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Everyday Considerations: Pocket Notebooks (Part 1)

September 1, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

September is upon us!  To welcome in the new month, we have a new installment in the Everyday Considerations series.  Actually, we have two new entries for you.  Due to the overwhelming response from the various companies that manufacture these pocket notebooks, we have choices from nine different companies to review.  We received some feedback from readers after the Everyday Considerations: Hanks entry – while the response was positive as a whole, some people thought that looking at multiple handkerchiefs from seventeen different companies in one article was a bit much.  Despite my penchant for excessively long articles, I agreed, and after that decided to limit the number of companies in each subsequent article to no more than five.  So in cases like this, where we have nine companies, we will split the difference.  Click here to read Everyday Considerations: Pocket Notebooks (Part 2).

Everyday Considerations: Pocket Notebooks Part 1 cover photo

Per usual, let’s get some of the standard language out of the way – each article in the series will focus on a different category of items that people can carry as part of their EDC.  These are not product reviews per se (those will come separately), nor are they meant to be competitive between the companies to say one is better than another.  I simply want to inform you of some of the options available so that you can make your own decision. The articles in the series will take a look at these products and some of their interesting features, and are meant to be read in conjunction with the subsequent product reviews.  They will not cover every option available; rather, these are the companies that chose to be part of the series or were items that I already had in my collection.

If you make an EDC item that you would like to see featured in an upcoming article, simply email TitleBeard@gmail.com.

As the title states, this month’s entries will focus on pocket notebooks.  Since last month’s Everyday Considerations: Pens article gave you some options for various writing utensils, it only makes sense that this month we take a look at some options where you can make use of those utensils.  Having a pocket notebook on hand simply makes note taking much easier and more organized.  Prior to using pocket notebooks, I would carry around a few scraps of paper which I would inevitably lose or put through the laundry.  When I got particularly desperate I would write notes on my hand, but on particularly busy days, I ended up writing notes all up and down my forearms which resulted in me looking like I had been kicked off the set of Memento.  The day I discovered pocket notebooks was one of those days where a light bulb went off and I have since wondered how I ever lived without them.

For Part 1 of the series, the pocket notebooks at bat come from:

Many of the companies featured in Part 1 and Part 2 offer notebooks in various sizes and styles, and many of them included some of these other variations in the packages they sent.  While this entry in the Everyday Considerations series focuses solely on the pocket notebooks, the separate product reviews will cover the additional notebooks as well.  Outside of the technical details on the notebooks themselves, you need to see how they handle being written in; if there is bleed through on the pages, smearing of ink, etc.  As you will see below, I used four different writing implements to test each notebook; The Bolt – Pilot G2, and a fountain pen, from Karas Kustoms, a Classic Aluminum Pen from Schon Dsgn, and a red fine point Sharpie.  At the outset, let me say this – all of the pocket notebooks featured in both Part 1 and Part 2 would make an excellent addition to your collection, so have a look at the breakdowns below to see which features you like best and feel confident knowing that you get solid daily use out of all of them.

Baron Fig

Baron Fig Apprentice notebooks, photo by TitleBeard

Website: BaronFig.com

Instagram: @BaronFig

Facebook: @BaronFig

Pinterest: @BaronFig

Baron Fig’s pocket notebook, the Apprentice, measures in at 3.5 x 5, with 48 pages of acid-free grain paper that are available in a ruled, blank, or dot grid format.  The Apprentice comes in packs of three and I received two three packs – the lighter gray set has ruled pages and the darker gray set (the Baron Fig Maker Limited Edition) has dot grid pages.  The notebooks arrived to me via USPS in a padded envelope – the sets of three were shrink wrapped and experienced no issues in transit.   A set of three notebooks clocks in at $9.00 (plus shipping), with free shipping if you buy two sets and free shipping plus $3.00 off if you purchase three sets.  I’m a fan of both sets, but I really like the darker color and dot grid style of the Maker Limited Edition (also $9.00 plus shipping per three pack).

