Pocket Paper Notebook Showdown: Moleskine Vs. Field Notes

When it comes to pocket laptops, two companies stand above the rest: Moleskine and Field Notes. Both are incredibly popular and are great for what they are, but choosing between them is difficult. We are here to help you make that choice.


While you have thousands of options for paper notepads, Moleskine and Field Notes are two of our favorites . Both companies make fantastic notebooks, but they are made differently, have different paper choices, and completely different covers. For consistency, we will use pocket notebooks for this comparison as this is the only Field Notes size. Moleskine have a much wider selection of sizes , so if you are looking for something more, you should choose this brand. With that out of the way, let’s take a close look at the two contenders.

  • Moleskine : Love it or hate it, Moleskine notebooks are ubiquitous. The company has a cult following, at least in part, with the hardcover covers of their brands, the variety of laptop sizes the company offers, and the small selection of different types of paper. Moleskine laptops are available everywhere and pocket versions come in many different types to suit individual needs. Their pocket notebooks (3 1/2 “x 5 1/2”) are packed with 192 pages and retail for $ 12 . Moleskines are designed in Italy and manufactured in China.
  • Field Notes : If Moleskine is the Evernote of laptop makers, Field Notes are the equivalent of plain text. With one exception , they stick to the same size (3 1/2 “x 5 1/2”), although they offer many different colors and types of paper. Finding the right notebook for you is as easy as choosing the style of paper you like best. Field Notes are sold in packs of three 48-page notebooks rather than one large notebook. Virtually all editions of the three Field Notes kits cost $ 10 . Field Notes designed and made in the USA.

You can walk into just about any department store or bookstore and walk out with a notebook, but these two are so popular that they each have their own followers, and for good reason. Let’s take a deeper look at this comparison.

Moleskine has more caps, but both are durable

Comparing Moleskine and Field Notes notebook covers is a bit disingenuous due to the number of options Moleskine offers over one basic Field Notes cover, but it’s necessary nonetheless.

Moleskine notebooks come in three main cover options: soft, hard and cardboard. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Hardcover : Moleskine hardcover notebooks are their bread and butter. A hardcover notebook is what most people think of when they think of Moleskine. Cardboard-bound cover with fabric tab, elastic closure and expandable inner pocket on the back.
  • Paperback : Moleskine paperback notebooks are basically the same as their hardcover, but have a much more flexible cover. Like hardcover, they have a tab, elastic closure and an expandable inner pocket.
  • Cardboard : If there is a direct analogue between Moleskine notebooks and Field Notes, then this is the Moleskine Cahier line . The line in these notebooks runs along the spine as if it were done by hand. The covers are made of lighter cardboard than hard ones. This laptop does not have the branded elastic case of other Moleskine laptops. This line of notebooks comes in three different sizes, but the 64-page pocket edition comes closest to Field Notes. Like Field Notes, they come in three packs that sell for $ 10.

In my experience, all three Moleskine notebook styles are durable and stand up to tests. Hard covers are the most durable, but the material that paperbacks are woven into is quite durable. You can rip these soft cases if you try, but if they just sit in your bag you should be fine. The Cahier line, which mimics the field notes style, is a pretty tough piece of cardboard, and the stitch style means it doesn’t fold or bend as much as a field note book.

When it comes to Field Notes books, their covers are very different from those of Moleskine. Standard Field Notes books come in a light brown cardboard cover in the same color as the grocery store paper bag. They’re also quite flexible, sort of like the cover of a standard spiral notepad. This does not mean that they are short-lived. Flexibility makes Field Notes better fit in your pocket. They fold easily in your pocket, which is a nice advantage if it’s more your style. The binding has three staples, which feels rigid and allows you to flip or fold the book to suit your needs.

While Field Notes covers are pretty standard, there are a few special editions to look out for. Their cherrywood cover is slightly sturdier than their cardboard covers, theirPitch Black notebook has a thick 100-pound “black cover”, and their Expedition notebooks (my personal favorite, if you’re wondering) are tear-resistant and difficult to get hold of. … destroy. Expedition laptops are also waterproof, which is great if you store your laptop in the garage or take it out in any weather.

