My family isn't really the camping type. We didn't take long trips in a wood-paneled station wagon to go into the woods and get away from it all. We grew up around the lake, so we had campgrounds, trails, and all that kind of outdoorsy stuff right around our town. Our summer trips were going to theme parks around the Midwest. My father loved sports but wasn't a "sportsman" -- no hunting, fishing, or camping for this kid growing up. I wasn't one for group activities, so I didn't really want to be in the Boy Scouts. I did the Cub Scouts (like Boy Scout preschool) and when it came time to move on, I ditched it. I now wish my parents were more strict and would have MADE me do things like stay in the Scouts or learn the piano.
I am, however, well-versed in sitting around a fire. That's what you do in a tiny lake town: drink around a fire. I've built many a fire in my day, whether it's in a backyard or a fireplace. One of my favorite things is sitting around the fire pit with these 4 idiots and talking about anything and everything.
When I saw this new Field Notes Campfire edition, I was stoked. I was getting ready to start to write them off, if I'm being honest. The last few just haven't been my favorites. They've been cool for what they are, but they haven't grabbed me and punched me in the feels. With Campfire, they pulled me back. Last year seemed to be the year of experiments, with Sweet Tooth and its perforated colored card stock, Byline's completely different form factor, Lunacy playing with die cuts in the covers and that reticle grid. Then you had Black Ice, which I like and have started to like even more, but it was super divisive. Utility spoke to me because of the factory worker vibe is has going (which I grew up around) but NOTHING in those last 5 releases have been like this one.
The covers are the star. The designs are lovely, looking like old books or magazine covers aimed at the outdoorsman. The color blocks, the halftone printing...it's very very cool. There are 3 different covers, Dusk (before the fire), Night (fire's blazing), and Dawn (fire's out and the sun is up). I immediately gravitated toward the Night, as it had the fire going and all it seemed to need was a couple of lawn chairs full of friends and coolers full of beer. There's something about staring into fire that speaks to our most base instincts. On the back covers there are 3 separate logos designed by Draplin to mimic what the front cover is about: Geometry speaks to the proper building of a fire, Community is about what happens around the fire, and Responsibility is about what you should do once you're done with the fire, and how to properly leave the site.
The inside covers are all a different color, and unlike the glossy Nixon books, these are actually just coated on the outside (like ATB), so you can write in the Pertinent Coordinates if you so desire without have to resort to a marker.
The paper is the standard Finch Opaque White 60# in graph. No need for a writing test, if you've used a standard kraft lately, you know how it is, basically everything does well in it except for fountain pens, maybe you can get away with fine nibs and dry-ish inks. Oh hi, standard graph...where've you been? It's been since Snowblind that we've seen a standard graph Colors edition. The color of the graph matches the color of the inside covers. I think they should've swapped the colors of the Dusk and Dawn books, so they would match what the wood should look like at each stage of the game: brown for the wood, orange for the fire, and blue for the ashes put out with water. Put it's the other way around. It's always good when they release a set with 3 different covers: it makes me want to use more than one.
The belly band is a textured paper that looks super cool, kind of linen-like. Usually the belly band has something to do with the release itself, but I'm not quite sure here. It holds the Campfire Master patch, which at first I thought was the subscriber extra; turns out, every pack gets a patch. That's 30,000 patches folks. I imagine there will be a lot of patches for sale and trade around the Nuts group, because people will definitely be buying multiple packs of these. I'm glad I just bought a patch jacket recently...I won't be afraid to put this one on it because I have 6 patches now. In my first pack, the patch was wildly off-center, but the other one is perfect.
These books were love at first sight, but the one thing I might change is a thicker paper. Field Notes just HAS to catch up with Write Notepads, Baron Fig, Story Supply, etc, and get with the fountain pen friendly paper. I personally don't use fountain pens very often, and it's not like they're hurting in sales, but when competition is using better paper and coming in cheaper, it's tough to justify the purchase for some people (fountain pen fans). I've been using so much Baron Fig paper as of late that when I write in a Field Notes, I miss the tooth for graphite, but I've just designated my softer pencils to Field Notes and sticking with the HBs in the Baron Fig paper. A Blackwing 602 and a Finch Opaque White Field Notes are pretty well made for each other.
For the money aspect, at least we can say everyone gets a patch in every pack. Before, I might've wailed about the pricing, which seems like the new normal, but if they're going to give a patch per pack I can see the price going up. I just wish they would've announced something in a blog post or whatever, just tell us the price is always gonna be $12.95. Don't make us assume. I mean, we CAN assume because that's what it's been since Byline, but we were never TOLD. And yes, I'm gonna gripe about this until official word is given. And yes, feel free to tell me to shut up and just buy a Kraft if I want something cheaper in the comments below. It definitely makes subscribing THAT much more worthwhile.
Overall, I love these books. The theme hits me right in the feels, it's in Field Notes' wheelhouse. This is them at their absolute best. It seems like they've gone on a trip and now they're back home. Welcome back, Field Notes. I think this is just what we needed.
Available from Field Notes. $12.95 per 3 pack.