September 03, 2018
After journaling for several years now, I’ve found that I prefer a pocket-sized notebook and maintain it on a monthly cycle instead of a yearly one. This lets me carry a slim notebook with me wherever I go without having to carry a separate bag.
As I rotate every month now, I’ve tried various different styles of pocket journal notebook over this time, and I’ve developed a preference and grading scale for these notebooks that I have used to evaluate and compare different notebooks that meet my needs.
The main requirements were that they:
Most Bullet Journalers maintain 1 year journals at a time. These usually are of an A5 size and must be stored at a desk or carried in a large purse or backpack.
I don’t carry a backpack on a daily basis and found that if I don’t carry my journal on my person then I don’t keep it up to date.
I evaluated the following notebooks- each of these notebooks I used for at least 1 month as my daily journal.
All of these are pretty similar in size and functionality. They all measure between 3 and 3.5 inches wide and between 5 and 5.5 inches tall.
The Baron Fig and MUJI Travel notebooks have slightly smaller form factors than the other two books which could be a plus for some people. However their covers are both very soft, which made it hard to write on them without a hard surface. I like to do journaling on the couch or in bed some times and it is not as easy on these two models.
I ultimately went with the Field Notes notebook because of its clean grid and ease of acquiring it, but I also really liked the other options listed above.
You can find a 3 pack of these for about 9.95 on Amazon- I actually have seen these cheaper at brick and mortar stores in my neighborhood, so keep an eye out for good deals!
The Public Supply notebooks were a good runner up. They lose slightly because there is a watermark on the lower lefthand corner of each page that I found a little unnecessary.
I did not evaluate the following two books, although they are highly recommended online and may be the right choice for some readers.
The North Books Notebook is extremely compelling- it has more pages than all of the notebooks I evaluated and seems to have a great construction. However it measures slightly larger at a full A6 size (approximately 4x6) and with its thicker width I found it uncomfortable to carry in my front pocket. This would be great for people who like carrying their journal in a back pocket, or wear baggy cargo pants.
2 for $7.49
Another common recommendation was the Fold Journal. These are a great budget option for journaling as they come in a 5 pack for about $9. I didn’t end up buying these and evaluating them as a lot of the Amazon reviewers complained about the print quality and inconsistency with printing of the dots, which I felt would drive me crazy!
The Moleskine notebook is perhaps the most famous type of pocket journal. However I haven’t found a moleskine notebook that met my two basic criteria of dot-grid and size. I really hope this is a product they end up putting out in the future as I feel it would be a strong contender in this field.
I haven’t hear much coverage of smaller bullet journals so I thought I’d make this post. I really like both the Field Notes and the Public Supply books so I recommend using whichever you can find cheapest near you.
Written by Will who lives and works in New York. You should follow him on Twitter.