Tag: field notes

Ask The Desk: Traveler’s Notebooks vs. Fodderstack and A5 Refill Options for Louis V. Organiser

Matthew put me to task with this stumper:

If you had to choose one out of the three below for your everyday carry, which one would it be and why?

  1. Nock co. Fodderstack XL ($17)
  2. Paper Republic Grand Voyageur (Passport Size) (approx. $42.31 USD)
  3. Travelers Notebook (Passport) ($44.50)

P.S. – Your pen of choice of course.

Well, Matthew, to be honest, the choice here is seems to be between a leather notebook cover and a nylon sleeve as there is not a big difference between the functionality of the Grand Voyageur and the Traveler’s Notebook. (Update: I stand corrected. The Grand Voyageur is actually sized to hold a Field Notes or other 3.5×5.5″ sized notebook. The dimensions, despite being called a “passport-sized” is 10.5cm x 15cm which is 4.1″ x 5.9″, large enough to hold the larger “pocket-sized” notebooks).  The Traveler’s notebook accept only the passport-sized refills so if you’re looking for something that will hold your copious collection of Field Notes, you might (also) want to consider a One Star Leather notebook cover. They start at $40 for a Traveler’s Notebook style and go up from there.

(Clockwise from top left: NockCo. Fodderstack XL, Traveler’s Notebook Passport, Paper Republic Grand Voyageur Pocket Size, and One Star Leather Field Notes Indie Notebook Cover)

If you are looking for an alternative to leather, than a Fodderstack XL will definitely be your preference. And NockCo definitely offers a lot of colors options as well. The Sinclair and the Hightower also provide a Field Notes-sized  pocket as well as slots for pens.

If you want a larger size, than the Grand Voyageur XL is definitely more appealing since its more of a traditional A5 size. And in general, the Grand Voyageur line offers a wider range of standard colors than the traditional Traveler’s Notebooks.

That said, I’m a traditionalist and I like the long slender size of the original Traveler’s Notebook. It’s not a size for everyone but once you use it, you may find that you like it. If you’re purchasing your first Traveler”s Notebook, and you can afford it, I say you go for the original. There are lots of people making Traveler-style notebooks now but its always nice to have at least one of the the originals, if you can. I prefer to fill my Traveler’s Notebook Passport Sized with Baron Fig Vanguard Pocket Notebooks which fit perfectly.

As for my pen of choice… for my Traveler’s notebook? I usually keep a Platinum Desk Pen with my Traveler’s Notebook. The Carbon ink is bulletproof and the low cost of the pen means I’m not worried about it going astray or getting knocked around. And the needlepoint tip is great for teeny tiny writing in the small books, good for sketching or writing and the tip is so smooth for the price. Now if I could just figure out a way to put it into a better looking body.

Amanda asks:

I have a Louis Vuitton organiser I bought years ago in Turkey, it is not a real one but I a very, very good fake and I have run out of paper inserts for it. It is an A5 organiser, with 6 holes, they are not standard though and I am trying to source some paper refills. If I send an image and measurements through could you let me know if you do anything that may fit this.

Many people have run into issues with non-standard hole placements for one reason or another but I have a workaround for you. It is an adjustable 6-hole punch from Japan. They are available on Amazon for a reasonable price. It takes a bit of time to punch inserts but you can either purchase inserts pre-printed or buy a downloadable PDF file from a vendor on Etsy and then punch them yourself to fit the ring configuration to align properly with your organizer.

You can also buy sheets of A5 paper and punch them to fit for notepaper or buy full sheets of A4 paper and have a local copy shop cut them in half for you and then punch them with your hole punch.

I know this isn’t the magic bullet fix but hopefully it will at least get you up and going with new inserts and open you a new world of possibilities.

Review: Field Notes Utility Graph & Tom Sachs Notebook

Oh, the hullabaloo around the quality control for the latest release of the Field Notes Colors Edition Utility Graph and Ledger has reached epic proportions. My Graph set had no visible flaws but the lower corners on the Ledger had a bit of a booger on a couple of them.

(Here is where I start my speculation… I did not speak with Field Notes about this and everything here is based on my own personal experience.)

Since I work in the printing industry, I know that stuff like this happens all the time. Ink coverage gets too heavy, things get mis-registered, the blade on the cutter gets dull, the paper is too thick for the folding machine, etc, etc. If the issue is not too severe, inhibit legibility or is not something like someone forgot a plate color (like they forgot the red on the belly band which is integral to the design aesthetic and would give the design team a stress tic) it is often let go by both the printer and the designers/clients in order to meet the deadline or the costs to trash everything and start over would be exponentially cost prohibitive. Not to mention, some of the materials may have been custom ordered and might take several weeks to be reacquired. You crazy people knew down to the minute when the email announcement for shipping of the Colors Edition was going to drop so stopping the print run to fix a booger-y corner and push back shipping by weeks potentially could have created anarchy. Not to mention how much money Field Notes/Coudal already had tied up in this print run. So… that said, let’s talk about the actual notebooks.

