I’m a big Field Notes fan. To those of you not aware of Field Notes, they are 3.5” x 5.5” pocket notebooks1 that started out as a small project between Coudal Partners and Draplin Design Co., developed a devoted following, and continue to grow and be extremely popular. They have some standard editions they always sell, and they also release seasonal “Colors” editions that are limited in quantity and utilize different cover designs, papers, staples, and other materials. They come in sealed packs of three notebooks, and both the standard and limited Colors editions currently sell for $9.95. They even offer a subscription service which ensures not missing out on any of their limited seasonal editions.
To say Field Notes have become popular is an enormous understatement. There is a very active collector community, and the older sold out limited editions go for very high prices in the aftermarket. Sealed three packs of seasonal Colors releases that originally sold for $9.95 can fetch more than ten times that for some of the most sought after editions. To the outsider looking in, it’s absolutely bonkers. The Field Notes phenomenon truly deserves its own post2.
I’m a Field Notes user and collector. They’re wonderful notebooks to use, and I always have one with me. I’m a subscriber, so I automatically get two packs of each seasonal release. Being the collector at heart that I am, I’m of the “use a pack and save a pack” mindset.
Enter Loot Crate
Every now and then, Field Notes releases an exclusive edition not available via the usual channels. These are often for events, companies or other special occasions, and they can be somewhat difficult to obtain. Field Notes and a company called Loot Crate partnered to produce a very cool exclusive edition.
“Loot Crate delivers the best in geek + gaming gear. From collectibles, apparel, tech gadgets, art, and other epic gear, it’s like Comic-Con in a box!”
Comic-Con in a box? Yep, you got me.
Two Passions Collide
I have no idea how I didn’t know about Loot Crate. While I don’t delve into it too much here, I’m a big geek about a bunch of stuff. I’ve been collecting comic books since I was a teenager, and lately, thanks to my five year old, I’ve really been getting into Lego sets. Books, movies, games, TV shows. . . I could go on and on, but I’ll stay on track. Let’s just say I’m pretty thrilled that my love of Field Notes led me to Loot Crate. It’s very much up my alley.
This isn’t going to be a review, but more of a Field Notes PSA. This edition of Field Notes (I’m calling it the “Classified” edition) is still readily available on the eBay aftermarket for what I would consider good prices. It seems many Loot Crate subscribers sell items that aren’t of interest to them (probably to fund their Loot Crate subscription), so with the March Loot Crate box being recently shipped, there have been quite a few coming up for sale on eBay. The going average (as of this post) is about $13-$16 a set. Loot Crate has a huge subscriber base (over 100,000), so there is quite the supply out there— in reality, this may be one of the most produced editions. I’m thinking aftermarket prices will remain reasonable for some time. As a Field Notes devotee, I want to say “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” to sellers, but I realize Loot Crate’s subscribers aren’t all going to be as nutty as we are about some awesome pocket notebooks.
Covert, Classified, & Confidential
The Loot Crate Exclusive Field Notes “Classified” Edition was included in their March box. Each Loot Crate box has a theme, and for March it was “Covert”. The next box to come out in April has the theme “Fantasy”, and past crates have had themes such as “Galactic”, “Heroes”, “Fear”, and “Villians”.
Overall, this Field Notes edition is pretty basic, especially relative to many of the seasonal Colors editions. In some ways, this edition is more bare bones than the standard kraft edition. . . I’ll get to that in a minute.
This edition comes in unsealed packs of two with a yellow “police tape” belly band with “Classified” in a bold font and the directive it’s “to be unsealed by authorized personnel only”. The cover is gray with the usual Field Notes branding in beautiful black Futura font. The cover is also noticeably smoother than the standard kraft or Pitch Black edition. To make sure it’s clear there’s some top secret stuff inside your notebook, “Confidential” is on the front in a well done stamp-like image. I see this as more of an invitation than a warning though.
The inside front cover has a place for you agent name and mission case number, as well as “Top Secret” stamped across it. There’s also a handy 2015 calendar for planning your super secret assignments. Both the inside front and back cover have an image of a map outline in the background.
The back cover has the Loot Crate (exclusive!) logo, and more standard Field Notes branding. The interior pages seem to be the same type of paper used in a standard (kraft) Field Notes memo book. One has ruled lines, and the other has a graph grid format. Both are printed with light gray ink.
The inside back cover is where things get interesting. There is a place for fingerprints and code words. The “Our Story” and “Specifications” sections are at the bottom of the inside cover. The same “Confidential” stamp from the cover is used here as well. There are two primary differences compared to the inside back cover of a standard and most Colors editions Field Notes memo books:
- There is no list of “Practical Applications”.
- The list of “Specifications” is way shorter than usual.
In my opinion, these changes detract from this edition, and considering the massive Loot Crate subscriber base, it was a missed opportunity. The always entertaining and comical list of “Practical Applications” and usual very detailed list of “Specifications” are a large contributor to the character of a Field Notes memo book and part of what makes them very special. There was such potential for an amazing list of “Practical Applications” for this edition. Don’t get me wrong, what was put there is neat and relevant to the edition, but in my opinion, not a worthy replacement.
The Gray Edition
I’ve yet to experience all of the various editions of Field Notes (. . . someday), but this is the grayest edition I’ve encountered. I think it’s fantastic. The gray covers with black lettering goes so well together. The selection of a light gray ink for the interior graph and ruled lines was a perfect choice. It seems to me they used the same ink as is used in the standard Pitch Black edition for its dot grid pattern. Considering that ink is called “Stealth Gray”, it’s the perfect choice. This “gray edition” would make an outstanding standard edition.
Another difference with the Loot Crate Exclusive “Classified” Edition is how they are packaged. Standard and Colors edition Field Notes come in packs of three notebooks wrapped with a belly band and sealed in plastic. The Loot Crate Field Notes come as a pair that are unsealed and held together with a belly band. The belly band is a great fit and holds the books together nice and snug. Honestly, when I first saw the books weren’t sealed it made me cringe a little. That was the collector inside me reacting. If I was going to save one pack, it needed to be sealed right? However, after receiving my pack of unsealed “Classified” Field Notes, I had a change of opinion.
The situation wasn’t any different from the comic books I buy every month. I get my comics unsealed. After I read and enjoy them, I seal them myself with a bag and board and put them away. I tend to not open a new pack of Field Notes until I’m ready to use one, so getting them unsealed allowed me to enjoy them immediately, whether I used them right away or not. Not having the plastic wrap removed a barrier for me, which is probably more mental than physical. I’m working on letting the Field Notes user in me overpower my collector side.
I think the Field Notes and Loot Crate partnership was a huge success, and I sure hope it’s not the last time they work together. I was led to Loot Crate due to the discovery of their collaboration with Field Notes, and I’m so glad I did. I decided to subscribe, and I’m looking forward to receiving my first Loot Crate box.
The Loot Crate Exclusive “Classified” Edition Field Notes memo books are super cool and unique, and I think they’re worth the effort to obtain. I won’t get to one until I finish the Field Notes books I’m currently using, but I can’t wait. Now I just need to find that perfect pen that uses invisible ink. . .
. . . and if you’re new to the Field Notes brand, head on over to their website and read all about it.