Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rite in the Rain Notebook

My university bookstore has a fairly wide selection of Rite in the Rain notebooks; I'd been looking at them for a while but finally purchased one last week.  Rite in the Rain paper is a great product that allows you to write in all weather conditions, and is available in many formats: loose sheets of paper, stapled notebooks, spiral-bound, hardcover, lined, graph, columns, and more.  They are targeted at people who are working outdoors and need a notebook that will stand up to any sort of weather.  I chose a stapled notebook, as the hardcover books cost a bit more than I was willing to spend.

The stapled notebook feels very sturdy and durable.  The logo and name of the book are boldly displayed on the front cover; while some people may not care for this, I rather like it, as I feel it adds to the character of the book.  The inside front cover has space for you to write your personal information, as well as a description of the project you are working on, if you are using the book for a particular project.  The edge of the inside front cover has a 6-inch ruler, the back cover a metric ruler - a practical touch for people working out in the field.

The pages are numbered and the first page has space for you to create a table of contents.  As someone who frequently numbers the pages in my notebooks by hand and creates tables of contents for them, I wish more notebooks came with this feature.  The white pages are ruled with blue lines and have a slightly waxy feel.

The back cover bears the motto, "Outdoor writing products...for outdoor writing people," and reminds you to use a pencil or all-weather pen when writing in your Rite in the Rain notebook.  Not being sure what exactly constituted an "all-weather pen", I decided to test a variety of pens in the notebook to see how they behaved.

I tested 0.9mm pencil, a ballpoint pen (I'm afraid I don't know what kind it was), a Sharpie pen, two gel pens (a 0.7mm Uni-ball Signo Gel Grip and a 0.4mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C), and a liquid ink pen (a Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5).  All of the pens, except the ballpoint, took a long time to dry, with the liquid ink pen and the Uni-ball Signo being the worst.  To simulate rain, I sprayed the page with water.

The Hi-Tec-C virtually disappeared, the liquid ink pen turned into a puddle of blue, and the Signo and Sharpie Pen also seemed to dissolve a bit into the water.  The ballpoint seemed to stand up to the water fairly well (and the pencil did as well, of course).  I blotted the water away:

To my surprise, all of the pens but the Hi-Tec-C were still readable.  However, probably in conditions of sustained rainfall, all pens would eventually wash away.  Ballpoints could probably be used if you were only expecting slight or occasional rainfall.  Even if the book was not going to be getting wet, the slow drying time involved would render use of any pen other than a ballpoint impractical.  Probably best to stick to a pencil.

I had used Rite in the Rain paper in the past, and thought that I could recall pencil lines being difficult to erase on the paper.  So I tested it out:

Not great erasure, but not terrible either.

If you write outdoors in wet weather frequently, then a Rite in the Rain notebook could be a very useful item to have.  Being a natural resource science student, I can certainly foresee myself needing to make notes or record data outdoors, so having a notebook that I will not have to worry about getting wet will be helpful to me.

Related reviews: Pencil Revolution, East West Everywhere, Gourmet Pens, The Pen Addict, Black Cover


  1. you well might. When I worked in agricultural research, we used Rite in the Rain loose sheets to place in aluminum clipboard for field work. I was always impressed at how well they held up. We never used anything but pencil, though.

    Is that the UBC bookstore you're talking about? The one in Vancouver has quite a decent stationary department!

  2. This notebook will be great for field work. I'm almost hoping for a bit of rain on my next field trip so I can give my Rite in the Rain notebook a workout!

    And, no, I'm not at UBC.

  3. Do you have a Fisher Space Pen to test this with? The combination of a Fisher Space Pen and this notebook would appear to be a marriage made in heaven..

  4. I do not have a Fisher Space Pen, and have never actually used one, but the thought occurred to me that it could be a good pen for this notebook. I suppose I'll have to leave that test for someone else to complete. :)

  5. Yes, I saw those on their website earlier. The cheapest one looks to be about $9. I wonder if they would really be worth it?

