Best Pocket Notebook Gifts For Dads Under $20

Pockets notebooks make great gifts for dad, not just for dads, but for everyone. Here’s why it’s a good idea to carry a pocket-sized notebook around all day and some of the best notebooks to buy.

Four items sat on the bar in front of him at all times — a half-empty glass of beer, money to refill the pint glass should he ever get around to finishing, a pencil resembling one given free with a round of mini-golf and a spiral top pocket notebook.

He wasn’t a frustrated Hemingway or a man plotting his ultimate revenge. Through conversation, he explained the notebook was just for “ideas, thoughts, things that come to mind.” He was forthcoming with little more and never asked if I wanted to read a couple pages. His failure to offer up the pocket notebook to the nosey 14-year-old son of the bar owner pissed me off at the time. Now I understand.

I can’t say for sure if that bar rat and his pocket notebook doodling had any influence on me, but that’s my notebook in the image above. I filled it on a recent trip to the West Indies. It’s possible. But while I’d never let a teen (not even my own blood) flip through any of my pocket notebooks, I’d go into detail about why a dad — or any man — should carry one at all times.

Before covering the best pocket notebooks that make great gifts, here are some reasons to carry around notebooks to write in every day.

Why Carry A Pocket Notebooks?


This fact is a little tougher to research, but speaking from experience, countless thoughts, questions, jokes, article ideas and to do tasks pop into my head. The current way is to pull out a cell phone and get every brain nugget logged but a phone can provide an immediate distraction. “I’ve got to get this idea down but let me answer this text, respond to this email, check the score of this game, transfer money from checking into savings and why did I take out my phone?”

A pocket notebook serves one purpose — to write stuff down. The only possible distraction when opening a notebook is reading a previous entry. If that’s an issue, always start on a blank page. That’s the end of the single possible distraction.


“What was that funny thing he said? Remember we were in the car? Ugh, it was funny, what was it?” You can’t remember. If only you had something to write stuff down in to look back on in 40 years when you REALLY won’t remember anything.


“No one knows for sure at this point if prolonged use of digital devices causes permanent damage to the eyes,” explained Gary Heiting, OD, senior editor of explained to Digital Trends in this article from February 2015 “but it’s well established that it causes eye strain and discomfort.”

It could take years to fully understand the damage we’re all doing to our eyes by staring at smartphones, tablets, and computer monitors for hours on end but let’s just all assume the diagnosis will be “it was a bad idea.” Pocket notebooks will keep your eyes off of a screen for at least a short period and might even cause an individual to write (and work) longer.

The Must-Have Book For Every New Dad Is Here


At the airport, before that recent excursion, not one single person in my row of seats in the terminal was looking straight ahead, up or at another person. Every set of eyes, except mine, was glued to a smartphone. I spent the hour before boarding jotting down article ideas in a pocket notebook.

The woman in the seat to my right tried reading over my shoulder. I caught her eyes, and they immediately darted back to her phone. Just as I was fascinated by the scribblings of a bar regular, this woman wondered “what’s so important that this guy is taking the time to write it down?”

In all honesty, I was writing an observation about farting in an airplane, but she probably assumed I was scribbling down the words much more important to mankind.

Writing in a pocket notepad will not only make your ideas for a new app or recipe mod for better peanut butter brownies feel more important, people watching from afar will assume them, and you, important and probably worth meeting or knowing.


Penmanship is a dying art. I’ve got really good penmanship. People remark about it all the time. Unless you’re a doctor — and even then, learn how to write like a person — possessing good penmanship isn’t a bad trait.

Here’s a quick video explaining what your handwriting says about you and how to improve your cursive in no time.


I recently read a story online about a man who kept a journal every day of his life. After his passing his family found the books and were unaware of his side project. His kids were able to read back on countless monumental life events — both in his life and their lives — and even remarked at how interested they were to read about even the most mundane life moments.

Now if their dad passed away, and left behind a laptop, would the kids spend time going through his Word documents? It’s possible but highly unlikely.

While on the vacation I mentioned earlier, I dedicated an entire Field Notes booklet to the trip. In ten years, the photos will visually bring me back to Nevis and St. Kitts and the places and faces of those 5 days but the notebook will provide a much deeper context.

Pocket notebooks aren’t commonly spotted in a world dominated by handheld devices but carrying a bound book of blank pages is essential for the modern dad.


pocket notebook gifts best

Rhodia Wirebound: Spiral Rhodia Notebook offers an 80g extra white paper with double wire-binding spirals for strength and no snags. People love Rhodia notebooks for their smooth paper and iconic cover. [$7]

People Who Can Kindly Go Fuck Themselves: Facebook trolls. Horrendous drivers. The guy who stands at the register of a fast food joint and studies the menu as a crowd of people who know what combo meal they’re definitely getting stand and wait. Yeah, some people can get on our nerves. To keep track of all those grudges, there’s the People Who Can Kindly Go Fuck Themselves Notebooks. Now you can keep tabs on your archenemies and evil foes, or, you know, just your grocery list. [$9]

Field Notes Pitch Black Dot Graph: Bound with glossy black staples and sturdy 118# covers, Field Notes Pitch black features exclusive black/kraft duplex paper from the French Paper Co. [$9.95]

“The First Draft Of Anything Is Shit” Ernest Hemmingway Notebook [$12]

The Indestructible Notebook from Elan Publishing Company: This compact & indestructable field notebook is perfectly sized for convenience and functionality. It is waterproof, tearproof, weatherproof and completely indestructible! It can be used as a journal, memo pad, field book or notepad. With 48 pages per book, this 4-pack provides you a great value since many other products provide fewer pages or are sold in only 3-packs. [$12]

Gloryfire Tactical Waterproof Notebook Tactical:  This paper that won’t turn to mush when wet and will repel water, sweat, grease, mud, and even survive the accidental laundry mishap and more. [$10.99]

Gifts Pocket Notebooks

People I Want To Punch In The Throat: Makes a great gift for anyone surrounded by idiots. [$8.95]

Yinan Small Journal Notebook Bullet: Illustration design is the cartoon head of five piano masters. The special paper used for the cover is the “James Cropper” paper mill inherited from 1845. [$19.99]