The Bone Folder | Field Notes

Field Notes

Pixel art of Field Notes notebook.

In late 2023, I really got into Field Notes notebooks. Some time in 2022, or even 2021, I got the desire to start a habit of carrying a pocket notebook around with me. I wanted to use this as a way to capture ideas for poems and essays, as well as help put some distance between me and my smart phone. However, it really wasn’t until the spring of 2023 that I took steps to make this a habit and finally in the fall of 2023 I got hooked. A big part of that was getting in to Field Notes. While this brand had been on my radar for a long time, I didn’t realize that they made anything other than plain kraft paper notebooks until somewhat recently. Once I saw the variety of covers and paper styles, I knew I wanted to carry these little things around with me all the time.

My partner remarked that it is very strange to see me get into a hobby based on a commodity. That’s true. Usually I get in to activities like knitting or bookbinding without a fixation on a particular product or brand. I think a lot of what I like about Field Notes is the community of people around it, many of whom call themselves Field Nuts. I joined the Field Nuts Facebook community and was impressed with the generosity and kindness I saw there. It's true, there’s a lot of wheeling and dealing and wow some of these notebooks go for a ton of money. That someone would pay $300 for a 3-pack of pocket memo books astounds me. But there are also a lot of people who are there to show off how they use their books and encourage others to do so. Trading with a Field Nut, or buying something from one, generally never involves just getting the thing you wanted. You’ll usually get extra notebooks, stickers, pencils, postcards, and other items. I have actually purchased a large stash of assorted stickers just to be able to give them away.

To keep this hobby from going off the rails, I have a couple of rules in place for myself. The first is that I don’t ever want to pay more than the going retail price for a notebook. That is, as long as limited-edition notebooks are going for $5 a piece on the Field Notes website, I don’t want to pay more than $5 per book for second hand sales. This really limits the number of sales that I participate in. I don’t think that people are charging unfairly for these books necessarily (although the price inflation on eBay is unreal), but I personally can’t justify spending more than $5 on a little 48 page memo book.

The second rule is that I unwrap every pack I get with the intention of using, trading, or gifting the books. I don’t keep packs sitting around in the hopes that they will be valuable one day (even though many of them will.) My intent is to use them or send to their next home. I know that by temperament I am not a collector so I prevent myself from the impulse to stash and hoard them. Collecting the notebooks will be far less satisfying for me in the long run than using them. After all, the whole purpose of taking up this hobby/habit is to write more, not spend more time on the internet looking for things to buy.

Filled Notes

In the spirit of celebrating Field Notes notebooks that are filled up, I want to share the ones I have used so far.

For a more real-time view of the shifting sands of my collection, see this Airtable view. All records in this table refer to single notebooks.

Why do these images look strange and low-res? That's on purpose. They've been dithered so that they load more quickly and have a smaller carbon footprint. Plus it looks cool. Thank you to Dither Me This for the dithering!

Plain Kraft: Custom for
Start to End: September 21st, 2017-November 3rd, 2022
Use: Library Event Stats
Notes: This was my first Field Notes notebook, a prize in AADL’s annual Summer Game. I recorded attendance stats for 73 library events in this book, mostly from 2017 to late February 2020, with a few in 2022 after we came back to in-person events. It spent a lot of time in my back pocket and has more patina than my other notebooks. It brings back a lot of memories from the events that I hosted.

Black Ice
Start to End: March 5th–April 21st, 2023
Use: Strength Training Log
Notes: I’ve only filled this one halfway and I don’t think it will get filled completely. I got this notebook for free at random from an Ebay seller. It was a very nice gesture, but I quickly realized that a memo notebook was not big enough for actually logging my workouts. Additionally, a perfect bound pocket notebook is just not my cup of tea. I don’t have an issue with the quality of the binding, it’s just the format. For a book that’s 3.5” wide, the gutter it creates is just too large.

United States of Letterpress: Ben Blount
Start to End: June, 23rd 2023–March 10, 2024
Use: Union Notes
Notes: I started using this after I became treasurer of my union at work and continued after I became co-president. I have used it mostly to take notes at meetings and trainings, just things that I want to have a record of.

United States of Letterpress: Springtide Press
Start to End: October 7–December 4, 2023
Use: Bullet Journal
Notes: This was my first start-to-finish Field Notes notebook that I used for a pocket journal. It’s what converted me wholeheartedly not only to the Field Notes brand, but to carrying a pocket notebook in general.

United States of Letterpress: Brad Vetter Design
Start to End: September 19–December 29, 2023; March 20th–
Use: The Noticing Book; Bullet Journal
Notes: This one will have two phases. I used a quarter of the pages on a project I called The Noticing Book. However, I didn’t get far with that project and when it came time for me to carry The 2024 Book, I opted to stop filling this one for the time being. I will probably fill the rest of the book with journaling when the time comes.

Underland, right side
Start to End: December 4–December 30, 2023
Use: Bullet Journal
Notes: I bought this pack from a men’s retailer, one of the very last places on the internet to have them available for retail price. The unexpected effect is that it arrived smelling like cologne! This was my first Field Notes in the lined format after Black Ice. In this incarnation I liked it much more than I expected and filled it more quickly than a graph or dot grid notebook. I traded the right side of this set, so I will not have a complete set, which I’m OK with.

Kraft Plus, Amber
Start to End: December 30, 2023–
Use: The 2024 Book
Notes: This book is a year long project to keep track of several things and also keep important words and ideas close to me: my intentions for the year, my values, the things that matter to me in life. I’m tracking exercise, books read, craft projects and the like in a very spare and minimal way, as well as noting any memorable events in a few words.

National Parks: Olympic National Park
Start to End: December 31, 2023–February 7, 2024
Use: Bullet Journal
Notes: One of the most beautiful Field Notes covers I have ever seen, I selected this one to start 2024. While filling it out, I got a couple of rolls of washi tape stickers, which make an appearance inside and outside the book.

Wilco: Pat Sansone
Start to End: February 7th–March 20th, 2024
Use: Bullet Journal
Notes: I only have 4/6 of the Wilco set left. One I traded, the other I got two designs of, so I gave one away. This design is one of my favorites and I wanted a bright notebook for the winter months.

Original Kraft
Start to End: February 26th, 2024–
Use: Observations about Pet Springtails
Notes: My friend got me a small terrarium with springtails in February 2024 and I wanted a notebook that I could keep close to the terrarium to keep track of when I fed them and any interesting changes in behavior or environment.

Kraft Plus, Aqua
Start to End: March 10, 2024–
Use: Union Notes
Notes: My second notebook of meeting notes and ideas for my labor union.