"Upon us all a little rain must fall." So said Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin's "The Rain Song," and for outdoor enthusiasts, truer words were never spoken. Most hikers will at some point find themselves subject to a steady downpour. And for any waterlogged trip lasting more than a day, it's difficult to keep things dry, despite a person's best efforts. One item that can really suffer in a wet environment is a notebook or journal. Standard paper notebooks will simply disintegrate and tear once they're compromised by water, and you can forget about trying to scribble with a pen or pencil on a soggy page. But Rite in the Rain's waterproof notebooks allowyou to achieve what's nearly impossible with a regular ole pad.
We tested two Rite in the Rain products—one spiral-bound pad with plastic cover pages, and a stapled notepad with a softer, cardboard-like cover. The company says that it uses an unusually strong paper that is coated with a "secret sauce" that makes it waterproof while still accepting and preserving markings, even when covered with water. We used a mechanical pencil to write, as standard pen ink smeared on the paper. (Rite in the Rain does offer all-weather pens with special ink that will work.) We found that the waterproofing technology is effective, and though the paper pages softened when wet, they did not tear and our notes held fast to the pages.
Of the two products, the All-Weather Notebook with the hard cover performed the best. Measuring 5 inches by 3 inches, it tucks easily into a jacket or pants pocket, and the Polydura plastic covers withstand lots of trail abuse. (The covers are also made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials.) It has 50 lined pages, with waterproofing treatment on both sides of each page, so you can pack plenty of notes into something that takes up little space. One tester used this notebook to map trails, and he said he was especially impressed with its durability. The tough pages never ripped nor tore away from the spiral binding. As for the binding, he liked that each spiral has double wire rings, which helps them stand up to pressure to prevent warping. This notebook really only has one drawback—it was difficult to erase pencil marks when the paper was coated in water, but maybe we're asking for miracles here.
The stapled product, the Journal Mini-Stapled Notebook (3 1/4 inches by 4 5/8 inches), also survived rainy outings, though it did suffer some damage after two long hikes in heavy rain. It has 12 pages (each side with the protective coating) that withstood Mother Nature's abuse, but the soft cover frayed at the spine. Granted, our tester did not treat the notebook gingerly—shoving it into pockets and storing it unprotected—and he noted he could have reduced the wear by drying it occasionally and carrying it in a protective plastic bag. The pages of this pad also stuck together when wet, but separated easily once they were dry.
While the Mini-Stapled Notebook doesn't resist rain as much as we’d like, its tougher, spiral-bound cousin gets high marks. We’d recommend it for anyone who makes a living in the field, or for a person who wants to keep a journal on the trail. The bottom line is that these notebooks simply do something impossible for run-of-the-mill pads, and they deserve serious consideration. The folks at Rite in the Rain seem to know a thing or two about…well…writing in the rain, and it's no wonder—J.L. Darling, the company that manufacturers these products, is based in Tacoma, Wash., where it's probably raining right now.
SNEWS® Rating: Two grades: All-Weather Notebook: 4.5 hands clapping; Mini-Stapled Notebook 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: All-Weather Notebook $3.25; Journal Mini-Stapled Notebook (sold by the dozen) $22.
For more information:www.riteintherain.com