When I lived in Washington State, I discovered a local Seattle company called Tom Bihn. They designed and created high-end bags for laptops, travel, briefcases, messenger bags, backpacks, totes and more. I’ve been reviewing their products since that time and in the past year we’ve looked at their Co-Pilot, Ristretto, and Checkpoint Flyer , all of which received high praise for their quality, style and function.
If you go to their Web site and look at their products, you’ll find a bag for about any need. I am constantly amazed with Tom Bihn’s selection and styles. So when they emailed me a few months ago and said they have a new, and unique product being introduced this fall, I was delighted to get a review unit. But what was this new line, and why did they think I’d be excited to review it?
It seems a few months ago I wrote a blog post about my secret passion for fountain pens and inks and paper. I own about 30-40 pens and have vials and vials of inks in every color imaginable. Plus, I own nearly 20 journals and notebooks that are used for any reason I can come up with in order to buy another one. I’m a Mac geek that still has a real love of the old ways of communication. My friends in Seattle must have seen that post and thought that their new Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook was a perfect fit for me.
This is something I would have never expected from Tom Bihn. It’s far from mainstream bag lines, or popular iPad or laptop cases, it’s a niche line to say the least. What was their reasoning behind designing the Field Journal?
“The Field Journal Notebook is a modern accessory for using a very old technology – pen and paper. Designed originally for biologists and geologist working in the wilderness, the Field Journal Notebook is a useful tool for artists, writers and anyone who, for reasons aesthetic or practical, wants an alternative to electronic devices. Essentially, the Field Journal Notebook is a compact, portable, weather-proof, zippered notebook for note-taking, journaling or sketching.”
After spending a few years living in the Great Northwest, I understand that there is a need for an item like the Field Journal. The outdoors just screams to you and even the most dormant people, like myself, appreciate and want to experience the majestic beauty and wonder of the landscape. The Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook is the perfect fit.
Let’s start with a look at the features and product specs that Tom Bihn gives us:
“The Field Journal Notebook is full of features in a sleek and compact form. The front zippered pocket has enough volume to hold a wallet, keys, a cell phone or a not-so-thick book (example of its volume: it can hold three standard CD jewel cases.) An included Key Strapsnaps to an “O” ring inside this front pocket. The flat back pocket can hold a few sheets of paper or a map. Two nylon webbing handles allow you to carry the Field Journal as you would a very small briefcase while an adjustable/removable 1″ nylon webbing shoulder strap is situated in such a way as to allow you to open the Field Journal Notebook flat to take notes or sketch, and still have it sit on your shoulder. When removed the shoulder strap leaves behind only two small, unobtrusive webbing loops – no bulky “D” rings.
Inside the main zippered compartment, a bank of organizer pockets holds pens, pencils and a flexible plastic TOM BIHN logo ruler, which is included (5″ rule one edge, 120mm rule the other); additional rulers may be purchased on the Field Journal Notebook Accessories page. One larger pouch holds an iPhone or iPhone simulacrum, a small calculator, or a miniature water-color set. Three of the pen/pencil pockets are generous enough for highlighters; the two smaller ones will fit Sharpies, fountain pens, and writes-in-four-colors pens. Another “O” ring is attached above the organizer pockets for a Guardian Light, Key Strap, Clear Organizer Wallet, or a Clear, Padded, Cordura, or Cork Organizer Pouch (Mini and Small sizes fit, but not the others).”
The Field Journal Notebook is designed to accept three-punch 5-1/2 x 8-1/2″ paper (that’s exactly half of an 8-1/2 x 11″ sheet). Tom Bihn sends a package of 100 sheets of Harbor 100 60# from Gray’s Harbor Paper - it’s 100% recycled and comes in your choice of college ruled -or- graph grid, both printed on both sides. They also offer another paper alternative, Crane’s Crest 24# 100% cotton paper that can be used for sketching or painting.
The fastest and most detailed explanation is found in a video done on YouTube. Take a few minutes and watch the video, it can explain all the features faster then I can here.
Tinyurl to the video on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/2u7egnt
So after spending a few days with the journal, what do I think about it? First and foremost, this is typical Tom Bihn quality. Every seam, every zipper, pocket, strap and flap are some of the finest made that you’ll ever find. You will pay for the quality, but with all Tom Bihn products, you get exactly what you pay for. Another aspect of Tom Bihn gear is it’s functionality. It’s not only a waterproof journal, but it’s a safe haven for your cellphone, wallet, keys and more. At first glance it seemed to me to be a niche item, and it may have limited appeal, but I find it’s functionality makes it more then just a great Field Journal. Think of it as that Day Planner that can go with you anywhere, any place, and at any time. It’s now a permanent part of my everyday arsenal.
I could spend another page talking about the paper and how it handled my different fountain pens and ink, but that is for another day and another blog. The Tom Bihn Field Journal Notebook cost $75.00 and you can find it at http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/500/TB1910