Small vessels can carry big ideas. Literary giants like Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway filled compact pocket notebooks with plots, travelogues, and miscellaneous notes. In a world improved and mired by electronics, a simple pocket notebook offers the joy and intimacy of bringing a pen to paper, whether you’re planning a run-of-the-mill grocery list or penning the next Huckleberry Finn.
Pocket notebooks, unlike full-size notebooks, give the advantages of compact storage and portability. Below, we offer different pocket notebook recommendations for six situations that you may encounter in your daily life.
Recommendations for Working
Make pocket notebooks the trusty note-taking companion in your next meeting or office hours visit. The ideal pocket notebook for school or work is lightweight, durable, and simple: its weight doesn’t add unwanted mass to heavy books, its body doesn’t get deformed in your bag, and its page layout doesn’t distract you from your important notes.
Top Choice: Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Memo Pad
The Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Memo Pad features a miniscule B7 size.
Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Memo Pad Writing Sample
The Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Memo Pad has a form reminiscent of Lois Lane’s notepad, fitting perfectly into the palm of your hand. Its twin spiral binding allows you to easily flip through the pages. While it has 80 sheets, the F.O.B COOP features a minuscule B7 size that students and professionals on the go will appreciate. The 6 mm rule between the lines also allows you to organize your notes throughout the school or work quarter. Keep in mind that though this notebook has a plastic front cover, its cardboard back cover is not waterproof.
Pairs well with: Pilot Birdy Switch Multi Pen
The Pilot Birdy Switch Multi Pen’s thin body belies its versatility, as it actually holds both a mechanical pencil and ballpoint pen. You can switch easily between the two by removing the cap off one end and posting it on the other.
Also Consider: Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Memo Notepad
The Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Memo Notepad has a novel twist ring mechanism.
Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Memo Notepad Writing Sample
The Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Memo Notepad has noticeably thinner paper than the F.O.B COOP. It only fits 40 pages, so you may have to purchase multiple pocket notebooks or remove obsolete notes and purchase refill paper. That said, the petite form of the Twist Ring Memo Notepad can be advantageous in terms of portability. The novel twist ring mechanism neatens and quickens page removal, eliminating the headache of scraggly torn out pages. This is helpful when you’re exchanging or retrieving notes for work presentations or studying. Additionally, this notebook dons a modernistic filmy plastic cover that is inspired by the aesthetic of water drops, and this transparent quality can be useful for labeling multiple notebooks.
Pairs well with: Lihit Lab Hole Punch for Twist Ring Notebook
In addition to purchasing page refills for this particular product line, you can hole punch small handouts and memos to stick in your pocket notebook.
Recommendations for Planning
It’s impossible to go through life without planners or to-do lists, even if they’re just ad hoc napkin scribbles. Some people claim that writing to-do lists eases anxiety and activates clearer thinking. The notebooks below function as planners without the constraints of specific printed calendar days found in commercial work planners.
Top Choice: Midori Grain Memo Pad
The Midori Grain Memo Pad sports a convenient elastic strap, durable, copper twin-ring binding, and rounded snag-proof corners.
Midori Grain Memo Pad Writing Sample
The Midori Grain Memo Pad flaunts a beautiful crossover of Spanish and Japanese design with its bleed-resistant cream paper and smooth recycled leather cover. It sports a convenient elastic strap, durable, copper twin-ring binding, and rounded snag-proof corners. This notebook consists of 100 pages—half contain a layout of line guides broken into 4 sections and half are blank. The lined page design functions as a helpful template for daily planning and to-do lists. The one minor drawback of the Midori Grain Memo Pad is its lack of micro-perforation for easy sheet removal.
Pairs well with: Ohto Graphic Liner Needle-Point Drawing Pen
This marker pen’s boldness and precision pairs well with the Midori Grain Memo Pad’s classy off-white paper.
Also Consider: Doane Paper Grid + Lines Utility Notebook
Each page of the Doane Paper Grid + Lines Utility Notebook has light blue grids with 15 bolded lines.
Doane Paper Grid + Lines Utility Notebook Writing Sample
Unlike the Midori Grain Memo Pad, the Doane Paper Grid + Lines Utility Notebook holds itself together with a fragile staple binding and only includes 40 sheets. What makes this particular notebook commendable, however, is its clever page design. The page layout consists of light blue grids with 15 bolded lines. These lines and grids are great for organizing to-do lists, creating boxes around headings, and planning out weekly tasks. The minimalist matte chipboard cover and lightweight pages also render this pocket notebook portable.