Both companies have the same paper quality and variety.

Apart from the cover, the main thing in the notebook is the quality and variety of paper. Both companies provide you with a variety of options.

Moleskine offers all of its notebooks with lined, square or plain paper. On their popular models, including all pocket laptops, they also offer dot grid paper. Field Notes only offers a ruler, a square, and a simple set, but it also offers a mixed package (remember, Field Notes are always sold in three) where you get one simple notebook, one ruler, and one graphic notebook. Some of the special editions of field notes also come with dot grid paper, including Pitch Black and Expedition notebook.

I’m not a paper expert, but the paper quality appears to be the same in the standard editions of Field Notes and Moleskine notebooks. Ballpoint pens do not leak, but markers do leak. You can also write with a pencil. None of them have thick, heavy standard paper that goes well with markers or paints. Quite frankly, no paper is particularly good. If there is a noticeable difference, it is that Moleskine paper tends to be slightly more yellow, while Field Notes tends to be a much brighter white. So if this is important to you, it might be worth considering. Moleskine paper is acid-free, 70 gsm, 47 lb. Field Notes changes paper depending on edition, but 50 pounds of text material seems to be the most used. This is about the same quality as cheap printer paper. If you are interested in learning more about the paper in each of them, here is a detailed description of the paper used at Moleskines . If you’d like to see the different papers used in Field Notes notebooks,Three Staples has a pretty detailed tutorial .

Both companies also offer several options for specialty papers. For example, Moleskine has a sketchbook that includes sketch paper. In terms of field notes, the previously mentioned Expedition notebook uses waterproof, tear-resistant paper. Likewise, the Pitch Black edition has 50lb standard paper inside, making it slightly stiffer than standard paper.

Field Notes are simple, but Moleskine has more “special editions”

In addition to standard notebooks, Moleskine also offers a set of themed notebooks designed for specific writing topics, such as journaling movies and even travel notebooks for specific cities . They only have notebooks for musical notation , storyboards, and even one influenced by Japanese scrolls . In addition, Moleskine also regularly releases special notebooks with branded covers from games such as Game of Thrones , Star Wars , Batman and others. They even offer “smart notebooks” that work with Adobe Creative Cloud and Evernote .

Field Notes takes a much simpler approach. Apart from their usual line of laptops and the already mentioned Pitch Black and Expedition editions (which may also be limited editions but have been in print for some time now), they also produce various color special editions throughout the year. … For example, right now they have the Shenandoah pack, the Chicago 3 pack, and the Sweet Tooth Edition . They also have dedicated notebooks for flight check-in or your trip to the county fair . Right now, they have a fun set of workshop companions for various DIY projects . These special editions are so popular that Field Notes even has a subscription service if you don’t want to miss out on any of them .

Verdict: “Best” depends on whether it really lives in your pocket.

When we started this comparison, we noted that it was a little unfair because Moleskine offered a huge variety of laptop options. However, even with these options, choosing a laptop depends on what you are using it for.

For me personally, none of the Moleskine models fit comfortably in my pocket, so if I plan to carry my laptop with me all the time, this is the Field Notes. Likewise, if I’m working on something in the world, whether it’s in a garage or measurements during some weird DIY science project, I love Field Notes because they can bend much more easily.

But if I do more, especially if I plan on doing some sketching or writing more, then Moleskine notebooks are better suited to my needs. The elastic wrap and bookmark are also great features for some people, although I never use them. The pocket in the back of the Moleskines, while a fun idea, has always been a useless little addition to me, although I’m sure others have found some use for it.

Of course, apart from that, we are talking about aesthetics. Which one do you like best? Are you a fan of fun colors or do you prefer pop culture based designs? Do you need a hard cover? Need a simple notepad or bookmarks and straps? Choose the one that you will actually use. Notepads are useless if they are not written on.


Leave a Reply