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Reviews > Books > Blank Journals and Writing Implements > Nomad Journals Waterproof Trail Journal > Test Report by Brett Haydin


INITIAL REPORT - November 03, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 16, 2010


NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 195 lb (88.50 kg)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.



Manufacturer: Nomad Adventure Journals
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website:
MSRP: US $8.50
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Listed Dimensions: 4 x 5 in (10.2 x 12.7 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 3.75 x 5 in (9.5 x 12.7 cm)

Other details provided by manufacturer:

  • Lined for easy writing
  • 120 lined pages
  • Covers and pages constructed using recycled plastic


The Nomad Adventure Journals Waterproof Writing Journal, hereafter referred to as the "journal," comes with a simple cardboard hang tag that has perforations to fit the spiral bound top. It includes the manufacturer's logo and mentions this is one journal in a series of waterproof products. The journal has a sturdy, green plastic cover for the front and back of the journal which I hope will provide protection for the pages once I have the journal stowed away in my backpack!

The journal really is small and definitely packable! I have been looking for a small notepad to make notes on while I am out in the backcountry and this one, at least initially, meets my expectations. There are 81 lined pages in the journal, which differs from the website. It states there are 120. The journal is also a tiny bit narrower than advertised as well. While it isn't much at 0.25 in (0.6 cm), there is a clear difference.

According to the manufacturer, the paper is made from "post consumer recycled plastic." It feels similar to paper but I find I can grip it a little better than regular paper. I definitely appreciate that this product has helped divert plastic from the landfill!


The manufacturer states that ballpoint pens and pencils will yield the best results.


Note the difference when wet
My first concern about the journal was what types of writing utensils would work best. I tried a ballpoint pen, gel pen, sharpie marker and a #2 pencil. When the pages are dry, the ink goes on great with every stroke of every utensil!

Next, I ran the page under water for approximately 30 seconds to see if any ink or lead would run off. I found that only the gel pen ink washed away. However, enough of the ink remains that I can clearly read the line.

While the pages were still wet, I took the opportunity to repeat the above experiment. As shown in the photo to the right, the pencil performs the best. While the ballpoint writes well, there is a little smudge that shows and the ink is a little lighter. The sharpie marker is more or less readable, but I believe the moisture affects the marker, not the paper in this case. The gel pen is practically worthless when the pages are wet.

The manufacturer also states that the pages are tear proof. I made a halfhearted attempt to tear the paper, but it proved to be resistant. I think that I could probably tear it, but I hate to do that before I have a chance to abuse, er, test it in the field!


So far I am very pleased with the Nomad Adventure Journals Waterproof Writing Journal. The convenient size and ease of use make this a handy little journal to carry around from my initial impressions. I hope that over the next four months I will be able to test the journal to its limit!

I would like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and the monitors at BackpackGearTest for allowing me to be a part of this test series. Please check back in two months time to see how the journal is holding up!



Over the past two months, I have used the journal on two overnight camping trips as well as four day hikes. Shortly after starting this test series I dusted off my SLR film camera and the journal fits nicely in an exterior pocket of my camera case, which attaches to the hip belt of my pack. It was my hope that the journal would be exposed to more adverse weather conditions.

My first overnight trip was into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness along the Browns Pass Trail. While hiking in the area over the summer, I noticed a turnoff to Lake Hartenstein that I wanted to visit. Elevation for this trip ranged from approximately 9,900 to 11,500 ft (3,018 to 3,505 m) and while the trail was snow covered in spots, the snow was noticeably deeper over 10,500 ft (3,200 m). Weather was cold with a low of 10 F (-12 C) when I checked in the middle of the night. The high was about 40 F (4 C). While the skies were overcast on the hike in, they cleared up at dusk and remained clear the rest of the trip. The hike into the lake is a fairly easy 3 mi (4.8 km), but I spent a fair amount of time exploring the area as well.

The second trip was along a section of the Rainbow Trail in the San Isabel National Forest. For this trip I hiked about 6 mi (9.6 km) in to a suitable camping spot. The weather was fantastic with temperatures near 40 F (4 C) and mostly sunny skies. Overnight low was about 20 F (-7 C). The trail was in great shape considering the amount of snow the area has seen recently and snowshoes were only needed in particular areas. Elevation range was approximately 8,500 to 9,800 ft (2,590 to 2,990 m).

My day hikes varied in conditions and elevation but were consistent with the conditions of my overnight trips. The farthest day hike was about 9 mi (14.5 km) with one that was much shorter with my daughter and her friend. Unfortunately (really did I just say that) I have experienced very little precipitation on trail; just a few snow flurries. To write in the journal, I have chosen to use a pencil since it provides the most reliable means of writing for the cold conditions I am testing in.


