I ordered a pack of "pitch black" Field Notes brand notebooks to try out recently. Although I have been familiar with the brand for quite some time, this was the first time I have had a chance to use them.
A Bit of Background
If you are not familiar with Field Notes, they are a company that makes a line of pocket-sized (3.5" x 5.5") notebooks in various colors and styles. They are sold in 3 packs of plain, ruled, grid or assorted pages. They are well-known for their limited-edition notebooks which are very collectible. When I saw their new "pitch black" edition in dot grid, I thought it was time to try some.
Upon opening the pack, I was instantly impressed with the quality and attention to detail of the notebook. It is staple-bound, has rounded corners and feels good in the hand. According to the specifications, the cover is French Construction 100#C "Blackstop". The ink is a soy-based Saphira ink called "Stealth Gray". The paper inside is Finch Paper Opaque smooth 50#T "Bright White" printed with light gray Saphira ink in a 4.7 x 4.7mm dot grid. The paper used is fairly smooth but seems to have a bit of tooth. The front inside cover has a place for your name and "coordinates", start and end date info and a panel for you to provide your e-mail address in case you lose it. You can also indicate whether or not "a handsome reward" awaits the finder. The rear inside cover has a short blurb on "their story", a list of practical uses for your notebooks, detailed production specifications and a handy ruler. By the way, the matching black staples demonstrate their attention to detail and are a nice touch.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, or so they say. I decided out to pull out my pens and pencils and give it a go. As expected, the paper was not as silky smooth as Clairefontaine or Rhodia. There is a tiny bit of resistance when writing. A fair amount of feathering was evident with medium and stub nibs and the color inks that I used (Waterman and Private Reserve). The paper is fairly absorbent without much ink resistance. On the other hand, Noodler's Bulletproof Black worked just fine (in EF, F and even stub nibs) and is a much better choice for this notebook. I suspect a modern iron gall ink would also be a a good choice. On the reverse side of the page, significant bleed-through is also evident. So, I would say that the paper is less than "fountain pen friendly". Pencils are another good choice and I had no issues with my F and HB leads.
If you are fountain pen user with an affinity for broad or stub nibs and color ink, you may not be happy with this edition of the Field Notes brand notebook. If you use finer nibs and a forgiving ink like Noodler's Black or an iron gall type ink, you may be quite happy with the results. Ditto if you are a pencil scribbler. I am not sure what papers are used in their other notebooks, but I hope that Field Notes will try to use some that are less absorbent in their future editions.
|Feathering is clearly evident with my stub nibs and color ink.|
|There is quite a bit of bleed-through with everything except Noodler's Black and pencil.|