Field Notes are essentially pocket notebooks, but they're far more than just an ordinary notebook. I had been searching for a pocket notebook that was durable, encouraged me to use them, was easy to carry around, and wasn't bulky or horrible to look at.
Originally, I had tried all varieties of the Moleskine notebooks, even the Volant ones. The Cahier notebooks came close, but I wasn't happy with their quality. So I broadened my search to other brands by scouring blogs and reviews of pens and notebooks. One brand I found that was consistently mentioned was Field Notes Brand's notebooks.
A elegantly simple design, rounded corners, and made in the United States were all positives for Field Notes Brand. But the best thing yet was the limited edition notebooks that they produced which didn't cost any more than the normal notebooks did. The COLORS editions are released four times a year, one for each season, with a new design inspired by that season.
I had known about Field Notes for about a year until they finally released a limited edition notebook that I had to have (Raven's Wing had already been sold out when I found out about Field Notes). That limited edition was the Fall 2011 'Fire Spotter' edition. This edition featured a red cover which was letterpress-printed with a stunning debossed logo on the back to go with the debossed logomark on the front. All the COLORS editions come with some extra ephemera. In this case, it was a temporary tattoo from Tattly. All together, this edition was sufficient to encourage me to make my first purchase of Field Notes' notebooks:
Signing up for a COLORS Subscription gets you two packs of the limited edition release (or a single pack, if it is a 6 book release, such as the recent National Crop Edition) for the next 4 seasonal releases. Field Notes Brand also includes extra ephemera with each shipment, and the first shipment also includes two packs of their regular notebooks (a 3-pack of graph and a mixed pack) in addition to your first two limited edition packs. All together, you get 30 separate notebooks plus whatever additional ephemera has been sent you. That's a fantastic deal.
Pictured above are the Fall 2011, Winter 2011, and Spring 2012 limited editions stacked atop each other. The Spring 2012 edition was a set of six separate notebooks packed inside a cardboard box. The Spring 2012 "National Crop" edition came with a map poster and a Field Notes iron-on patch inside the box as well. The Winter 2011 "Northerly" edition didn't come with any swag, but it was the first limited edition to feature an embossed cover. It's also my favorite limited edition of all of them to write in by far. It appears that the more unusual a limited edition is, the less ephemera comes with it, which I don't mind. The glossy cover and colored pages of the Northerly edition are such a pleasure that I really didn't need something else to go with these special features.
One of the best known advertisements for Field Notes is the fact that they have sponsored the Morning News' Tournament of Books (TOB) for a few years now. Once in a while, they've offered a special TOB notebook with the purchase of anything from the Field Notes online store. The first year, a reading list of the books for the TOB was printed on the notebook's back cover with a red rooster stamped in ink on the front cover, with one of their rubber bands:
In 2012, Field Notes had just released their new standard-edition "Red-Blooded" notebook (red with a letterpress-printed debossed logomarked front cover). This new Red-Blooded edition was offered as the 2012 TOB promotional item with a black rooster stamped in ink on the front cover:
Needless to say, a company that supports great literature being written today deserves my support. The Summer 2012 limited edition only further confirmed Field Notes as being one of my favorite companies. They've begun publishing books in an unique format - a larger sized Field Notes notebook format. This "Day Game" limited edition featured baseball-related colors, and the book was 'A Drive Into The Gap' by Kevin Guilfoile:
While the Field Notes limited edition is sold out (obviously), you can still purchase copies of 'A Drive Into The Gap' if you want.
One of the best aspects of Field Notes Brand is that they're organized well. The most recent limited edition as of the time I wrote this was the recently released 2012 Fall Limited Edition, the "Traveling Salesman" edition. It comes with a button from Busy Beaver in Chicago, and is marked for your region. The official glamour shot for this limited edition displays a 'Western Region' pin:
However, I don't live in the West. I actually live in the Midwest. No problem! They actually customized the region based on your shipping address:
Needless to say, with this level of customization going on and how well the actual notebooks themselves perform, I'm a huge fan of Field Notes. But I'm probably not as big of a fan as James White of Signalnoise is. He's put together a really nice Field Notes collection and has produced his own mini-site about the items in his collection. He doesn't have the TOB edition listed... yet. There are of course some other "limited editions" that were just ink stamped onto the notebooks, so you have to draw the line somewhere. However, the first TOB edition had that checklist of books printed on its back cover.
As of 8 November 2012, Field Notes has added several limited edition "collectors' collector's items" which are squarely targeted at the Field Notes collector (indicating that this is actually a growing market). One of the items they released was released around Christmastime 2011 and sold out nearly immediately - the 'Pony Express' Leather Pouch. Two new items have been created - the Archival Wooden Box (for storage of your notebooks) and the Gentleman's Memo Book Cover (a high-class leather cover):
The Archival Wooden Box
The Gentleman's Memo Book Cover
The 'Pony Express' Leather Pouch
I've used Field Notes heavily ever since I received my first shipment. I've gone through several packages of the standard "kraft" colored editions, but I've also gone through a couple of the limited edition and standard variant journals as well:
Here's a sample of what I write inside the typical journal: