First Draft Co. Notebook review

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For those of you like myself, who enjoy using a paper journal / notebook, do you love the notebook that you’re currently using? Joe and Ryan of First Draft Co. set out to create a notebook that they would love to use. They sent me one of their US made notebooks to see if I would love it too. Let’s find out if it was love at first doodle.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.


Size: 5.5″ x 8.25″
Paper type: Finch 70# 104gsm acid-free
# of pages: 224 blank pages
Binding type: lay flat binding

First Draft Co. notebooks come in three colors that include Brick, Navy and Sand. I was sent a Brick colored notebook for my review. The notebook has a hard cover that is covered in a material that feels like a fine woven canvas.


This is a large sized notebook that is comparable in height to a large Moleskine, only slightly wider.



The notebook has the First Draft Co. logo stamped into the front cover. I’d rather the logo be located on the back cover, but it’s not gaudy and doesn’t really stand out that bad.


The notebook comes with a removable elastic strap that is used to hold the notebook closed and to hold a pen.


The pen loop easily accommodates a generic Bic style pen, but can stretch to hold pens with even double the diameter. I don’t care to use the loop to hold a pen, but use it as a grab point to remove the strap when I want to use the notebook.


Opening the front cover of the notebook reveals a place to add your name, phone number, email and address. The back cover has matching end papers with stripes, but does not include a pocket like many notebooks that are on the market.


The paper used in this notebook is thicker than Moleskine paper. It is opaque, bright white with a tight grain and a smooth texture. At the time of this writing, the only paper option available for First Draft Co. notebooks is blank paper. First Draft Co. uses paper that is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative®, which means that it is sourced from manufacturers committed to responsible forestry management.

You’ll also notice that the notebook includes a ribbon bookmark. It is made from a material that resists fraying.


Each notebook has 224 pages that are separated into 7 individually sewn signatures. The method used to bind the book allows it to lay flat.


To test how well the paper reacts with different types of ink, I did a few basic writing tests with a Kaweco AL Sport with a Pilot G2 refill, Bic bight liner pink highlighter, Sharpie ultra fine point permanent marker, Uniball Jetstream pen and a fountain pen.


I had no real issues writing on the page other than with the fountain pen. But that’s mainly because I’m not a fountain pen person and the ink included with the pen I was using was very faint in color.


The paper stood up very well to all the pens/inks that I used. There was no feathering and only a tiny bit of bleed through from the Sharpie and Bic highlighter.

The First Draft Co. notebook is very well made. I like this notebook quite a bit and have no doubt that it would stand up to almost any abuse you could throw at it for days, months and years to come. The paper is high quality and takes ink well. The only things I would do to improve the First Draft Co. notebook would be to add lined, grid and dot grid versions. I also wouldn’t mind an off white colored paper and a pocket in the back. Other than those things. I have no problem recommending this notebook for note takers, journal keepers, and anyone else who appreciates a high quality notebook.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by First Draft Co. Please visit their site for more info.

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Product Information

Manufacturer:First Draft Co.
  • Very well constructed
  • Thick paper
  • Lay flat binding
  • No back pocket
  • No grid, lined or dot grid versions currently available

3 thoughts on “First Draft Co. Notebook review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Hi Julie,
    Thank you so much for spending some time with our First Draft Co. Notebook. We’ve spent quite a bit of effort getting it just right, and we are really glad you like it.

    We have some great products planned for the first part of the year. There is a newsletter signup on our website for anyone that wants to be the first know about new releases.

    First Draft Co.

  3. These notebooks look great, I especially love the idea of sourcing paper from someone who is dedicated to replenishing what is taken.

    I’ve seen something similar by another notebook where they plant a tree for every notebook sold… pretty neat.

  4. Thanks, Justin. Responsibility is a big factor for us in everything we do – that is also one of the main reasons we decided to manufacture our notebooks in the U.S.

    It costs more, but we just felt like we had a more control over the process domestically and were a lot more comfortable knowing the conditions and practices of our manufacturing partners.

    The added bonus was the quality we achieved is much higher than anything we sampled outside the U.S. Win-Win!!


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