8 Best Moleskine Notebook & Journal Alternatives for 2020

8 Best Moleskine Notebook & Journal Alternatives for 2020

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Are you looking for an affordable journal notebook that doesn’t cost as much as a Moleskine?

Moleskine notebooks are quite popular among creative, and are often used as sketchbooks. They are also the top choice for journaling and taking notes in the boardroom or the classroom.

Most people prefer them for their durability, strong binding, and paper quality. With these characteristics, it’s no wonder that people are willing to pay top dollar for a high-quality writing experience.

As you can imagine, it’s a little challenging to find quality alternatives. However, for this review, we found the best alternatives that are a few dollars cheaper than the Moleskine, making them more affordable options that save you money.

Our Top Picks for Best Moleskin Alternatives

If you're a busy person who doesn't have time to read this entire review, we've simplified everything. Here is a table to give you a quick rating of the best Moleskine alternatives.

Best Overall ChoiceBest Overall ChoiceLeuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook (Black) CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Value for the MoneyBest Value for the MoneyPoluma Dotted Grid Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Most Budget-FriendlyMost Budget-FriendlyMinimalism Art, Classic Notebook Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Frequent Note-TakingBest for Frequent Note-TakingMaggift Hardcover Notebook, Thick Classic Notebook With Pen Loop CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best No-Frills Moleskine AlternativeBest No-Frills Moleskine AlternativeClairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for Fountain PensBest for Fountain PensRhodia Webnotebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Lined NotebookBest Lined NotebookNorthbooks USA Eco Graph Paper Notebook CLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best Pocket-Sized Moleskine AlternativeBest Pocket-Sized Moleskine AlternativeOxford Idea Collective Mini-Hardcover Journal CLICK HERE FOR PRICE

Why Carry a Notebook?

There are a lot of benefits that you can get from carrying a notebook around with you on a regular basis. First, journal writing weans you away from social media addiction. Stop being overly reliant on your phone and living with a fear of missing out by using a notebook as a positive effect on mental health.

Switching from your phone to using a physical notebook for some aspects of your life can benefit more than just your handwriting. Overusing your phone for unnecessary things like your to-do list or your wish list can lead to health issues such as disturbances in your sleep, anxiety, and decreased productivity, among others. Outsourcing some digital tasks to a physical notebook is a good step to reduce your screen time.

Notebooks can be a repository of just about everything. A notebook can become a sketch pad, a grocery and to-do list, a record keeper of your favorite coffee shops and restaurants, etc. By carrying a notebook, you don’t have to try to remember everything all the time.

The notebook can help you stay organized because the fewer things you have to remember, the less cluttered your mind will be. Having minimal mental clutter will help you think and act with more clarity, and can even help reduce anxiety. Carrying a notebook has also been proven to fight off depression and anxiety, as it has a positive effect on mental health.

Journaling is highly recommended by mental health professionals to those who are suffering from depression. Writing things down throughout the day can release built-up thoughts and feelings, and help you understand your emotions. This can be a beneficial way to work through negative thoughts that lead to depression.

Your journal can be used as a safe space to let go of negative feelings while you work through your problems. The good thing about having a notebook is that you can write in it at any time, instead of having to wait for a scheduled appointment with a therapist.

Another great thing about your notebook being available at any time is that it can be great for capturing inspiration. Inspiration can strike at any time, and a notebook is a good way to capture it, especially because it does not run out of batteries.

With your notebook, you can record all of your best ideas without having to agonize over trying to remember them until you get a chance to write them down. This can translate to improved performance at work because you will be retaining all of your best ideas.

Finally, writing things down stimulates your brain. Writing by hand can give the seldom-used parts of your brain a workout and improve your memory. Studies show that writing by hand improves people's ability to process information, remember things, and think quicker than when they type.

Physically writing will also improve your spelling and help you maintain legible handwriting. Jotting down notes in a Moleskine alternative is a practical way to exercise the parts of your brain (and your hand) that aren't used when you type on your smartphone.

You now know why you need a notebook, but what should you keep in mind when shopping for cheap Moleskine notebook alternatives?

What Should I Look for When Choosing the Best Moleskine Alternatives?

Choose the format that you like best.

Choose the notebook that allows you to get your preferred format, such as dotted, square-grid, lined/ruled, or blank pages. If you write a lot, you will likely want a notebook that has ruled lines, while if you prefer to draw or create illustrations, you might want pages that are blank. If you're going to use it mainly as a planner, you will want one that includes a calendar feature of some sort.

