Field Notes Black Ice Edition: A Brief Review

Field Notes Black Ice Edition

Every Field Notes limited edition has a hook, and for the Black Ice it’s the cover and binding. The cover is thicker, stiffer paper than usual, in glossy orange and reflective dark-silver foil. It’s bound with a spine and glue, like a paperback book, instead of the normal three staples.

The inside cover and the spine are orange, and the outside covers, both front and back, are that dark silver/black foil. The “Field Notes” title and the other cover printing is embossed onto the silver, both front and back.

The Black Ice is interesting to photograph, because the dark silver foil reflects the light in a dynamic way, which makes the color change from silver to nearly black. Because of the play of the light, the Black Ice looks great in photographs.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition

The orange used on the spine and inside cover is the signature orange of Draplin Design Co., and that color reappears at the top of each sheet of paper. The inside paper is lined, and it’s a little heavier and a brighter white than the paper used for Field Notes standard memo books.

I like the list of Practical Applications inside the back cover, geared to snow and ice.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition practical applications

You won’t be surprised to hear that”Parking lots doughnuted” fits my lifestyle more than “Crampons to sharpen.”

I am afraid that people who only use fountain pens will not be satisfied with the writing paper. On the one hand, the Black Ice writing paper is heavier than the standard memo book’s paper, so showthrough is reduced. But there’s still showthrough. Here is a comparison of showthrough with the Black Ice on top, and a standard Field Notes lined memo book below.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition paper

On the other hand, the Black Ice paper seems to absorb more ink and to write a wider line than the standard Field Notes memo book. Here is a comparison, again with the Black Ice at the top and a standard Field Notes memo book below.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition paper

The inks and pens used here are KWZ Northern Twilight in a Lamy Safari with 1.1 mm stub, Sailor Yuki-Akari with a Pelikan broad nib and Bung Box Sweet Potato Purple with a Lamy Safari with medium nib. It’s obvious that the Black Ice paper writes a wider line with fountain pen ink, and in a small memo book that can be significant.

The Black Ice paper also shows some feathering. Here’s an extreme closeup of the Black Ice paper.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition paper

I personally find that level of feathering acceptable, but keep in mind that those are fairly feather-resistant inks. Many fountain pen users only want a memo book that is perfectly fountain-pen friendly, with no showthrough and no feathering at all. Be warned: Black Ice is not that memo book.

Much better for fountain pen use would be the previous Field Notes limited edition, Lunacy, which is still available and has very fountain-pen friendly paper.

I also prefer Lunacy overall. The foil cover of the Black Ice, while very cool, just isn’t an instant “love” for me. It’s nice-looking, and probably an impressive technical achievement, but I’m more impressed by the Black Ice cover than fond of it. I even prefer the standard memo book’s no-fuss kraft paper cover. The standard memo book is bendy and squishable, and feels more personal and less formal.

But not everyone wants tactile and informal. You know who will love the Black Ice? People who are neat. With those stiff spine, the Black Ice memo books straighten up and fly right. The foil and orange covers do show little marks, scrapes and scratches, but the cover papers are dark, glossy and thick, so the cover seems to resist stains and grease marks very well.

I also think Black Ice will appeal to the gear fan, the person interested in things like new computers, audio, cellphones and cameras. Also maybe the sci-fi or space movie fan. The Black Ice has that kind of cool, hi-tech or futuristic look.

Does the square spine of the Black Ice make it harder to use? Not really. You do have to crack the spine of the front cover to get it to lay mostly flat, and I say mostly, because it doesn’t seem to lay quite as flat as a three-staple version memo book. For me, it works.

Field Notes Black Ice Edition

I suppose it could become more of an issue as I fill up the notebook, and progress towards the last pages. I guess we’ll see. But it’s not really that different than a paperback book, so I’m pretty sure it will be fine.

I should point out, for neat people, that the seam on the front cover will not stay smooth with use, because you have to bend that back to flatten it for writing. You can already see a little wear on mine here, where the foil meets the orange spine.


That’s not noticeable when you look at the Black Ice straight on, however. The reflections take care of that.

I ended up liking the spine on the Black Ice. It’s an interesting variation, for one set. I always think it’s nice to try something a little different.

I will say that last three limited editions have been more than a little different — they’ve been very different. Those were the Byline Reporter’s Notebook (not a memo book), the Lunacy (a gorgeous but duded-up memo book) and now this Black Ice (extra duded-up memo book with a glued spine). These three limited editions may be a far cry from the old agricultural memo books that inspired Field Note. But it’s fun going along for the ride.

I’m a subscriber, so I got two packs of the Black Ice. For me, these two packs will be the perfect amount. The subscriber package comes with a small square of matching wrapping paper and gift tags, and I think my second Black Ice pack is going to be wrapped up and stuffed in a stocking or gift grab bag. I think that’s a nice touch for a winter release.

5 thoughts on “Field Notes Black Ice Edition: A Brief Review

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