Field Notes

Hipsters yearn for a simpler time. A time when hi-fi meant turntable, stylus and vinyl1. A time when bicyles had only one gear. A time when trousers cut off the circulation to your ankles.

Now the hipsters are abandoning their phablets and turning to paper notebooks. The wifi is a bit rubbish but the battery life is excellent. Don’t use anything other than a pencil, however–fountain pens are so 2011.

Field Notes

Field Notes are an american brand of premium paper disguised as a cheap supermarket staple-bound notebook. The genius of Field Notes’ products is the mixture of utility and collectability, with limited editions every few months.

They’re not cheap at $10 or £8 for a pack of 3. Shop around (I did) and you might find them for around 5 quid a pack, which isn’t so bad–but there are still cheaper alternatives like Rhodia’s stapled notebooks which can be had for a pound each in bulk (though they are slightly smaller than Field Notes).

I own a lot of different notebooks–hardbacked, wire-bound, A5, A4, etc. Until I used my first Field Notes book I hadn’t realised what the others were lacking: the ability to bend the previous page behind the current one. I own bigger staplebound notebooks but they get used on a table, and my smaller pocket notebooks have chunky spines that make bending them back impossible. That’s not a reason to use this particular brand of notebook, but it fits a pattern of use–in my case, making notes on my first aid refresher.

Field Notes 5

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p style=”font-size: 11px; text-align: center;”>(Red Blooded unlimited edition on the right–real colour is proper red, not orange in the photo)

So that’s what this kind of notebook is good for–whipping out to write something down while standing up, then putting back in your back pocket and tucking your pencil behind your ear. Also, although fountain pen compatibility seems hit and miss, I had no problems with using a medium point pen with my new notebook (other than legibility of my handwriting).

This isn’t a journaling notebook–it’s designed for writing over a short term and then retiring. At the end of its brief life it will probably look pretty battered.

The Field Notes monicker comes from american agriculture, and here’s where the branding is slightly dishonest–it’s not really suitable for all weather writing. Not that they make claims otherwise, but still.

As it is, the books are great for my purposes. Overall I’m really taken with the format – the feel of each notebook, the notes inside the back cover, the embossed lettering on the Red Blooded edition, the limited editions–which beg to be written in, battered and made unique. 

Field Notes 2Field Notes 4Field Notes 1Field Notes 6


  1. Although frankly you haven’t heard Mozart if it’s not on the original 10″ shellac at 78 rpm.
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  • Thanks for posting this. It reminded me to go out and get some. I am using my Minnesota pack to keep campaign notes for my post-Great Burn Babylon 5 game set in far future MN.