Field Notes Expedition Series

A while back I picked up a bunch of Field Notes' Expedition series pocket notebooks.  I burned through one, have started carrying another, and thought it might be useful to write up my thoughts garnered from carrying the model for close to a year.

Lacking a formal review system for notebooks, I'm just waxing poetic.

While Field Notes did their own battery of tests to illustrate their durability, I'm a fan of more practical testing.  In terms of durability in-pocket, the Expedition notebook has lasted the longest.  I have previously used Moleskine pocket notebooks and Field Notes' standard paper notebooks, both of which have, naturally, degraded over time.  Paper begins to tear and abrade, bindings begin to wear, and creases and crinkles develop.  In the grand scheme of things, the front pocket of a pair of jeans isn't the most forgiving of places.  That said, the Expedition notebook hasn't torn or abrade, its binding is still intact, and while there are some creases along the spine from constant flexing while riding in my pocket they're far less pronounced than those that have developed on standard paper.

The most frustrating aspect of the Expedition series is exactly what makes it stand out: the paper.  As I mentioned in a post earlier this year, the paper is quite finicky.  While it provides exceptional durability, it's simply not as versatile as traditional papers.  Only a few inks actually work effectively and they're all subject to some level of smudging and smearing, even after reasonable dry time.  Pencil is the same story.  Also, the slight jostling of pages that comes through carrying it in a pocket daily causes minor smudging and transfer of both ink and pencil to opposing pages.  While I didn't experience a catastrophic degradation in writing, it's certainly a bit annoying.

In the same thread of thought is the fact that I have been severely limited in terms of what writing instruments I can carry on my person.  I love fountain pens, and have been completely unable to use them with the Expedition notebooks.  Rather, I have been carrying a Rotring 600 ballpoint running a Fisher space pen refill.  It's a nice pen, but I wouldn't mind some diversity.

Ultimately, Field Notes' Expedition notebooks are great.  Short of ink selection, I don't have any complaints.  I almost feel that I'm doing them a disservice, not stuffing one in my pack as I embark on some wild adventure; maybe someday.

That said, after I burn through the one in my pocket, I'm thinking I will be moving back to traditional paper for a brief change of pace.


It's Starting to Get Chilly...

As it starts to get colder, it becomes infinitely easier to carry more stuff - all those extra pockets, and all.  That's something that should be resisted, though...

In some sort of order:
  • Maratac Pilot's Watch on a DaLuca NATO band;
  • Rotring 600 ballpoint (running Fisher refill);
  • Field Notes' Expedition series notebook;
  • Spyderco Paramilitary2;
  • Nitecore EX11.2;
  • Burt's Bees Res-Q;
  • DIY wallet;
  • Karbon hat
  • Keys;
  • Basic Paracord bracelet;
Not pictured:
  •  Droid RAZR Maxx


Can One Accidentally Practice EDC?

Though there seems to be widespread acknowledgement of the everyday carry discipline, there are still plenty of individuals who are unaware of the mindset.

Despite this, nearly everyone carries an assortment of things on their person.

This raises the question: "Can someone be unknowingly 'everyday carrying'?"

The snob in me wants to emphatically say, "No, everyday carry is only a conscious mindset."  That's probably the same part of me that spends months researching gear before pulling the trigger on my debit card and ponders the merits of tip-up vs. tip-down carry.

Practically, though, I'm not sure that's the case.  If we suppose that everyday carry is simply the attempt to preemptively solve problems then having anything - sunglasses, a tube of lipstick, tissues - is practicing the discipline.  Though more casual than some of us, it's still a viable approach.

Certainly, those casual EDCers among us could benefit from a bit of contemplation and refinement but at least they're in the right vein.  More people carrying things that they may need means fewer people asking to borrow my flashlight, knife, or pen, and that's just fine.


You Don't Need That Many Knives

I mentioned the idea a while back that "you don't need that many knives."

I wanted to elaborate a bit...

The underlying theory of the everyday carry discipline, at least as far as I can manage to define it, is the belief that having a selection of tools on one's person is more beneficial than not.  The ability to solve a variety of problems with the things in your pockets being the primary rationale.  Naturally, it is impossible, or at least impractical, to carry tools to solve every problem that might arise.  As such, tools which have a broad usefulness are often selected over those of a more specific purpose.  For this reason, we often see knives, multi-tools, flashlights, pen and paper, and other such things of exceptionally broad utility.  These items can be employed in a wide variety of ways to solve a wide variety of problems.

Importantly, an EDC kit also reflects the problems one believes may be encountered on any given day.  It is in that individual thread that we see a variety of items of specific utility; a bicycle commuter may carry a patch kit, a photographer may have a lens pen, someone with severe allergies would carry an EpiPen, and so on and so forth.

That said, one of the most prevalent items found in everyday carry kits is a knife.  Manifest in many different forms, ranging from keychain sized Swiss Army Knives to fixed blades with everything in between, knives play an incredibly important part in the EDC discipline.

Taking my data merely from the variety of pocket dump posts in various corners of the internet, I have come to the conclusion, as previously mentioned, that there are some people who carry too many knives absent a discernible purpose.  They have taken "two is one and one is none" to an unrecognizable extreme.  Multiple full-size folders in the same pair of pants as a Swiss Army Knife and a multi-tool.  It's absurd!

Why?  Diminishing return.  A concept suggesting that with each additional unit the utility derived from that unit diminishes; additionally, the utility of all units decreases.  Applied here, the utility of a knife is high.  That single blade can be used for a great number of things to solve a great number of problems.  A second blade is not as useful as the first.  Now the two knives are both slightly less useful.  One will be used, at most, 50% of the time.  The same follows for all subsequent knives; they each become slightly more useless as additional knives are carried.

Furthermore, minimalism is paramount.  Too many are infected by the disease of too much stuff.  Yes, gear is cool but bulky pockets are not.

In most instances carrying more than one knife is simply unnecessary.