Review: Field Notes cahier notebook

25 10 2007

Had a really nice dinner with Patrick Rhone last night (Ryan Rasmussen, thanks for helping me make that connection!).  I really enjoyed getting together with him and learning a little more about what makes him tick. 

And we geeked out on office prOn.  He’s new to pens, and I’m constantly searching for new and cool writing surfaces.  He wrote with a handful of my weapons to do battle with, and I got to mull over 8 bazillion pages of papery goodness. 

Lots of fun.

About a third of the way through our dinner/geekout, he pulls out the shrink-wrapped 3-pack of Field Notes that he’d recently gotten and handed one to me and said, "Here.  Enjoy."

Totally blown away!  Thanks man! 

I’d heard about these things through several different arenas, most notably Notebookism’s and Lifehacker’s coverage, but hadn’t ever seen one in person.  To say that I was amped up to try them…well, that would be an understatement.

- Fast forward to the end of the evening –

I’m home and giddily (is that a real adverb?) opened up the notebook and pulled out a couple of pens to see how they wrote on it.  Many folks who use fountain pens and Moleskines have often ranted about how horribly spotty the paper quality is; I’m no exception here.  I’ve got good ones and I’ve got awful ones.  Either way, it’s entirely maddening to fork over the loot to buy a fresh notebook, crack it open, and start writing only to discover three sentences into the first page that this one is from a bad batch.  Ink feathers, bleeds, doesn’t dry (I know that’s more ink-related, but hey, I’m ranting here). 

At any rate, I started with the pens I typically use on a daily basis (a Lamy 2000 custom ground to a needlepoint, a fine-pointed Vanishing Point, and a Cross Solo XF).  Each of these pens is typically a fantastically smooth writer and gives me exceptionally nice fine lines, the VP being the broadest.  I also pulled out the Pilot Prera that I talked about in this post.

To my utter astonishment, they all wrote absolutely perfectly on the paper!  No feathering, no bleed, no nothing!  Just crisp and clear!  Using Waterman Florida Blue, and even Omas Blue (which doesn’t always dry real fast), they all dried quickly, and didn’t smear at all! 

I was so dumbfounded that the paper in these notebooks (full specs are given on the back cover, which is really nice) took ink so well that I decided to pull out a very broad Greg Minuskin stub italic that wrote on the wetter side, and it didn’t even flinch with that! 

I swear, this stuff is golden! 

So, for those of you looking for a good Moleskine cahier alternative, give these a try.  They’re not necessarily the easiest things to get, nor are they cheap, but they’re worth every penny in my book.  Click the link to order them directly from Field Notes (at present, the only place you can get them), or if you’re after some pictures and such, check out some of the photos tagged in Flickr (like the one above on the left).

Now…if we can just get them to make some different sizes, we’re in business!

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4 responses

25 10 2007
Patrick Rhone

This is a fantastic write up man! Thanks for the opportunity to share and be schooled with/by you.

25 10 2007
rroossinck

Thanks Patrick. Dinner was great!

Stick around…I’ve got a cool hack to throw out there for all of the Pocket Briefcase users for cahier-styled notebooks. I might have to post out the pictures using a cameraphone, but you’ll get the jist.

Stay tuned…more information forthcoming.

13 11 2007
teresa

What’s the paper like, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m about to order these with their latest free shipping offer – is it rough? Smooth? With a sheen? Mat? And I hear you about the Moleskines paper quality…

13 11 2007
rroossinck

Great question, Teresa, and thanks for asking it. According to the back inside cover of the notebook, the paper is Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “White” paper (I don’t believe that it’s a terribly high “whiteness factor”). It’s a nice, smooth paper with a very low sheen. No post-printing treament, that I can tell. I’d put it very close to Rhodia’s paper, if not nearly identical, in the texture department. It’s exceptionally nice, I’ll tell you that much! You won’t be disappointed. This stuff is far better than anything that Moleskine has shown us to date.

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