The 8 Best Moleskine Alternatives For Writers, Thinkers & Artists On A Budget

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the best Moleskine alternatives
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If you love the classic look and dependability of a Moleskine notebook but would prefer a different price or feature set, the best Moleskine alternatives offer a similar writing experience — and many of the quintessential features that make the notebook so legendary — as well as any other qualities you might need. For a notebook that reminds you of the classic, look for a stitched binding that lies flat when opened, cream or ivory pages, a sturdy cover, and an elastic closure. Moleskines come in many different sizes and configurations, and the same goes for their alternatives, so make sure you consider the notebook’s size, type of cover, and quantity and thickness of pages before you make a purchase. You’ll also want to think about whether you’d like the pages to be blank or feature lines, grids, or dots.

Because Moleskines come in different varieties, you’ll have some choices to make when it comes to the type of alternative you’re looking for. The classic Moleskine notebook is protected by a hardcover exterior made from sturdy cardboard, which is heavier but stronger, while soft cover versions like the A5-sized Moleskine cahier have a cover made from flexible cardboard that’s slimmer but could be more likely to bend. Notebooks come in a variety of sizes, from pocket sized A6 (3.54 by 5.51 inches), to the classic, portable A5 (5 by 8.25 inches), to the larger B5 (7.5 by 9.5 inches), so it’s worth considering what size makes sense for you.

Most Moleskines are filled with paper that has a thickness of 70 GSM, but finer or thicker paper might appeal to you depending on how you’re planning to use the notebook. Paper thickness is typically calculated in grams per square meter (GSM), and the higher the GSM, the less likely ink is to bleed through. A GSM of 50 to 80 should be fine if you’ll be writing with a pencil or ballpoint pen, but look for paper measuring at least 90 GSM thick if you plan to use your notebook with a fountain pen or any pen with liquid ink. 160 GSM is a typical recommendation for bullet journaling (though 120 could be okay in some cases) and a minimum thickness for painting.

Finally, different Moleskines and other types of notebooks can come with some additional features, so grab any that appeal. Interior pockets and pen holders can keep essentials in one place, while bookmarks hold your spot and perforated pages are easier to tear out if necessary. Some notebooks even have waterproof, faux leather, or linen covers for increased ruggedness or a different aesthetic.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your Moleskine or simply save some money on a similar option, here are some budget-friendly and highly rated Moleskine alternatives on Amazon that will satisfy all of your writing needs.

1. A Fan-Favorite Moleskine Alternative

With more than 30,000 reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of 4.7 stars, it’s easy to see why this Amazon Basics notebook is beloved by fans. Featuring an A5-sized cardboard cover with rounded corners, woven bound spine, elastic enclosure, expandable inner pocket, and bookmark, this has many key Moleskine features. The GSM isn’t listed for the notebook’s 240 pages of ivory paper, but reviewers report that the pages “seem thick” and “haven’t noticed any bleed through.” The paper comes in your choice of blank, lined, or grid formats. The cover is only available in black, but with all these other classic features in a budget-friendly package, you might not mind it that much.

Helpful Amazon review: “Great notebook for the price, comparable to the Moleskines. I love the simplicity, it does what is advertised. Works great as a gratitude book and whatever else your minds want it to be. The paper is great quality and my pens glide like butter and I'm just using your typical ballpoint fine point gel pen. Just be careful when using markers. The only gripe I have about this notebook is that I need more!”

2. A 120 GSM Notebook With A Pen Holder & Faux Leather Cover

This notebook from Lemome is another popular Moleskine alternative with classic features like an elastic closure, internal pocket, lie-flat binding, and bookmark, plus a pen holder along the spine so you can easily take your writing implement with you. Reviewers are incredibly fond of this last feature, with one writing, “It is very convenient when you move around meetings and you bring only an agenda and pen with you” and, “the bookmark, closing band and penloop ensure that I am always able to grab, go, and continue where I left off.” The 8.4- by 5.7-inch faux leather hard cover is an A5 size, comes in your choice of five colors, and protects 180 pages of ruled, ivory-colored paper. Unlike most Moleskines, the paper is 120 GSM thick, which means pen ink won’t be as likely to bleed through the pages making it a great choice for fountain pens.

Helpful Amazon review: “Really like this notebook quality of paper and workmanship. Feels and looks very high quality, way better than moleskin on which the ink seeps through. The ink does not seep through at all on its paper and I’m able to use it both sides with my fountain pen. It also has a pen holder [...] and my mont blank fountain pen fits perfectly. Love it and highly recommend.”

3. A Budget-Friendly 12-Pack Of Soft Cover Notebooks

There are different kinds of Moleskine varieties and this 12-pack of A5 notebooks might remind you of the Moleskine cahier. Each lie-flat notebook measures 8.3 by 5.5 inches and is available with your choice of blank, dotted, or lined pages. Featuring a flexible cardboard cover and 60 cream-colored pages with a thickness of 80 GSM, reviewers are fond of the fact that, “getting 12 of them at once makes it painless to just grab one for a new project.”

Helpful Amazon review: “These are probably my favorite notebooks I've ever bought! They're small enough to put in a purse, or even a pocket, but they're still not tiny! I write in mine at least once a day, I'm already on my second one. Each notebook is 30 pages, or 60 if you count each side of the paper as a page. I think my favorite part of these is that I can draw on the covers because it doesn't have the typical finish of a normal notebook.”