The shortfold back cover has also been discussed at great length by a lot of people already but I thought I give you a good photo and my own opinion. It’s short folded by about an 1/8″ and when unfolded it reveals a 5″ ruler on one side and 13cm ruler on the other. Pulling it back a bit from the edge of the rounded corner  gives the edges of the ruler a bit more stability, in my opinion, so that it is less likely to tear at the edges were it to have been flush with the cover and had the full rounded edges. That may or may not have been the reason that Field Notes chose to pull it back from the edge a bit. Maybe that will be one of the questions asked at the RelayCon event in October?

What the pen community has been happy to discuss about the Utility edition is the paper stock. It’s Mohawk Via Vellum 70# text. Fuss buckets will still bemoan that they’d rather just have grid or just have ledger but that’s what meet-ups and the Field Nuts Facebook Group are for. You can trade the ones you don’t want for the ones you do. Field Notes are grown-up trading cards.

I put the 70# Via Vellum through its paces with a variety of daily use pens like Lamy, Franklin-Christoph, Kaweco, Aurora, Sailor and Pilot fountain pens with fine nibs small enough to write on these small graph paper spaces as well as a variety of gel, felt tip and pencils. I didn’t have any issues with feathering, even with some fine italics, a brush pen or a Papermate Flair.

And from the bask side of the paper, there is the lightest bit of show through from the brush pen only. Pretty impressive. So, despite all the fussing about quality control and “What’s with the ruler?”, the 70# paper in the Utility edition meets all the utility standards that the average fountain pen geek has been asking for.

But wait… there’s more.

Bob brought home another notebook for me that bore a striking resemblance to, not just any Field Notes but, to the very similar colored cover Utility. It’s the Tom Sachs “10 Bullets”  Pocket Notebook. The “10 Bullets” comes as a 3-pack and sells for $20. I didn’t know anything about Tom Sachs or the “10 Bullets” prior to receiving the notebook. After a little research, I discovered that Tom Sachs is an artist with a working studio and several people who work for him including, at one time Casey Neistat. The “10 Bullets” appears to be both tongue-in-cheek and a creative statement but bears a striking resemblance to the Utility Edition so I couldn’t avoid talking about it here.

The cover is also Mohawk Via Vellum 80# (216 gsm) in Safety Yellow but on the inside, the Tom Sachs notebook uses Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Utrawhite 24# (30gsm) and uses a “ghost grid pattern licensed from Edward Tufte“. Really? It looks like 0.25″ standard grid to me. The book is slightly larger than a standard Field Notes both in height and width — about a 1/4″ taller and a 1/2” wider. On the cover are ten bullets in black matte foil with a matte white foil or silkscreen.

The inside cover is handwritten in the distinctive Tom Sachs penmanship and black ink.

Inside the back cover is a photocopy of a ruler and a millimeters to decimals conversion chart. They look photocopied like a zine. The last eight pages of the notebook are assorted reference guides including Sach’s 10 Bullets.

Overall, there are 59 pages of grid paper to use in the Sachs notebook so I put one to the test.

Directly across from Sachs’ “10 Bullets” I tested the same pens I used in the Utility notebook. With the wider spaced grid and the lighter weight paper, I ended up needing a page and a half so you get to see the back side of the page and the remainder of the writing samples in one go.

You can see that the type bleeds through in some cases and shows through much more often than it did on the Via Vellum 70# in the Utility notebook. While I like some of Sachs’ artwork, his more ironic “10 Bullets” video and notebook is way too ironic and smarmy, hipster, self-referential, I’m-not-sure-who-he’s-poking-fun-at-here. I get that we are a bit obsessive and ridiculous at times about our notebooks and our particular-ness and I’m okay with that and if he’s making fun of himself as much as us, then great. But somehow, I think it got lost in translation. And in the process, the product is pricey and not very good. If you’re going to make something snooty and self-referential and charge an arm and a leg, make it better than this. I’m glad I didn’t pay for this one. It was a print sample.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Field Notes for the purpose of review. Tom Sachs did not send me their notebook to review. It came to me by chance but I did not pay for it either. Please see the About page for more details.

Word. Terrain Series Notebooks

Word Terrain Series Notebooks

Word. Notebooks have just released their new Terrain Series notebooks featuring topographic style artwork on the covers of three different sets of notebooks in green, orange or ivory. Inside, these notebooks feature the same lined paper with the built-in bullet system as their previous notebooks and feature 48-pages in each of their 3-pack of notebooks. Each set is available for $9.99 for a 3-pack. Perfect for all your summer explorations.

Word Terrain Series Notebooks

Paper tests from previous reviews of the original Word. Notebooks and the Declan Floral Edition. The Terrain editions feature the same lined paper in the same color and weight.

Word Notebook Pen Test


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Word. Notebooks for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Field Notes Sweet Tooth Colors Edition

Field Notes Sweet Tooth

I haven’t done a reveal post of one of the Field Notes Colors Editions in a long time but the new Sweet Tooth edition is a way more fun in use than I expected it to be. When described, a colored paper edition of Field Notes with perforated pages doesn’t sound like all that big a deal. Until I actually started using it.

