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.
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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
When Field Notes released their Chicago Edition pocket notebooks in 2016, they weren’t marketed as the first in a series. Because the company is based in Chicago, it seemed more like something the Field Notes employees made as a fun little side-project. But fast forward a year, and now we have the Portland Edition, which is the second in what Field Notes is now referring to as the “Hometown Series.”
This Portland edition, like the Chicago edition before it, uses the same 80# cover stock and 50# graph-lined inner-paper as the standard Kraft edition. The only significant difference is that these notebooks have Portland’s municipal flag printed on the cover, adjusted so that the four-pointed star is centered underneath the Field Notes logo.
Portland has a really great flag design, so I like these pocket notebooks for that reason alone. But they’d mainly be great for anyone who likes the standard Kraft Field Notes, yet wants something a little more interesting than the “packing paper” brown cover. So far, the notebooks in this Hometown Series aren’t “limited” and don’t cost any more than standard Field Notes. So even for someone with no personal connection to Portland, they still might be worth buying over the Kraft books. And for any proud Portlanders (or Portlandians?), these notebooks are literally made for you.
I’ve always thought of pocket-sized notebooks, especially Field Notes, as a utility product. They’re meant to be carried around to jot down small notes or ideas, and they are durable enough to take a bit of abuse. But now, with their 34th Quarterly Edition, Field Notes has formally made a Utility themed notebook. It has a black and safety-yellow color scheme, extra-thick cover stock, and even a pop-out ruler to make it just a little bit more useful.
With this Utility edition, I was especially happy to see that two options available for the ruling of the inner paper: engineer graph and ledger. Graph is my go-to ruling and a pretty standard options with Field Notes, and the engineer graph essentially just adds fatter lines at intervals. The ledger ruling is used less often, but it’s a favorite of mine. It’s a ruling that is meant for bookkeepers but works really well for anybody who makes a lot of lists.
Overall, it’s bright, durable, and a great edition, but Field Notes did have a couple of quality problems along the way. First, there was some complaints online that the corners of these notebooks were arriving frayed. My notebooks definitely had this issue, but it was to a minor degree. Some other people’s notebooks were a little worse off, but I can’t say I’m bothered by it. My notebooks tend to get abused anyway, so I consider this to be – at worst – a quality hiccup.
Second, the “After Hours Utility Tool” – a key chain/bottle-opener that was given to Field Notes subscribers – is just cheaply made. The front logo decal popped off after some light use, revealing a big “CHINA” inscription. That’s not a good look for a company that prides itself on manufacturing in the U.S.A. Beyond even that, it’s still a pretty crummy bottle opener. However, it’s just a little extra goody, so I’m certainly not overly upset about it.
In fact, I’m more than willing to put these issues aside. I like these notebooks. The Utility theme is neat, the books are extra-durable (with 80# cover stock and 70# inner paper), and I love the ledger ruling. I tend to give a lot of my Field Notes notebooks away, but I’m definitely going to make sure I have a couple of these saved for myself.
- Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “02. Union Dues Owed;” “15. Good Caulk Jokes;” and “16. Riveting Stories.”
- The only other Field Notes I’ve used with a ledger ruling was the Ambition Edition. Those, unfortunately, have become pretty difficult to find.
- Concerning the pop-out ruler, it’s one of those “oh – cool!” features that quickly turned into a “but why?” for me. But I never use the ruler that’s usually printed in the back of Field Notes notebooks. Does anybody?
- Check out more Utility Field Notes reviews at The Well Appointed Desk, Fountain Pen Follies, and Office Supply Geek.
As far as I can tell, Red Blooded Field Notes were made for two reasons. First, so that a Field Notes designer could make a really adorable/cheesy/cute video for his wife on Valentine’s Day. And, second, because the Fall 2011 quarterly edition, Fire Spotter, was so well received that Field Notes wanted to have a similar edition with an open-ended production run (unlike Fire Spotter, which Field Notes limited to 4,000 3-packs).
The all-red cover, including the subtly-embossed logo, looks pretty good, so it’s not a shock that Red Blooded went through a total of three printings before it was discontinued in 2013. I bought this pack a couple of years ago when they could be found through re-sellers, who were still hawking them for a reasonable price. But these days you’ll have to go through eBay to get them, and a 3-pack often runs $40 or $50.
That amount of money definitely isn’t worth it. Compared to recent editions like Lunacy or Black Ice, Red Blooded is fairly basic. It’s the standard pocket size with 48-pages of 50# white paper and a gray, grid ruling. You might think the books would be bound with red staples – that would make sense – but run-of-the-mill silver ones are used instead.
That’s not meant to knock the good people over at Field Notes HQ. A red edition was obviously a good idea, but I’d recommend holding onto that wallet for now. You never know – a fourth printing is still a possibility. And if it comes, hopefully it’ll have red staples.
- Of the 30 “Practical Applications” listed in the notebooks’ inside-back cover, my favorites are the following: “03. Lists of Suspected Communists”; “16. Loves Me/Loves Me Not Stats”; and “30. Tape to Cut Through.”
- According to Jinnie at Three Staples, this edition shipped out with a red “Field Notes Loves You” pencil. Blarg! I wish I had gotten one of those.
- What about the edition size? Exactly how many Red Blooded Field Notes were made? Nobody knows!