Notes on Campfire Field Notes

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Here in North America, a campfire isn’t always just a campfire. For a lot of people, campfires are wrapped up in childhood memories of summer camp, family vacations, and scouts’ outings. As a result, the humble campfire has taken on deeper meaning in American culture, and it’s been wrapped up in its own set of mores and traditions. So, when Field Notes released the Campfire Edition, the company’s 35th quarterly edition of their popular pocket notebooks, they imbued the product with a lot of sentiment and symbolism.

The Campfire Edition comes as a set of three notebooks, each with a different cover. The first is the Dusk/Geometry book, which represents (and explains) the construction of a proper campfire. The second is the Night/Community book, which advocates the virtue of sitting around a fire, telling ghost stories, and listening to someone playing an off-key guitar. The third is the Dawn/Responsibility notebook, which depicts an erstwhile Campfire and implores us to be a responsible campfire master. These notebook  covers are printed using a photographic halftone technique that give them a nostalgic 1950’s look.

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If it sounds like these notebooks are among Field Notes’ more conceptual editions, then you’re right. A lot of thought clearly went into their production. Field Notes even thought to include a merit badge with every 3-pack. Practically, however, there is nothing that sets this edition apart. Beneath the glossy covers, you’ll find what you usually find: 60# paper with a graph ruling.

Of course, Field Notes doesn’t have to go crazy with every quarterly edition, and, frankly, some of my favorite editions have nothing more than particularly cool covers. But for anyone who doesn’t count camping as a hobby or tradition, these notebooks are unlikely to inspire much enthusiasm. Personally, I don’t count Campfire among my favorites, but anyone who loves to camp will probably feel differently.

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Additional Notes

  • Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “04. Clean Camp Songs;” “05. ‘After Hours’ Camp Songs;” and “13. Miles to Go Before Sleep.”
  • I love this note that’s printed on the back of each book: “In a pinch, this memo book can be used as kindling.” Though, at $13 per 3-pack, that’s some expensive kindling.
  • Check out this review at Leadfast from someone who has spent a lot of time around the campfire.

 

Five Pens to Try – August 2017 Update

Almost two years ago, I put together a list of pen recommendations based on the 25 reviews I’d done up to that point. Now with over 100 reviews under my belt, it’s time to update it once again. So let’s get to it. Here are five pens that you should try:

1. If you’re looking for something a little nicer, get yourself a Retro 51 Tornado

Retro 1951 Tornado

At this point, it’s fair to say that I’m a  Retro 51 Tornado addict. If I’m counting correctly, I believe I have a dozen of these pens, and I’ve bought a handful more to give as gifts. Tons of different designs are available, and it’s a great option if you’re thinking about upgrading your writing experience. And while many nicer pens go for $100 or more, you can get a Tornado for as little as $20. It also might be worth checking out the Slim Tornado line, which the company has been expanding lately.

2. Need to fill up your pen cup? Place an order for the Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

Pentel Energel Deluxe RTX

There are many great gel pens on the market, but the Pentel Energel is arguably the best. It’s durable, it’s comfortable, it has great ink, and it doesn’t cost a whole lot of money. This is really a great pen to have laying about in your work area, and it comes in a variety of colors and tip sizes. And if you really like this pen, you can get a stainless steel version for under $10.

3. For when you’re on the move, grab the Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

Fisher Cap-O-Matic Space Pen

If you need a compact pen that can write in variety of situations, the Fisher Cap-O-Matic is the way to go. The pressurized Space Pen ink cartridge will write upside-down or on wet paper, if you need it to. Though, I still really like my Tombow Airpress, the slim, metal body of the Cap-O-Matic makes it a bit more pocket friendly.

4. For your everyday writer, you’ll want the Foray Stylemark

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I’m constantly using porous point pens because they produce crisp and clean lines that make anybody’s handwriting look a little bit nicer. My new favorite: the Foray Stylemark. Its soft grip and good-quality clip are features that other porous points pens don’t typically have, making it the best one out there. But if you can’t find a Stylemark, the BIC Intensity comes in at a close second, and the Sharpie Pen will do in a pinch.

5. If you’ve been thinking about fountain pens, check out the TWSBI Eco

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Fountain pens are typically perceived as finicky, old fashioned devices, yet there’s still a large market for them because they provide such a unique and interesting writing experience. So if you or someone you know is looking to try one out, you can’t do much better than the TSBI Eco. It’s about $30, which is rather inexpensive for a fountain pen, and it looks great, writes great, plus it’s easy to use. It’s available in various nib sizes and styles, though I have to say that the stub nib is pretty killer.


