Since reading pen, pencil and paper blogs regularly one product which consistently popped up in reviews or review photos was Doane Paper. I was eager to try out this innovative grid + lines design unique to Doane Paper and tried to scoop up some of these notebooks.
This was however a bit of a problem for me. Being based in the UK getting hold of any Doane Paper was a challenge. To buy Doane Paper directly from their website as an international customer you need to spend $100 and then there is an additional international shipping charge of $50. This is a pretty hefty investment especially when you have never tried a product before. Luckily after a bit of perseverance, and patience, I was pleased to see that Jet Pens started stocking Doane Paper and I was able to grab two sets of pocket notebooks at a reasonable price with good shipping costs. Problem solved.
I opted for a pack of the garage series pocket notebooks mostly as a comparison against Field Notes and to try something new. In hindsight I should have bought the large utility notebooks, but this is something to add to the ever expanding wish list.
The big difference with Doane Paper is the paper grid system. They do something I haven't seen in any other notebook combining the grid and line pattern - hence the name grid+lines. The result is a very different design which I guess works for a broader range of people merging two popular paper patterns into one.
The bold lines on the paper work well standing out against the grid. The lines are much wider than you would find in any other ruled notebook as you can see from the photo below. I found myself following the line system far more than the grid, but that has been mainly as I have used these notebooks for note taking rather than any sketching. Because the ruled lines are much larger I have gone through one of these notebooks much quicker than I normally would with a Field Notes. Not necessarily a bad thing but something I wanted to point out.
I found I didn't use the grid system in the notebooks at all. One small negative is I find them too small. Again when comparing these to a normal graph paper notebook the grids are almost half the size.
The Doane Paper garage series pocket notebooks come in three different colours, navy, brown and orange which have a worn and weathered look. The internal design of the garage series notebooks is simply the recycled paper stock. Unlike the Field Notes memo books there is no internal branding on these books. Personally for me this is a slight disappointment. I would love to see something on these internal covers, even if it was just room for your name and the dates started and completed.
This is a big winner. The paper quality is far superior to Field Notes and can take a fountain pen. Hurrah! There is still an element of bleed through on the page but it's not enough to be irritating. This is a massive winner for me and I have found myself using a wider variety of pens that I normally would due to this simple aspect. Big win!
These notebooks wear very well. I haven't bashed my notebook around too much but they feel very sturdy and can deal with constant pushing in and out of pockets and bags. Again an important feature for a pocket notebook and Doane Paper have got this aspect nailed down.
Overall I like these pocket notebooks. I'm not sure they will replace Field Notes for me but they are definitely an alternative I would consider for different sort of uses. In hindsight I should have opted for the larger Doane Paper Utility notebooks. I think that the grid+lines system would be more usable in a larger notebook and would have worked better for me. Definately give these notebooks a try if you haven't done so already. If you aren't based in the US there are a few alternative etailers that you can get these from based in the US, just small shipping costs to contend with. If you love Doane Paper and are happy to order in bulk obviously you can buy direct but pay a larger shipping cost.
To find out more about the Doane Paper story check this out.