5 Best Moleskine Notebook Alternatives (Review for 2020)

5 Best Moleskine Notebook Alternatives (Review 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 five of 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 overallBest overallPoluma Dotted Grid JournalCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best lined notebookBest lined notebookPaperage Hardcover Journal NotebookCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best for frequent note-takingBest for frequent note-takingMaggift Hardcover Notebook, Thick Classic Notebook with Pen LoopCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best square-grid journalBest square-grid journalNorthbooks USA Eco Graph Paper NotebookCLICK HERE FOR PRICE
Best pocket-sized Moleskine alternativeBest pocket-sized Moleskine alternativeOxford Idea Collective Mini Hardcover JournalCLICK 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.


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.

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

1. Poluma Dotted Grid Journal

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.


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


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

2. Paperage Hardcover Journal Notebook

Paperage Hardcover Journal Notebook

This is the best option for a lined notebook. It has 160 pages of thick paper (100 gsm), a waterproof cover, and a stitched binding, and is available in a variety of colors. The pages in this journal are lined, so it is a great option if you prefer to do mostly writing in your journal. It serves well as a reliable travel journal because it is lightweight yet durable. You can simply toss it into your bag and go.

The paper in this journal is acid-free, so it resists any damage that could be caused by light and air. The paper included in this journal is an ivory color, which is easy on users' eyes, especially when using this journal long-term. This is a hardcover journal that is made to ensure both quality and durability. The cover is made from a water-resistant material that covers a thick cardboard cover and an inner book bound by thread that has a practical lay-flat design.

This journal comes with an expandable pocket for you to use to keep cards, receipts, or other important papers. The elastic closure band is the perfect size to ensure the journal stays closed when not in use. This is another inexpensive option that is sure to last.


  • High-quality paper.
  • Durable.
  • Best lined notebook option.


  • Some users experienced bleeding.
  • Pages are not numbered.
  • Does not include an index.

3. Maggift Hardcover Notebook, Thick Classic Notebook With Pen Loop

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.


  • 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.


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

4. Northbooks USA Eco Graph Paper 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.


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


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

5. Oxford Idea Collective Mini-Hardcover Journal

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.


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


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


Poluma Dotted Grid Journal

All the Moleskine alternatives reviewed today are great options for people looking for something different. However, the Poluma Dotted Grid Journal is the winner because it exceeds expectations for a very affordable notebook. 

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