Pairs well with: Tombow AirPress Ballpoint Pen
With each push of the cap, you inject air pressure into the ink cartridge, which allows the pen to write on challenging surfaces. The AirPress has crisp, bold ink that complements the Grid+Lines Utility Notebook’s thin grids.
Recommendations for Outdoors Adventuring
For those who work in nature or have an upcoming weekend hiking trip, the perfect pocket notebook will survive the capriciousness of nature. The notebooks below will prepare you whether you’re out sketching an undiscovered insect species or channeling Thoreau to write this generation’s Walden.
Top Choice: Denik Stonepaper Pocket Notebook
The Denik Stonepaper Pocket Notebook has a sleek black leatherette cover.
Denik Stonepaper Pocket Notebook Writing Sample
The most striking quality about the Denik Stonepaper Pocket Notebook is its velvety tear-proof and waterproof paper, which is made from ground stone particles. Bounded by a sleek black leatherette cover, the blank pages are a great canvas for sketches and observations while you’re out in the wild. Additionally, this notebook has bonus perks such as a ribbon page marker, elastic strap, and convenient pen loop. One caveat with the Denik – ink dries slowly on stone paper and can lead to unseemly ink smudges. And unless you’re wearing cargo shorts with huge pockets, this notebook won’t fit inside the typical pants pocket.
Pairs well with: Copic Multiliner SP Pen
For minimal smudging, this notebook pairs best with a pencil. If you must use a pen, we recommend the Copic Multiliner SP Pen, which dries fast on the stone paper and produces bold, thin lines for scribbling down sketches and notes.
Also Consider: Field Notes Color Cover Memo Book – Expedition Limited Edition
The Field Notes Expedition Notebook is waterproof and lightweight.
Field Notes Color Cover Memo Book – Expedition Writing Sample
The Field Notes Expedition Notebook is waterproof, but ink dries even slower on its paper than on the Denik’s stone paper. At 48 sheets, it also has less space but can be preferable if you’re looking for something lightweight. The dotted sheet style comes in handy whether you’re creating a list of tasks or sketching a rare wildflower.
Pairs well with: Fisher Space Pen Bullet
With special pressurized ink, the Fisher Space Pen Bullet is an indestructible ballpoint pen that will write smoothly upside down, underwater, over grease, and in extreme cold and hot temperatures. It also manages not to smudge on the slippery, smooth surface of the Field Notes Expedition Notebook.
Fountain Pen Friendly Recommendations
Pocket notebooks are intended to be lightweight and portable, but their typically thin paper is incompatible with fountain pen ink. However, there are pocket notebooks that have smooth, bleed-resistant, and feather-resistant paper. Check out our recommendations below.
Top Choice: Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook
The Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook has an expandable pcoket, elastic cover strap, and ribbon page marker.
Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook Writing Sample
The Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook exhibits a satiny smooth, yet sturdy Italian leatherette cover with 96 high-quality sheets in between. The acid-free Clairefontaine paper is superb for fountain pen ink with its smoothness, durability, and high absorbency. You can write on the reverse page without anxiously tiptoeing around the fear of bleed-through. The Rhodia Webnotebook also includes an expandable pocket, elastic cover strap, and ribbon page marker. While it has a strong thread and glue binding, this notebook is not micro-perforated for easy removal.
Pairs well with: Pilot Petit1 Fountain Pen
This is an affordable and high-quality mini fountain pen that pairs well with your Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook for fancy writing urges on the go. Its bold color and comfortable writing size are perfect for fountain pen beginners.
Also Consider: JetPens Tomoe River Kanso Sasshi Booklet
The JetPens Tomoe River Kanso Sasshi Booklet is highly economical spacewise.
JetPens Tomoe River Kanso Sasshi Booklet Writing Sample
Despite its delicate staple binding and slow ink drying time, the Tomoe River Kanso Sasshi booklet is a serious contender for fountain pen ink with its velvety thin, but bleed-resistant paper. This pocket notebook was made specifically for JetPens, and its name, “Kanso Sasshi,” is Japanese for “simplicity notebook,” which expresses the beautiful minimalist aesthetic of the silver embossed matte cover and blank ivory pages. Kanso Sasshi is highly economical spacewise—at a 52 gsm paper weight, it contains the same number of sheets that the Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebook has—96 total—in a quarter of the space.