Baron Fig Apprentice stitch and cover detail

The Apprentice is a thoughtfully designed pocket notebook with a minimalist style.  The plain covers allow you the opportunity to personalize them if you would like, and the yellow stitching on each of the notebooks offers a nice color contrast to the cover color.  I like the design of the Apprentice not only because of its simplistic style but because of a neat little intuitive feature Baron Fig included in the back of each notebook  – the final six pages in each of the notebooks are perforated, which allows for easy removal should you need to tear a page out.  If you have ever purchased or used a pocket notebook, you know that many varieties are stapled together, which means if you try and tear a page out, you often end up with a torn page or two pages coming out when you only mean to remove one.  My biggest complaint with most pocket notebooks is a lack of perforated pages, so finding this feature in the Apprentice was a very pleasant surprise.

Baron Fig Apprentice test writing page

The front of the Baron Fig Apprentice test writing page.

 

Baron Fig Apprentice back of test writing page

The back of the Baron Fig Apprentice test page

The simplistic design makes the Apprentice an extremely versatile notebook that works well in any environment, professional or otherwise.  As you can see from the photos above, the inks from all four writing utensils are visible through the back of the page, to some degree, but the Sharpie is the most visible.  However, the ink did not bleed through to the subsequent page.  If you routinely use a Sharpie to write your notes, you should definitely take note of this as it could make writing on both the fronts and backs of the pages a pain, but most other pens should not experience this issue.  All of the other inks dried on the page relatively quickly, including both the Bolt with the Pilot G2 refill, and the Karas Kustoms fountain pen, so there’s little need to be concerned that writing on one page and then quickly switching to another would cause any ink smearing issues.

Baron Fig everyday carry (EDC)

 

Doane Paper

Doane small utility notebook color

Website: doanepaper.com

Instagram: @doanepapergoods

Pinterest: @doanepaper

Chad Doane started Doane Paper with a simple idea that came after a meeting in which he saw half of the people in the meeting using lined legal pads and half using grid pads – why not a paper that had a grid plus lines?  (Read the full Doane story here.)  The notebooks featured here are part of the Utility Notebook Small Color 6 Pack which sells for $20.00 (plus shipping).  Doane also offers a 3 pack of small utility notebooks in black for $10.00 (plus shipping) along with a number of other notebook selections – If you’re looking for a larger writing surface, I highly recommend their Writing Pad Large.  The notebooks arrived to me via USPS and were shrinkwrapped, experiencing no issues in transit.  Doane offers free domestic shipping on orders over $50.00.  The small Utility Notebooks measure in at 3.5 x 5.5 with 48 pages; both the covers and the pages are made from 100% recycled material.

Back cover of doane paper small utility notebook

You may notice that these notebooks appear to show a fair amount of wear and that is because I carried them the longest out of any of the notebooks seen in the series, due largely to when I received them compared to the others.  In addition to that, I am a big fan of the grid plus lines page layout.  As someone who takes an incessant amount of notes but also likes to occasionally sketch out ideas for woodworking projects and other builds, the dual format pages are the perfect mix of form and function.  Doane notebooks are held together by three staples and contain no perforated pages, the obvious downside to that being that if you want to tear a page out, you’re going to end up with two pages coming out of the notebook.  Doane’s largely blank covers also allow for users to customize them to their liking as you can see below.

 

doane paper test writing page front

The front of the Doane Paper test writing page.

doane paper test writing page back

The back of the Doane Paper test writing page.

The color combinations that Doane offers in addition to the flat black set gives purchasers a couple different options to choose from, and work well in any setting.  I’m a fan of the Color 6 Pack simply because I can use each notebook for a different project or set of notes and easily find the one I’m looking for based on the color.  With my four test writing utensils, the ink dried on the page relatively quickly, and once again, the Sharpie was the only one that appeared to substantively show through the back of the page.  There were a few small spots with the fountain pen that barely showed through where I had pressed harder, but this was a negligible factor.  How much you would be able to utilize writing on the back of the page with virtually any of these notebooks will depend on the amount of pressure you exert while writing.  Be sure to follow Doane on Instagram and subscribe to their email list as they routinely offers discounts this way.

