Home Article Modestone vs Rite in the Rain – Notepad showdown

Modestone vs Rite in the Rain – Notepad showdown


Notebooks! You need one. You know you do. You don’t want one. But you need one! Be it for scrawling grids you won’t look up while you listen to orders or your boss’s wafty intent, be it to appease angry NCOs on show parade, be it for those (let’s admit it, not infrequent) occurrences when you have to actually write important shit down. It’s probably the most glossed-over aspect of military life in movies. Everyone is packin’ a notebook, all the goddamn time.

Anyway, as we’ve established, you need a notebook. Chances are, you’ll chiefly need your notebook on exercise. You could go down the cheapo route, and buy a random WH Smith special and keep it in an Ortlieb bag, or even carry one of those random brown-cover issued ones that occasionally crop up out of some dusty corner of the clerk’s stationery stash. But you know what’s going to happen, right? It’s exercise. It’s gonna rain. You’re going to pull out that notepad in the middle of an O-Group, write something down as your cheap paper gets soaked by some fine Brecon Mist-Rain™, and next thing you know, when you’re looking over your notes an hour later they’ve acquired the consistency of an ancient Egyptian papyrus and all your ink’s run. Guess you’ll never know the Brigade Commander’s intent after all (it’s cool, your boss probably doesn’t either).

So, being the diligent outdoorsman that you are, what do you do? You buy a waterproof, or at least water resistant, notepad. Chances are, it’s Rite in the Rain, who have up to this point dominated the market as the paper of choice for all outdoorsy, rugged, military or otherwise liable-to-be-wet-often professionals. The clue is in the name. You can (w)rite in the rain (sidenote – please do not bother with the cheaper offerings by Snugpak, Highlander, Web-Tex, etc. They’re about as waterproof as issued goretex).

Now Rite in the Rain is, in fact, very good. It does what it says on the tin, by and large, and comes in a variety of handy formats, including TAM insert, and a number of interesting colourways. They also make a (very good) ruggedised mechanical pencil, and some kind of fancy space-pen-type biro. Chris Hemsworth uses a Rite in the Rain to call in fire missions in 12 Strong. They’re legit!

But have you heard of Modestone?

Modestone are a Finnish company that have been making waves recently as a legitimate competitor to Rite in the Rain’s dominance. The key difference is that Rite in the Rain is made out of pulp, like regular paper, whereas Modestone, as the name might suggest, is apparently made out of stone. I have no clue how this actually works, though. Possibly witchcraft? In any case, they can now be bought from a number of UK and EU retailers, and I’ve been seeing them crop up more and more recently. Since I had recently finished filling my Rite in the Rain with absolutely useless information, I decided I’d give Modestone a crack, and was really impressed with the product. Could we have a Rite in the Rain killer on our hands? I decided to carry out a comparison of the two.

Price: Ok, so this one is fairly key. It doesn’t matter if one blows the other out of the water if it costs 3 times as much.

Rite in the Rain: £5-7 for a 4x6in notepad, depending on where you buy.

Modestone: £8-9 for a 4x6in notepad, again, if you shop around

Winner: Rite in the Rain

Durability: To test this, I tried to tear a page of each notepad when dry, then soaked them in water for a few minutes and repeated the test when wet. Finally, I let them soak, crumpled them up into a ball, spread them out and tried to tear them again.

Rite in the Rain: Tore relatively easily when dry. Began to get flimsy when wet. Was especially sad and pathetic looking when crumpled up and then spread out again.

Modestone: Actually remarkably hard to tear, almost elastic. Didn’t tear cleanly when dry. No noticeable difference when wet. Looked much better when crumpled up and then spread out.

Winner: Modestone

Usability: Ok, so it doesn’t matter if it’s cheap as hell and tough as nails if you can’t rite on the fucker, does it? To test this I wrote on both while dry, then let the paper soak and tried it again when wet. Results are below and also in the embedded photographs.

Rite in the Rain – Dry:

Pencil: Yes

Lumocolour: Yes

Gel Ink Pen: Barely

Bullet tip (simulated by an old key in this instance): No

Modestone – Dry:

Pencil: Yes

Lumocolour: Yes

Gel Ink Pen: Yes

Bullet tip: Yes

This surprised me, mostly because I prefer gel ink pens to biros but they’re notoriously awful with Rite in the Rain, however the pen wrote as smoothly on the Modestone paper as it would on regular office stuff, and it didn’t smudge at all. One of Modestone’s USPs is that you can write on it with the tip of a round in the field, which I found intriguing, and I was curious to see whether you could do that with Rite in the Rain – spoiler: you can’t.

Rite in the Rain – Wet:

Pencil: Yes, but I thought I might stab through at one point

Lumocolour: Yes, with some smudging

Gel Ink Pen: Weirdly, yes. It wrote fine on the wet paper, but wouldn’t work on the dry.

Bullet tip: Tore the paper a bit

Modestone – Wet:

Pencil: Yes

Lumocolour: Yes

Gel Ink Pen: Yes

Bullet tip: Not as effective on the wet paper.

Winner: Modestone edges this one – the ability to write with a round is pretty cool, and also a good backup if you ever lose your pen (disclaimer: please do not whip out a live round on a blank exercise). Also it performs better overall both wet and dry, and works with a greater variety of writing instruments.


Modestone are a great alternative to Rite in the Rain, and they’ll be my first choice for an outdoor notepad in the future. They are slightly more expensive, but the increased ruggedness and the greater versatility mean Modestone edges it for me.

This KitPest article was written by Thomas Roake, let us know what you think in the comments!