Best Pocket Notebooks for Hiking
In 2016, I began walking the Camino De Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage across Northern Spain. I knew that wanted to take a notebook with me.
What should I take?
My starting point was writing instrument. What was the right pen or pencil to take with me? I needed something rugged and forgiving, and preferably small. What's a go-anywhere, write-anywhere pen? Sounds like a tag line for the Fisher Space Pen.
My biggest concern for stationery on the camino was water. The stuff that falls from the sky, runs in rivers, and comes out of every pore when a big man walks in the sun. Ultimately, whatever the weather, I finish a long walk wet. I needed a notebook that was built to stand up to the weather. Mission impossible. I settled instead on ziplock bags where I could protect the pen and paper, and a sturdy rain cover for my backpack. Job done.
But wait...turns out, I was selling the pocket notebook world short. We had several options in stock.
The story of Rite in the Rain began when Alec Polson, of the Polson Lumber Company of Washington, posed the following question to Jerry Darling:
“Isn’t there a better way to record the scaling of logs and the tallying of lumber in the inclement Pacific Northwest weather?”
Rite-in-the-rain come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, of which we carry a few at Nero's. These things are pretty much indestructible.
2. Field Notes Expedition
The whole book is printed on Yupo Synthetic paper, an amazing tearproof and waterproof paper extruded from polypropylene pellets in Chesapeake, Virginia. We could go on and on about our new notebooks’ durability and incredible properties (especially in concert with our Space Pen), and we will, in this series of 12 (reasonably) scientific tests:
TEST 1: WATERPROOF
TEST 2: VISIBILITY
TEST 3: WIND RESISTANCE
TEST 4: BALLISTICS
TEST 5: VACUUM
TEST 6: TENSILE STRENGTH
TEST 7: COMPRESSION
TEST 8: ACID RESISTANCE
TEST 9: FLAME RESISTANCE
TEST 10: EXTREME TEMPERATURE
TEST 11: ELECTROMAGNETIC WAVES
TEST 12: ELECTRICAL RESISTANCE
I've turned the links off - but you can find them here. Field Notes took the testing quite seriously! 😂
This is what I took on camino, and I can confirm, that apart from a bit of sweat and the odd shower, I didn't test it anything like as extensively as Field Notes did.
The best pocket notebook for hiking is your favourite form factor from Rite-in-the-rain, or Expedition from Field Notes.
Here's the thing. When the sun was blazing, or the rain was falling, I was focused on getting to our next stop, which was always a place with shelter, chairs and beverages. I wasn't stopping in a downpour, opening my pack to pull out my notebook and write "Day 3, it's raining."
I write notes, in part because I love the feel of a fine writing instrument on appropriate paper. When I go on camino, it's for a week. A short cartridge will be plenty of ink - and if not, carrying an extra one isn't going to take up that much space or weight. So, mostly, I would pull my notebook and pen from its rainproof ziplock while sitting with my shoes off and a cold drink in front of me. That's when I'm writing notes, and I'm writing them with my Kaweco Brass Sport, which can serve as a door stop or tent peg if required.
My best pocket notebook for hiking is therefore whatever my best pocket notebook is, stored in a ziplock bag in my pack.
What that is? That's a whole a new post.