Field Notes is a well-established brand of pocket notebooks that many people have as part of their daily carry. I’ve carried their Kraft graph paper version for a few years now and used it for just about everything; shopping lists, personal memos, doodling, etc. Carrying one in the back pocket never seemed right to me. It crumpled easily and fell out every time I went to the bathroom. About a year ago I found a suitable pocket organizer from Rickshaw Bagworks that I have carried everyday since (more on that in another post). Not only does Rickshaw offer the pocket organizer, but they also created their own stationary company–Efficiency Supply–to compete with Field Notes in the pocket notebook space. Here are my findings.
Size and Paper
Efficiency Supply’s notebooks are the same size as Field Notes. The cover from EF feels a bit thicker and more substantial, which is both good and bad. The thickness helps it to hold up against tearing; however, it does seem to hold its creases and bends more, making Field Notes more pliable when you want to lay it flat.
The paper feels the same on both brands of notebooks. Maybe there are differences in material and weight, but I have not been able to feel a difference. They both appear to handle ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pen ink in the same manner.
Efficiency Supply offers dot-grid, lined, blank, and checklist paper formats. I prefer graph paper, so these new formats took some getting used to. I never tried the lined paper; it just isn’t for me, no matter the brand.
The blank paper worked just fine for quick notes, but the lack of lines to make ideas neat and organized drive me a little nuts.
The dot-grid is fine for drawings and doodles, but fails in note taking. EF calls it “Dots Plus,” which gives you dots combined with large “+” signs. This layout doesn’t help with writing as the dots and “+” signs are too close together to comfortably fit writing in between. I also find the large “+” signs to be annoying in drawing things out. Overall, I did not order any replacements and cannot wait for mine to run out of pages so I can switch to something else.
The checklist notebooks is where Efficiency Supply really shines. You have enough space to write your “to-do” list items and enough spaces to easily last you six months to a year per notebook (unless you are trying to get dozens of things done per day, which is a bit of an over extension is you ask me). The dual boxes with each item line allow you flexibility in how you mark tasks done, their importance, etc. Included date and title boxes allow you to have separate lists in the same notebook, and the table of contents page lets you find things easily if you do compartmentalize the notebook.
Does Efficiency Supply offer a good alternative to Field Notes? Yes and no. EF is a couple dollars more expensive than Field Notes for a pack of 3. If you are a fan of graph paper notebooks, you will note find EF’s blank or Dots Plus versions as suitable alternatives. If you are looking for a better way to manage your daily “to-do” lists, the Checklist notebook is the way to go. Personally, I carried a Checklist notebook from EF and a graph paper notebook from Field Notes in the same organizer for work for about five months; it was the perfect setup, and one I will continue to use.