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.