Consider the weight of the paper.

A thicker paper weight prevents heavier ink (e.g., fountain pens and markers) from ghosting. Moleskine is usually 70 gsm, so choose a notebook with a similar or higher weight. If you like to get especially creative and use watercolors or similar writing implements, you will want to make sure the paper can withstand this medium.

Binding.

The binding is typically selected based on the intended function of the notebook and the number of pages it has. Low-quality binding means that the notebook will disintegrate after a short while.

Spring binding can get deformed inside a crowded bag. Choose a notebook with stitched binding for its durability and longevity. This way you don't have to worry about the wear and tear that you will be putting on it throughout the day.

Choose a notebook size that’s appropriate for your needs.

The best brands of Moleskine knockoffs provide different notebook sizes to accommodate your note-taking needs. Get a classic size (3.5″x5.5″) if you think you will carry the notebook around with you. If you think you may leave your notebook at home, choose the larger 5″x8.25″. Remember, the size of your notebook will also determine the size of the back pocket, so keep this in mind if it is important to you.

The cover should be heavy-duty.

The cover should be able to withstand rough handling, and it is even better if it’s available in a variety of colors. Whether the notebook you choose is hard or soft, you want it to be able to stand up to the elements, as well as the other things in your bag, your choices of writing implements, and time.

If you don't plan on decorating your notebook, pick a bright color so it will stand out among your things. When it comes to cover types, both soft and hard can be durable, so get the one that you most prefer.

moleskine sketchbook alternative | moleskine alternative | are moleskine notebooks acid free
The binding must be strong enough to withstand the opening out of the pages.

General feel of the notebook.

Choose a notebook that provides a luxurious feeling while you’re using it, just like your old Moleskine did. Cream-colored paper is easier on the eyes than bright white paper.

You want a notebook that is made out of high-quality materials, not just so it will last through everyday wear and tear, but also so you will feel like the notebook is deserving of your personal thoughts.

Get a product with acid-free paper.

Acid-free paper preserves your notes and artwork. If you don’t use acid-free materials, you will find that the pages in your notebook may become discolored or disintegrate faster than they would normally. Acid-free materials will help preserve your treasured memories and add years of life to your Moleskine sketchbook alternative.

Choose a notebook that lies flat when it’s opened.

Using a notebook that does not lie flat can be a struggle, especially for those who use it as a sketchbook. You want to have the option to have your notes or pictures be fluent across the pages.

This means that the binding needs to be strong enough to withstand the opening out of the pages. While the spine may begin to show signs of wear, it should not split, and the pages shouldn't fall out.

Now let's take a look at the best options for Moleskine alternatives.

The Best Moleskine Alternatives to Save Money without Sacrificing Quality (2020 Review)

1. Best Overall Choice: Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook (Black)

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks are known for their quality. For more than a century, these notebooks have been made by the same family for four generations, using many of the same techniques first established in Hamburg, Germany a hundred years ago. Leuchtturm1917 believes that their experience and attention to detail are why their premium quality notebooks are now sold in more than 50 countries around the world.

The Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook measures a classic 5.75 x 8.25 inches, perfect for a book bag or laptop bag. The hard cover makes it easy to use even when you don't have a desk or table available, and it has an elastic band to keep it closed. Inside, the 80gsm lined paper is thick and ink- and bleed-proof for a great writing experience no matter what you write with.

This notebook has 249 numbered pages, and a blank table of contents so you can stay organized and easily cross-reference. It also has 8 perforated sheets that can be cleanly removed without damaging the notebook. The binding is thread-bound and lays open flat for easy writing or drawing. It also has a gusseted pocket in the back cover, and a ribbon page marker.

The Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook comes in your choice of 17 colors, perfect for staying organized with color-coding, or simply choosing a notebook that matches your style.  Each notebook comes with a set of attractive self-adhesive labels for the cover and the spine, so you can always find the notebook you are looking for.

PROS

  • Thick, ink-proof paper
  • Blank table of contents and numbered pages for organization
  • Perforated pages that can be cleanly removed
  • Lay-flat binding
  • Elastic closure, ribbon place marker, and gusseted pocket for convenience
  • Comes in huge range of cover color choices
  • Comes with matching label set for organizing or archiving

CONS

  • Ink can take a longer time to dry on this paper, so it's prone to smudging and not great for lefties

2. Best Value for the Money: Poluma Dotted Grid Journal

This is the best overall option. It is a dot-grid journal with a luxurious feel and thick, high-quality paper, measuring in at 120 gsm. This is actually better than a Moleskine, which is usually 70 gsm. This book has all the bells and whistles of a typical notebook, including its hard vinyl cover, back pocket, ribbon bookmark, and elastic to hold the journal together. It has a stitched binding and lies flat when it is on a hard surface.

