I discovered I had three very pocket-sized notebooks to review. So I decided to do one BIG pocket-sized notebook review. I’ve got the new Field Notes Drink Local, the Princeton Architectural Press Pocket Dept. Shirt Pocket notebook and a Doane Garage Series Utility notebook. As you can see, all three books are the same size but the Pocket Dept. notebook is perfect-bound while the Doane and Field Notes are staple-bound.
The latest Field Notes feature “soft touch” covers and 50lb text bright white paper printed with yellow gold “Hefeweizen” grid.
Doane notebooks feature their signature paper: wide lines and grid printed in blue on 60lb text weight, bright white paper. Each notebook has 48 pages sandwiched between kraft card stock covers.
The Pocket Dept. notebook has bright green card stock covers and features 64 pages of ivory paper with green lines.
Both the Field Notes and Doane notebooks have rounded corners but the Pocket Dept. has standard square corners.
In writing tests, the Pocket Dept. notebook preformed well with felt tipped, gel and hybrid pens and pencils. The cream ivory color made some of the lighter ink colors a little harder to use but not any worse than any other ivory-colored stocks (like Moleskine or Rhodia).
This close-up shows that the Pocket Dept. was not at all well-suited to fountain pens though. There seems to be a coating on the paper that resists fountain pen ink. The hybrid and gel inks didn’t have any issues though.
When viewed from the reverse of the paper, there is no bleed-through at all with the Pocket Dept. notebook.
There’s a tiny bit of bleed through from the wider nibbed fountain pens but there was not even any show through with most of the gel, hybrid and felt-tip pens.
I’m not normally a grid paper fan but the light yellow lines on the Field Notes made it easy for me to appreciate the latest Drink Local edition. It accepted all the same tools as the other two notebooks and was pleasant to use.
From the back side though, you can see that there is the most bleed through with the Field Notes. There’s some show-through with the hybrid, felt-tip and gel pens but not so badly that the reverse of the paper cannot be used.
Overall, the Field Notes are a paper nerd status symbol and the latest edition has a great feel in the hand and easy-to-use yellow grid lines. Field Notes are not great with fountain pens but for daily use with general-use pens and pencils they will serve you well.
The Pocket Dept. notebooks give a lot more sheets per notebook and you know I love the green covers. The paper is heavy enough to be able to use both sides of the paper with no issues but it is not at all fountain pen friendly.
The standout performer is the Doane Utility notebook. It works decently with fountain pens and all sorts of other writing tools. With both horizontal and grid markings, it satisfies almost all tastes.
Doane Garage Series Utility Notebooks are sold in sets of three for $9. The Princeton Architectural Shirt Pocket Notebooks are sold in packs of 3 for $12.50. Field Notes Drink Local are available in sets of 3 for $9.95 and you can choose between either Lager or Ale colors.
THE GIVEAWAY: Want to do your own notebook comparison? Tell me which notebooks you would like compare in the comments and you could win a $25 gift certificate at JetPens. FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, November 4, 2013. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Gift Certificate will be sent digitally.