It’s hard to know where to to begin with Field Notes’ 33rd quarterly edition (winter, 2016). In a snapshot, it’s the typical 3.5″ x 5.5″ pocket-notebook with 48 pages of 70#, line-ruled paper. But with this notebook, which Field Notes has named the “Black Ice” edition, there’s actually a lot more going.
This notebook has a hefty 100# cover stock that is stamped with a dull, reflective foil. The cover shows cracks and scratches with wear, but somehow never seems to leave smudges or finger-prints. It ostensibly represents the shiny, gray coloring of a thin layer of ice on asphalt. It’s a clever design, though not one that’s easy to photograph.
Oddly, there’s also a lot of orange with this edition – the orange spine, the glossy inside-cover section, and the ruling that lines the header section on each page – which is perhaps an ode to the Field Notes creator, Aaron Draplin. Not that I’ve got nothing against orange, but I don’t see how it makes much sense with the “Black Ice” theme. A dark gray would have worked better, in my opinion.
The most unique feature of the Black Ice edition, however, is the use of PUR binding, a first for Field Notes. Instead of stapling the pages together, each leaf of paper is glued into the book, and the spine is then covered by an orange, rubbery hinge. The obvious advantage to PUR-binding is that it creates a much tougher spine for the notebook, though it also adds some bulk and prevents pages from easily laying open. As someone who typically keeps these notebooks in a back pocket, the extra bulk isn’t ideal, though I wouldn’t describe it as particularly cumbersome either.
Overall, anyone who uses Field Notes is likely to enjoy the Black Ice edition, though it doesn’t personally rank among my favorites. The bulkiness of the PUR binding can be a little annoying, and I’m not in love with the use of orange. On the other hand, the reflective covers look good, the pages are hefty, and it’s a durable little book. No doubt this edition will find a lot of fans, but I wouldn’t be surprised by the fact that it also has a few detractors.
- Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “02. Curling Rosters”; “24. Plunges Polar-Beared”; and “27. Bells on Bob Tails Rung”
- With the Field Notes quarterly subscription, this edition came with a couple pieces of wrapping paper and gift labels. It was a smart assumption by Field Notes that these notebooks, released prior to Christmas, would be gifted. Though, I used the wrapping paper I received to wrap other gifts.
- Check out some other good Black Ice reviews at Fountain Pen Follies, Lead Fast, and Nerd Gazette.