The vinyl cover has a faux leather imprint on an easy-to-grip material. The front and back end sheets are basic and lighter than the inner pages. The elastic is just the right size to keep the book together when it is not in use.

The journal contains 128 pages that are cream colored, dot grid-style, and ruled at 5mm. The thick, high-quality paper is not numbered, so you can add your own numbers if you choose to do so. The paper is thick enough to use fountain pens, gel pens, roller ball, or any other type of pen you prefer. The paper is also rough enough to work great with a pencil. Fountains pens are especially nice on this paper because the lines stay true to nib size and there is no feathering.

This journal comes in a standard A5 size, which is the same size as a typical Moleskine. It is also available in several different colors, and is an affordable option.

PROS

  • Very affordable.
  • Paper stands up to many types of pens.
  • High-quality binding.

CONS

  • Pages are not numbered.
  • Excessive highlighting may lead to ghosting.
  • Pocket feels cheap.

3. Most Budget-Friendly: Minimalism Art, Classic Notebook Journal

The Minimalism Art Classic Notebook is a budget-friendly journal that doesn't feel like a budget-friendly journal. It has the durable hard cover, thick dot-grid paper, and beautiful satin ribbon bookmark you would expect in a more expensive notebook, and it comes in a choice of beautiful jewel-toned colors. It's a great journal at a fantastic price.

Designed in San Francisco, the Minimalism Art, Classic Notebook Journal measures 5 inches by 8.3 inches, so it's the perfect size for a laptop or bookbag and fits well in office and school environments. The hard cover lets you write even when there isn't a table around, so you can use it anywhere. It has a premium smooth faux leather cover, available in black, brown, red, or yellow.

The 100gsm paper is thick and smooth, with no feathering or bleeding, and the dot-grid layout is excellent for bullet journaling, note-taking, designing, lists, and almost anything else. It has an elastic band closure, a satin ribbon bookmark, and a gusseted back pocket for loose notes and small items. It has 192 pages, with a durable binding.

PROS

  • Classic design and size for versatile uses
  • Durable PU leather hardcover will last for a long time
  • Thick, high quality paper
  • Dot-grid layout is perfect for all kinds of notes and lists
  • Convenient interior pocket
  • Available in four attractive colors

CONS

  • Some pens and markers will bleed through
  • Binding may not be very durable

4. Best for Frequent Note-Taking: Maggift Hardcover Notebook, Thick Classic Notebook With Pen Loop

This is the best option for frequent note-taking because it has 240 ruled pages that are environmentally friendly, recyclable, and pollution-free. The paper is closer to Moleskine’s paper weight than some other options, coming in at 80 gsm. The paper is lined, with 27 lines on each page.

The cover has a luxurious, buttery-soft texture and is made from sturdy, premium, PU leather. This journal includes an elastic ribbon and a pen loop so you can keep your place in it when you are done writing and you always have a convenient pen on hand. It also includes an internal accordion pocket that helps protect your journal for years.

This journal measures 8.5″ x 5.7″, which is easy for handwriting and carrying around with you during the day. It is the ideal size for business use, class notes, a travel notebook, or simply a daily planner. It is available in black and brown.

PROS

  • Best option for frequent note-taking.
  • Offers a great value due to the high quality.
  • The pages are neither too thick nor too thin—they will not bleed through, but are not similar to cardstock like some other journal options.

CONS

  • Some pages are sewn in off center.
  • Some users have experienced pages falling out.
  • The elastic band tends to over-stretch and come off.

5. Best No-Frills Moleskine Alternative: Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook

Just because the Clairefontaine Large Clothbound Notebook is basic, doesn't mean it doesn't have quality. While this notebook doesn't have a bookmark or band closure, extra pocket, perforated pages, or other fancy features, it does have thick, beautiful paper, a classy textured cover, and a durable sewn binding. If you want a simple notebook perfect for journaling, this no-frills notebook is a great choice.

The Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook has 192 lined pages. The rigid cardboard cover is textured to look like grainy leather, with an embossed logo in the corner. The paper is 90 gsm, pH neutral and acid free, archival quality and perfect for preserving your notes and writing for years to come. The paper has an extra smooth satin finish, so fountain pens glide over the surface. The cloth binding is sewn with linen thread for clean lines. 

The Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook comes in your choice of 5 classic cover colors, and in either 6 x 8.25 inches, or 8.25 x 11.75 inches.

PROS

  • Excellent, thick, archival quality paper
  • Perfect for fountain pens and other pens with no smudging or bleed through
  • Comes in a choice of colors and sizes

CONS

  • Binding does not lay flat, and actually bulges up above the surface
  • Cardboard cover isn't very durable

6. Best for Fountain Pens: Rhodia Webnotebook

The Rhodia notebook has a premium paper that is perfect for fountain pens, calligraphy pens, and more, with no ghosting, bleeding, or feathering from fibers. It's also incredibly versatile, available in a huge range of sizes, cover colors, and you can choose lined, unlined, or dot grid paper. If you are looking for a notebook that will work with your markers, inks, dip pens, and calligraphy pens, this is a great choice.

The Rhodia Webnotebook has a beautiful Italian faux leather cover with rounded corners and an embossed logo. Different versions of the notebook have different paper, but they are all of exceptional quality, ranging from premium matte paper, ivory brushed vellum paper, and even archive-quality acid-free pH neutral French milled paper.

The notebooks include a gusseted inner pocket for loose notes and other small items, an elastic band closure, and a ribbon page marker. The spine is glued and lays nearly flat when open.

The Rhodia Webnotebook is available in seven sizes, including landscape orientations, and 7 soothing colors. You can choose from archive-quality book paper, lined paper, dot grid paper, or blank pages, so it's easy to find the perfect Rhodia notebook for your fountain pens. 

PROS

  • High quality faux leather cover
  • Incredible quality paper
  • No bleeding, feathering, or fibers with fountain pens
  • Binding lays nearly flat
  • Has an elastic closure, back pocket, and ribbon place marker
  • Available in a huge range of sizes, colors, and paper options for every need

CON

  • These notebooks can be inconsistent in quality over time

7. Best Lined Notebook: Northbooks USA Eco Graph Paper Notebook

This is the best square-grid journal available. It is versatile in its possible uses, sturdy, and environmentally friendly, as the cover is made from 50% recycled paper. The journal includes 96 pages (48 sheets) of 90 gsm paper that is both smooth and acid-free. The paper used is of ANSI/NISO archival quality, acid-free, and certified by both the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The small business behind this product is clearly dedicated to helping the environment.

The square-dot design of this notebook is ideal for creating blueprints, diagrams, and designs. There are five squares per inch on each page so you can focus on your creativity.

This product is made from sustainable materials, yet it is still stylish. Users can compile their notes in one place in this versatile 5″x8″ notebook to help free up some mental space. The pages are strongly glued in place, so you can use this journal without worrying about the pages falling out.

Pros

  • Versatile square-grid journal format allows you to use this notebook for a variety of things.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Offers strong binding.

Cons

  • Some users experience bleeding.
  • Only comes in one color.
  • Journal does not lie all the way flat.

8. Best Pocket-Sized Moleskine Alternative: Oxford Idea Collective Mini-Hardcover Journal

This is the best pocket-sized Moleskine alternative. The paper quality responds well to heavy ink such as fountain pens, allowing you to get creative with your journaling. It includes 96 cream-colored sheets for users to write on, front and back.

This journal's paper is smooth and has roomy lines for writing. It includes a yellow ribbon bookmark as well as an expanding pocket with yellow sides. The black hardcover measures 3.5″ x 5.5″, making it easy to carry this journal around all day. It has a legal rule, giving you enough room to write all of your notes. Users do not experience feathering with this journal, and find the construction to be similar to that of Moleskine books.

These notebooks are even used by chefs in the kitchen to write down notes and recipes. They stand up to the mess and maintain their shape due to their durability.

PROS

  • Small enough to carry in your pocket.
  • Durable.
  • High-quality paper.

CONS

  • Some users find it difficult to keep this journal open.
  • Some find the pages warp with time.
  • Cover shows fingerprints.

Conclusion

All the Moleskine alternatives reviewed today are great options for people looking for something different. However, the Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Ruled Hardcover Notebook is the winner because it exceeds expectations for a very affordable notebook. 

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8 Best Moleskine Notebook & Journal Alternatives for 2020