Pairs well with: Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
An affordable and lightweight fountain pen, the elegant Metropolitan has a round shaped steel nib that is good for writing on the Kanso Sasshi booklet.
Recommendations for Journaling
Deep, dark secrets deserve a pocket notebook that shares their gravitas. Imagine how ridiculous it would be if Sylvia Plath wrote her confessional poetry in the Handy Dandy Notebook from Blue’s Clues! For your journaling needs, we recommend notebooks that contain plenty of pages, lie flat, and have a sturdy binding.
Top Choice: Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Notebook
The Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Notebook contains a table of contents and page numbers.
Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Notebook Writing Sample
The Leuchtturm1917 pocket notebook has a slender form, with a durable soft cover and thick, smooth paper. It has the touches of a classy personal diary, built with an expandable pocket, elastic cover strap, and ribbon page marker. Should your journals end up in libraries or museums, these notebooks also contain a table of contents and page numbers for future reference. Like many of the notebooks we previously discussed, the Leuchtturm1917 pocket notebook is not perforated for seamless removal.
Pairs well with: Sarasa Dry Gel Pen
Sarasa Dry Gel Pens have all the perks of an average Sarasa gel pen—hinge clip, rubber grip, and bold ink—with the added bonus of drying extremely quickly.
Also Consider: Moleskine Pocket Notebook
The Moleskine Pocket Notebook contains plenty of space for longform writing.
Moleskine Pocket Notebook Writing Sample
While susceptible to bleed-through, the thin paper found in Moleskines allows the notebook to be lightweight and portable. The Moleskine pocket notebook contains plenty of space for longform writing and sports a durable sewn binding. Like the Leuchtturm1917, it also has a multitude of thoughtful little features, such as an expandable pocket, ribbon page marker, and elastic cover strap.
Pairs well with: Ohto Tasche Ceramic Rollerball Pen
The Ohto Tasche Ceramic Rollerball Pen extends to the size of a normal pen when posted, and its ink is bold without bleeding through the pages of the Moleskine. The luxurious metallic body complements the intimate act of journaling.
Mini Pocket Notebook Recommendations
Sticky notes are ubiquitous in office environments, but they often mysteriously migrate and crinkle over time. Mini pocket notebooks are the perfect home for miscellaneous information such as emails, phone numbers, and passwords.
Top Choice: Metaphys Blanc Fabric Cover Memo Pad
The Metaphys Blanc Fabric Cover Memo Pad has a thick and stain-resistant fabric cover.
Metaphys Blanc Fabric Cover Memo Pad Writing Sample
Award-winning Japanese designer Chiaka Kuraka designed the Metaphys Blanc to be bold, minimalist, and yet sophisticated. Not only is the cover thick and stain resistant, it extends past the paper pad by a few millimeters on all sides, which protects the delicate pages from wear and tear. At 3.1” x 3.1”, the smallest Blanc is perfect for quick logo sketches and task lists with its lightly dotted grid page layout. The thick pages are also perforated, simplifying note exchange and disposal. Keep in mind that it’s difficult for the cover to close on its own if you prop it open often to write. Additionally, the Blanc’s sheets are vulnerable to bleed-through, making the notebook less compatible with pen ink unless you plan to use only one page side.
Pairs well with: Kaweco Special AL Mechanical Pencil
Durably built and smooth for writing, the sleek Kaweco Special Mechanical Pencil is a sophisticated match for a classy notepad like the Blanc.
Also Consider: Rhodia Pad No. 10
The Rhodia Pad No. 10 is perforated and has lightweight thin paper.
Rhodia Pad No. 10 Writing Sample
The Rhodia Pad No. 10, whether it’s gridded or lined, gives you much less space for writing, since at 2” x 2.9”, it has a smaller width to height ratio. It’s comically tiny, but is a convenient small notebook to store random information. Like the Blanc, this notebook is also perforated and has lightweight thin paper that may be susceptible to bleed-through. The signature Rhodia fold back cover allows users to write notes without the hassle of a constantly closing notebook.
Pairs well with: Pilot FriXion Ball Slim Gel Pen
FriXion Ball Slim gel pens have thermo-sensitive ink that turns invisible when exposed to friction, which means you can erase mistakes in your delicate No. 10 pad.
Ring Binding and Staple Binding.
