Tools of the Trade: Favorite Notebooks, Pens, and Bags

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When running around, traveling, shopping, or walking, the best ideas seem to hit when you are not in the design studio or at your desk. That is when the right tools, easily carried and accessible are essential. Like many, I am obsessed with notebooks and sketch pads of all sizes and makes. One of my favorite blogs, Black Cover, is dedicated to this search, The Search for the Perfect Little Black Notebook.

I went through my Moleskine phase, very nice. The Rite in the Rain All Weather Memo Book is also quite nice. In the past, we have created leather covers for these notebooks.

My friend at A Continuous Lean has some great options covered, whether for the Field Notes notebooks, the Smythson ones, or Doane paper.

But my current favorite, which I have used on and off for years, is the Circa notebook from Levenger with the black cloth cover:

I can pull out paper, use lined, plain, graphed paper to fill it up, and reorder or pull out the pages as I desire. Or I can make my own filler paper with a custom hole punch. The canvas cover is a really nice surface for gold ink pen doodles.

Writing instruments are another item and my favorite, which, painfully, I recently lost, is a mechanical pencil from Rotring. In a fit of vanity, I even had it engraved with my name. Here it is captured for eternity in a photo—ahh, the memories! I also have a Rotring Eterneum fountain pen I like for its rugged feel. Not the best nib but it’s a nice utility-looking pen in foofy colors.

Rounding out my stuff is a Muji folder to hold my notebooks, pens, and things as well as my trusty Leica DLUX 3. There are probably many better digital cameras out there, but I like its weight and size, the way it feels, and how clean it looks. The manual option also affords me some flexibility and, frankly, it has become very familiar to me. The battery lasts forever.

All of this I currently carry in my Carga 0W3 Bag—recommended, designed, and produced by my recent acquaintance, Mario—made of rubberized cordura and veggie tanned leather.

What’s your favorite notebook, pen, or carrying bag? What are your tools of the trade? Any recommendations are welcome!