Honestly, there are so many reviews of Field Notes out in the world that I don’t really feel the need to review it i.e. torture test it. There are even blogs whose primary focus is this iconic, collectible little pocket notebook (Three Staples). I personally am subscribed to/a member of the Field Nuts Facebook group (they are a wonderful community by the way. every Field Notes lover should join!) Since I first discovered Fieldnotes, I have seen tens of reviews, whether it’s a review of the original or of the limited “Colors” editions. So what will I be doing? I will review my general experience with Field Notes–how I feel about the brand and how I felt when I first started using it. (I started with the original Kraft version!) I will also explain whether it lived up to my expectations.
“Field Notes” is a collaboration between Draplin Design Co. of Portland, Oregon (MY DREAM CITY!) and Coudal Partners of Chicago, Illinois. They were “inspired by the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list.” My conclusion? This is definitely an honest memo book, worth filling up with good information.
They have completely impressed me by creating a wonderful representation of everything I appreciate about this American culture I was born into. The Field Notes aesthetic is simple, not in an ultra-modern stripped down way but in a practical, functional way. Whenever I find myself dealing with a notebook that is just a work of art, I feel pressured to make what I write look beautiful also. My Field Notes, on the other hand, feels incomplete if it isn’t filled from cover to cover with messy notes and short reminders. It screams “fill me up with that thought you’re tossing around in your head!” and “MAKE SURE I’M CREASED AND USED!” Of course, the most amazing feat that the Field Notes brand has managed is making their notebooks collectible items.
Don’t get me wrong, Field Notes are well-designed, functional and endearing. However, they are still just packs of notebooks sold for $9.95/3-pack. They aren’t the first of their kind nor will they be the last. So why collect it? Well, the primary reason (or should I say reasons) is COLORS. That is, their “Colors” limited edition Field Notes. Early on, their motivation was simple: they wanted to experiment with different colors. Now, every brand does this, but the thing that Field Notes does differently is that each experiment is for one batch only (with few exceptions). Thus, the limited edition label.
The “Colors” editions are simply brilliant, fun and easily accessible. For example, their most recent Colors edition, Snowblind, is a white notebook that changes blue when in the sun or when exposed to any other UV source. So awesome, right? And it still only costs $9.95/3-pack! Of course, you need to buy it soon because they once they’re gone, they’re gone forever! With these editions, the FOMO (fear of missing out) is too real. And many have become driven to find and collect every COLORS (and random sponsored) editions there is out there. These notebooks are already little bundles of joy because they represent the “Americana” culture so well and they have so much spirit and humor. (Just check out the Practical Applications in the back and you’ll see!) Add on the limited runs and you have a wonderful, collectible item with a low barrier to entry.
On the Field Nuts Facebook group, my first post was a question: which Field Notes should I use first? Everyone recommended different things for different reasons. Some said I should use Shenandoah because it’s sturdier, some said Snowblind because it is super fun and matches winter, some said I should use the first one I bought, and some said I should start with the original Kraft because it is less intimidating. The ideas that spoke to me were ‘use the original Kraft’ and ‘use the Snowblind to match the winter season.’ At first, I decided to use the Snowblind, but quite soon, I realized it was too intimidating, so I used the Kraft and I could not be happier.
I love the grid paper and how cool I feel for making the paper crinkly with my ballpoint pen writing. I’ve created lists and taken notes and it looks so good in its used state. I just love it because I feel happy and accomplished when I write anything. Unlike pocket notebooks I have used in the past, the Field Notes feel more collectible, which makes me want to write everything in it and store it. I’m motivated to keep it to look back at 10, 20, 30 years from now.
So, on to my list of expectations! (Honestly, I expected a lot.)
- It was going to be rather normal.
- The paper quality was just okay. Definitely not fountain pen friendly. If I wanted better quality, I should’ve gotten a Clairefontaine 1951 pocket notebook instead.
- It wasn’t going to be unbreakable.
- It wasn’t going to magically make me more creative.
- I will love it despite everything.
Did it meet my expectation? Yes. In a good way. It isn’t the highest quality notebook you’ll find in this category (some options: HiConsumption, Gear Patrol, JetPens, Sort of Interesting), but I enjoy writing in it and that’s all that matters.
Conclusion: I love Field Notes, not because they make the best pocket notebook ever, but because they have contributed so much to this analog note-taking movement. They add a lot of spirit to the Americana aesthetic and they help hook new people into our community. That, my friends, is priceless.