“Ambition” is the 25th release in the Field Notes Colors series of limited edition notebooks.
The three pack contains a datebook, ledger and memo book.
Let me say right off the bat that I do not have any use for a datebook or a ledger and I would have liked more memo books in any of the standard formats (dot grid, blank, lined, etc…). That aside, I think this is one of the very best Colors editions.
I love the subdued covers with gold embossed logos, gold colored staples, and gold leaf gilded edges. These books are nice.
The paper holds up to fountain pen ink quite well though thicker and juicer pens will bleed through.
I hope the Field Notes decides to make the Ambition memo book part of their permanent line. I would happily pay a premium for it over the standard memo book.
The mad scientists at Blackbird Ballard have taken three Field Notes Pitch Black Edition notebooks and bound them together with their “tar formula” and added a cord to keep the notebook closed. The end result is a very unusual looking 144 page notebook.
As a Seattle native and fan of the Blackbird store I decided to buy this mutant Field Notes for $28 (yes $28!!!) and see if it was any good.
The “tar” appears to be quite durable and while a bit stiff at first, the binding relaxes and the notebook becomes nice to use. Blackbird uses their tar formula on its wallets and pouches so it should hold up through to the last page of the notebook.
The Field Notes Pitch Black have Finch 50#T paper with a dot grid and while it is not the most fountain pen friendly paper, I find that it works well enough with fine nibbed pens.
The notebook also features thick tar covered page marker which is a nice addition. I have have been using the three different notebooks together such that I have 1 book for to-dos and reminders, 1 book for ideas and doodling and 1 book for the blog (with a list of reviews outstanding, ideas, pens to sell and pens to buy).
I have been enjoying this notebook immensely. The main downside (apart from the price) is that it’s less pocketable than a single Field Notes (it does fit in my pants pockets but it’s bulky.
Do I recommend it? That would depend on how you like to use your Field Notes.
If you normally carry your Field Notes around in your pants pocket, then no, I definitely do not recommend them, but if you throw them in a bag as I do and you appreciate the “design” then I say go for it.
The Arts and Sciences editions are special because they are much larger than all past Colors editions. Instead of the normal package of three 3.5″ x 5.5″ notebooks you get two large 4.75″ x 7.5″ notebooks with 64 pages each.
The covers feature the normal Futura Bold typeface but unlike past editions “Field Notes” is debossed into the covers as are the little Arts and Sciences logos on the back cover.
The Arts notebook has a “chili” colored cover and features art related references on the inside covers:
The Sciences notebook has an “urban grey” colored cover and features science related references on the inside covers:
The pages in the Arts notebook are lined on one side and blank on the other. The Sciences notebook is a bit more interesting. It features “Engineer’s Graph Lines” on one side and blank pages on the other. The thickest grid lines are the 1″ followed by 0.5″ and 1/10″. I love these graph lines.
The paper in both of these notebooks is the same and like most Field Notes they don’t hold up well to fountain pen ink. There was a good amount of bleed.
Of the two, the Sciences notebook is my favorite. I really like what they did with this edition. I am not sold on this larger format at the moment but I need to spend more time with them. My initial reaction is that they are too big. You can’t put them in a pants or coat pocket.
The Field Notes Shelterwood Edition has the most unique cover I have seen so far. It features a cherry wood veneer on a brown kraft paper and it looks awesome. The feel of the cover was initially off putting, it felt like badly sanded wood. As I used the notebook more it felt less and less rough. I did not see quite the variation in color and grain as Field Notes shows on their website but each of the covers is noticeably different.
The cover is surprisingly strong, I have used it in my back pocket for a few days now and I have not seen any splintering.
I suspect as these covers get older, they will become more brittle.
The paper is the same lined paper as you got in the America the Beautiful Edition, which is by far the most fountain pen friendly Field Notes paper I have come across.
This is definitely one of the best limited edition Field Notes I have seen. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!
Cold Horizon is the latest edition in Field Notes’ Colors series. When the covers are lined up you can see a blue gradient. The blue gradient is continued in the font on the inside of the front and back cover.
In the set each notebook features a different paper color, blue, green, and grey. Each notebook has grey grids.
Overall, I love the design; it is clear that they really put some thought into these notebooks.
On to the bad:
The covers are unpleasant to touch; they have a bit of a grainy feel which seems odd on a glossy cover. Most Field Notes are not considered fountain pen friendly and the Cold Horizon edition is no exception, in fact, the paper actually seems to resist fountain pen ink.
While I like the look of these Field Notes I don’t think I will be purchasing another set.
The Field Notes Expedition was not well received as the paper does not agree with many pens. The Expedition edition uses a synthetic plastic paper and cover which makes the pages and cover tear resistant and waterproof. The pages have a grey dot pattern. I haven’t used any other waterproof papers so I don’t have anything to compare it to but I really like these Field Notes .
As you can see below, this paper is not the most pen friendly. I have found that regular (non-gel) ballpoint pens and pencils work the best. Writing in the notebook feels like writing in cold butter; it is so smooth and pleasant that even the finest points feel great on this paper. I dipped the notebook in water after doing a smear test and the plastic pages were completely fine, however, most of the ink was not.
As I have stated before in my Field Notes Calendar Review I didn’t like Field Notes right away because the paper was not fountain pen friendly. Not too long ago I saw a friend’s collection of limited edition Field Notes and I stopped caring so much about the paper.
Let’s talk about the paper; it’s okay, not great. I use my Field Notes with fountain pens and and there is some bleed through and very minor feathering with juicy pens. Some editions have slightly thicker paper than others but in general Field Notes do not do that well with fountain pens.
I love the Futura typeface and all of the interesting and amusing things that they print onto the covers. I also really like that they list how each Field Notes was manufactured and what materials were used. Here is the cover of the California County Fair Field Notes:
Field Notes measure 3.5″ x 5.5″ and come with 48 pages of blank, ruled, or graph paper. There are more variations in the limited editions, for instance, the Drink Local Edition has an amber colored grid paper and the Night Sky Edition used a reticle graph paper. You can subscribe to their Colors Subscription for $97 a year and you will get 4 quarterly shipments with two three-packs of the most recent limited edition as well as two three-packs of the standard Field Notes for a total of ten three-packs per year.
There are not many collectable paper products out there and certainly none that have been executed as well as Field Notes. If you are into pens and paper Field Notes are pretty hard to resist…I am contemplating a second Colors subscription.
I usually carry at least one Field Notes in my Midori Traveler’s notebook as they are really easy to slide in an out when I don’t need all the other notebooks in my Midori.
Here are some great Field Notes reviews:
(I have no affiliation with any of the sites linked below)