I have to admit, this is the best little notepad I have used. Ever. I have jammed this pad into numerous pockets and wedged it into a number of places in my backpacks, but this pad remains intact. No torn pages, no irritating folds in the paper and the pages are readable even after two months.

I don't think that I can adequately comment on the waterproof nature of the notepad. I have dropped it in the snow (accidentally) and some moisture became present, but the weather has been too cold for any rain.

As I mentioned above earlier, I have recently revisited my film camera and have used it quite a bit while backpacking. Having a little notepad makes it easy to make notes on settings I am using for different pictures. Because I am really just learning to manually adjust settings, taking notes is important to help me become a better photographer. This journal is just the right size to make notes in without a lot of added weight.

While making notes in the field, I have also used the journal in slight snow flurries. The light snow did not stick to the pages, but did melt some when I brushed it off. I did not notice any smudges in the pencil marks at all. The writing does not appear to have faded so far either. To date, I have used 22 pages for my note taking.


So far I really like how lightweight, compact and nearly indestructible this journal has been. While I haven't encountered a lot of moisture to test the waterproofing, it has performed well with the little moisture I have experienced. I cannot find any drawbacks so far with the journal at all.

I would like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and the monitors at for allowing me to be a part of this test series. Please check back in two months time to see how the journal is holding up!



Over the last two months I took the Journal on an additional three backpacking trips. My first trip was a three day trip into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area of Colorado into the Harvard Lakes region, elevation 10,300 ft (3,139 m). My partner and I hiked approximately 4 to 5 mi (6 to 8 km) each day. Except for the hike to the lakes, we cut our own trails through snow that was 12 to 24 in (30 to 60 cm) deep. The weather was fair; mostly cloudy with periods of clear skies and very little wind. Temperatures ranged from 10 to 40 F (-12 to 4 C).

I also took an overnight trip along the Colorado Trail, just below Mt Yale camping for the night at 10,500 ft (3,200 m). My dog and I hiked about 5 mi (8 km) along snow packed trails in mountainous terrain. The weather on this trip was cloudy with a high near 35 F (2 C). My thermometer read just below 20 F (-7 C) when I turned in for the night.

My final trip was in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to Ptarmigan Lake, at an elevation of 12,147 ft (3,702 m). The trail to the lake was fairly moderate and snow packed. Like any mountain terrain, some sections were steeper than others! Temperatures were between 10 and 35 F ( -12 and 2 C) and while the weather was fair during the day, it turned into snow from dinner until I arrived back at my car.

I also took along the journal on a day hike snowshoeing as I experimented more with photography. The weather was clear and sunny with temperatures near 30 F (-1 C).


I continue to be impressed with this handy little pad! While I haven't encountered any rain over the past two months, the journal has been exposed to moisture from melting snow and accumulation of perspiration in my layers of clothing. I do find that the journal works just fine in the snow and once it is wet from melting snow. I noticed no hassles with portions of the paper where ink or pencil would not work. When I kept the journal in an interior pocket of my layering system, I did notice the pages became slightly damp but they continued to function normally.

As I mentioned in my field report, I have mostly kept this journal in a mesh pocket on the exterior of a camera case I use. It was my hope that this would expose the journal to all sorts of foul weather, in which I was mildly successful. One thing I did notice was that the rings binding the paper together would occasionally snag on the mesh pocket. Only once did this bend the ring to an awkward angle, but I was easily able to bend it back to the correct position. In my opinion, this counts as a good feature!

As I now have but a handful of pages left I can say that the journal has remained durable. All of the pages are intact and none show signs of major wear and tear. I am somewhat surprised given the exposure to the elements, but this is one tough journal! One sign that this journal has been used is that the shape of the journal as a whole is slightly bent at the point where the journal stuck out of the mesh pocket. There is no crease in the paper however.

My only disappointment is one of personal preference. I expanded my use to try and use the journal for writing general thoughts, well for journaling. I would have liked either more space to write on in a page or slightly wider lines. I have another notepad I have used for journaling in the past that was about twice as big that I enjoyed better. This is only a matter of preference, so I can hardly fault the manufacturer, but it is worth noting.


Things I really like:

  • Durable
  • Easy to write on when wet
  • Compact and light

Things I wish were different:

  • Could be a little larger for my tastes


I really like this journal for making short notes on the fly. I plan to purchase another journal to keep in my pack and day pack.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and the folks at for allowing me to be a part of this test series.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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