Field Notes Winter '16 Black Ice Review

Let's start with the elephant in the room: the Perfect binding on these books is just fine and the binding does NOT prevent it from laying flat. If you can't get yours to lay flat, then you're just being too dainty with your books. Fold it over, break the spine, and go. If you don't believe it can happen, you haven't tried it. Here's a video.

“Black Ice”, should be the last big release of the year for Field Notes, barring some yet-unannounced collaboration. The Winter 2016 Colors release taking another step forward in changing up their style, somewhat a trend for them this year. These are the first books to use PUR binding, a form of Perfect binding. They also feature an embossed foil cover that is a mirror-like finish.

With the shiny wrapping paper.

Like a (em)boss!

Perfect-ly PUR

Dunno where this is gonna go.

If you’re a subscriber, the extra is a 2017 year-at-a-glance calendar on kraft paper. They went a little light on the subscriber extra this time around because everyone who buys a pack of Black Ice gets a square of Draplin-designed wrapping paper and corresponding gift tag. It’s neat, and pretty, but fairly un-useful when compared to something like a sticker or pin or an extra book. The extras this year have been decent, I’m not saying they aren’t, but with competitors like Write Notepads out-innovating you and going all out with the membership perks, I think a kraft paper calendar is weak. It’d be different if every pack of Black Ice didn’t get the wrapping paper, if the wrapping paper was the subscriber extra. But I digress...shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth during this holiday season.


The cover is 100# Cover with DDC Orange printed on it. My review book’s back cover bled a little into the last page on the top and bottom corner. Then it’s covered in foil and embossed with the Field Notes word mark and all the other writing that is traditionally on one of their books.

Paper-wise, this is 70# text paper, similar in weight to the Workshop Companion edition. But it is smooth instead of pulpy. And bright white. And FUCKING RULED.

That’s right! Lined ruling, with a DDC Orange double rule on the top margin and light gray lines underneath. I LOVE lined books. I do not write super small. I can sketch and draw without needing a grid. It always upsets me that the default seems to be Graph, so I’m happy to see line-ruled getting some love here in a limited release.

First Carhartt, now this? It definitely DOES feel like Christmas! Maybe people are finally starting to see the light? One can only dream.


The Practical Applications are winter-based, with clever lines like Bruised Tailbone Count and Yeti Spottings, with some sports references thrown in, like Penalty Box Ponderings and Curling Rosters. There’s even a reference to Ice Castles in there…see if you can find it.

Pencils work great in the book, barely any smudging by any except the darkest pencils. Erasing is another tale…B and lighter erases fine, but 2B and darker sticks around pretty well. Not nearly as bad a Workshop Companion, but it’s not gone either. Pens on the other hand, especially fountain pens, are not very friendly. Fine tip rollerballs or ballpoints work just fine, but fountain pens feather pretty bad, especially the wider nibs. I was happiest with the Pilot Precise V7 Fine Tip in this book.

Practical Applications.

Ghosting from darker pencils on the opposite page. 602 and darker smudged.

Not too fountain pen friendly. Feathering and some acceptable near bleed-through.

I was skeptical about this release when I first saw it, especially with the Perfect binding. I knew I’d love the ruled pages and loved that it was a normal paper and a normal size. I honestly believe that the lower page count helps them lay flat better than something like a Write Notepads pocket notebook. (Field Notes are 48 like usual and Write is 64). It took getting these in my hands to truly appreciate them. I suggest that if you’re on the fence, check it out and unless you find something horrible I didn’t find, you won’t be disappointed. Check out the full video review.

Available from Field Notes, $12.95