So there’s a handful of pens for you to check out. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email me at atb@pensandjunk.com or just leave a comment below.

Review: Foray Stylemark, Porous Point, 0.5mm

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Ever since the Sharpie Pen began to grow in popularity, it seems like porous point pens have eaten up more and more shelf space. This, honestly, comes as no surprise to me; porous points, even the super cheap ones, tend to write very crisp and clean lines. They make handwriting noticeably nicer and neater.

The Foray Stylemark is definitely among the better porous points out on the market. It has a plastic barrel and cap, but comes with a sturdy clip and a rubber grip. It looks nice, but it’s nothing flashy. Still, it’s a step up from its competitors, which often have short caps, crummy clips, and no grip section to speak of.

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In fact, I think I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Stylemark has ousted the BIC Intensity to become my new favorite porous point pen. The only issue: Foray is an Office Depot house brand. So you’re unlikely to find it outside of that company’s stores. But if you are a fan of porous point pens then it might be worth making the trip.

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Extra Links

Notes on Neon Ice Pop Field Notes

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It’s seems like an odd marketing choice for Field Notes to create a special edition “just for kids,” but that’s exactly what they did with the Neon Ice Pop edition in early 2010. Rather than the standard Kraft brown cover stock, Field Notes and Crewcuts (J. Crew’s children’s line) partnered together to give the children something a little brighter in the form of fluorescence; each 3-pack contains one green, one yellow, and one orange notebook.

Inside each notebook there are 48-pages of 50# white paper with a bright “Summer Sky” blue graph ruling, and a kid-friendly “Practical Applications” list that includes some uninspired items such as “Chores,” “Addresses,” and “Wish Lists.” Besides that, these notebooks aren’t any different from your typical pack of Field Notes.

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If you’re looking for a bright set of Field Notes or just looking to collect one of their older editions, then you’re in luck. Though these Neon Ice Pops have been out of print for some time, they tend to show up frequently in secondary markets (like eBay or Facebook). And, often, I’ve seen them available for little more than J. Crew’s original $14.50 price tag.

The Neon Ice Pop edition isn’t among the best that Field Notes has created, but it’s hard not to like them anyway. They are simple and fun… even for an adult.

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Additional Notes

  • As I mentioned above, the Practical Applications list is a lot less clever and wry than typical, but if I had to choose the best ones, I’d say “02. Parent Traps;” “04. Tomfoolery;” and “27. Mysteries Investigated.”
  • At some point, late in 2010, Field Notes also made this edition available on their website for $11.95, and they also included a set of matching pencils!
  • Is it the Neon Ice Pop Edition or the Neon Ice Pops Edition? Their website has used both – with and without an “s.” Well, according the the inside-back cover, on the very bottom, it should be the “Neon Ice Pop” edition. No S.

 

Review: Sunacme Classical Press, Gel Ink, 0.5mm

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I’ve used many pens in the past that are nearly identical to the Sunacme Classical Press. It’s a pen that falls into a category I refer to as “premium plastic.” These premium plastic pens typically have clear bodies, black trim, use gel ink, and run in the $1-$2 price range. Think Pilot G-2, the BIC Gelocity, or the Zebra Sarasa. You’ll find no shortage of premium plastic pens at any convenience store, drug store, or big box store. In fact, I have plenty of these premium plastic pens floating around my apartment, but I was still driven to pick up a pack of these Classical Press pens because their slick, curvy design caught my eye.

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Besides aesthetics, the Classic press has a comfortable, rubbery grip, and gel ink that produces a respectably dark, low-smear line. Unfortunately, this is all undercut by the fact that the refill skips out much, much to frequently. When using a classic press, a scratch pad and patience for re-writing letters/words are both must-haves. I had initially hoped it was just one bad refill – a dud – but all the pens in the 18-pack I bought have this same problem.

At 60 cents per pen, the Classical Press was significantly less expensive than most other premium plastics, but it’s still not worth it for what is ultimately a frustrating writing experience. If you want a nice gel pen in the 1 or 2 dollar range, you’re better off just sticking with the Pilot G-2 or, even better, a uni-ball Signo 207. Just be sure to steer clear of the Classical Press – a slick design is no substitute for a poor refill.

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