Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Notebook Review: The Northerly by Field Notes


I have been reviewing pen and paper products for almost four years now. I've reviewed notebooks from Asia, Europe, and mostly from the United States, but I have not had a glimpse of a Field Notes pocket notebook yet. Back then, I didn't like small notebooks, and Field Notes was not available here in the Philippines. Last December though, a local online shop announced that they are selling the Field Notes Brand, beginning with the Winter 2011 Colors Release, The Northerly. I knew I had to get my own set the moment I saw the bright white notebooks. Never mind that I don't like small notebooks.

The Northerly by Field Notes. Winter 2011 release.

Thirteenth in the Field Notes Colors Series, The Northerlies, like other Field Notes notebooks, measure 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches. Small by my standards, but large enough for my notes. My notebooks (each order comes in a pack of three) came before the New Year and it was definitely drool at first sight. The bright show-white Kromekote cover printed with "Icy Silver" soy-based ink on the embossed Field Notes logo is sooooo beautiful. Even the silver-coated band holding the notebooks together is beautiful.

The back cover of The Northerly bears Field Notes' logo, including the proud declaration of where the notebooks were made.


The inside cover of the notebook is for its owner's personal details. I haven't filled out this page yet because I'm still searching for a pen that will write permanently on the shiny, coated Kromekote. Perhaps I'll use a Sharpie here.


The inside back cover, on the other hand provides extensive information on Field Notes' story, the notebook's specs, and some suggestions on how to use the notebook. I like that. My favorites are 'Things Done Right', 'Resolutions, As Yet Unbroken', and 'More Reasonable Resolutions'. The specifications part is a marvel to read. As a publications designer, I'm in the printing and publishing business and I understand all the printing lingo written here. As I read on, I can see tall stacks of Kromekote and Finch paper and hear the mechanical noise of the press, the Heidelberg stitchmaster, and the round corner machine. I can even smell the 'smell' I get when I'm inside a printing press.


Another beautiful thing about the Northerlies: round page corners! All Field Notes notebooks have round page corners, including The Steno. I've always preferred round page corners for my notebooks, especially those with thick cardstock for cover. Square, non-round page corners can sometimes cut into my fingers and palm while I'm writing, or get caught in the fabric inside my bag.


Unlike other pocket notebooks with the usual two staples for binding, Field Notes notebooks are saddle stitched in three staples to provide extra durability. 


The Northerlies have the usual Finch paper that Field Notes use in their notebooks, except for a nice 'twist': the inside pages have 4.5mm x 4.5mm white graph lines on a cool, blue-gray background. I like this graph lines, except that I wish they were a bit thicker. The thin lines can sometimes be hard to see, especially when lighting is not very good.

A new collection? This is all your fault, Field Notes. 

This is my 'test page' for my first Field Notes notebook. Notice anything new? The Pilot G2. But of course!  I've always tested notebook paper using my fountain pens, and I did that with my Northerlies too. Initially, I was disappointed when I saw the amount of feathering and  bleed on the Finch paper (see photo below). I put away my notebooks, not knowing what else to do with them. Then I realized that I could still make use of them — using other pens that will not bleed. That's why this notebook review has a Pilot G2 instead of a  colorful Lamy Safari.

The Northerlies are clearly not for fountain pen use. I don't care. It's still cool, hip, and fun!

So now I'm going to wait for the next limited edition Colors notebooks by Field Notes. I wonder what color they'll come in next. Purple? Black? Gold? I can't wait!


Now, who else can think of a really cool slogan like this one? Everybody, come on! Let's all write everything down to remember them now!



19 comments:

  1. Thank you for the fine review of the Field Notes notebooks. I have been thinking of getting some of these. I generally use a fountain pen, but it looks like I will be restricted to a pencil or gel pen. I do like the paper. It looks really great.

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  2. Nice review. I appreciate knowing what will work with fountain pens and what will not. Otherwise it seems a great notebook.

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  3. I just happened to pass by when I was looking for some pen store over the net. I share the same hobby of collecting pens and now I'm up to 220 all in all. I'm now trying to level it up by collecting fountain pens now and would like to do it by at least every month this year. Do you have any suggestions for the store?

    Thanks. By the way, got you followede! :)

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  4. I'm glad you stick to a notebook that you like other than throw it away. I know that a ballpoint pen in that nature is not something that I can just casually waltz into without some dastardly plan. I always enjoy your pictures, they are so highly professional.

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  5. Bill M: I hope you get your set soon. These are beautiful notebooks.

    bleubug: It is indeed a great notebook. Just sad that I couldn't use my white pens on these. :)

    Aj Banda: I checked and saw you're from the Philippines too. National Bookstore, Times Trading, and Scribe Writing Essentials are great places to start your hunt. There are other stores in MM, you can email me (my contact details are in my profile) and I'll tell you what those are.

    The Original Steven H!: I love this notebook, even if it's not as great as I wanted it to be.:) As for my photos, thank you! Your kind words are highly appreciated.

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  6. Fantastic review, thanks!

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  7. I actually like Whitelines notebooks--these look fantastic!! Wish I had ordered some :D Thanks for the review!

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  8. I just got these in the mail today. I like the Northerlies, especially here in Portland where the rainy season can make a quick mess of a cover. I have already started to use them and find I like them more than the Moleskine pocket notes. I also got a three-pack of the state series (Oregon) and I am impressed with the quality. Time to see how they handle the daily back pocket test..

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    1. Son't you just love these white notebooks? I wish I could buy them here (in the Philippines) as easily as you could get them there in the US.

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  9. You can probably use anything but gel on the covers for the "personal info" section. My gels took WAY too long to dry, but ballpoint and liquid were great. It's amazing that such a glossy cover takes ink so well.

    I LOVE Field Notes to death, but the coating of ink to cover the pages of this edition makes it hard to use much but gel and ballpoint. I've gotten MUCH better results with liquid in their white paper editions. Maybe you'll have better luck using your fountain pens with the spring edition! :)

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    1. I have not written anything on the cover, I'm thinking of using DYMO stickers. :) It's actually just okay if I cannot use my fountain pens in these notebooks. It gives me reason to use my gelpens and rollerball pens.

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  10. Just got the Oregon Field Notes and the Northerlies. I am already sold on them and thus the end of using the Moleskines may be at hand. They still need to pass the rear pocket test, but so far, sweet.

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  11. Beautiful Handwriting! How great to see a review about a notebook actually IN a notebook!! Thanks for the review. I would try FN, but I use fountain pens exclusively. But the book is so very beautiful.

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    1. jsButterfly: I found out I can use Lamy Blue Black on these notebooks! Why don't you try it? It's iron gall ink, and may be harmful to our FPs, but careful use and constant flushing will prevent damage.

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  12. Your blog is such a gem. spent hours at work reading, which I know is bad, but the paper and notebooks review is so entertaining. :-)

    keeping tabs of your blog now :-D

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    1. Thank you Angelique! I still have so many notebooks, inks, and pens to review here. :) Just don't know when I can move along with a lot of work and my studies.

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  13. This is the notebook that made me realize I actually LIKE notebooks. (Was never much of a Moleskin fan) Wish they'd make it permanently available!

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