Whether you use it to organize your entire life or just your thoughts, having a notebook nearby is, depending on you you ask, either absolutely vital or just really handy.
From Bullet Journals to traveler’s notebooks, journaling and planning help recapture that analog, handmade feel that’s lacking from modern life. Sure, our smartphones are amazing, but they don’t have the same soul that paper craft does. Taking time to plan out your week or keep a gratitude journal can help you not only remember things, but enjoy them more fully. Or at least be more productive. Some people use them to manage their anxiety, too.
While you can of course just pick up a notebook and get to it (if you need help with that, our suggestions for the best notebooks are here), you may eventually find yourself drawn to investing in a system and really making it your own. Enter the notebook cover and in particular, the leather notebook cover.
Whether you go for a simple cover for just one notebook or the traveler’s notebook style that allows you to utilize multiple smaller notebooks at once, a leather notebook cover turns your disposable journal into a valuable accessory. You can use covers to match your style or wardrobe, help them fit in as a set with your briefcase and wallet, or simply to accentuate your journaling life.
Leather notebook covers confer a couple of handy benefits. First and most obviously, they look great. They wear in over time, which soon gives them a vintage, well-loved look and feel. They also help protect the paper within from the elements and can be augmented with pen loops, card holders, and more. Finally, while they make notebooks with leather covers, if they aren’t refillable, I know I’ve always felt guilty about committing to them. This way, you get many uses out of that piece of leather.
Notebooks come in a range of sizes, which means that notebook covers come in a range of sizes. To give you a quick primer, check out the size guide on Chic Sparrow’s website. Use this list to match to your favorite notebooks, be they Moleskine or simple notebook inserts.
For my everyday carry purposes, I use a Pocket sized traveler’s notebook, sometimes called a Field Notes size. Naturally, I use a combination of four Field Notes and Fabriano EcoQua notebooks at a time. One is for my weekly schedule, one for note taking, one for ideas about musical projects and one for ideas about creative writing projects. I’ll reveal exactly which leather notebook cover I use a bit later on in this list.
Class up your journaling, note taking and planning with one of our picks for the best leather notebook cover.
1. September Leather A5 Traveler’s Notebook Cover
To start off, we chose something simple but lovely. This is a relatively thin leather cover with an elastic closure and insert holder. It’s available in both brown and dark brown and has a nice touch with the protective leather flap on the elastic. You can put one hardcover A5 size notebook in it (they even offer their own), or up to five thin softcover notebooks with the addition of another elastic. There are no pockets nor pen loops, but you could always add an insert for these later.
Featured size: A5
Example notebooks that fit: Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Medium Journal, Northbooks 5×8 Inserts
Why you would choose this one: You want something simple and inexpensive for your first notebook cover.
Price: $23.95 for A5 size
2. Hide & Drink Rustic Leather Journal Cover
Most everyday carry options are on the smaller side — A5, A6, B6, pocket, and passport are all popular options. But if you picture a full-sized notebook when you think about journaling and planning, this is the cover for you. This is a fine full grain leather, trimmed with a bit of stitching at the edges. This is strictly no-frills: you don’t even get an elastic enclosure. Still, if it’s a full letter size you want, this makes a very nice but affordable option.
They don’t make much in the way of other sizes, but they do have a passport holder that could easily double as a notebook cover for that size. They also make a cylinder case you could use for your pens.
Featured size: Letter
Example notebooks that fit: BookFactory Ghost Grid Dot Journal, Rocketbook Everlast
Why you would choose this one: You need room to stretch out in your notebooks and prefer letter size.
Price: $24.99 for letter size
3. Collasaro Leather Writing Journal
If you don’t want to have to buy a separate notebook, there are few options on our list that come with everything you need, starting with this one. In this kit, you get not only a leather notebook cover, but three 64-page inserts and one insert that is both a card holder and a zippered envelope. Certainly, the trade off with this option is that the leather isn’t quite as good as you might get with others, but it is available in a slightly wider variety of colors than most.
Featured size: A5
Example notebooks that fit: Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Medium Journal, Northbooks 5×8 Inserts
Why you would choose this one: You want a full kit right out of the box or you’re looking for color options.
Price: $30.90 for A5 size
4. Rustic Ridge Leather Refillable Composition Notebook Cover
Ah, the venerable composition notebook. Typically, they come in that very particular black and white pattern, but sometimes you can get that static-on-a-television look in a variety of bright colors, too. The thing is, they just scream school, which is fine if you’re still in school. If you’re not, but you still love writing in those wide ruled classics, grab yourself ones of these.
This is a fine leather cover that perfectly fits those classic notebooks (one is included with purchase), but which also coordinates well with adult life. You certainly wouldn’t be out of place anywhere if you dropped this down on a table for a meeting. Choose from this lovely brown hue or a black version, both with gold stitching that pops on either color.
Rustic Ridge offers a mini composition cover and two variations on a 6 by 8 size: one for sketchbooks and one for journaling. They also make a pencil roll case to match the brown versions of all of these.
Featured size: Composition
Example notebooks that fit: Mead Composition Notebook, AmazonBasics Wide Rules Composition Notebook
Why you would choose this one: You love those old school composition notebooks but agree they could be classed up a little.
Price: $34.97 for composition size
5. Coal Creek Leather Field Notes Cover
If you’re a die-hard Field Notes fan, this leather notebook cover will up your game a little bit, while potentially simplifying your life. For a time, I was carrying my traveler’s journal as my wallet and this option is aimed at precisely that. With room for your cards and a single Field Notes (one is included with purchase), this may just be all you need as an ideal everyday carry solution.