Doane Paper everyday carry (EDC)

Eighty Pages

Eighty Pages pocket notebooks and pencil

Website: EightyPages.com

Instagram: @eighty_pages

Eighty Pages is a small batch notebook company that manufactures their notebooks in New York City.  Eighty Pages manufactures soft and hardcover pocket notebooks.  The two notebooks I received, both softcover, measure in at 3.5 x 5  and contain 80 plain pages.  All versions of the notebooks offered currently come with plain blank pages, but the Eighty Pages website does mention future expansion plans to include lined and graph versions.  Every notebook that is sold is a limited edition, of sorts, and the website notes how many of each notebook were made.  Volume 8, for example, (the black notebook pictured) was a run of only 75 notebooks, and each notebook not only comes with a card telling you when the notebook was made, but the back cover of each notebook is stamped with a serial number that tells you both the volume number and the individual production number for that notebook (see photo below).  One of the pocket notebooks sells for $12.00 (with free domestic shipping) and three packs are available for $30.00 (with free domestic shipping).  The notebooks arrived to me via USPS in a bubble envelope and each notebook was individually wrapped inside the package, with no issues in transit.

Eighty Pages pocket notebook back cover

Eighty Pages notebooks are certainly thicker than many pocket notebooks, but not so thick that they feel too bulky in the pocket.  As you would expect, each of the small batches is slightly different; whether it be square corners versus rounded corners, different color thread for the stitching, or the cover color or design, these notebooks really shine as a quality small batch item that is still affordable.  This is a comparatively more expensive option, but you must also consider that you’re getting nearly double the amount of pages of a typical pocket notebook, and you are getting a small batch handmade product.  These are ideal notebooks for the the pocket notebook collector and for those who like having more space to keep their notes together.  I have been using one of my Eighty Pages notebooks to track some long-term projects and goals with TitleBeard because I know I’m not going to run out of pages any time soon.  Due to the stitch binding and non-perforated pages, I’m not planning on removing any of the pages unless it’s a writing “emergency” of sorts, because removing one page will obviously result in two pages being removed.

 

Eighty Pages test writing page front

The front of the Eighty Pages test writing page.

Eighty Pages test writing page back

The back of the Eighty Pages test writing page.

At the time of publication, there are two different versions available – Volume 8 and Volume 6 (a green hardcover pocket notebook).  As you can see with the writing samples, the Sharpie was once again the only implement to substantially show through the back of the page.  All of the inks are visible to some degree, but not so much that it would actively prevent you from writing on the front and back of each page.  I am admittedly a bit of a weirdo (that’s a self-diagnosis) when it comes to writing in pocket notebooks.  For whatever reason, unless I’m writing notes or sketching out drawings for a woodworking project, I only write on the front of each page.  Don’t ask me why – it’s just how it is – so personally I have little cause for concern when it comes to writing on the fronts and backs of the pages, but I’m sure that many of you do utilize the full notebooks, so any potential bleed through is a relevant factor.  The paper in the Eighty Pages books is slightly thicker than many pocket notebooks, so I would recommend using a gel-type pen for best results, but as you can see, all of the ink styles showed up fine on the page.  Eighty Pages also does occasional giveaways and offers discounts through their mailing list and on their Instagram page.

Eighty Pages everyday carry (EDC)

Hitlist Notebooks

Hitlist Notebooks pocket notebooks

Website: hitlistbooks.com

Instagram: @hitlistbooks

Hitlist founder Curtis (CTF) Roper designed Hitlist notebooks for daily use with a quality fountain pen.  The books measure in at approximately 3.5 by 5.75 and contain 32 pages of blank “fountain pen friendly 148g archival quality acid free paper”.  Hitlist also offers a larger version of the notebook with lined paper.  A three pack of the pocket notebooks sells for $14.99 (plus shipping).  The notebooks arrived to me from Post Canada via USPS packaged in a standard envelope.  The notebooks were shrinkwrapped in between two pieces of thin cardboard to ensure they kept their form and experienced no issues in transit.

