Monday, December 6, 2010

Review - Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook

[You can click on any of the photos to enlarge for more detail]

A few months ago I (and many others) became aware of a new product from Tom Bihn, the Field Journal Notebook.  I was immediately interested.

I sent them a message, including a link to my blog, and asked if they might be interested in sending me one for review ("If you don't ask, you don't get.” - Mahatma Gandhi). Darcy Gray, Vice President (a woman after my own heart, a finder of lost dogs) promptly replied asking me what color I would like (I chose Steel because I have been considering another bag and wanted to see this color in person).

First a little about Tom Bihn, the company, from Manta.comTom Bihn, Inc is a private company categorized under Textile Bags Manufacturers and located in Seattle, WA. Our records show it was established in 2002 and incorporated in Washington. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of 1,900,000 and employs a staff of approximately 23.

You really have to check out the About Us section of their website and read about the founder and staff. This is a small company, that obviously takes pride in their people.  I know that they produce a wonderful quality product, I own one of their Imago bags and am extremely happy with it.  It's nice to see a company that takes pride in all aspects of their business.

The notebook arrived right after Thanksgiving and I have been carrying it around with me to get a feel for it and test it out.

Below is a video from the company website about the Notebook:

Now, my thoughts. This is a very high quality product. It has ample space for pens, paper and other items that you might want to carry.  I crammed it with pens, pencils, a small watercolor box and travel brush.  I even zipped up an Exacompta sketchbook inside and one day my handbound leather journal.  The materials are quality and extremely well put together.  The exterior surface is U.S. 1000 denier Cordura Nylon, lined with U.S. 500 denier Cordura. The zippers are splash-proof YKK Uretech coil: #8 on the main compartment and #5 on the front pocket.  This is a durable notebook.

I can think of many uses for this notebook.

As part of my review, I took it with me to a meetup of fountain pen lovers on Saturday and asked everyone to take a look at it and try out the paper.

So, now, about that paper.... (from the website)

... to make things a little easier, we've included a package of 100 sheets of Harbor 100 60# from Gray's Harbor Paper - it's 100% recycled and comes in your choice of college ruled -or- graph grid, both printed on both sides. We also offer as a separate option, packages of 100 blank sheets of Crane's Crest 24# 100% cotton paper. This paper is quite beautiful and is suitable for letter writing, sketching and even watercolor. We have it micro-perforated 3/4" from the left edge so that you can remove the left margin with the punched holes: send the letter or frame the sketch. All of these papers are available from us as refills as well.

Personally, as a fountain pen user, I found the paper options to be... well, non-options.  The Gray's Harbor paper is low quality and has both bleed through and show through issues.  The Crane 100% cotton is typical Crane 100% cotton - it has a little too much tooth for me.  Both of these papers will probably be fine for non fountain pen users (I also played with my watercolors on the Crane paper and it's ok, but there is some buckling). The one thing I do like about the Crane paper is the micro-perforation.  I can see writing letters or notes and like have the option of removing the holes from the paper cleanly.   For some fountain pen users, either Bihn will need to come up with options (maybe a partnership with Rhodia a la Levenger), or do what I did - make your own.

The nice thing about this binder is that it is a standard 3 ring binder, although a 5.5" by 8.25" size.  This means that all you really need to do is take standard 8.5" by 11" paper and cut it in half and then use a hold punch.  I did this to some standard black paper (my standby paper is Neenah Classic Crest) and also to art paper (watercolor and bristol) and Rhodia Uniblank and Dotpad.  The Uniblank and Dotpad are a little offsize but they work.

So, this is a notebook is a great addition to the Tom Bihn product line and I'm sure that artists, journalers and others will find many uses for it.  I wish I'd had one when I went camping in Minnesota's Boundary Waters area a couple of years ago. 

The Field Journal Notebook is $75 at Tom Bihn, thanks so much to Darcy and everyone at Tom Bihn for providing me with this one, at no charge, for review.

If you would like to read another review of this product, head over to The Pen Addict.

1 comment:

Laura said...

That looks like a very well-thought-out, well-organized notebook...and at what seems to be a reasonable cost for the quality of it. May have to go on my Christmas wish list!

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