Product review: Field Notes memo book

I mentioned recently that I’ve been using a Field Notes memo book, so today I thought I’d review it.  I’m afraid I’m not a huge fan of these notebooks, as you’ll see below.  I had high hopes for them, having seen them around the internet, but I’m very disappointed with the paper quality.

I love the appearance and size of the memo book.  It’s a perfect pocket size (intentionally!) and I love the rounded corners.  On the front cover it says “Field Notes” in black capital letters, which I like.  Underneath the title, it says “48-Page Memo Book Durable Materials / Made in the U.S.A”.  I’d like to know what “durable materials” they think it is made with.  From my assessment of the notebook, it’s made with thin card, thin paper and three staples.  Those aren’t what I would consider “durable materials”.  Surely these notebooks will immediately disintegrate if they get wet.  Last time I checked, that’s what happened to thin cardboard.

MOVING ON, the back cover has discrete version of the Field Notes logo again, and a web link, and some blurb about being printed in the U.S.A.

The inside front cover has a lovely ‘start’ page, with a section for your name, “pertinent co-ordinates”, a start and finish date and a box for contact details.  I love this page!  I basically want a durable notebook that has this page in the inside cover.

The back inside cover has the Field Notes story, a list of uses for the notebook (suggestion #6: Half-Ass Calculations), the notebooks specifications and contact details for the company.  The specifications printed are possibly some of the most detailed I’ve see from a notebook company.  It details where the notebooks are made, what materials they’re made with, the machines they made with and more.

Now we get on to the paper test, which is where this notebook falls apart, in my opinion (not literally).  It’s not the quality of paper I expected. It’s a smooth paper, and is a clean white colour (none of my close up photos show the colour accurately), but it’s very thin.  It’s like copy paper.

My fine Lamy nib feathers slightly, bleeds and shows through the page.  I use this ink/nib combination in most notebook reviews so I now it’s not the pen’s fault.

Ballpoint pens show through the paper, and cause indentation.

I think really the only writing instrument you could enjoy using with these notebooks is a pencil – which incidentally is what field notes used to be written with, so maybe that was the manufacturer’s intention.

 If I was given the opportunity to re-design these notebooks, these are the changes I would make:

  • A cover made of heavier card stock
  • 90g paper

 The rest I would keep the same!

 I think this is my most “disappointed” notebook review ever.  Have you tried Field Notes?  What did you think? 

I will be doing a giveaway of a Field Notes memo book tomorrow, so come back if you’d like to win one (or come back anyway!).

10 thoughts on “Product review: Field Notes memo book

  1. Mary C

    I JUST subscribed to Field Notes and received my first shipment last week…two packs of the ones you’re showing here, and two packs of the bright white Northerlies. The cover on the white ones is heavier and shiny…maybe more like what you’re looking for. I haven’t sorted out what I’ll use them all for…I just sort of binged! I’m using a couple of the regular Field Notes memo books for work and home capture/to-do lists, and they’re working well for me. I like the beige grid lines. I’m using 0.5 mm Acroball and uniball multipens and haven’t had an issue with show-through. I can see where fountain pen ink could be a bad experience. I did scrunch up the back of my work one a bit, and that makes me a bit crazy! (I like things to stay pristine!) Oh, well…damage is bound to happen out in the “field.”

    Enjoyed the review!
    Mary C recently posted..Adventures in dusting: Pilot Cavalier Hi-Tec-C 0.4mmMy Profile

    Reply
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  5. James

    Hey I loved your review, just be cautious. The a-holes at Coudal Partners, the people behind Field Notes are very protective of their so called brand. They like to send out baseless threats of lawsuits to people who jepordize thier image of misrepresented claimed notebooks.

    Reply
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