What is it about Field Notes?

by Stuart Lennon
“Inspired by the vanishing sub genre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers, and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list, the Draplin Design Co., Portland, Ore. - in conjunction with Coudal Partners, Chicago, Ill. - brings you “Field Notes” in hopes of offering “An honest memo book worth fillin’ up with GOOD INFORMATION.”

48 pages. Militantly imperial (3-1/2 by 5-1/2 inches). Card-stock cover. OK paper.

As someone who is fond of a notebook, Field Notes are, in the most objective terms, OK. The paper is generally, well, ...OK. The covers are ...fine. Take a fountain pen to them, and they will be less than stellar. Better with a pencil or a Bic.

At Nero’s Notes, I have unfettered access to a host of notebooks more suited to my needs and superior in many objective measures.

And yet, I use Field Notes a lot. I recommend them to many people.


Aaron Draplin, originator of the brand is a charismatic, captivating character. Check out his website, on You Tube and his book on design.

Much is written about the origin and ethos of Field Notes. I like this on the ‘modern’ brand, and Jim Coudal.

I love Field Notes for their utility. They’re specifically good enough. Inexpensive, rudimentary but classic. I can go through a book in a week, making lists, jotting notes or just doodling. Their disposability is part of their charm. The ever-changing limited editions mean that I’m never bored.

There is a tiny bit of the contrarian in both me and the Field Notes brand. There’s something delicious about pulling out a gnarled pocket notebook when the rest of the room flips open a laptop or a leather portfolio, but maybe that's just me.

Grab a pencil. Grab a Field Notes edition and get out there and see, hear or do something worth noting down.