Hitlist Notebooks spine

Aside from the fact that I get a kick out of the name, Hitlist notebooks contain a few unique features that could make them the ones you want to purchase.  The spine of each notebook has a white bar (pictured above) where you can record the subject of the book as well as the date range, and the cut out in the middle of the front cover is the “CTF dock” that Roper designed to hold your fountain pen in the instance  you don’t have shirt pocket to hold your fountain pen.  Of course this feature will work on any pen with a pocket clip that has an appropriate amount of tension.  Despite the fact that I usually clip my pen in my front pants pocket, I thought this was a very interesting feature, especially for keeping track of your pen when your notebook was not in your pocket.  I’ve carried a number of different pens, but tend to pick out a favorite for writing in a particular notebook, so this makes keeping my favorite pen to use with my Hitlist notebook even easier.

 

Histlist Notebooks test writing page front

The front of the Histlist Notebooks test writing page.

Hitlist Notebook test writing page back

The back of the Hitlist Notebook test writing page.

As you can see, the quality of the paper does lends itself to solid use with nearly any of the ink styles I tested with little to no bleed through.  Even the Sharpie, which has clearly shown through on the previous paper types, was much less visible with the type of paper that Histlist uses.  The ink dried quickly (the Pilot G2 ink was the slowest to dry on this one, but only by a small margin), and the Hitlist did soak up the fountain pen ink with no problem with the ink drying smear free in just under ten seconds.  Hitlist books are a great choice for anyone looking for a pocket notebook with a few extra features, but they truly should appeal to those who routinely use a fountain pen.  I am a novice when it comes to fountain pen usage, but it was easy to see that Hitlist books performed  exceptionally for their intended purpose.

Hitlist Notebooks everyday carry (EDC)

Palomino

Palomino small Flex notebooks

Website: PalominoBrands.com

Instagram: @Blackwing

Facebook: @PalominoBlackwing

Twitter: @Palomino

Palomino was a brand that I only recently learned of when searching for companies to include in this Everyday Considerations article, but I’m certainly glad I found them.  They offer a number of different notebook and pencil options (the full Palomino review will also include a look at some of the famous Palomino Blackwing 602 pencils).  I received the Palomino Small Flex Notebook Set for purposes of this article.  The small Flex Notebooks measure in at 3.5 x 5.5 and come with 80 pages of acid-free 70 GSM paper, are available with graph, plain, or ruled paper, and are available on sites like Pencils.com for $8.95 per three pack (plus shipping).

Palomino Flex back flap with cash

Palomino notebooks are stitch-bound, but the outside stitching is covered with the orange spine.  I typically wouldn’t recommend trying to remove the pages, however, the last eight pages of each of the Flex Notebooks is perforated to allow for easy removal.  The back cover also has a small flap on the interior that would allow you to store some small notes, or receipts, or even cash (see photo above), but it is a flap, not a pocket, so I wouldn’t try to store too many things in there.  I really enjoy the look and feel of the Flex Notebooks – it’s a simple design and the black cover with the orange spine makes for a nice contrasting color scheme.  Since the cover is plain, it would be easy to write or draw on the cover, put a sticker on there or take advantage of any other similar method of personalization that you could choose.  The notebooks I received have the squared/graph paper, a format I really enjoy.

 

Palomino test writing page front

The front of the Palomino test writing page.

Palomino test writing page back

The back of the Palomino test writing page.

As you can see, all of the inks used were at least minimally visible through the back of the page, but once again it was the Sharpie that came through the most.  However, the Sharpie did not bleed onto subsequent pages.  All of the inks dried quickly, but my favorite pen/ink combination to use with the Flex was the Bolt – Pilot G2 combo.  However, for the full review, I will also be extensively using the Blackwing pencils to check the potential for any graphite smearing issues.  Palomino offers a selection of solid products – the Flex has quickly grown to be a favorite of my collection due to its presentation and ease of use.  I like the look and feel, and with 80 pages per notebook and selling for only $8.95 per three pack, Palomino offers customers a great buy.

Palomino everyday carry (EDC)

 

There you have Everyday Considerations: Pocket Notebook Part 1!  All of these companies offer some great options – feel free to visit their websites and social media to see everything they have to offer.  Click here to read Everyday Considerations: Pocket Notebooks (Part 2).

Everyday Considerations

Everyday Considerations: Wallets

Everyday Considerations: Hanks

Everyday Considerations: Pens

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Category: EDC, Everyday Considerations, Featured

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