Field Notes Notebooks Review

The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition Back Cover with Coasters
The new Field Notes Drink Local Edition Back Cover with Coasters

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.

Field Notes

As you can see there is quite a lot of bleed through from the Montblanc and some minor spotting with both of the Auroras.
As you can see there is quite a lot of bleed through from the Montblanc and some minor spotting with both of the Auroras.

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 County Fair

Field Notes County Fair

Field Notes County Fair
Practical Applications : #16: Animal Husbandry Techniques

Field Notes County Fair

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.

This is my modest collection of Field Notes
This is my modest collection of Field Notes…no Butcher Blue here

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.

Field Notes in Midori

Here are some great Field Notes reviews:

(I have no affiliation with any of the sites linked below)

A Penchant For Paper – Field Notes Memo Books

Not Enough Bits in This Byte –  A Review: Field Notes vs. Moleskine

Inkophile – Field Notes Journals or Moleskine Cahiers

Pencil Revolution –  Field Notes Review, Part II: The Notebook.

Stationery Review – Field Notes – Squared Memo Book

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad Review

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

Exacompta is part of the Exacompta Clairefontaine Group (Rhodia, Clairefontaine, G. Lalo,  J. Herbin, Quo Vadis, and others).  Exacompta means “exact accounting”; the company originally made ledgers and now is more known for journals.

The Exacompta FAF (Fabriqué en France) Desk Pad is a bit of an odd item.  It is a metal-backed refillable notepad with 200 perforated 60 gsm sheets that measure 4.25″ x 7.25″ (this is the medium size).  I am not sure why anyone would need a refillable notepad but it looked interesting so I purchased one.  Exacompta claims that it is built in a workshop built by Gustave Eiffel (the man who designed the Eiffel Tower).

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

The 60 gsm paper is thinner than Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper; it is also not as smooth but it holds ink well as has a faster drying time.  There is virtually no bleed through.  I had to try pretty hard to get the paper to bleed.  I prefer the paper to both Clairefontaine and Rhodia because of how thin the paper is and how quick it dries (compared to other fountain pen friendly papers).  Exacompta calls the sheets “microperforated” which seems pretty generous as they don’t make for the cleanest of tears.  The notches next to the perforations are a touch I quite like.  As the name implies this notepad is designed for the desk; the exposed bolts and lack of a cover don’t make the FAF all that portable.

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

A few negative points: 1) I don’t like the ugly Exacompta two tree logo at the top of the pad and 2) the metal back bows slightly causing the pad to feel a bit springy which is annoying. 3) The FAF costs almost $40!

Exacompta FAF Desk Pad

I have seen lined refills for the FAF but in the US I believe they only sell the blanks (200 sheets for $8).  Despite its flaws I really like the FAF Desk Pad; it has a vintage high quality look and fountain pen friendly paper.

Here is are some great reviews of the FAF Desk Pad:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Pencil Talk – Exacompta Bloc Faf – Retro Office Excellence

Life Imitates Doodles – Review of the Exacompta FAF Pad

OfficeSupplyGeek – Exacompta FAF Pad – Retro Desk Pad

Pocket Blonde – Review: FAF Un Bloc Pad

Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Pens 005 + 02 Review

Ohto Graphic Liner

The Otho Graphic Liner is a roller ball pen with pigment ink that is both water proof and fade proof.  There is a line width for everyone, 0.3mm to 1.5mm.  The 0.5mm is my favorite as it is ultra smooth while still laying down a fine and sharp line.  The Graphic Liner feels a bit like a porous tip fine liner with the smooth ink flow and a bit like a roller ball with the hard metal tip; it’s a great combination.  The O.3mm is a little more needle-like than I prefer but it is still smoother than most 0.3mm pens I have tried, including the Pilot Hi-Tec-C gel pen.  These pens are labeled with numbers that correspond to their various line widths, however they aren’t labeled in millimeters, instead the 0.3mm is a 005 and the 0.5mm is a 02 so be careful when you purchase.  The Graphic Liner isn’t the most attractive with it’s black body and orange accents.  The clip is strong and functional.

Ohto Graphic Liner

Otho classifies the Graphic Liner as a “free ink roller pen”, meaning that the pen has no “fibrous ink reservoir” (if anyone knows what that actually means please let me know).  The Graphic Liner only comes in black but Otho makes other free ink roller pens that come in multiple colors, so I will definitely be giving those a try.   At $2.50 ($2.65 for the 005) I highly recommend it; it is easily one of my favorite non-fountain pens.


