Self-made billionaires all have one thing in common: They write everything down. There’s a saying among Wall Street pros that “the dullest pencil can recall more than the sharpest mind,” which is true. Our brains tend to misremember things all the time, and our poor gray matter is so fraught with information about our jobs, our cars, what beer to buy so we can be attractive, and what fresh hell the government is cooking up for us to endure, that hoping to recall anything accurately is a dream that most only hope to attain.
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Those who do subscribe to the life of the scribe and take notes tend to have a leg up, since they’re forever able to keep track of the data and information that slides right by those of us who’re still trying to use our meager minds to keep track of an insane amount of stuff. By putting a little pocket notebook in our jeans we’ll quickly discover how much mental bandwidth we free up merely by not trying to keep everything stored on our hard drive. If you haven’t tried living the easy life with an EDC pencil and a brain in a book, then you should try these 16 excellent everyday scribblers. They’ll cover everything from doodling to graphs to sketches to pinpoint diagrams.
How To Pick a Notebook for EDC
A little notebook with some pages seems simple enough, but carrying something day after day is more than most notebooks were built to handle. To avoid wasting your money, you need to be conscious of how to choose an EDC notebook, or you’re going to end up losing your membership to the All Journaling Club. EDC shop Option Gray has a smart explanation of how to pick an everyday carry notebook. It’s insightful reading.
Why Pick a Notebook
Now is not the time to be killing trees to make paper, but to economize and digitize. True, it’s well and good to type everything into your phone, tablet, laptop, or save everything to the cloud, but it also doesn’t happen. People are complex creatures, and notes written into a device are more rare, and less likely to carry salient details. While there’s a galaxy of apps out there that can do this same basic job, the fact remains that a notebook gets used, whereas an app on a locked phone doesn’t.
Besides, most manufacturers aim at sustainable production methods now, anyhow, reducing waste and planetary strain.
Rite in the Rain Top Spiral Pocket Notebooks
An homage to writing tablets favored by reporters in the 1940’s, jotters who need to make notes with a flap and flash will like the fast-and-dirty design. Those who go into the field will like the sturdy paper that resists weather and dries quickly for less mess should the rains find you. Purchase: $4+
Elan Pocket Field Notebook
There’s little style to be had in the stiff orange build of the Elan, because it’s made to be highly visible and tough so you can find it in the snow, the mud, or the pile of bullet casings. 150 pages of weather-fighting paper inside a waterproof body meant to be put into military or paramilitary situations. So yeah, it’s tough enough to hold your “novella.” Purchase: $6
TGX Tactical Notebook
A refillable choice, anything on this list – or whatever you happen to have on hand – will go into the TGX, which provides handy zipper closure for weather resistance and a range of MOLLE straps for pens and pencils, erasers, watches, and whatever else you require for a mobile, tactical office. Purchase: $7
Clairefontaine Collection 1951
More for the vintage enthusiast than those who really need a notebook, the big draw here is that you can use a fountain pen without worrying that it will leak onto other pages. A feat few notebooks can claim. Purchase: $7
There’s few Muji stores in the United States, and those who have been to New York to see them knows the seriousness with which Japan takes its notes. It radiates professionalism, so carry it when it’s going to get a little notice. Purchase: $8
Write Notepads & Co. Pocket Ledger
No one could determine how to improve upon the notebook that early newshounds carried. This is the closest example, with a binding/place-marking strap that keeps everything together, or apart as the case may be. The large rings at the top are a welcome way to make flipping a flash. Purchase: $9
Nock Co. DotDash Pocket Notebooks
DotDash ruling is a different kind of beast from grids and dots, though bears some of each. What’s nice here is the lines are implied, so they don’t get in the way of drawings, but if you need to keep things straight, they can do that, too. It’s a minor matter, but once you try it, you’ll find the subtlety makes other books look brazen and childish. Purchase: $10
Doane Utility Notebook
Plain, but also entirely made of recycled materials, Doane presents sturdy paper that doesn’t bleed too badly arrayed in grids or dots for more free-form page arrangement than lines. Basic color-coding is standard so you can have several going for different reasons. Purchase: $10/3
Field Notes have largely become the platinum standard as their line of rough and tumble books have everything any scrawler could want. Space, toughness, and more binding and layout choices than the average office supply chain, they’re chipboard on the outside, sterling white paper lining the interior. Purchase: $10+
Perhaps the most quietly prolific, Word. books come with an advanced bullet system that automatically organizes your thoughts, or rather, forces you to organize them as you write, and the effect is better notes every time. Like Buck knives, these might not be the best, but they’re the bar that must be cleared for a pocket notebook to be considered worthy. Purchase: $10+
Baron Fig Vanguard
Using a woven binding and a cover that lays completely flat, the Vanguard is the most enjoyable notebook we’ve ever used. Baron Fig is a nice brand to buy because they also are very good at listening to their customers. Each notebook has perforated pages for handing out notes or numbers is inspired – as is the overall design of the book – by feedback from carriers. Purchase: $12
Shit I Gotta Fucking Get Done Notebook
Fun, but purposeful, these EDC notebooks look to do one thing: Lists. If you need to chart the heavens or diagram how many angels can dance on the head of a screwdriver, these are not for you. If you need to write down the crap you need to do and motivate to do it, get this and stop daydreaming!
You can never go wrong with a Moleskine. The Classic harkens back to the early days of the brand, comfortable to hold and use, inviting to the touch, and as reliable as grandma’s cooking. Here’s paper that fights bleeding, an easy marker for keeping your place, and space for all your thoughts. Purchase: $20
Sigel CO231 Conceptum
Enumerated pagination, a pen loop, page markers, tear-away note pages, and a pair of pockets; for a little tyke, this has quite the load of features. Purchase: $20
Bull & Stash Travel Stash
A leather shell where you can toss whatever notebook suits your fancy, there’s not much here but tanned hide that’s been worked to a supple finish. Purchase: $25
Work Hard Anywhere
Using the tagline “Details Matter” the Work Hard notebooks are all about the little things. Such as using only recycled materials that are constructed by machines powered solely on sustainable energy. The manufacturer goes so far as to have vegetable-based ink, which is more than we knew to expect. Raised vinyl decals on the cover, your own gold paper clip, and dot lines or grids as far as the eye can distinguish. Purchase: $40 (WHA Traveler Set)