Top Five

This page will be an ever-evolving document as new things come out, items jockey for position, and my mind changes. These are what I think best describes me through stationery.



  1. Staedtler Norica Black #2, 2014 - this is a pencil released by Staedtler Canada, made in Thailand, and most likely found in Staples. Why did I list the year on these? Because the year is everything. There must've been a massive quality control error, but the graphite in these things is super smooth and way darker than a #2 pencil typically is. It is a thick core. It is more like a Blackwing than a Norica. 36 packs at the time were between $5-8 depending on what sales were going on. You can still find them, unless you live in a 100 mile radius of me. Make sure to check the year on the side of the box.
  2. Palomino Blackwing 602 - This pencil has a great look, beautiful core, and the standard Blackwing ferrule. I usually take out the black eraser it comes with and replace it with a standard pink eraser, to give it a more classic look.
  3. Tombow 2558 B - This is the yellow pencil elevated. Phenomenal core, nice thick lacquer, a killer ferrule, and the best eraser you can find attached to a pencil. Loses points for having a UPC on the barrel. The HB version of this pencil is also awesome, but I like it dark.
  4. Apsara Absolute - From Hindustan Pencil Company, this is, in my opinion, their best pencil. It has a thick core that is hard but dark. A gray lacquer that has shades of 602 (maybe less blue). It is end dipped with a nice blue.
  5. Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB - Essentially THE high end Japanese pencil. Comes in all grades, but I like the HB for long writing sessions when I want to feel fancy. And I do want to feel fancy.


Note: Expect this list to change the most as I get more into pens...I've always been a pencil pusher.

  1. Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel Pen - I just found this pen and it has quickly moved to my #1 spot. What an amazingly smooth, virtually skip-free writer! I am only now seeing how great this pen is because so many of the other Paper Mate products are complete crap, but this thing is amazing. All the colors write really well (the 4 I tried, anyway) but by far, they have my favorite green in any gel pen. It's a deep green, bordering on dark, but not Forest and has no Emerald tint to it. 
  2. Pilot Precise V7 - Black black black black. This rollerball pen is beautifully black (if you choose the black one, which you should) and is my favorite rollerball out there. This has always fought for the #1 slot against the G2 and might be moved before the end of this sentence.
  3. Lamy Safari Roller Ball - The classic Lamy Safari look without all the fountain pen fussiness, although the Safari is one of the least fussy fountain pens out there. The only downside to this pen is that the refills are Lamy-only, so you're limited on colors.
  4. Uni Jetstream RT - The best ballpoint you can get in the big box stores. I'm not one, but I hear it's good for lefties. The Jetstream line is available in many tip sizes and barrel styles.
  5. Baron Fig Squire - This all-aluminum pen is great. I only have one, the limited edition, green Experiment 108, but it's a lovely roller ball and definitely worthy of my Top 5. All the Squires are the same, there are just color and imprint differences. They use a re-branded Schmidt P8126 Capless Rollerball refill, but sell them for cheaper than you can buy them at JetPens. If you want gel, the Monteverde Parker-Style Capless fine point gel pen refills supposedly fit this pen, but I haven't yet used one personally.

Field Notes

  1. Shenandoah - Nothing pleases me more than a standard Field Notes elevated. 120# cover with 70# paper, this book is a tough mother. Green is a favorite color of mine, so the covers of these books make me happy. I carry most of my Field Notes in my back pocket, and these have held up the best so far.
  2. Workshop Companion - Another set of beefy books. 100# cover and 70# paper, both French Paper "Kraft-tone" paper, which kinda looks like chip board. Dot grid. It takes pencil well, but is hard to erase, and leaves behind more than I would prefer.
  3. America the Beautiful - Those covers! That paper! Beautiful retro-printed photos on the covers and it was the first release with GREAT paper. And ruled. Boom. But they do like to fall apart in your pocket, the cover likes to release the paper.
  4. County Fair - These have some great covers. A 100# linen paper cover in red, yellow, & blue. Standard paper keeps this from being higher, but the fact that it's an everyday release is a plus.
  5. Kraft - The standard edition. The one that started it all. In recent printings, these have gotten a bit better, and they've bumped up the weight of the paper from 50# to 60#. Sometimes when I'm feeling minimalist, I'll grab one of these and remind myself why I use Field Notes in the first place.

I did all Field Notes releases only, nothing from their collaborations with other brands. If I had, Carhartt would definitely be on this list.


Other Notebooks

  1. Kindred Spirit - Write Notepads makes my favorite non-FN pocket notebooks and their Kindred Spirit has been my favorite release of theirs so far. Beautiful Butcher Orange cover surrounding that great Write paper. And the presentation was amazing.
  2. Write Notepads Steno - I use this for my "at the desk" notes. Small enough to be out of the way, big enough to not have to flip it over all day. 
  3. Rhodia No 16 Pad - Amazing for fountain pens. I've recently just gotten into these books because of my recent fountain pen excursions.
  4. Baron Fig Confidant - Great hardcover. As I've said about Baron Fig in the past, in my mind, they are Moleskine elevated.
  5. Story Supply Co. Pocket Staple - A lovely, fountain pen friendly notebook. Here's my full review. Uses the same paper as the Field Notes Byline edition, in a pocket-sized format. For an almost fountain pen proof book, check out their 407 edition.

There's changes and more lists to come as I get deeper into this journey. Thanks for taking it with me.