Things I Like: Field Notes

Field Notes

I usually carry a Field Notes memo book around with me. In fact, I have a few going at any given time. Even though the paper inside is usually not fountain-pen friendly.

So, why? When I prefer to use fountain pens?

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8 thoughts on “Things I Like: Field Notes

  1. I wanted to try Field Notes for ages, but the company wouldn’t sell them overseas (to here at least) and I could never find a seller who would do so at a reasonable cost – this was before the current crop of online sellers. Then I heard they changed their paper and it was no longer FP friendly, so that put the kibosh on that. Presumably the paper change was for financial reasons? Mind you, I have found that smaller notebooks to be used for very quick jottings on the go are not really the best place to use an FP – think drying times!

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    1. They change their paper at times, but I think the regular Field Notes paper (not necessarily limited editions) has not been fountain-pen friendly for years. But Field Notes works well with other types of pens and pencils, and the drying time is quick with fountain pens. Like you, I only use these tiny memo books for “very quick jottings on the go,” which means I love the fast dry time.

      The thing about us fountain pen users is our numbers are pretty small overall, especially in the US, where Field Notes is (Chicago! and Portlandia). Probably the vast majority of Field Notes users use other writing implements. So the company has to balance a lot of factors, and “fountain pen friendliness” may not even make the list. There are other companies whose paper is better for fountain pens, for people who only use a fountain pen.


  2. I’ve read about Field Notes and thought about trying them, but I’ve also read (as you stated) that their paper is generally not fountain pen friendly. I rarely write with anything else though, so I’ve held off. It seems like the heavier papers will tend to work better with fountain pens, but they don’t seem to make very many editions with heavier papers. IIRC, most of their books use 50-pound paper and only a few (so far) use 60- or 70-pound paper. Have you tried out these different paper weights? If so, could you suggest a minimum weight for use with fountain pens? I generally use medium nibs, FWIW, so I can’t rely on just using a finer nib in these books (I’d be limited to a very small number of pens if I did). Thanks!

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    1. I suspect weight is not the only factor that goes into paper’s fountain-pen friendliness. I think materials and finish must go into it, too. With printer paper I usually get good results with 24# paper, and the wheat straw printer paper I wrote about is only 21# and also great. My Moleskine memo book (not regular Moleskine notebooks) has very thin paper, and works well with fountain pens (but it’s also a few years old, too).

      Older Field Notes used 50# paper and the current standard ones use 60# paper, and both tend to feather and show through for me. So that’s why I think it’s not just paper weight.

      Of the recent limited editions, Byline uses 70# and it’s a bit better, and Sweet Tooth uses colored 70# paper which does not feather or show through, but takes a while to dry.

      And that’s the good thing about Field Notes regular paper: it can feather and does shows through with most fountain pen ink, but it also dries instantly, which I love in a memo book. Ink choice also can help with feathering.


  3. I rarely write with anything other than a fountain pen these days. I use a regular pen for my check book, and that is mostly it. Now and then I pull out my pen roll with my favorite regular pens in it. Sometimes I do write with a pencil, but that too has not seen much use, since I got into fountain pens. If they would just put FP, or FPF on some small corner on the back cover, then we could know. I usually resort to hearing the results of how fountain pen friendly they are, before making a purchase. By then many times they are GONE. I tend to use my Japanese fine to write in my Field Notes though. I know Field Notes has heard of the requests before, this is nothing new. I am not used to being in the majority, so that was cool. Thanks for the great blog Laura.

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  4. I have a few Field Notes left, that are unused. I have always loved them. I wish they would make fountain pen friendly designations, so I wouldn’t waste money. Other manufacturers have been happy to fill that void. That is a shame, because I would prefer to use Field Notes, where possible. They are a great company in my opinion. Field Notes should make random or full time editions with fountain pen friendly paper. I refuse to write on one side of the page. The little notebooks aren’t cheap as it is. I don’t bend mine, or keep it in a pocket. I have a notebook cover for it, with a zipper. It also has a pen holder in the front of the cover. I can store a total of 4 notebooks in that cover as well. I also use Vaultz to store filled notebooks. They have one that is a perfect size at Wal-Mart.

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    1. That is neat. You are a good notebook owner, and my notebooks probably wish you owned them, instead of me. 🙂

      I know the vast majority of fountain pen people join you in wanting the better paper. I’m an outlier here. Field Notes are the only little notebooks I enjoy, so I live with the paper. It helps that I use other pens and pencils, and that I prefer fine nibs. But I have a number of friends who can’t deal with the paper, and I get it. With a pencil, ballpoint or Hi-Tec-C 0.4 gel pen, you can write on both sides of the page. But I can’t with any fountain pen. So that’s a non-starter for a lot of fountain pen fans; you are in the majority there. 🙂


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