Field Notes Expedition Edition: Smeary?

FN_expedition
(Sorry for the lack of photos; my camera is in the shop. Literally.)

My subscription came today: the Field Notes Expedition. They are, as usual, much prettier in person. Opening it, I found them a little smelly, like last winter’s glossy edition. But the paper is smooth and flexible and feels wonderful. Check out the link if you haven’t already; the videos are pretty cool.

I immediately put both pencil and Space Pen to paper, after tearing open my packet. My Field Notes get filled and filed, not collected, though I certainly understand the impulse. Pencil feels like a magic marker on glass on this paper, with duller sides of the point feeling almost like a paintbrush. Writing on very wet paper with an indelible pencil produces a less smooth version of the same sensation. I was aghast. But then I noticed something….

Lots of stuff smears on this paper. Space Pen (and even the “fine” refill in my AG-7) smeared after nearly 1/2 hour to dry. Pencil smears more than regular paper, even somewhat smear-resistant pencils like the General’s Layout and Staedtler Wopex. Certainly, Comrades are not unfamiliar with graphite smearing, and it’s something that tests the Perfectionist in all of us. And, if you’re a heavy user of Fisher ink, you know that Space Pen’s write-anywhere ink comes at the price of severe ghosting and smearing from glacial drying times. Pigma Micron wouldn’t really adhere to the paper at all (it repels water). The Pigma Micron “Microperm” did write very well and actually dried. Still, I’d hate to be stuck with permanent markers for all six notebooks, even if I’ll have them filled before February most likely. I assume that Field Notes knows that regular pens will be powerless on this paper, since they gave out pencils this time around (I usually get a pen with my shipments theses days) and since they came out with their own Space Pen just in time for this release.

EDIT: I have found some pencils that are excellent, and even some surprises.

Pencils I have found to work pretty well:Faber-Castell “Castell 9000″ HB and B
Staedtler Wopex HB
General’s Layout
Faber-Castell Grip 2001 HB
General’s Draughting
New USA-Made Golden Bear HB
Field Notes Pencil

Things which smeared more than I’d like:
Blackwing (dark one, but this is always a little smeary)
General’s Semi-Hex HB
Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 HB
Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB
Faber-Castell Goldfaber HB

Surprises:
Verithins! If, like me, you’ve always wished they were better to write with, this paper works very very well. They feel like a regular pencil on this paper, and it’s very very difficult to smear them.

Someone asked if we were going to review this paper. But I think this might take more than what free time, energy and pencils we have on hand at HQ. Have other folks found the perfect graphite (or even pen?) for the new Field Notes? I will put what successful pencils I discover in the comments and will hope Comrades will do the same.

18 Responses to “Field Notes Expedition Edition: Smeary?”

  1. John says:

    Pencils I have found to work pretty well:

    Faber-Castell “Castell 9000″ HB and B
    Staedtler Wopex HB
    General’s Layout
    Faber-Castell Grip 2001 HB
    General’s Draughting
    New USA-Made Golden Bear HB
    Field Notes Pencil

    Things which smeared more than I’d like:
    Blackwing (dark one, but this is always a little smeary)
    General’s Semi-Hex HB
    Staedtler Mars Lumograph 100 HB
    Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB
    Faber-Castell Goldfaber HB

    Surprises:
    Verithins! If, like me, you’ve always wished they were better to write with, this paper works very very well. They feel like a regular pencil on this paper, and it’s very very difficult to smear them.

  2. Liz Rotundo says:

    I can’t wait to get my shipment! Thanks for the info.

  3. Davey says:

    I ordered these off their website, and I’m sorry to hear this information about smearing. I’ll try them with the G2 .050. the Signo DX .038 mm and the Pilot Hi-Tec C .038 mm to see if the same problem exists. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. John says:

    Okay, did some more testing:

    Bic ballpoint eventually dries, but not quickly.

    But both “extra” and “ultra” fine Sharpies work great, and also Bic Mark-It, the finest point. Doesn’t even show through the plastic paper. It’s not often you can just WRITE with a marker. :)

  5. Vivian says:

    My findings so far:

    pens that work great (at least 30 secs to dry) — I tested this by 1) one swipe through 2) vigorously rubbing it

    - Pentel RSVPs
    - PaperMate Profile 1.4B
    - BIC Atlantis

    pens that don’t work well despite all my crossed fingers:

    Le Pen
    Sharpie Pen (fine)
    Pilot G-2 .05
    Uniball Signo DX .38
    Pentel Slicci .25

    A previous commenter said that the Sharpies work great… does that not apply to the pen version? My Sharpie pen never completely dried and just sat on the paper. It was powerless against my gentle finger swipe :(

    I have many more to try.. and I’ll update my findings later. Not much of a pencil user though.

    • John says:

      I’ve had luck with “extra” and “ultra” fine Sharpie markers — the kind that write on glass. It’s bizarre — and smelly — to write with them, though.

  6. Adair says:

    You mention that Field Notes has developed their own Space Pen. This is exciting, but I could not find any mention of it on their website. Have I misunderstood something?

  7. Adair says:

    Oops, sorry. A little further searching on their site lead me to the entry on the Field Notes Space Pen, which is sold out and which is why I did not find it in the “Shop” section.
    Apologies!

  8. Steve says:

    Just got my Expedition edition, and you know what pen isn’t smeary on it? The Uni-ball Powertank .7 ballpoint. It writes a clean, dark line and dries quickly. With the two together I’m ready for anything!

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  13. This advice was incredibly helpful to me when I got my Expedition notebooks. It seemed like every pencil I used smeared but after going through this list I was able to find one to actually use well. Thanks!

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