classic Moleskine, you’re not wrong. However, after testing the Leuchtturm against other hardcover notebooks from the likes of Moleskine, Best Made, and Sigel, we can attest to its superiority. But don’t just take our word for it. A survey of notebook obsessives on Reddit provides all of the answers: Time and again, Leuchtturm was voted tops. Users noted that Leuchtturm serves up “better paper quality, lots of little extras (e.g., numbered pages, index, sticker labels),” and doesn’t suffer some of the manufacturing consistency issues of its competitors. The Leuchtturm repeatedly got high marks for having the best paper quality in the category, though some users complained that fountain pens regularly bled through.

Leuchtturm1917’s notebook is an absolute unit of a pocket notebook, however, which may be too bulky for some occasions — so if you want a notebook that’s an easier carry, we recommend the Rhodia Unlimited. While the notebooks are available in far fewer options (just black and orange cardstock covers and dot or lined pages), Rhodia’s elegant, versatile books were a standout at this price point. The books have a glued spine, and each of their 80 pages are perforated for clean tears. Measuring 3.5” x 5.5”, the Rhodia is slightly smaller than the Leuchtturm, and definitely not as durable as a hardcover book, but for $10, it’ll get the job done.

Open Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Pocket Notebook as a hand writes on a righthand page

At 185 pages, the Leuchtturm is much thicker and has slightly larger dimensions than other options in its price range, but it’s just small enough to actually fit in your back pocket. (And if you’re really not feeling a hardcover book, it’s also available in a soft-cover, 121-page version for $13.) Leuchtturm also sells its own “pen loops,” which can be affixed to any notebook and are a great way to keep your writing utensils and writing materials together. If you’re in the market for a classic-looking, quality notebook that’s durable as hell, or if you’re ready to dip your toes into the world of bullet journaling, you can’t go wrong with Leuchtturm1917’s hardcover pocket notebook.

User Reviews

“The product is perfect for someone who started bullet journaling but wants to start small! The color is bright and the dots aren't too dark, so they aren't distracting. Thinking of buying another, just in a bigger size!”
— Cassandra Hamer From Amazon
“I've used notebooks since grammar school days and have tried various notebooks over the years. Came to love Moleskine for their design, and used them for about a decade. Last year, I transitioned from traditional, pre-printed paper planners to the bullet journal system of planning and tasking. In the process, I saw some videos and came across user reviews for notebooks. The Leuchtturm1917 seems almost identical to Moleskine but in the video reviews, it became clear that Leuchtturm has some advantages. The outsides are virtually the same. Same elastic cover band, same shape, same back-flap pocket. But where Moleskine has one page marker, Leuchtturm1917 has two. It has numbered pages and an index in front so you can list where specific entries are located. Its paper, though, is the standout. The paper quality stands up noticeably better than Moleskine to all kinds of writing instruments, especially *fountain pens*. Lastly, Leuchtturm1917 offers more sizes and styles and paper designs than Moleskine. Particularly dot grid paper, which is great for guiding writing or sketching without the obtrusiveness of solid lines or solid grid marks. Sweet spot is that the price is not crazy expensive, either. This is my new go-to notebook. I now have an A5 size and also this pocket size. LOVE LEUCHTTURM!”
— FreeState Reader From Amazon
“As I've said before, these are the best notebooks in the world, ever. I am a collector of good notebooks, and the readily available Moleskines do not really satisfy me. THESE, though, are beyond. The quality of the paper is excellent, and the ink does not show through on the other side. In addition, they have a blank table of contents for you to fill in, and the pages are numbered — wonderful elements. I am stocked up so I'll never run out. Great to find that they come in colors, too! If you keep a journal, or love good notebooks for any reason, you absolutely have to get one of these.”
— Susan K. Noel From Amazon

Leuchtturm1917

Hardcover notebook that’s not hard to love

Where to buy

$15 at Amazon
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Bull & Stash Market Notebook

Starting from $45

The Details

Refillable pages

Magnetic closure

Perforated pages

Two interior fabric-lined pockets with card sleeves

Designed to carry a pen

What / Who It's Best For

  • People willing to splurge for something truly special
  • Those who prefer classic styles to trendy designs
  • Anyone looking for a refillable notebook that’ll last forever

Why We Love It

If you’re going to spend a fistful of dollars on a high-end notebook, it should be durable, attractive, and go the distance. You should be able to get multiple uses out of it. You should be able to refill it. And you should be able to drop it, bend it, and beat it up without worrying it’ll fall apart. Our $$$ pick, the Bull & Stash Market Notebook, is a stylish, leather-bound option that will stand the test of time.

Front cover of Bull & Stash Market Notebook

For the uninitiated, Bull & Stash started out as the Kickstarter project of a struggling architecture student. After suddenly losing his school funding, B&S founder Cameron Huber had been looking for a way to pay for his senior year of college. “I had to make a decision whether to drop out, take out a large student loan, or figure something out,” he told BuzzFeed Reviews. “I had this idea for a refillable notebook. Architects sketch a lot.” Huber took his idea to a few friends in his university’s journalism program and they developed a Kickstarter campaign. Amazingly, their campaign raised nearly $70,000, vastly surpassing the project’s $5,000 goal.

Huber’s experience studying architecture lent easily to notebook design. “I wanted a nice, professional notebook that I could hang on to, so I made the cover out of premium leather and made the pages refillable so I could keep using it,” he said. In researching production, Huber says he was struck by how many luxury brands sourced low-quality leather. Bull & Stash has put a premium on working with quality tanneries across France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Japan.

Bull & Stash Market Notebook open as someone is writing in it

A notebook that retails for $45 can definitely cause some sticker shock, but this thing pulls out all the stops: fabric-lined pockets, a magnetic closure, and gorgeous Chicago screw-post hardware. It has four card-sized slots for storing IDs or bank cards. The screw-post binding allows you to easily refill your notebooks (refills for the pocket size run $6 each, though if you’re feeling industrious and have a hole punch you could probably create your own).

Bull & Stash offers refills in 60-pound lined, dot, graph, and blank options. For fountain pen aficionados, you can also get heavier refills at a 110-pound weight, designed to prevent page bleed-through. One drawback of B&S notebooks, though: Pages are only printed on one side. That’s likely because the screw binding makes it difficult to write on the left side of the page (the paper won’t lie entirely flat). So you should keep that in mind as you’re planning your refill purchases.

Bull & Stash Market Notebook in back pocket of jeans

Bull & Stash’s design is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the field. And if you believe that your notebooks and office accessories are supposed to help communicate who you are as a person, that’s a very good thing. This little leather pocket notebook has so many thoughtful and unique details, you’ll want it to speak on your behalf.

User Reviews

"I love the convenience of the Market Journal and I use it everyday for work. It fits right on the side of my backpack and my pen fits perfectly."
— Angelica C. From Bull & Stash
"I literally have been getting daily compliments at work. The quality of the leather and paper are incredible and I couldn’t be happier!"
— Will T. From Bull & Stash
"Beautiful leather and stitching. Was highly pleased with the purchase. Bought for my son for Christmas and he loved it! Reminds me of vintage Coach leather. This type of leather 'scuffs' easy, but rubbing the scuff with your finger virtually erases it using the natural oils on your finger. This item will last for years and will get more beautiful with us. Don't hesitate. Buy it!"
— Charles C. From Bull & Stash

Bull & Stash

Classic leather that’ll look great forever

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