This is made of premium US-made Wickett & Craig leather that comes with a 100 year warranty. The thread comes from Superior Threads in Utah, while the actual production happens in Seattle, WA. Naturally, those familiar with Field Notes know those notebooks are produced in Illinois. This comes in five different colors: Black, Brown, Coffee, Natural and Saddle Tan. For a few dollars more, you can upgrade to a version with a pen loop.
Price: $35 for pocket/Field Notes size
6. Wanderings Large Refillable Travel Notebook
Borrowing (very) heavily from the classic Midori notebook line (more on that in a moment), this version by Wanderings has its own system of covers and inserts. Choose from this rather large 11 by 7.5 option, a regular (8.5 by 4.5 inches, Midori/Narrow sized), or a pocket (5 by 3.5 inches, Passport sized) option, for which the company makes inserts of all kinds.
These notebooks feature their own elastic charms, a nice logo embossed on the cover, and a leather protection strip on the elastic. Compared to some other options, these are relatively thin, though this is in keeping with the tradition of the Midori after which it is modeled. They’re made of crazy horse leather, which isn’t horse at all, of course. The inserts themselves come in the full range of blank, dotted and lined, and you can choose between 80 and 120 gsm paper thicknesses, depending on your ink of choice.
Featured size: 11 by 7.5 inches
Example notebooks that fit: Wanderings Large Traveler’s Notebook Inserts
Why you would choose this one: You want a cheaper version of the Midori traveler’s notebook with more size options.
Price: $38 for 11 by 7.5 inch size
7. Midori Traveler’s Notebook Leather Bundle Set
It wouldn’t be right to put together this list without including the Midori itself. This is one of, if not the, original traveler’s notebook from which virtually every elastic-bound notebook system derives. This particular offering is a bundle set, which includes your first insert, a zipper case, and enough elastics to expand into multiple notebooks and other accessories.
It’s really this expandability that makes the Midori system great. They have, of course, standard notebook inserts, but they also offer things like weekly diaries, file folders and pen loops. The whole system is produced in Japan, which accounts to some degree for the prices they fetch. The system is very ingenious and will likely turn you into an addicted convert once you get started. The paper in these is, naturally, in the Japanese style and some die-hards like it quite a lot. It can be on the thin side, but it’s smooth and nice to write on.
Choose from the traditional regular Midori (also called Narrow elsewhere) size or the passport size, both available in black, brown and camel.
Featured size: Midori/Narrow
Example notebooks that fit: Midori Traveler’s Notebook 001 Refill, Wanderings Regular Traveler’s Notebook Refill Inserts
Why you would choose this one: You want to experience the official system that kicked off the craze.
Price: $70 for regular size
8. Foxy Fix Rowena Couture
The next two options on our list are the absolute top of the game when it comes to notebook covers. Both this option and the one that follows are just one example of what each company produces, both of which are customizable and available in a broad range of styles and colors. In both cases, I’ve opted for a classic look, but browse around their sites to see all the myriad options.
The Rowena Couture from Foxy Fix is a high-end traveler’s style notebook in a dark, almost purple shade with fine stitching around the edges. The color of both the elastic and the stitching are customizable, as are options for pockets, embossing, spine reinforcement and overall book width. While you can choose from ten different sizes (their size guide is here), we think that if you’re going to make an investment like this, the wide or cahier size would make a fine choice. That’s large enough to do an awful lot of writing, but at a ubiquitous, easily found size for insert replacement later on.
Foxy Fix will sell you every conceivable add-on and accessory, as well, so it’s a good one-stop-shop if Amazon isn’t your thing.
Featured size: Wide/Cahier ($104)
Example notebooks that fit: Moleskine Large Hard Cover Notebook, Moleskine Cahier Journal, AmazonBasics Classic Notebook
Why you would choose this one: You want maximum flexibility for colors, options and sizes and have the budget to match.
Price: $36 to $160 (before options)
9. Chic Sparrow Classic Crème Brûlée
If you want to upgrade from Foxy Fix in terms of leather and you don’t need quite so many customization options, Chic Sparrow is the place to look. As a matter of fact, this very notebook cover is what I use for my pocket-sized traveler’s notebook. This is one of the most classic offerings from the company and is available in their full range of sizes. I have a matching set that also includes a Narrow cover.
If you want more color options, shop their collections section. As a guide, the Mr. Darcy leather is among the most popular and comes in a range of colors. The Maverick is their super-high-end luxury leather, while the Pemberley is perhaps the most resistant to wear and tear.
Featured size: Pocket/Field Notes ($34.99)
Example notebooks that fit: Field Notes, Fabriano EcoQua Personal
Why you would choose this one: You want to choose from the best leathers in a variety of interesting styles.
Price: $34.99 to $89.99
10. Metier Life Field Notes/Moleskine Pocket Notebook Cover
Of course, actual cowhide isn’t going to work for everyone, which is why we included this elegant vegan leather option. You can choose from the black or brown full-vegan-leather treatment, or choose one of the canvas options that’s just lined with it. These will comfortably hold any Field Notes sized notebook and come with a pen loop and a front pocket, which could work for cards. The first notebook and a pen are included in this ultra-affordable price, as well.
Price: $14.99 for pocket/Field Notes size