Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book No. 374-M
Reviewers Paid: $5.95
I have been using these memo books for years for work and as a trail journal. The book is bomb-proof as far as weather and wear/tear are concerned, and just the right size for your belt or back pocket. For those who still like to jot notes on the trail or at camp, I can't recommend any other field journals more, and I have used many.
- Extremely durable
- Useful scales and conversions
- Flexible cover
- Perfect size for pocket, notes, and musings
- Slightly heavier than non-waterproof notebook
- Binding a little inflexible
- Small pages may not be enough for essay writers
I like to take notes as I walk in the woods: random thoughts, notes on gear for my next Trailspace review, brilliant ideas (well, at least they seem that way at the time), things I need to do when I get back, things I could do better next trip, or just miles, times and temperatures.
Being in the natural resources profession I have carried field books on a regular basis since around 1990. The Rite in the Rain series, and specifically this All-Weather Memo Book, is by far the best I have owned for backpacking.
Rite in the Rain has this memo book at 3.5 by 5 inches and 0.15 lbs (2.4 ounces). It has a "Field-Flex" cover and 56 sheets (112 pages) of waterproof paper. Binding is "side perfect bound", which based on their description means grinding the edges off folded sheets and using durable glue to attach these to cover stock. The Field Flex cover is paper based and recyclable.
My measurements correspond pretty well with the specifications, except the weight was a little higher (2.6 ounces), but I have no idea how much about a half book full of pencil writing weighs! This book weighs a little more than some notebooks I have used in the past, but they were not waterproof. I would gladly take the extra ounce to have the weather proofing.
In my opinion, the basic function of a field journal is to be easy to write on, weather proof, and hold up over time (especially the legible writing). I'll deal with weather and durability later. The Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book is flexible, but stiff enough to be able to write on it without needing support. The paper is waterproof but takes both pen and pencil (my recommendation) very easily.
I have taken notes on both sides of each sheet of paper for years and never had bleed-through issues or tearing. If there is a lot of water on the page (i.e. in the middle of a rain storm) it is slightly more difficult to write. I have only done that for work, and used pencil, and it still took and was legible. On the trail I usually wait out any torrential rain to take notes.
The pages are lined (you can get graph version and others) and have dotted vertical lines if you need them. Very useful for lining up data, although I don't use it much on the trail. I would show you a page with text, but these are my personal journals that I would prefer not to release to the internet!
The Field Flex cover is very tough and holds up well. I have used individual notebooks regularly for over a year and have not experienced any significant degradation of the cover. The books have lived in my back pocket, and in my backpack belt pocket, for many days at a time and the flexible cover is very forgiving and comfortable.
The binding edge is a little inflexible, but that is expected and a positive quality as the glue is sturdy and the pages do not fall out. The only down side of the flexible cover is if you really abuse it and have a small pencil tucked inside, the lead might break.
Each memo book I have owned has, as I mentioned above, held up extremely well through a lot of abuse until it is full (anywhere from a few months to a year). I probably abuse them more for work, keeping them in a sweaty back pocket, writing in rain and smearing with dirt. I have not had one fail on me, rip, tear, or come apart at the binding.
The Rite in the Rain series of books and journals lives up to its name. I have personally used these books in the rain and written on them while the pages are soaking wet. I will admit I use pencil on these so can't attest to how well a pen would do on a wet page. Some folks worry about pencil fading, but mine have not yet and some of the books are over 10 years old. To give you an idea of the weather proof ability of these little gems, here is a series of photos:
Here is my test writing just before the water test (I don't know why I took this sideways).
Difficult to see the water hitting the text, but I held the book under running water for approximately 30 seconds.
Just after the water you can see that there is no running of the new pencil text and the beads of water are still there.
With water still on the page I re-wrote the test text (below the initial text). You can still see beads of water — the page was wet! (Again with the sideways photo!)
Without waiting, I wiped all the water off and found no real smudging of the writing. This is consistent with my experience on the trail. I don't usually write in a monsoon, but I can sweat a similar amount and still take notes!
The All-Weather Memo Book is one of many options in the Rite in the Rain collection. You can get different sizes and page numbers, hard or soft covers, lines or graphs or combo, glued or spiral binding, etc. This style is my favorite due to the size, binding, and flexibility.
It also has several other features I prefer including a metric scale on the back cover (I am sure they could have come up with some more useful stuff than advertising for the rest of the back cover but nothing is perfect):
English scale on the front cover along with common conversions:
And the ever useful map scale on the lower front cover:
Overall, this Rite in the Rain All-Weather Memo Book is the best pocket journal I have found in over 20 years of use for work and backpacking. I can't recommend it any higher, and think it would satisfy most trail journalists with the exception of longer essay writers.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $5.95
A notebook that is tough enough for trail use.
- I messed up a coil or two of the spiral binding on mine, my fault trying to jam a pen in there. It fixed easily.
It held up to a day and a half of rain on the Ice Age Trail, all the while I was taking notes. Instead of hauling field guides (only ONCE did I do that, never again) I draw and measure and note the bits of nature that I will look up at home.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Just a few bucks.