One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I find out about interesting products I would otherwise never hear about. One such product is this Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook, which the manufacturers sent me to review. It’s a neat little notebook and bag all in one!
The bag is about the size of a large hardcover book (approx. 8″ x 10″ x 2″). It has small handles so you can carry it like a brief case, or you can use the detachable shoulder strap. If you have the strap on your shoulder or around your neck, the notebook can be comfortably propped up against your stomach in a convenient position for writing.
There’s a zippered pocket on one side, and an open pocket on the other. A double zipper wraps around to the spine of the notebook so it opens fully. Inside, you get several pen slots and a pocket big enough for an iPhone on one side.
In the middle you have the loose-leaf rings, which can actually be rotated to make the notebook work better for lefties.The whole loose-leaf mechanism is attached to a plastic backing, which is in turn stitched into the bag itself very securely.
There are a few rings where you can attach a key ring or other items. The materials and construction seem really sturdy– this seems like a bag that can take a lot of abuse, so it would be perfect for anyone who needs to take notes or sketch while hiking, camping, bird-watching or any other outdoor activity. With the extra pockets, you could easily throw in some watercolor paints and granola bars. Clip a water bottle to the strap, and you’re all set for a day out!
The standard package for this bag includes a little ruler, a key strap, one rigid plastic divider page and one package of recycled paper. But I got a few extra goodies with my sample (normally sold separately):
Two extra packs of paper!
Extra rulers and a Tom Bihn luggage tag! But wait, there’s more! (No Ginsu knives, though…)
A pen pouch, an extra plastic divider page, and a mini-wallet, which has cork on on side! (Between this and the Michael Roger cork journal, I’ve been totally won over by the amazing beauty of cork.) I love the hooks these extra pouches attach with– they rotate in all directions.
I decided to open and test the package of Crane’s Crest 100% Cotton paper, which has a nice cream color and a micro-perforated edge. It’s a little toothier than I was expecting, so it’s great with pencil, but not the kind of super-smooth surface I prefer for most of my pens.
Show-through is about average– on the back side of the paper, a watermark is slightly visible, and I thought the surface seemed somewhat smoother. With the micro-perforation, this paper would be great for doing sketches in the field that can then be easily saved elsewhere. The paper is acid-free. I did not fully test the other paper packs I was sent, but I tore a corner off the plastic and tried my favorite Uniball Signo RT 0.38 pen, which seemed to write very nicely. The looseleaf rings are a standard size, so you could use any 5 1/2 x 8 1/2″ paper if you don’t like the Tom Bihn offerings.
Tom Bihn is a Seattle-based company making a variety of bags and accessories. This seems to be the only bag they offer that is a notebook. The sample I was sent is all black, but they offer a variety of other colors. At $75.00, it’s definitely a bit of an investment, but for a refillable notebook that will last forever, that seems like a decent value– and considering this is also a bag, I’d say that makes it a great value! You can order one online here, or you can take a shot at winning the sample I was sent! I was very tempted to keep this bag for myself, but I’m giving away the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle shown in the photos above to one lucky randomly selected winner from entries submitted in these ways:
On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and post something containing the word “Tom Bihn Field Journal” on my wall.
On your blog, post something containing the words “Tom Bihn Field Journal” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday February 25 at 11:59PM, EST.
Winners will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck everyone!