Since pocket notebooks tend to be very small, having a good binding is important because it determines how strongly the notebook will hold and whether or not it will lie flat for easy writing.
- Most Secure: Ring Binding. Typically made from metal or plastic, ring binding, which comes in single and twin variations, allows you to easily flip through your pocket notebook with little fuss to keep it flat. Sheets bound by ring binding are also sometimes perforated for removal. However, given that people appreciate pocket notebooks for their small size, the bulkiness of ring binding can be off-putting to some.
- Least Secure: Staple Binding. Placed in the middle of a page, staples are the least secure form of binding for pocket notebooks since they can come undone easily. With staples, it’s also harder to lay your notebook flat as you write. That said, you are likely to encounter staple binding if you opt for thinner pocket notebooks with 64 sheets or fewer.
Leather Cover and Cardstock Cover
In the stationery world, it is important to judge a book by its cover. Since you’re likely to carry your pocket notebook on the go, it’s important to choose a sturdy cover material.
- Most Secure: Leather and Leatherette. In addition to looking luxurious, leather and leatherette covers offer the most protection because of their durability and waterproofness. Leather and leatherette, however, can quickly get scratched up and are heavier than other cover materials, which can be counterintuitive for those seeking a lightweight pocket notebook.
- Least Secure: Chipboard and Cardboard. Chipboard and cardstock offer little protection, as they are materials that are most likely to tear and get dirty. However, paper covers are lightweight and offer a DIY, customizable feel.
Dot Paper and Blank Paper
Best for Designs and Sketching
- Best for drawing designs: Dot paper allows for sketching freedom, but also offers guides for structuring patterned designs.
- Best for sketching: For freehand illustrating, blank paper is a canvas for creativity that is unmarred by potentially restrictive guides.
Grid Paper and Lined Paper
Best for Planning and Writing
- Best for planning: Grid paper is perfect for creating checkboxes or organizing tasks.
- Best for writing: Lined pages are best for those who use their notebooks predominantly for writing.
10 Things To Put In Your Pocket Notebook
Just in case the examples listed above are too mundane for you, here are 10 zany things to jot down in your brand new pocket notebook.
- A list of products to get during your next makeup haul
- Sketches on your next hike because you know that a #nature Instagram is basic
- Discussion points for office hours to look prepared without having to lug around a huge notebook
- Random observations about this generation to inspire the next “Howl” or “The Waste Land”
- A reminder for Friday night dinners with your grandparents at 6 PM
- A fastidious documentation of your daily habits for future reference
- Useful spells for the next Wizarding War in case Hermione is MIA
- A ten year plan a la Paris Geller’s Operation Finish Line to maximize your postgrad career options
- Grammy-worthy lyrics that’ll give Sia a run for her money
- Your next new crazy start-up idea
The mind is fleeting. We’ve all had those moments when we wished we wrote down that clever punchline or that important business contact information. Once you keep a pocket notebook full time, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to keep organized and how quaint your observations can be. What do you plan to use your pocket notebook for? Let us know in the comments below.
|Product Line||Cover Material||Sheet Style||Binding||Number of Sheets|
|Denik Stonepaper Pocket Notebooks||Leatherette||Blank||Thread||60|
|Doane Grid+Lines Utility Notebooks||Chipboard||Grid, Lined||Staple||24|
|Field Notes Color Cover Memo Book – Expedition Limited Edition||Synthetic Paper||Dot||Staple||48|
|JetPens Tomoe River Kanso Sasshi Booklets||Cardstock||Blank||Staple||48|
|Kyokuto F.O.B COOP W Ring Memo Pads||Plastic||Lined||Twin Ring||80|
|Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Notebooks||Leatherette||Varies (Dot, Blank, Lined)||Thread and Glue||64|
|Lihit Lab Aqua Drops Twist Ring Memo Notepads||Plastic||Grid||Twist Ring||40|
|Metaphys Blanc Fabric Cover Memo Pads||Fabric||Dot Grid||Glue||70|
|Midori Grain Memo Pads||Leather||Lined, Blank||Twin Ring||100|
|Moleskine Pocket Notebooks||Leatherette||Varies (Blank, Lined)||Thread and Glue||96|
|Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebooks||Leatherette||Lined||Thread and Glue||96|
|Rhodia Pad No. 10||Cardstock||Varies (Grid, Lined)||Staple||80|