  6. Heather, if you will be conducting research in the field, you will want archival pens to record your data, to have a permanent (non-erasable, non-alterable) record of your research. I've never used Rite in the Rain pens, but they might be worth it to have an archival record of your research. Something to consider.

  7. I haven't quite got to the point where I really need to worry about whether things are archival or not, but it will be something to consider in the future as I (hopefully) begin my career. Thanks for the tip, Laurie.

  8. I have a Rite in the Rain; the manufacturer does suggest its proprietary pen. I've used Rite in the Rain with pencil, and it's extraordinary. YouTube has a fellow doing a torture test of RitR; my own kitchen sink tests mirror his. Jack/Youngstown

  9. I always think of the Rite in the Rain notebooks as a pencil-only kind of thing, although it is fun to experiment with different kinds of pens. I'm not sure if the Rite in the Rain pens would really be worth it. Would it really be so much of an advantage over using a pencil?

  10. Heather, you'd have to decide whether you reach for your RitR enough to warrant the manufacturer's pen. I never bought one.

    BTW--your concern with shipping costs is real.
    I live in a metro area of 600 thousand; 90% of my purchasing is via the Web. That's just the way it is. So I have to bundle purchases so shipping costs don't overwhelm cost of goods purchased. Yep, it's a hassle---you don't want to "over-buy" a sight-unseen new item. Jack/Youngstown

  11. No, I definitely do not use mine enough for the pen to be worth it.

    Shipping costs are terrible, especially since I live in Canada. Many companies based in the US offer free shipping for orders in the US only, and shipping to Canada usually costs more anyway. I try to buy locally whenever I can, and order all of my online purchases together to reduce shipping costs.

  12. I looked at their pens and they appear to be re-labelled Fisher Space Pens. The refills seem to be the same too. It wouldn't surprise me if that were the case as they seem to be a natural fit. They have a new nylon/elastic pen holder band that also wraps around the notebook and keeps it closed. That would work great with any notebook.

  13. That doesn't surprise me either, although I have actually never used a Fisher Space Pen - it's on the list of pens to try though. That pen holder band sounds like a great idea, especially for notebooks that will be carried around a lot in the field, such as this one.

  14. Hi Heather,

    First of all, I enjoy your blog, and I have been following it for several months now.

    I have used Rite in the Rain Products for several years now and really like them. I use their little 393M spiral notebooks as my daily carry notebook, and they hold up better to the abuse I put them through better than anything I have found. They make a little leather cover for them that I use, it makes them look good, but the extra protection it gives is really not needed. I carry it in my hip pocket, and none have ever come apart. With 100 pages and @ about $3.50, they are an excellent value. They last me on average about 60 days. I only use pencil with these.

    I also use their 390F notebook as a travel journal. Once again, the very highest quality. In these I use their tactical clicker pen.

    I get these from Trail Explorers Outpost, www.trailexplorersoutpost.com There prices are a bit cheaper than the factory site.

    1. Thanks Heather,
      We offer these great books at a discount everyday and ship worldwide to those that need this type of notebook for making archival records and data, to the adventure journal user. We are located 35 minutes from the factory, so having a homegrown productlose by that is the standard for all weather writing is a plus. If you have questions about any of the products feel free to contact me @ outpost@trailexplorers.com

  15. Thanks for that information, crofter. I love reading about the notebooks that other people use and how they use them. I haven't tried Rite in the Rain's spiral notebooks yet, but I think I may try one and write a review of it in the future, since this post on my Rite in the Rain notebook has been so popular.

    I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. Stay tuned!

  16. Thanks for the post - however I have had Rite in the Rain books melt in the northwest coast of british columbia rain. Duksbak plasticized paper is much better. But you can only write in pencil and its more expensive. But never goes soggy or tears. I rinse them out under the tap at the end of a muddy day of archaeology.

  17. Rite in the Rain notebooks are also great for Boy Scout leaders like myself who like to keep track of what happens on campouts.


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