4. An A5 Notebook That Comes In Lots of Colors

When you want lots of cover options, consider this Paperage notebook, which is available in 11 bright colors. The vegan leather hardcover design is water-resistant with rounded corners. Inside the 5.7- by 8-inch A5 cover, the 160 ivory pages are 100 GSM thick and come in blank, dotted, or ruled formats. A ribbon bookmark holds your place, while an inner pocket provides a convenient space to put small necessities. An elastic band secures the cover. All of this plus a thread bound spine left one reviewer to say, “This is not a drill, these lay flat and everything about these journals are perfect.”

Helpful Amazon review: “High quality journal, perfect size for my purse. The tiny dots are very faint, so as not to interfere with writing or drawings, but just visible enough to keep you on point. The pocket at inside back cover is sturdy and holds a lot, and the elastic keeps everything contained. I will be ordering another to have on hand when this journal is full.”

5. A 2-Pack Of Notebooks With Perforated Pages

What’s better than one highly rated Moleskine alternative? Two, of course. This pair of ruled notebooks by Papercode measure 8.25 by 5.65 inches (a little smaller than an A5) and feature a soft leatherette cover in the classic black. An elastic closure strap keeps the cover closed, and inside there’s a pocket and two ribbon bookmarks. The paper is fairly thick, with a GSM of 120, and the 130 off-white pages are college-ruled. Reviewers praise the notebook’s page thickness, lay flat binding, and easy-to-rip out perforated pages. Plus, as one user put it “the fact that you get 2 is awesome.”

Helpful Amazon review: “Just the right size--quite portable but with big enough pages to actually write in, and paper that's great to write on. Also, all notebooks should have perforated pages like this one--really extends the notebook's usefulness. Nice looking, too: quiet but elegant. A great design.”

6. A Large Dotted Notebook For Bullet Journaling

Many bullet journalers are fans of this large B5 notebook, which measures 7.6 by 10 inches in size. Not only does the larger size give you space to work, the notebook also comes with numbered pages and a table of contents, leaving one reviewer to rave, “I have never come across a better journal.” The 186 pages can come dotted, gridded, ruled, or blank, and are ivory colored with a thickness of 120 GSM to prevent bleed-through. The notebook is available in a range of colors and sizes and features an elastic strap closure, ribbon bookmark, inner pocket, and a hard leatherette cover. The thread-bound binding even lies flat when open. Bullet journaling reviewers praise the smooth, thick pages that have eliminated most marker ghosting, but caution that a Sharpie will probably still bleed through.

Helpful Amazon review: “I made the switch to the B5 size and am sold! I love the layout flexibility of the larger size, the ease of resting my hand on the paper as I draw, and the freedom of not needing to write in a [minuscule] font to fit words into small boxes. The Minimalism Art dotted notebooks have everything you'd want in a high quality BUJO: hard cover, sewn spine to lay flat, page numbers, 2 ribbons, title page, table of contents and back pocket. It is a good thickness at 120 gsm. [...] The price/value for this notebook can't be beat!”

7. A 4-Pack Of Rugged, Waterproof Soft Cover Notebooks

Take a small, portable Moleskine cahier, make it from rugged, waterproof paper, change the page color to pure white, and you’ll get the Elan Field Notebooks. Each one in this 4-pack measures 3.5 by 5.5 inches and has 48 lined pages made from a waterproof stone paper. The GSM of the paper isn’t listed, but you won’t want to use ink or paint on this notebook anyway; reviewers advise that a pencil or ballpoint pen will work best on the unique paper. One reviewer raved, “As an outdoor worker I know from experience these waterproof notebooks are the best!!! They really are waterproof and indestructible,” so you know these are ideal to take with you anywhere.

Helpful Amazon review: “I am a wetland biologist and spend much of my time taking notes in the rain and sun alike. I definitely put my field books through alot with muddy hands, wet pockets, etc. These notebooks were just something I came across while searching for the more expensive cousins. I gave them a try and I ended up ordering 3 more packs. I really like that the pages are nice and flexible right from the start. The sewn spine is very nice as well.”

8. A Watercolor Notebook That Looks Like A Moleskine

When you want the look of a Moleskine but with thicker paper that can handle paints, this watercolor notebook is a great pick. The blank, cold-pressed paper boasts a GSM of 200, which one reviewer raves is, “great for watercolor or gouache painting.” Unlike Moleskines, the pages are white, but the noteboook has lie-flat thread woven pages, rounded corners, a ribbon bookmark, an elastic band closure, and an inner pocket — all classic Moleskine features. It comes in a variety of sizes (large landscape, large portrait, square, and grand portrait). A 300-GSM option is also available, but the hard linen cover comes in just one color no matter which size or thickness you choose: gray.

Helpful Amazon review: “This is the best watercolor sketchbook I’ve found in 10 years of trying every one I could. The paper quality is nice [...] and it is sized on both sides, so the back side of the page holds water and has tooth just like the front. If you tape down or clamp the sides the paper won’t warp. And it has a soft and smooth texture that feels nice when you’re drawing. I love it!”