Building the ultimate outdoor writing system

Writing systems for all weather conditions

UPDATED: July 8, 2022)

We get a lot of questions about what's best to put into the TacFolder writing system if you are working in the outdoors, whether in the military, boating, surveyors, ecologists and so on. We have done all the hard work for you and have a list of recommended kit to build out the ultimate outdoor writing and note system.

If you are a new officer in the military, a surveyor, an architect or your work requires you to work outdoors you are in the right place. This list will save you an enormous amount of time and energy in developing a solid, functional foundational system.  

All items are on this Amazon Wishlist

Amazon wish list containing recommended items:

Most of the items are listed here on for convenience. 

Requirements and assumptions

  • Weatherproof: rain, prolonged damp and dust/sand.
  • Reliable: No god getting smudges of your notes or having pens and pencils that don't work reliably in the field.
  • Organised: simple identification and labelling for ease of use.

All the items here are the result of field testing and feedback from customers through many years of trial and error, mostly from military and first responder customers - the list will be updated regularly as we come across more and better items over time.

If you have any thoughts on items you have that have been especially good, let us know in the comments section and we can give them a go and update the list accordingly.

Folder / Workbook

The number of outdoor folder / binder systems is very limited - the military use the NYREX folders as standard issue, but these have serious limitations as it is simply a plastic covered binder. Better is to have proper, multi-functional folder, like our TacFolders

The folder/binder needs to have a binder mechanism, multiple secure pockets and importantly, reasonable velcro real estate so you can move things around securely and have options as to your layout.

Writing Paper

The paper should be waterproof - our StormPaper is paper made from calcium carbonate and HDPE, it is smooth to write with, doesn't smudge and is usable in the wet, damp etc. Using normal paper is a non-starter.

A couple of options;

  1. Loose-leaf paper
  2. Wire-bound note pad: 

We think this is the best option for most users. either make sure that you have a ring binder for loose paper - we use the TAMS / NYREX size which is the same as the Filofax A5 size - or you can use an A5-sized notepad.

An alternative to our StormPaper is Rite in the Rain - This is however very expensive.

if you don't have a binder, wire-bound notepads are superior for trouble-free use. Don't get glued/sewn pads, they are unwieldy and make referring to information more difficult.

The LImitless Equipment StormPad has grids on one side and is blank on the opposite (as does our StormPaper). This enables you to make to-scale drawings and maps if needed and fits perfectly with our TacFolder.

Rite in the rain makes wire-bound notepads here also fit the TacFolder.

Writing Instruments


We use the Fisher Bullet space pen, it is small with the lid off and writes well. 

However, for day-to-day use our goto pens are the outstanding Uniball PowerTank. They are inexpensive (so cheap to replace), have superb grip and are equal in performance to Fisher pens. Possibly the best daily use pen ever made.

Refills for the PowerTank are available here.


A mechanical pencil is superior for writing legible, predictable text and drawings. The problem is that the leads can often break. The boffins at Uniball have engineered a superb pencil that resolves this problem called using a lead that rotates as it is used - this gives unparalleled legibility and minimises breakages.

We like the steel version, though they are also available in plastic and are cheap and easy to replace. 


You should have a number of different coloured marker pens. We use the Staedtler Lumocolor Duo 4 pen set - these pens have a thin gauge and thicker gauge nib for flexibility.


Finally, a chinagraph pencil is essential in your kit - these pencils have a core of wax-like material and will write on glass, steel, plastic and so on. They are incredibly versatile and can also be used in the wet.


Post-it notes are widely used, but unworkable in the outdoors in wet and dusty conditions - they simply blow away. Post-it have a little-known sub-brand : Post-it Extreme and these are absolutely fantastic. They stick to practically anything and stay there, the paper used doesn't absorb water and they are durable. We use Post-it Extremes by default as they are simply far superior to the standard post-its.


Post-it also make excellent index flags for identifying notes in your binder or pad. These come in a plastic dispenser that you can attach to the inside of your binder using sticky-backed velcro - simply cut a piece off, and you are good to go.


Always good to use as a divider or a ruler, helping you keep organised.

We like the TAMS / Filofax size ruler here.



All weather, all good, all of the time. Total weather protection for your thoughts, observations, and plans.



High performance weatherproof and tear proof paper to protect your notes in all conditions, water, heat, grease and mud. Using this paper ensures your notes are well looked after even after being submerged.



Our awesome 90 page waterproof, weatherproof note pad for outdoors work, survival, hiking, climbing, camping and military use.

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