Field Notes Ambition Notebook Review

Field Notes Ambition

“Ambition” is the 25th release in the Field Notes Colors series of limited edition notebooks.

Field Notes Ambition

The three pack contains a datebook, ledger and memo book.

Field Notes Ambition

Let me say right off the bat that I do not have any use for a datebook or a ledger and I would have liked more memo books in any of the standard formats (dot grid, blank, lined, etc…).  That aside, I think this is one of the very best Colors editions.

Field Notes Ambition

I love the subdued covers with gold embossed logos, gold colored staples, and gold leaf gilded edges.  These books are nice.  Field Notes Ambition

The paper holds up to fountain pen ink quite well though thicker and juicer pens will bleed through.

Some bleed through and ghosting but not bad at all by Field Notes' standards.
Some bleed through and ghosting but not bad at all by Field Notes’ standards.

I hope the Field Notes decides to make the Ambition memo book part of their permanent line.  I would happily pay a premium for it over the standard memo book.

 

 

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Field Notes Unexposed Edition First Look

Field Notes Unexposed Edition

Here is the top secret outer cover of Field Notes’ most recent limited edition….plain black and nondescript.

Field Notes Unexposed Edition

I opened the package and MY EYES!  So bold! So intense!  They are all color wheel near opposites.

Field Notes Unexposed Edition

The interiors feature a reverse color scheme which is even harder on my eyes to look at than the covers.  My first impression is negative…the covers are just too bright.

Field Notes Centipede! Blackbird Tar Field Notes Notebook Review

Blackbird Tar Field Notes

The mad scientists at Blackbird Ballard have taken three Field Notes Pitch Black Edition notebooks and bound them together with their “tar formula” and added a cord to keep the notebook closed.  The end result is a very unusual looking 144 page notebook.

The Tar Field Notes arrive in a black bag  with a tape "X"
The Tar Field Notes arrive in a black bag with a tape “X”

As a Seattle native and fan of the Blackbird store I decided to buy this mutant Field Notes for $28 (yes $28!!!) and see if it was any good.

Blackbird Tar Field Notes

The “tar” appears to be quite durable and while a bit stiff at first, the binding relaxes and the notebook becomes nice to use.  Blackbird uses their tar formula on its wallets and pouches so it should hold up through to the last page of the notebook.

Blackbird Tar Field Notes

The Field Notes Pitch Black have Finch 50#T paper with a dot grid and while it is not the most fountain pen friendly paper, I find that it works well enough with fine nibbed pens.

The notebook also features thick tar covered page marker which is a nice addition.  I have have been using the three different notebooks together such that I have 1 book for to-dos and reminders, 1 book for ideas and doodling and 1 book for the blog (with a list of reviews outstanding, ideas, pens to sell and pens to buy).

Blackbird Tar Field Notes

I have been enjoying this notebook immensely.  The main downside (apart from the price) is that it’s less pocketable than a single Field Notes (it does fit in my pants pockets but it’s bulky.

Do I recommend it?  That would depend on how you like to use your Field Notes.

If you normally carry your Field Notes around in your pants pocket, then no, I definitely do not recommend them, but if you throw them in a bag as I do and you appreciate the “design” then I say  go for it.

Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter A5 Organizer Review

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I found out about this product back in December while listening to the Pen Addict podcast (thank you Myke Hurley).

If you don’t speak German, Roterfaden is the manufacturer and Taschenbegleiter is German for, “bag companion”.  This is without doubt the coolest organizer I have ever had the pleasure of owning.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.
Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.

The Taschenbegleiter is a custom made-to-order organizer that utilizes a unique clip system that allows you to clip in all sorts of notebooks and loose paper.

Tachenbegleiter clips
Taschenbegleiter clips

The Taschenbegleiter comes in three standardized formats: A4, A5, and A6.  For the outer cover you have two material choices (in multiple colors): dance floor and leather.  Dance floor is a synthetic material that was originally used for (you guessed it) dance floors.  I opted for the black leather option.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

The black leather has a suede-like finish that is very soft to the touch.  The Taschenbegleiter has a wonderful organic hand-made quality to it.  Depending on the colors and options you choose it can be more casual look or more professional looking.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter
Few scuffs on the back from taking the Taschenbegleiter in and out of my bag.

For the inside material you again get two options for materials, suede and wool felt.  I chose the blue wool felt and I also chose to have my name embroidered into the felt in a light blue thread and Interstate font.  You can actually send them a picture and they will embroider it on the organizer!

Empty Tachenbegleiter with all the clips open
Empty Taschenbegleiter with all the clips open

There are various pocket configurations that include an option designed specifically for an iPad mini.  Instead of pockets on the back cover you get 4 elastics that hold the iPad Minis corners.  I chose the large pocket (which also fits an iPad) because it serves a dual purpose as a pocket for smaller notebooks like Field Notes and work as an iPad holder when I travel.  The downside of course is that you have to pull out the iPad every time you want to use it.

iPad Mini in the back pocket.
iPad Mini in the back pocket.

