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A Review: Field Notes vs. Moleskine

I’ve gone through a few note taking products in the last year or so and thought I would put together a quick review of my favorite two, the pocket Moleskine
notebook, and Field Notes.  I’ve broken it down by “feature” and highlighted which product I think wins in each category.

CoverField Notes: Field Notes seem to hold up longer in my back pocket.  Specifically, the spine of the Moleskine cover tends to rub and fray more than the Field Notes over a similar period of time.  It’s not usually a problem since I tend to fill up a journal around the time it starts to become structurally unsound.

DurabilityField Notes:  Mostly because of the aforementioned cover durability. Also the staple binding on the Field Notes feels a more solid than the stitching in the Moleskine.

PocketField Notes: It’s a bit misleading to say Field Notes win since they don’t have a pocket, but the reality is I’ve found the pocket in the smaller moleskins to be worse than useless. They tear as soon as I start using them. If you put something in the pocket, it may not be there when you go back to get it. This is only true of the thin Moleskines. The 192 pagers have a sturdy enough pocket to make it useful.

PaperMoleskine: I prefer the yellowed look of the Moleskine paper. It seems easier on the eyes and has a more classic feel. The Moleskine also has detachable pages. Tearing these pages out to give them to friends or love interests creates a lasting momento of their encounter with you, and will survive at least one washing. Style and practicality win out here.

VibeMoleskine: I’m a little on the fence here. It depends on your personal style but Moleskines feel a bit more mature, and Field Notes are a little more playful in their styling. Let me put it this way, I would rather have a Moleskine for a business meeting, but a Field Notes at the coffee shop. The choice is up to you.

Coolness QuotientField Notes: Everyone has a Moleskine these days. Let’s be honest, it’s cool to be different. Well ok, it’s cool to be mostly the same, but slightly different and edgy. Field Notes are definitely differently the same. (take that English professors!)

So who wins? I recently finished a 3 pack of Field Notes and switched back to Moleskine. It came out as I expected. I like the detachable pages, but I feel like it’s going to fall apart before I am done using it. My next order will probably be for Field Notes. I’m going to keep a stack of both and choose based on my mood at the time. Who says you gotta be a company man…

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good breakdown Gary. But what about price? It seems like both are $10 but the Field Notes include Pen, Pencil, rubberband, etc. although most people may never use those freebies. One of other parts I enjoy about Field Notes is there colors packs and state packs adding a nice touch of difference and coolness in there limited stock. But I agree with you that Moleskines look much nicer in the professional world and you can get varying sizes that match making your “what’s in my bag picture on flickr?” look that much nicer.

    February 3, 2011
  2. Interesting. I haven’t bought the Field Notes online so I never ended up with the freebies. I’m also finding Moleskines on sale a lot these days.

    I think the limited edition colors are another part that make field notes just a little more interesting. Personally I’m looking forward to finishing my current moleskine so I can switch back to field notes.

    February 4, 2011
  3. I really enjoyed reading your comparison between these two notebooks. As an architectural designer I have used moleskins for years. However, I carry around the larger ones for sketches. As far as field notes; I love their idea, but feel they missed a great opportunity by wasting space on the covers with mostly worthless info. Therefore I decided to make my own Field Notes Notebooks. I even put the template up on my blog with instructions on how to make it with a free complete template. Plus it has useful information in it. Check it out and give me your thoughts. http://www.fieldnotesformen.com/make-your-own-fields-notes-notebook/

    February 5, 2012

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