Field Notes “Pitch Black” Review


If you’ve spent any amount of time in the stationery community, or the everyday carry community for that matter, you will eventually hear about Field Notes notebooks. Why, you may ask? Because they’re some of the best pocket notebooks on the market. And, they’re some of my favorite notebooks to carry with me to school.

After using these notebooks over a period of six weeks, I must say I am very impressed. The quality of their notebooks are top-notch, better than any other pocket notebook I’ve carried. I prefer the “Pitch Black” style, as there is an extra layer of card stock on the cover, (You could call it a “two-ply” cover) making it more durable in the pocket. The rounded edges make slipping the notebook in and out of your pocket easy.

The style of the notebook is very appealing. It has a very modern, minimalist look that I find suits this style of notebook. Because this is the “Pitch Black” version of the notebook, it has a Pitch Black logo on the back, which adds a nice touch that makes these notebooks different from the rest.

Overall, Field Notes notebooks are some of the best memo books for everyday carry. If you take lots of notes during the day, or you just need a way of storing ideas that come to you while you’re out and about, the Field Notes “Pitch Black” memo book, or any notebook in the Field Notes line, is the perfect notebook for you.


Lamy Safari

Ah, the Lamy Safari. A classic in the fountain pen realm. Any member of the fountain pen community will have heard of this pen at some point. For many beginner fountain pen users, the Lamy Safari is the first pen they ever use. After using this pen for quite some time, I feel every person into fountain pens should own it. The quality is outstanding, it is a really reliable writer, and it doesn’t break the bank. What more could you ask for?

Some will be turned off by the Safari’s looks. It has a large cap, a giant, and I mean giant, clip, and an unusual looking body. However, this design works surprisingly well. The clip, because of its large size, holds on tight, whether it be a shirt pocket, jeans pocket, or the pocket of a notebook.

The cap is a snap-on cap, which does feel a little loose at first. I was surprised to find it holds on tight, so there is no worry about it falling off and ruining your shirt, or-shutters-your nib.

The Safari also has a very comfortable trip-grip style grip section. The grip section makes writing sessions easier for me, as I don’t have to worry about the pen accidentally rotating and not being put to the paper properly. Unfortunately, this can be a deal-breaker for some, as you have to hold the Safari in a specific manner in order to write with if comfortably.

The body of the pen is quite light without the cap, as the pen is made out of ABS plastic. Again, some people may be turned off by this. However, the plastic is extremely durable, and takes quite a beating. You don’t have to be careful with this pen like you would with a TWSBI. I have never heard of a Safari cracking because of being dropped.

Finally, this brings us to the nib. The nibs are all manufactured by Lamy in-house in Germany. This is rare, as many pen companies tend to purchase their nibs from a separate company, suck as Bock or Jowo, brand them, and put them on their pens. Kaweco and TWSBI are both companies that do this. While there is nothing wrong with this, as the nib quality is outstanding from both companies, it is interesting to see a company that manufactures their own nibs with an intricate assembly line like Lamy’s.

The nib on my specific Safari is completely black, though you can purchase them without any finish. The nibs are swappable, so you can purchase a Lamy italic nib if you feel so inclined. I personally prefer a fine nib. The pen writes smoothly, though there is a little scratchiness that I quite like. Something about it makes that writing more satisfying. It puts out a steady flow of ink that is not too wet or too dry, which is perfect for everyday writing. The only issues I’ve had with the nib is that it skips once in a blue moon and there is quite a bit of drag when writing on cheap notebook paper, as that is the staple crop of school classrooms.

Overall, the Lamy Safari is an excellent pen. For only $30, the Safari is one of the best affordable fountain pens on the market. I am really pleased with how it has served me, especially in school. And trust me, my school is a pretty risky place to bring a fountain pen. I think anyone in the fountain pen community should own one. Which pen would you rather have at school, on the bus, or in the subway? A Visconti, an eye-catching, expensive, fine work of art as much as it is a pen, or an average-looking fountain pen that is extremely affordable as well as durable? I’ll let you decide.

Pelikan Pelikano Up

(This pen was given to me as a gift from a family friend and  a fan of the blog. My sincere thanks to Mr. Hill for bringing this all the way from Germany for me to enjoy and review. All views expressed in this review are my own.)

Pelikan, a German manufacturer of fountain pens, is known for making some of the nicest pens on the market. However, to my surprise, they have a large line of affordable fountain pens for children in school, as well as for adults. This specific model, the Pelikano Up, is the aluminium variant of the Pelikan Pelikano, a school pen for children. I am very impressed with its quality and reliability.

The Pelikano Up is Pelikan’s response to the Lamy Safari, an extremely popular fountain pen of which I am a huge fan. The pen has some advantages over the Safari, such as the nice aluminum body and a rubberized grip section. The molded grip section, much like the Safari’s, might be a deal breaker for some people, as you have to hold the pen in a specific way in order to use it. However, the clip is not as strong, and the body is far less durable. The cap is your standard snap-on cap. It snaps on tight, so there is no worry of the cap coming off while its in your pocket. Overall, the body is very high quality and should be durable enough for everyday use.

The ergonomics of this pen are great, better than the Lamy Safari. The grip section on the Safari is narrow, so it can be a little uncomfortable during long writing sessions. On the other hand, the Pelikano’s grip section is thicker and easier to hold, making long writing sessions comfortable and easy.

The overall writing performance is decent enough, but not outstanding. The writing experience is by no means bad, but there are some issues. My pen is fitted with a medium nib. For one, the pen requires you to press down a little on the nib in order to get it to begin writing, and it skips quite often while writing. This may be my fault, as the pen seems to have a rather small sweet spot.

The writing experience isn’t very smooth either and is pretty scratchy. While it doesn’t have the most pleasurable writing experience, the nib puts out a nice flow of ink when used properly, and has a stub-ish quality to it.

The Pelikano Up is a nice pen and is very high quality. However, as the nib is scratchy and skips often, I don’t use this pen for anything more than short notes. Maybe replacing the nib or tuning it will stop these problems? I’m not completely sure.

The bottom-line: The Pelikano Up is a comfortable and professional looking economy pen that’s good for quick jots and notes. Perhaps the nib problems I described above are uncommon. I’m interested in hearing your comments if you have any experience with the Pelikano or Pelikano Up.