A good journal should not only inspire you to fill its pages but also be designed to keep its contents safe. Hardbound journals outperform softcover ones in that regard, their covers acting as built-in shields to prevent pages from bending and rippling. Whether you are using your journal as a diary or filling it with notes or lists, all the details—from paper quality to size—really matter. Our picks, below, will help you make a choice you won’t regret.
1. Moleskine Classic Hard Cover Notebook
A Moleskine journal can be pricey, but it’s the best in our book for durability, quality, and timeless design. The leather-like cover is firm enough to use as a writing surface, but there is a pleasing flexibility to it. The pages are a soothing ivory color and have little bleed-through, and they can easily be torn out without ruining the binding. Moleskine’s hardcover notebooks are available with ruled, dotted, plain, or gridded pages.
2. Ursunshine Dotted Grid Notebook
If you’re an avid bullet journaler, you likely use a lot of pens and markers, and perhaps even paint. This minimal notebook features pages with perfectly aligned dots, and the off-white sheets are very thick to prevent both ghosting and bleeding, even if you’re using something as inky as a fountain pen. The binding is strong, the faux leather cover is tough, and the size is perfect for carrying with you everywhere. Compared with Moleskine’s dotted notebook, the dots here are more defined so you can avoid mistakes as you write.
3. Lemome Thick Classic Notebook
Lemome’s notebook is perfect for writing with total abandon. It features 180 pages with widely spaced dotted lines—a more subtle alternative to full lines—and the sheets are heavy enough to prevent bleed-through and feathering. The faux leather cover feels like the real thing and is bound separately to the spine so the book lays flat when open for easy writing. There’s also a pen loop for keeping your favorite implement in a convenient place.
4. Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook
You theoretically won’t ever have to buy another notebook after you purchase Rocketbook’s journal, which allows you to enjoy the physical experience of writing and drawing on paper and then archive each page digitally. You have to use a special Frixion pens—one is included, and you can buy others in a range of fun colors—to write on the dotted 8.5-by-11-inch pages, and when you’re ready, scan the page using the related mobile app. The app will then send the contents to your desired location. Then you can erase your writing with a simple wipe, using the included microfiber cloth.
5. BooQool Classic Ruled Notebooks
This is a budget-friendly pick designed in the same mold as the Moleskine and Lemome products. Each journal has a good weight to it. The college-ruled paper is heavy—albeit slightly stiff—and the cover thick, smooth, and sturdy. The spine doesn’t lie completely flat, but if this isn’t a dealbreaker, this is a solid notebook for filling up with your daily thoughts and more. And once you’ve run out of pages, you’ll have a second notebook to dive right into.