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Field Notes Campfire Edition Review

11 Jul, 2017

Field Notes Campfire Edition Review

It's here! The Field Notes Campfire edition is in stock and ready to go. Want to find out more? Here's my opinion on the Campfire, some specifications and a little review about how it performs with fountain pens.

Field Notes Campfire Edition: first impressions

As you may know, my writing weapon of choice is almost always a fountain pen. Fountain pens and Field Notes are not necessarily the easiest of bedfellows.

Let me allow the man behind Field Notes speak for himself:

"So, when designing those initial versions of Field Notes, it just came down to "How functional could these be?" When stripped down (and, yet, I know, they still feel pretty "designed"), they didn't need anything else. That kind of confident restraint was something that I couldn't find out there on the shelves. To strip it all the way down freed the books up. The voice wasn't competing with how the things looked. If something is witty, in kind of an understated way, that can almost be more fun than when it's forced, or punching you in the face. Sorta like life?" - Aaron Draplin, "Draplin Design Co. Pretty Much Everything."  

"How will this book handle a fountain pen?" was not part of the thinking.

I'll admit, I belong to a pretty specialised subset - one that loves the ethos, the craft and yes, the fun that goes into each Field Notes edition, but also admires the engineering and indulgence that characterises every good fountain pen.

Mostly, my Field Notes struggle to hold the ink from my favourite pens. The letters "feather" and the ink bleeds through onto the reverse of the page. My Field Notes are truly a mess by the time that I have finished. This doesn't bother me unduly - but it can sometimes make reading back difficult.  

Every now and again, there is a limited edition that play nicely with ink. When I saw this edition - I was not hugely optimistic. 

What's the inspiration behind Field Notes Campfire?

The Field Notes 35th Quarterly edition celebrates fire in its most primal, elemental state - the way it inspires us to gather around and gaze into the flames whilst sharing stories, ideas and community.

Field Notes Campfire 3-pack

Field Notes designed the Campfire memo books in the hope of inspiring us to spend some time gathered around a fire this summer. They want to celebrate the satisfying process of collecting wood, carefully constructing a bonfire and watching the 'dramatic light show as it burns away into smoke and ash'.

Field Notes Campfire front cover close-up of flames 'Night'

Unsurprisingly, their inspiration came from an actual campfire, after an afternoon of building, photographing and enjoying a campfire out at Long Lake in Northern Illinois. 

Field Notes Campfire Cover 'Dusk'

Back at their base in Chicago they used their photos and footage to determine a plan for the notebooks. Using inspiration from the Field Notes vintage notebooks as well as various Boy Scout handbooks, merit badge guides and other ephemera, they eventually found their design.

It's based on techniques that were commonly used before process colour separations made colour printing more straightforward. The designs use a photographic halftone printed over blocks of solid spot-colours to create a colour photo. It gives the notebooks a nostalgic, retro feel, harking back to days of Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and comic books.

Field Notes Campfire: the specifics

Let's take a look at some of the nitty gritty specifics of this Field Notes 35th quarterly edition

The covers

These notebooks come in packs of three, each of the three front covers representing a different stage of a campfire: 'Dusk', 'Night' and 'Dawn'. Draplin also designed a series of logos for the back covers: 'Geometry', 'Community' and 'Responsibility'.

The notebook covers are printed on a coated-one-side paperboard which is coated on the outside and uncoated on the inside. A satin varnish protects the finish.

 

The paper

The main body of the notebook is made-up of white Finch Opaque 60#T ruled with the Field Notes 3/16" graph. Each of the three notebooks features a different ink colour (blue, red, beige) which is matched to the inside cover.

To finish it off, the books are bound with gold staple wire

Field Notes Campfire inside cover and paper close-up

A special extra

The Field Notes Campfire notebook 3-pack also comes with an additional extra. Celebrating the nostalgia of Scouts and nights spent around a fire in the woods, the Field Notes team designed a patch to accompany the notebooks. 
Its a handsome 2-1/4" fabric badge featuring a campfire logo and the honoured title of 'Campfire Master'. All that's missing is a woggle!
Field Notes Campfire badge close-up

Here's some of the footage the team behind Field Notes Campfire used to inspire their designs. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed to discover that no marshmallows were included in the 3-pack...

And for those real keen beans, here's some more details about the Campfire specs, taken from fieldnotesbrand.com:

Specifications:

  • 01.

    Proudly printed by the good people of eDOC Communications, Mount Prospect, Ill.

  • 02.

    Cover: WestRock Tango Coated Cover C1S Paperboard “White” slathered with a whopping fifteen (five per book) hand-picked soy-based Saphira inks.

  • 03.

    Innards: Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T “Bright White,” with a fine, 1-color application of soy-based Saphira inks.

  • 04.

    Cover and innards printed on a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 40" 6-color printing press.

  • 05.

    Bound with gold staple wire on a Heidelberg Stitchmaster ST 270 5-pocket saddle stitcher with cover feeder/scorer & Rima RS 10S in-line stacker, with appreciation to Samuel Slocum, George W. McGill, and William J. Brown, the “Founding Fathers of the Staple.”

  • 06.

    Corners precisely rounded to a 3/8" (9.5mm) radius with a Challenge SCM double round-corner machine.

  • 07.

    Graph grid: 3/16" × 3/16" (4.7mm × 4.7mm).

  • 08.

    Memo book dimensions are 3-1/2" × 5-1/2" (89mm × 140mm).

  • 09.

    FIELD NOTES uses only the Futura typeface family (Paul Renner, 1927) in its materials.

  • 10.

    All FIELD NOTES memo books are printed and manufactured in the U.S.A.

So how does the Field Notes Campfire perform with fountain pens?

Just a couple of days ago, I received my subscription. Like every other Field Nut I tore into the pack.

Field Notes Campfire 3-pack with badge

Very cool.

I took my pen to perform my customary test.

Field Notes Campfire and fountain pen trial

Hang on! This is looking pretty good.

Field Notes Campfire fountain pen ink bleed through

These books, quite apart from having covers that are mesmerising, they also play really nice with my fountain pens. Sure, the paper is absorbing a little and is no Tomoe River, but it's not bad.

I'll take that. 

These Field Notes are perfectly usable with fountain pens. I'm sure they are great with pencils and ballpoints. Even better, they will undoubtedly make great kindling at a pinch...

Tempted? You can buy Field Notes Campfire 3-pack for £11.50 over at our store.

 

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