There are more options still.  You can have all the pen loops you want.  You can have them on the bottom the top or the side (as I have on mine).  If you like to use really fat pens you can specify the size of the pen you want to use and they will make the loops bigger.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

You can also specify the number clips.  The standard is three but you can have none, one, two or four if you request it.  This is an important consideration because it will determine how much stuff you can put in your Tachenbegleiter and how fat it will be.  Mine is about 1.5″ wide with the three clips in use…but you can make it even fatter if you really stuff it.

Roterfaden makes various refills and inserts for the Tachenbegleiter.  They all look beautiful and are of excellent quality. Let me show you how I normally have mine loaded up:

I always fill from the back forward.  This is the notepad.  It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.
I always fill from the back forward. This is the notepad. It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.  The pages are perforated so they tear off easily.
Notepad cover
notepad cover
Next is the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Next is the middle clip which I use to hold the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Last up is the calendar.  The clips work beautifully as book marks.
Last up is the calendar. The clips work beautifully as bookmarks.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover.  Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover. Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.

Here are some more pictures of the unusual diary refill which has a stave on one side and a dot grid on the other.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.
Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.  Also notice all the lovely signatures!
This is right in the middle of the notebook.  Notice how flat it lies.
This is right in the middle of the notebook. It lies ultra flat.

I love the red stitching in particular.  The different booklets have different papers.  The calendar has 70g paper that does show some bleed through with fountain pens.  The 80g paper in the diary booklet holds up well to fountain pen ink.  If you write with a fat juicy nib you might get some light bleeding but nothing serious.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

 

There is some minor show through and some pretty minimal bleed.
There is some minor show through and some bleed from the juicy OMAS nib.

I have not yet had the chance to sample the 120g drawing paper booklets.  Most of the larger booklets have an optional cardboard cover and while they are not necessary they are nice to have as the booklets are otherwise protected by paper only.

Because the Taschenbegleiter comes in standard A series sizes you can put pretty much any A5 notebook in the organizer.  I have also been able to put a standard Field Notes in one of the clips (top or bottom only).  The new larger Field Notes Arts and Sciences notebooks work beautifully.

Field Notes Sciences
Field Notes Sciences Notebook

 

A5 Kyokuto Notebook
A5 Kyokuto Notebook

I have been using mine everyday for the last five months and there are some downsides.  The main one being that it’s a pretty big organizer and its weight wont go unnoticed in you bag.  For personal travel I tend to take my smaller Midori Travelers Notebook with me (maybe I need to get an A6 Taschenbegleiter).

The clips are also great for loose piece of paper and receipts.  A folded A4 piece of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.
The clips are also great for loose pieces of paper and receipts. A folded A4 sheet of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.

The other downside is the price.  It’s expensive, especially if you start adding options like a leather cover and embroidery.  The basic A5 size runs 89€ or $120 USD (this includes VAT which is not applicable outside of Europe).  With options mine came to $182 USD but with VAT removed (because I live in the USA) the organizer cost about $150 USD.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

While expensive, I do believe you will have a hard time finding a better quality organizer for double or even triple the price.  I have looked and I haven’t found anything close.  The Taschenbegleiter is completely hand-made in Germany.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I love my Taschenbegleiter.  It is a wonderful product and I recommend it to anyone in the market for a high-quality and highly adaptable organizer.

All clips closed.
All clips closed

 

Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition Review

Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition

The Arts and Sciences editions are special because they are much larger than all past Colors editions. Instead of the normal package of three 3.5″ x 5.5″ notebooks you get two large 4.75″ x 7.5″ notebooks with 64 pages each.

The Arts Field Notes notebook next to a normal sized Field Notes
The Arts Field Notes notebook next to a normal-sized Field Notes.

The covers feature the normal Futura Bold typeface but unlike past editions “Field Notes” is debossed into the covers as are the little Arts and Sciences logos on the back cover.

Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition

This edition came with two pins.
The back covers feature debossed logos show here with matching buttons.

The Arts notebook has a “chili” colored cover and features art related references on the inside covers:

Arts inside front cover.
Arts inside front cover.
Arts inside back cover.
Arts inside back cover.

The Sciences notebook has an “urban grey” colored cover and features science related references on the inside covers:

Sciences inside back cover.
Sciences inside front cover.
Sciences inside front cover.
Sciences inside back cover.  Notice this one has a metric ruler where the Arts has an imperial ruler 

The pages in the Arts notebook are lined on one side and blank on the other.  The Sciences notebook is a bit more interesting. It features “Engineer’s Graph Lines” on one side and blank pages on the other.  The thickest grid lines are the 1″ followed by 0.5″ and 1/10″.  I love these graph lines.

Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition
Arts on the left and Sciences on the right.

The paper in both of these notebooks is the same and like most Field Notes they don’t hold up well to fountain pen ink.  There was a good amount of bleed.

Lots of bleed...the thicker nibs bled onto the opposite page!
Again Arts on the left and Sciences on the right.  Lots of bleed…the thicker nibs even bled onto the opposite pages!

Of the two, the Sciences notebook is my favorite.  I really like what they did with this edition.  I am not sold on this larger format at the moment but I need to spend more time with them.  My initial reaction is that they are too big.  You can’t put them in a pants or coat pocket.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebooks Review

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

Calepino appears to be the French equivalent of Field Notes.  Calepino focuses on small pocket notebooks with a simple core line of 100% French-made notebooks numbered one through four.  No 1 features a red striped cover with ruled paper, No 2, the version I purchased, has green stripes and grid paper, No 3 has blue stripes and blank paper and No 4 has grey stripes and a dot grid.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

Notebook numbers 1-4 come in packs of 3 for $13 compared with Field Notes’ 3 for $10. The No 2 measures 3.5″ x 5.5″, though up against a Field Notes, the No 2 is a hair shorter and a hair wider.  The page count is the same 48 pages.  So are they better than Field Notes?  Let’s find out!

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

The Calepino notebooks come in very nicely branded box that features the same design and same cardboard as the notebook covers.  The inside of the box lists all the specs of notebooks much like on the back inside cover of a Field Notes.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

The cardboard cover is much rougher than a standard Field Notes cover and is noticeably thicker.  The cardboard is made by a company in the Creuse area of France that has been making cardboard since 1927. The design is quite nice but I definitely prefer the simplicity of the Field Notes covers.  The Calepino has three fonts on the cover where Field Notes only has one.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

Inside the cover is a place for your personal information and a place for the start and finish date.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

The pages are made of a bright white recycled paper with a green grid.  The 5 x 5 mm grid is a bit larger than the 4.7 mm x 4.7mm grid found on a standard Field Notes.  I prefer the smaller grid and the light brown ink the Field Notes uses.

Field Notes on the left and Calepino on the right.
Field Notes on the left and Calepino on the right.

In my testing I found that the Calepino’s paper handled relatively well for a recycled paper.  It does bleed and feather a bit but overall it holds ink better than the standard Field Notes paper.  To my touch the Calepino paper is a bit rougher and it provides a bit more feedback when writing which I like.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook
Bleeding with fatter nibs but very minor ghosting.

 

Calepino No 2 Pocket NotebookThe Calepino is bound with two staples vs Field Notes’ three.  The back cover has a little blurb about the company (I hope you speak French) and a metric ruler.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

I have been carrying around a Calepino for about a week now and I definitely like the notebook but I don’t like it better than Field Notes.  I fold my covers over when I am writing on a page and the Calepino is noticeably less pliable than a Field Notes notebook.  I can fold the cover over but its more difficult and the two staple binding does not do as nice a job of holding the pages in place.

Calepino No 2 Pocket Notebook

The Calepino offers better paper and better packaging than Field Notes but in the end I prefer the softer cover and overall look and feel of Field Notes.

The Calepino limited editions are quite interesting and I hope to get my hands on a set.  The Limited editions feature collaborations with artists and famous design houses.  What I particularly like is that the limited editions I have seen come in sets that include other limited edition items like pencils, pens, buttons and bookmarks.

Here are links to some great reviews of Calepino notebooks:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Notebook Stories – Review: Calepino Notebook

Pens! Paper! Pencils! – Calepino notebooks review

Field Notes Shelterwood Edition Review

Field Notes Shelterwood Edition

The Field Notes Shelterwood Edition has the most unique cover I have seen so far.  It features a cherry wood veneer on a brown kraft paper and it looks awesome.  The feel of the cover was initially off putting, it felt like badly sanded wood.  As I used the notebook more it felt less and less rough.  I did not see quite the variation in color and grain as Field Notes shows on their website but each of the covers is noticeably different.

Field Notes Shelterwood Edition

The cover is surprisingly strong, I have used it in my back pocket for a few days now and I have not seen any splintering.

Field Notes Shelterwood Edition

I suspect as these covers get older, they will become more brittle.

Field Notes Shelterwood Edition

The paper is the same lined paper as you got in the America the Beautiful Edition, which is by far the most fountain pen friendly Field Notes paper I have come across.

Minor bleed and little ghosting.
Minor bleed and little ghosting.

This is definitely one of the best limited edition Field Notes I have seen.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Love the gold staples.
Love the gold staples