Field Notes Original Notebook Review

field notes original notebook

Using a small notepad in some form or fashion for the last 10 years or so, it’s been helpful to jot down various bits of information like notes during conversations, sketching ideas, reminders, to-do lists and more.

Information needs to be recorded, and even in today’s digital age, electronics can break or run out of batteries.

Not only does a notebook never run out of batteries, but there is something about physically writing something down or sketching it out that is helpful.

field notes original notebook with tracer H3 watch and victorinox swiss army multitool
The Field Notes Original Notebook is sold in a three-pack, seen here well used and abused and an essential part of our everyday carry (EDC).

Benefits of carrying a pocket notebook

  • Small and easy to take with you anywhere.
  • Can be used for a variety of purposes.
  • Can help you stay organized and on top of tasks.
  • Can serve as a creative outlet.
  • Can help you remember important details.
  • Can be a backup in case of tech failures.

Where did we settle?

Drugstore spiral notebooks, old-school yellow notepads, and everything in-between has made its way through our pockets and bags these past 10 years.

We floated from one product to another, never being satisfied with what was being used. 

In March of 2012, the  Field Notes Original 3-Pack was discovered and we haven’t looked back. Yes, it’s been that long and we still carry them.

If you’re looking for a compact, pocket-sized notebook designed for flexibility, it’s worth it to give Field Notes Original a try.

Field Notes Original Notebook
The Field Notes Notebook excels at simplicity.

A huge part of the attraction to Field Notes is their simplicity in design, which pays homage to the old ledger-style notebook.

You’re not getting anything fancy in terms of presentation or gimmicks, but what you get is a durable product that is made in the U.S.A. 

Field Notes are a 3.5” x 5.5” notepad that is perfectly sized to fit in a pants back pocket.

48-pages of Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “White” paper, they are bound with a three-staple saddle-stitch process that holds up well to everyday use.

Field Notes Original Notebook
Field Notes is proudly designed, printed and assembled in Chicago, IL, United States.

The exterior is French Dur-O-Tone 80#C “Packing Brown Wrap” which is durable for day-to-day everyday carry.

Field Notes Original Notebook paper options
Available in grid, ruled or plain paper.

The Original in both ruled paper and graph paper have fit our various applications.

They also offer one in plain paper, which could be ideal for sketching or free-form notes.

You can get a 3-pack of each paper type, or a mixed 3-pack with one of each so you can find out which one works best for your EDC.

old versus new Field Notes Original Notebook
A very well used Field Notes Original next to a brand new notebook.

One of the most durable notes pads we’ve used, they have held up pretty well to the use and abuse they’re put through.

The one on the left had to fight its way through a wet Texas spring and humid temperatures but has held up pretty well considering it is taken out at least a dozen times a day.

EDC pens typically used are a Skilcraft Vista Gel Ink pen, Fisher Bullet Space Pen (which we’ll be reviewing soon), or a KarasKustoms Render K with a Pilot G2 Gel. All three inks work well.

We can’t give the  Field Notes Original Notebook enough praise. It has performed extremely well at a very simplistic but vital job.

Why buy a Field Notes Pocket Notebook

Here are some benefits of the Field Notes Original Pocket Notebook:

  • It’s compact and easy to carry around. (I prefer to carry in my back pocket)
  • Its durable construction means it can withstand daily use. (it will wear over time)
  • It’s versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. (notes, sketches, etc.)
  • The paper is high quality and works well with different writing tools.
  • Its classic design is aesthetically pleasing. (simple and non-obtrusive)
  • The price is reasonable.

How to extend the life of a Field Notes Pocket Notebook

Here are some tips on how you can extend the life of your Field Notes pocket notebook:

Keep it protected from moisture

Exposure to water can cause the paper to become damaged or the cover to become discolored or warped.

My problem is sweat when I carry them in my back pocket during the summer.

Try to keep your Field Notes pocket notebook in a dry, temperate environment when not in use.

Avoid bending or creasing the pages too much

Bending or creasing the pages of your Field Notes pocket notebook can cause them to become damaged or weakened over time.

Try to handle the notebook gently and avoid bending the pages excessively.

Handle the notebook gently

Rough treatment or sharp objects can damage the cover or pages of your Field Notes pocket notebook.

The times that I just throw them in a backpack are when I see inadvertent damage.

Be mindful of how you handle the notebook and avoid placing sharp objects, such as pens or pencils, in the same pocket as the notebook.

Keep the notebook stored in a safe place

When not in use, store your Field Notes pocket notebook in a safe place where it won’t be subjected to rough treatment or accidental damage.

I like keeping the sandwiched between to flat objects for safe keeping.

This will help extend its lifespan and keep it in good condition.

By following these tips, you can help extend the life of your Field Notes pocket notebook and ensure that it stays in good condition for as long as possible.


What size are Field Notes pocket notebooks?

Field Notes pocket notebooks are designed to be compact and portable, with a size of 3-1/2 inches wide by 5-1/2 inches tall.

This size makes them easy to carry in a pocket or bag and convenient to use on the go.

How many pages are in a Field Notes pocket notebook?

Field Notes pocket notebooks typically contain 48 pages, which is enough for several weeks or months of regular use.

Some Field Notes pocket notebooks have more or fewer pages, depending on the specific design and edition.

Can Field Notes pocket notebooks be used with any pen or pencil?

Field Notes pocket notebooks are designed to be used with a variety of pens and pencils, including ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, and mechanical pencils.

The high-quality paper used in Field Notes pocket notebooks is suitable for most writing instruments, although some pens or pencils may be more prone to bleeding or smudging than others.

Are Field Notes pocket notebooks refillable?

Field Notes pocket notebooks are not designed to be refillable, but they are affordable enough that you can easily purchase a new one when you need it.

Alternatively, you could transfer your notes to a new notebook or digital format once you have filled up your Field Notes pocket notebook.

How long will a Field Notes pocket notebook last?

The lifespan of a Field Notes pocket notebook will depend on how it is used and cared for.

To help extend the lifespan of your Field Notes pocket notebook, you can keep it protected from moisture, avoid bending or creasing the pages too much, handle the notebook gently, and store it in a safe place when not in use.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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