Campfire comes in the usual set of three notebooks, but here each one is visually different, with each front cover illustrating a different stage of a campfire. The setting is the same, as is the camera location. But everything else is different, from the stage of the campfire (before, during and after), to the hour of the day represented, to the colors of text used on the front covers.
Each set comes with an iron-on patch, inspired by scout merit badges. Ask a mom to show you how to iron it on your uniform sash, backpack or jean jacket.
The notebooks are bound with gold staples, though to me the color looks almost coppery.
The back covers of the notebooks feature different “tips” from a so-called “Campfire Code” on building, enjoying and then extinguishing your campfire. The tone roams between that of a serious Scouting manual, and maybe the movie Stand by Me, and that time you and your high school friends built a fire at the beach and got totally wasted. Hey, it’s summer: “Get Cosmic.”
Note that the hallmarks of the Campfire Code are geometry, community and responsibility. One math class, plus two values to live by. Hey, it’s summer: “Spark, flame, blaze.”
The back cover also includes the service-oriented, but hilarious, tip that the Campfire memo book can be used as kindling “in a pinch.” I can’t imagine any Field Notes fan not blanching at that suggestion. And, on a practical level, the Campfire set does cost $12.95. Better to use these to jot down a reminder to find cheaper kindling.
The usual practical applications inside the back cover focus on hiking and camping, with a lot of singing. This is from the middle notebook, which has an orange inside cover.
The printing process used on the cover photos is interesting. Per Field Notes, it’s “a photographic halftone printed over blocks of solid spot-colors to simulate a color photo. In this case, each book is printed with five different spot colors, the darkest color being the photographic halftone.”
That’s nicely retro, and it enhances the nostalgic feel of the edition. And if you have a background in printing, it’s so cool to see this used today. It’s fun to look at the cover images, and see how they were done. I love this choice. However, I should probably say that the resolution makes each cover scene look more realistic viewed at arm’s length. Up close, it looks less realistic.
But, if you’re interested in printing, so cool! Here’s an example.
When you tear yourself away from the covers, and open up the notebooks, each notebook is again slightly different.
One color from the cover — and only one — carries over into the inside. It’s taupe for one, orange for another, and blue for a third. They coordinate nicely, and take the mood of the cover art into a quieter, calmer place. The same color is used for the inside covers and to mark the grid lines of the graph paper in each notebook.
The writing paper is 60 pound graph paper. Fountain pen fans, this paper is what I’d call only medium-friendly to fountain pens. (It’s excellent for gel pens, ballpoints, rollerballs and pencils.)
I use this paper a lot, because it’s in some other Field Notes, including the Cherry Graph memo book. This 60 pound paper is heavier and better than the paper used in Field Notes standard notebooks like the Original Kraft. But it isn’t as great for fountain pens as Tomoe River or Rhodia, or a perfectly fountain-pen friendly Field Notes edition like Lunacy.
In my experience this particular paper is good at resisting bleedthrough, but there is showthrough at the level of Tomoe River. This paper can feather, depending on the pen and ink used. It’s fine with with nibs of moderate width and with inks that resist feathering. But it won’t be as good with very wet or wide nibs, or with inks that tend to feather. I’ve also noticed that sometimes the first page performs the worst.
I’m delighted with this Campfire edition. Of course, I might be exactly the target market, being a campfire-loving former Girl Scout, living in the Midwest, who remembers big bonfires on the beach. But I think a lot of other people are going to like these too. They connect on an emotional level. If you loved the movie Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll know what I mean.
Even though I have a surplus of Field Notes, it’s going to be hard not to want another set or two of Campfire.