Field Notes Black Ice Edition

Review 3/3

After running through my Sweet Tooth and Unexposed Editions, I was searching for another Field Notes edition, except this one was for a specific purpose. Recently, I’ve really delved into the world of photography and wanted a pocket notebook for quick descriptions of some of my favorite shots on campus. On some select weekends, when I had the luxury of free time and weather permitting conditions, I’ve ventured outside to take some pictures around my campus.


Spanning nearly 1,933 acres, the campus of Indiana University at Bloomington is expansive and full of places to get some amazing shots. So far, I’ve stuck to the various buildings I usually walk by on the weekdays and seek to view them from a different perspective. On many occasions, I was walking to class or back home and I suddenly stopped after seeing a scene that would make a well composed photo. So to keep it in my head, I whip out my trusty Field Notes notebook and quickly jot down my location and what exactly I was looking at. If I didn’t have this, I would’ve actually forgotten some really nice locations by the my weekend morning photo walk.


The cover of this edition looks stunning and glints in the sunlight. The embossing of the Field Notes Logo on the front page looks like it has been machined onto sheet metal rather than just shiny paper stock. I found on one of my photo walks that the cover could also be used as a light reflector that helped illuminate some of my darker macro shots.


The paper they used for this edition is the Finch Fine Smooth 70# paper with gray line rulings and orange on top (Field Notes website). The thing that really excited me into getting this specific edition is the fact that this is Field Note’s very first non-staple-bound notebook. These notebooks are actually PUR-bound and Field Notes made an awesome video showcasing the process. The paper withstood almost everything I threw at it other than the Iroshizuku Shin-Kai that spread out a bit on the paper. Maybe if I had a finer nib, then it would be alright, but as far as the Lamy 2000 medium nib, it is a bit too juicy for the Field Notes to handle. I don’t need to harp on about how good Field Notes notebooks are as well as the convenience they afford. They have already established themselves and their brand in the market and my only input would be to get this edition to not only get a cool notebook, but also see Field Notes innovation first hand with the binding.

Thanks for reading and being so patient with my slightly erratic posting schedule. I expect my workload to drop down back to normal once my first exam week passes. Then I’ll be able to get back to a regular once every 2 weeks review schedule. I’ll see you all near the end of February. Until then, write on, my friends.

Galen Leather Field Notes Cover

This is a review that has been a long time coming. I was first approached by Zeynep through the contact form on the blog back in April. She informed me of a company she and her brother had started, Galen Leather and how they had just opened an online store for handmade leather goods. I was very interested as I had never owned a leather notebook cover before. I’d been meaning to get one for the longest time, but just couldn’t reconcile spending that much money on it. Most of the options I found were in the $60 – $70 range and way more than I could afford. When Zeynep so graciously offered to send me a cover free of charge for a review, I didn’t hesitate. Again, this product was given to me free of charge to review. I will strive to be as objective as I possibly can be and to not let this affect my review.


The first thing I noticed when I opened the package, was a very nicely designed box with the company’s branding. It was slightly bulging and I didn’t know why until I opened it up. The Field Notes cover I received, (No.55 in black leather) was still a bit stiff as it hadn’t been broken in, leading to it pushing up against the box. It was secured with a simple cardboard slip that ran around the sides and a little explanation on the history of the company on a separate slip of cardboard. It also came with an “evil eye” charm that I forgot to take a picture of. You can read up about the story behind the charm here.(credit to Gentleman Stationer for the link)


Straight out of the box, I could tell that this was a solid product. Thick pieces of leather with burnished edges and it looked fantastic with the oils providing a nice shine. A surprising fact was that it smelt really nice, which I had never experienced with any of the leather products I’ve owned. All of Galen’s products are made with locally sourced 2-3mm vegetable oak tanned leather (source: Galen Leather Care) They give very clear and simple instructions to deal with any questions you might have regarding how to care for the leather on the same page I linked above. The stitching is very precise and even along the edges and the burnishing on the edges gives it a very soft feel for such thick pieces of leather.


The cover is very simple to use as all you have to do is slip the last page of your Field Notes notebook into the slot and it’ll securely hold it no matter what. I’ve put this cover through its paces for nearly half a year and I couldn’t be more satisfied with how well its held up.


On the inside, there is an elastic pen loop that can accommodate various sizes of pens be they fountain or regular in length and width. It is positioned very comfortably and is very functional and easy to use. I’ve put everything from the Retro 51 pictured above to my Karas Kustoms INK. The elastic worked perfectly all the time and I didn’t have worry about the pen falling out due to any jostling.


I actually don’t use the card slots too often as I usually carry all my cards in a wallet. However, when I have used them, they performed very well and securely held the cards without fail. I never had to worry about whether anything would fall out because of how the leather grips onto the cards. The cards don’t even need to be textured for the leather to gain purchase, the two cards I used for this shot are my Campus ID and my driver’s license (both of which took some time to maneuver into proper position so as to keep the details hidden). These cards have a matte like finish with barely any texturing, yet they are held properly in place by the slots and are easy to pull out and insert again.

All in all, the Galen Leather Field Notes covers are good quality, solidly built and functional handmade leather products that are well worth their asking price. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen any other covers made as nicely for the selling price listed on Galen. If you’re looking for an affordable and long-lasting Field Notes cover, look no further than the offerings from Galen Leather. A big thanks to Zeynep for reaching out and providing me with this cover. I wish her and her brother Yusuf all the success they deserve for bringing such high quality products to the market. Look forward to more orders from me in the future. 🙂 Check out their products at their website: Galen Leather.

P.S. This is review 1/3 for today (10/30/16). Second review dropping in a couple of hours.

Field Notes Unexposed Edition Review

As I was thinking through what to review for this weekend, it suddenly struck me. I haven’t done a single paper review since I started this blog. Appalled at my lack of content regarding that area, I took the closest thing I had in reach and decided to review it. That item happened to be the Field Notes Unexposed edition I picked up in February, but didn’t start using until recently. So on to the review.


I was initially a little hesitant to get a pack of Field Notes. I had heard all the praise people had for it. The convenience, utility, and benefits all seemed like it was well worth it, but something held me back. for the longest time, I didn’t know what it was, but I found out after I had bought this pack at the L.A. Pen Show. I had no idea what I should use it for. I mean don’t get me wrong, I do jot down notes and new ideas for business plans all the time, but I end up typing them on my phone. I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t have my phone to take notes or record down an idea on the fly. It became an ingrained habit, and after I bought these, I struggled to take one out and use it.


I can tell you the struggle was real. Many times I found myself questioning why I needed the little notebook, but I reluctantly carried it around with me anyway. After 2 weeks of continuous use, I can only say, that I can’t wait till my next pack. This notebook completely surpassed all expectations I had for it. the ruling was crisp and contained a generous amount of space, the paper was nice and bright, and the cover was durable. I find myself thinking “Why didn’t I try these earlier”?. As they say, it’s never too late to make a change.


The particular edition I got was called the Unexposed Edition as stated on the front cover. Out of the many varieties offered by Field Notes, I was completely entranced with this one. The bold color scheme drew my eye, and the reticle graph ruling intrigued me. So far I’ve been really happy with it, but I also can’t wait to try other versions with different ruling.


This is the first page that greets the user when they crack open a fresh notebook. It’s a convenient way to both identify your notebook and it also helps when it comes time to store it. the detailed information regarding the start and end date allow the user to be able to easily access a time frame that they desire.


This ruling, called “reticle graph”, was one of the main reasons I picked this edition to be my first foray into Field Notes. I had never seen anything like it, and it reminded me a lot of Rhodia’s dot grid ruling. The spacing is about the same, but the reticles help me center my writing better, and also give nice guidelines for drawing check-boxes (I draw a lot of these).


Aside from a little feathering with the thicker tip pens, the paper holds up very well to a myriad of mediums. I have no doubt that it can handle almost any gel pen I throw at it. Fountain pens, on the other hand, tend to smear and feather a lot, making it near impossible to use them with this notebook. I tried using an extra fine tip fountain pen to no avail, and also tried all the inks I have. All of them feathered and bled through. However, the fact that it can’t handle fountain pens is but a small drawback that it makes up for by accepting nearly everything else without a hitch.


Overall, I feel that getting a pack of Field Notes was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. After strenuous testing, it held up surprisingly well, and surpassed all my expectations. I look forward to getting a few more packs with different rulings and covers. I find myself using it nearly everyday to keep track of all my college work. It took me a while to embrace the concept, but one I did, I don’t see myself going back to typing stuff in my phone in the near future. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs a quality pocket notebook to keep track of their daily activities.