The Pop Tone paper is 70lb and quite toothy (no pun intented) which makes it great for pencil and lots of pens. It also doesn’t bleed or feather and the bright colors are freakin’ fantastic for opaque gel pens. I don’t get a lot of excuses to humor my inner middle schooler and break out the giant box of Gelly Rolls but a 3-pack of Sweet Tooth is the perfect excuse. So much so that I’m thinking I’ll need to order about ten more packs so I don’t run out.

Field Notes Sweet Tooth writing sample

I actually think the “tangy orange” is more of a “cherry red” but I do agree that the other two colors are definitely “banana split” yellow and “blue raspberry” blue – in the most artificial candy-colored definition of those colors. I like the coordinated hot foil lettering on the covers, a subtle nod to candy packaging.

I don’t mind that the paper is unlined, in fact I actually prefer it. And it eliminated any issues  printing ink might have caused with writing ink adhering to the paper. So I’m actually glad they didn’t print on the paper. And it means there’s free range to doodle in any direction.

Field Notes Sweet Tooth reverse writing sample

From the reverse of my writing sample, there was no show through or bleed. You can see a little bit of indentation from my writing pressure where I went over the lettering with the clear sparkle Gelly Roll pen. On the yellow “Banana Split” paper, there’s a bit more show through because the paper is a lighter color but you should easily be able to use both sides of the sheet with all three colors.

The micro-preforation is tight and requires folding a couple times to get page to tear out but pages tear out cleanly. The advantage of the tight perforation is the pages are unlikely to fall out.

Field Notes Sweet Tooth writing sample

I even tested some fountain pen ink from my my Kaweco Dia II with Daphne Blue and didn’t have any issues. I’m sure thick, italic nibs might cause some issues but daily use fountain pens should be just fine though, with most Field Notes, I recommend felt tip, rollerballs, pencils and gel pens more often. Colored pencils were a particularly fun discovery as some colors really popped. Uni Posca and Sharpie water-based paint pens were also fun and didn’t bleed through. Aren’t these Field Notes the perfect excuse to use all those pens you bought on a whim?

I know folks are constantly tweaking their favorite Field Notes lists and when I initially saw Sweet Tooth, I didn’t think it would break my top five but now that I have it in hand, I think it will be my number one. I love it. I must order more.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Field Notes for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Field Notes Paper Reveal

Field Notes Colors Edition Shenandoah

During a recent bout of caffeine-induced insomnia, I was on the French Paper Co. website, looking through their blog section, marvelling at all the beautifully designed screenprint posters and other designer-y goodness when I stumbled across an entry that would be of particular interest to the readers of The Well-Appointed Desk. I found a listing for the printing notes for the Field Notes Colors Edition: Shenandoah. While Field Notes describes the paper stocks used for their covers as “the Sweet Birch, the Chestnut Oak, and the Red Maple” on their web site, we now know that its actually French Paper Construction Green laminated to Construction Red, Pop-Tone Gumdrop Green laminated to Pop-Tone Lemon Drop and Pop-Tone Jellybean Green laminated to Construction Safety Orange.

And, of course, the classic Kraft cover Field Notes and the Dry Transfer Edition use French Paper Dur-O-Tone Packing Brown Wrap cover stock. Now you know the secrets too!

Ask The Desk: DDC Editions

rp_askthedesk_hdr21.pngLori asks:

I hope you can answer this. How often does Draplin Design come out with DDC Field Notes? I’d like to buy a set one of these days.

Lori, I went straight to Field Notes HQ (AKA Coudal Partners) and asked my good buddy Bryan. His answer mirrored my suspicions. DDC editions are released whenever Mr. Draplin feels like making them. My best advice is to add the Draplin blog to your RSS feed and hope for the best. Also, join the Field Nuts group on Facebook. If anyone is going to hear about a DDC Field Notes edition, it will be the folks there. Good luck on the hunt!

Field Notes DDC Factory Floor Silver Streak


Do you have a pen, paper, planner or pencil question? Use the “Ask the Desk” link in the top menu bar to email me and I’ll do my best to try to answer it.

Quick! Field Notes XOXO, Planner and more!

Field Notes XOXO 2016 edition

Do you subscribe to the Field Notes mailing list? If you do, go quickly and check for today’s email to get a chance to purchase a few of the limited edition XOXO Field Notes for 2016. GO… I’ll wait….

FN 2015-16 planner

If not, subscribe today for special deals. But I’ll share the other new products available today like the new wirebound paper planner ($13.95) and a new edition of the tear-away desk calendar ($11.95).

Field Notes Planner in use

The weekly planner looks fabulous and I am looking forward to seeing more details. Its the same size as the Arts & Science edition at 4.75 x 7.5″ with a double wire spiral and 56-weeks of planning on Finch 70# text paper. The lines look like they are printed in a brown ink which is a great way to get your blue, blue-black or black ink to pop. Or if you’re like me, your purple, pink, turquoise, orange or lime green pen to pop.

Field NOtes 2016 tear away calendar

That’s some good sh*t! Enjoy!