Here are some great reviews on the Ohto Graphic Liner:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Papercide – OHTO Graphic Liner 005

LifeImitatesDoodles – Review of the Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen

Atomic Venetia – Product Review: Ohto graphic liner needle point drawing set

The Well-Appointed Desk – Ohto Graphic Liner 0.3

The Pen Addict – Ohto Graphic Liner Needle Point Drawing Pen 03 Review

Pilot Ageless Future Gel Pen Review

Pilot Ageless Pen - tip position 1 - fully retracted
Pilot Ageless Pen – tip position 1 – fully retracted

The Pilot Ageless line comprises high quality pens with a patented two staged twist mechanism that completely retracts the pen tip.  They come in two flavors: gel and ballpoint (the refills are not interchangeable).  There are two barrel options that come in a variety of colors, the Future has a metal barrel with a silver grip section and the Presence has a plastic body with a translucent grey grip section.

Pilot Ageless Future - Tip position 2.
Pilot Ageless Future – tip position 2
Pilot Ageless Future - tip position 3
Pilot Ageless Future – tip position 3

The design of the pen is nice and clean and is great for pockets as the tip completely retracts; no more getting stabbed by your pen.  I like the Carbon Grey body of the Future which looks and feels high quality.  The clip is small but strong.  The Future is nicely weighted without being too heavy.

The Ageless Gel is one of the smoothest gel pens I have used.  The refills only come in fine 0.7mm with blue or black ink and they aren’t that cheap; a pack of 12 costs $37 (about $3 a refill).  The fine 0.7mm line is on the fatter side and the ink doesn’t look that sharp but I do enjoy writing with this pen and I can’t say that about many gel pens.  The pen comes in a white tube which works as a storage box as well as a pen stand.  The Pilot Ageless Future Gel makes a really nice gift for someone who wants a great everyday pen.

Pilot Ageless Future Gel Pen

Here are some other great Pilot Ageless Reviews:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

The Pen Chronicles – Ageless vs. Timeline

Slow Burn Productions – Pen review: Pilot Namiki Ageless Future in Silver

Zebra Arbez Piitro Ballpoint Pen 0.7mm Review

Zebra Arbez Piitro Ballpoint

While I already wrote a review on Zebra Arbez EO, the Piitro was actually the first pen in the Arbez line.  The Zebra Arbez Piitro was designed by a young Finnish designer to look like a icepick.  The pens come in lightweight white or black plastic bodies with black, blue, or red ink.  The ballpoint seems to be the same crappy one you get in the EO.  This pen is more about the design (which I like much better than the Arbez EO) than the writing performance.  The Piitro is different without looking like something made by Fisher-Price as the EO does.  This pen features a nice twist mechanism and a plastic clip that is integrated into the main barrel section.  There is a seam that goes right down the middle of the pen which is unfortunate and the top of the pen has some extra plastic but for $1.65 it’s not the end of the world.

Here are some great reviews of the Zebra Arbez Piitro:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

No Pen Intended – Zebra Arbez Piirto Ballpoint Pen – 0.7 mm

Pen and Design –  Zebra Arbez Piirto 0.7mm Review

The Pen Addict – Zebra Arbez Piirto Ballpoint Pen 0.7 mm Review

Original Crown Mill Laid Paper Review

I am a big fan of writing letters and thank-you notes on real paper and correspondence stock.  Original Crown Mill has become quite popular in the last few years so I thought I would write a review on their laid paper correspondence pad and envelopes.  The Original Crown Mill paper has been made by Pelletier & Co in Belgium since 1870.

Original Crown Mill Pad

The 50 sheet correspondence pad is glue bound at the top and does not come with a blotter sheet; you do however get a lined guide sheet to put under the paper so you can keep your writing straight.  The paper is the standard A5 size (5.83″ × 8.27″) and has a 100g weight.  I really like the look and feel of the paper; it is laid so you get a very attractive ribbed texture.  This paper is supposedly a replica of a handmade 17th century writing paper commissioned by King Charles II.

Original Crown Mill Writing Test

Unfortunately this paper has quite a bit of feathering and some bleed through with the more juicy pens.  If you like pens with a fine nib I think this paper will work well for you but if you like writing with a wider or wetter nib there is better paper out there.

Original Crown Mill Bleed

I love the color of these orange/yellow envelopes and I wish I had bought a pad in this color.  The envelopes come in packs of 25 and are lined with white paper.

Original Crown Mill Envelope

Original Crown Mill Envelope

Original Crown Mill also makes a cotton paper as well; the cotton paper is more expensive and doesn’t take the ink as well as the laid paper so I have not repurchased it.

Here is a great review of Original Crown Mill laid paper:

(I have no affiliation to the site linked below)

Wonder Pens – Original Crown Mill Classic Laid Writing Paper

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Review

I have been using a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner since my school days and it is still one of my favorite fineliners.  The Triplus fineliner comes in 30 different colors and features a long thin triangle-shaped barrel with a metal encased tip.  The tip is on the softer side but manages to still feel precise and ultra smooth.  The Triplus fineliner puts down a very clean and crisp line that Staedtler measures at 0.3mm.  I enjoy writing with this pen but others may find the line too wide.  By changing pressure you can get some line variation.

Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

The Triplus fineliner also features “DRY SAFE” technology that allows the pen to be uncapped for days without drying out.  I haven’t tested this claim beyond 30 minutes but others have and attest that the Triplus wont dry out after a few days of being uncapped.  It is worth noting that the ink is neither archival nor waterproof.

For a pen of this type, the Staedtler Triplus fineliner lasts a long time and at $1.30 a piece you can’t go wrong.  Also if you buy these pens in a set the box turns into a pen stand which is awesome.

Here are some great reviews of the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

The Pen Addict – Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 0.3 mm Review

Fitness and Filofaxing –  Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner

A Penchant for Paper –  Staedtler Triplus Fineliners

Journaling Arts – Review: Staedtler Triplus Fineliners in a Moleskine Sketchbook

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot 78G is a great looking budget fountain pen. The pen I will be reviewing has a bold nib that is actually a stub; I do not know why Pilot doesn’t offer this pen with a round tipped bold nib.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Nib

The nib writes quite well with some feedback but it is a bit dry for my taste; I may have to experiment with some different inks to find what works best with this pen.

The Pilot 78G comes with an aerometric-style converter and also accepts Pilot cartridges.  It is rare for pens at this price point to come with a converter.  For example, the ultra popular Lamy Safari at $35 doesn’t come with a converter; you have to pay an extra $5 to get one.  Unlike the aerometric filling system found in a Parker 51 the Pilot’s doesn’t hold a lot of ink.  If you plan to do a lot of writing you would be better served by using this pen with a cartridge.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen

The body is made of a lightweight black plastic and features a gold plated steel nib and clip.  The 78G weighs in at about half an ounce which is lighter than I prefer.  Capped it measures about 5.25″ and is 0.5″ wide at its widest point.  The grip section is a problem, at less than a quarter inch wide I find it too skinny to be comfortable for long writing sessions.  If you have larger hands or a tight grip this pen may be a bit too small for you.  The body of the 78G seems to scratch quite easily but at this price point it’s not that big of a deal.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Cap

I have been using the Pilot 78G for 7 days straight now and it is great for taking notes. Compared to my Lamy Safari w/1.1mm stub, the Pilot 78G writes better, looks better and costs a fourth of the price.  In short the Pilot 78G is great entry-level fountain pen that I highly recommend.

Pilot 78G Fountain Pen
Pilot 78G fountain pen writing sample. Diamine Ultra Green ink on Maruman P160 Report Pad.

Here are some great reviews of the Pilot 78G fountain pen:

(I have no affiliation to the sites linked below)

Gourmet Pens – Review: Pilot 78G Green Fountain Pen – Broad Nib

Ink of Me Fondly – Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Fine Nib Black Body

The Daily Acquisition – Pilot 78G Fountain Pen Review

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar Review

When I tried Field Notes journals a few years back I didn’t like them; the paper wasn’t fountain pen friendly so I gave them away and that was that.  Recently, I saw a friend’s vast collection of limited edition Field Notes and realized that I couldn’t live without them.  Beyond the journals I have ventured out into some of their other products which brings me to the Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar.

The calendar features the same Futura Bold font as the journals and the chipboard backing has the typical sort of campy/amusing signage you expect from Field Notes.  For example, it states “No maintenance or special tools required.”  As the name suggests this calendar has 18 months starting November 2013 and ending with April 2015.

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (front)
Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (front)

The back of the chipboard features a list of “Real Big Days” including major holidays and the dates of (random) historical events; here is a sample of the dates:

Mar 22: “Leonard ‘Chico’ Marx, hat-wearing comedian (b. 1887)”

May 1 : “1982 World’s Fair opens in Knoxville, Tennessee (1982)”

Jun 12 : “Dr. Cyclops begins filming in three-stage Technicolor (1939)”

The back also lists details about what was used in the manufacturing process.

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (back)
Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (back)

The calendar itself is very simple; the only real features are moon phases and holidays.  There isn’t much space to write in the date boxes so like the Field Notes journals you would buy this more for looks than for function.  The Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar looks great and I am excited to use it at my desk.

Pilot FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Pen Review

While there are a lot of things I don’t like about the Pilot FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Pen, it is easily the best erasable pen I have used.

Sorry about the picture quality.  Out of town for the weekend and forgot my camera.
Sorry about the picture quality. Out of town for the weekend and forgot my camera.

One thing I didn’t mention in the written review is that the eraser doesn’t make a mess like a normal pencil eraser.  The ink disappears with heat caused by the “frixion” of the eraser against the paper.

Here is another Pilot FriXion Clicker review:

(I have no affiliation to the site linked below)

Pilot FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Pen Review – by Y-uhao’s