First off, they have class. I love the way they look and feel. Simple, direct, business-like. They appeal to the engineer in me.
Second, the paper is good. I have used a variety of pens and inks. The paper takes the ink well with no feathering and dries quickly, something that I like a lot. I've had no bleed-through at all. There is a bit of show-through, though. How do I discriminate between the two? With bleed-through, it looks like there is ink on both sides of the page after you've written on one side. With show-through, it looks like you can see the ink on the other side, not both sides. So, maybe that just means "faint" bleed-through. I don't know. I prefer my description. Just doesn't seem the same to me. Show-through is definitely better than bleed-through. With the latter, you can't write on the reverse side. With show-through, you can if you want to, because it doesn't interfere that much. However, I generally don't. This is a bit of a con in my mind, as I prefer to use both sides.
So that gets to a difference between this notebook, and the Reporter's Moleskines I carried for several years. With the Moleskines, they seem more permanent. With Field Notes, they are more transient. I have not hesitated to cut out whole pages, or in one instance to cut out part of one page to paste a geometrical figure over a design on another page. So the fact that they seem less permanent is kind of neat. I feel more flexible in how I use them.
The gridded paper is great for designing things (most recently, I won a contest designing a logo for a convention -- won a free convention/hotel package!) Not being a great artist, having the grid helps me to keep the perspective and proportion the way I want them. For writing, however, they are a bit tight -- well, I write big, so that might not be a problem for most people. I write big, and I like a medium nib, and so I want some space. Easy enough: I use two grids for caps and one grid for lower-case letters. Again, it has urged me to break out of an old habit into a more flexible relationship with the notebook. So is the small grid size a feature or a bug? You decide.
The folks at Field Notes are great! And they include some great swag when you order a three pack, like an old-fashioned pencil and a decal.
I like to keep a notebook in my hip pocket. Usually that's a good place for one. The Moleskines went through hell-and-high-water there without a hitch. The Field Notes -- well, one rainy weekend when my Boys Scouts and I were on a campout, maybe I should have kept it in a shirt pocket, because it got pretty moist. Some of the paper wrinkled, and the cover started separating along the fold. But the wrinkles are not that much of a problem, and Scotch green plaid tape solved the cover-separation problem. One might say it added character. Perfection is not a requirement.
I've given out a couple. That ought to tell you something. Now I have to order more because I am coming to the end of this one and have no replacement handy. I think about going back to the Reporter, as I loved the heck out of that style, but I dunno -- the Field Notes notebook is sure more comfortable on the hip, I don't even notice it is there, and its many qualities are sure appealing. Can't beat the price either -- 3 pack costs only $9.95.
Bottom line: a great product. I really like 'em.
Edited 1/14/09 to add this photo, since several folks have requested it:
Note the wrinkled corners, the scotch tape on the spine, and the "form-fitting" shape.
Edited by Brerarnold, 15 January 2009 - 02:55.