The products reviewed in this post were provided to me free-of-charge by the manufacturer/supplier. I was not compensated to write this post directly, I was just given free product for review purposes. For more information, check out my disclosure policy.
After a quick email to Field Notes they sent me an awesome set of supplies to review. Not only did they include “The Kit,” which is their large sampler pack of supplies, but they were nice enough to throw in the “Red Blooded 3-Pack” of notebooks for me to review, both of which you can find on their Shop page.
The most notable thing about this brand is that it is very hipster-esque. Their website, the look of their notebooks, everything screams “hipster!” Not that that’s a bad thing, of course. These notebooks are very well crafted, so well crafted, in fact, that they include detailed specifications about each notebook on the back cover. Everything about them is great: they are just the right size, they are made of very durable materials, and they have a very attractive design.
The biggest issue I have with these notebooks is the price. A three-pack of Field Notes brand memo books costs $9.95 direct from their website; compare this with a three-pack of Moleskine Cahier notebooks, which run about $8.95. I’m not implying that one brand is better than another, I’m just saying that Field Notes clearly has a much higher profit margin. Both brand use a similar type of card paper for the cover and they both have very nice paper inside, but Moleskine notebooks have more pages and are more elaborately bound. Moleskine cahier notebooks are saddle-stitch bound with string, but Field Notes memo books are bound with staples. Although Field Notes notebooks are designed to be more rough and rugged, I still find it hard to justify spending more for a less elaborate notebook.
I like most of the things that were included in “The Kit” that they sent me. This set has just about everything but the kitchen sink, including two 80-page wire-bound steno book, two 3-packs of 48-page memo books, a bunch of “Bands of Rubber,” six pens, six pencils, and a pin. I don’t really see the point of the pin, but it did help me to get the plastic off of everything else in the kit. I really like everything that they sent me. Although there’s hardly any pages in any of the notebooks, I still think I can get a lot of use out of them.
The inside covers of these notebooks are definitely the most interesting parts. The memo books include a list of “Practical Applications” which include things like
- Lengthy “To Do” Lists
- Inspired Ramblings
- Shoddy Sketches
- Big Ideas
- Small Ideas
- Financial “Planning”
- Treasure Maps
- Tall Orders
- Last Will/Testament
I think I’ll get use out of these notebooks for all of the above. The paper is very smooth, and my pen glides right over it. A big issue I have been having is that the paper is relatively thing, so my thick, 0.7mm roller ball pens tend to bleed through a little bit. I have had this problem with Moleskine notebooks as well, but that paper is beige, so it’s not as noticeable. The paper in Field Notes notebooks is so bright that it has very hard to take pictures; I’d get a picture lined up, get ready to press the shutter button, and bam, the auto-white balance setting would kick in and turn the whole picture blue. These pages are white.
The best use for these notebooks is a situation where the notebook could get damaged because they last. Moleskine notebooks are too delicate for rough situations; the soft cardboard of a Moleskine cahier got pretty beat up as it was in my pocket all the time. I don’t see this happening with Field Notes notebooks.
Overall, the Field Notes brand is great. It certainly exceeded my expectations; I even assumed that the included pens would be some generic pens that Field Notes had branded, but they are actually surprisingly nice. They write very smoothly and they don’t bleed through the pages of the notebooks. There are three main issues that I have with this brand. First, the notebooks hardly have any pages to them; 48 pages means 24 two-sided sheets of paper. Second, the pages are too thin; I like to use very inky pens, so the ink just soaks through the pages. Finally, they feel overpriced to me; there are plenty of notebooks out there of equal or greater quality for equal or lesser prices; I’m not saying these notebooks aren’t worth it, I’m just saying that they must have some pretty wide profit margins. Despite those caveats, Field Notes brand notebooks are definitely worth a look if you want some rough-and-rugged pocket notebooks.