I like that the Field Notes notebook has tick-boxes to indicate a ‘handsome reward’ (or not) for returning a lost notebook. More than that though, the inside back cover has very detailed product specifications, and an excellent list of ‘Practical Applications’ for the use of the notebook.
I do a fair bit of note taking out in the field for my bird studies, but it’s generally in fine weather. Telescopes and binoculars don’t work that well in the rain for the sort of work that I do, so I don’t really have too much trouble with wet notebooks. However, the Rite In The Rain is a most intriguing product and I couldn’t resist giving it a proper try-out. One of our recent former Prime Ministers described our country as “irreducibly pluvial”. The dictionary tells me he meant it rains an awful lot, so I only had to wait a few days for the weather report to include “frequent showers, some thundery and very heavy”. So it was on with my best raincoat, storm-pocket filled with a Rite In The Rain notebook, and three test pencils – Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB and 2B, and a BIC #2 mechanical pencil. I wanted to try different lead grades as well as ceramic and polymer leads. Taking inspiration from ‘Field Notes’, I decided on a route that would allow me achieve nine of their Practical Applications.
Right, lets not beat about the bush, the Rite In The Rain is fantastic. It works. Period. Full stop. Woodcase and mechanical pencil leads both wrote as if the paper was dry. In a particularly heavy thunder shower I rubbed my hand all over the page so it was totally wet, and made sure I wrote through an unbroken film of running water. To all intents and purposes I was writing underwater, but it was basically just like writing on dry paper.
What I did notice though is that the paper did absorb water in from its edges. This became a bit of a concern with the spiral binding. All those square holes for the wire spiral make a lot of edges and I became concerned about the pages becoming soggy, weak and tearing out. I think I would personally look to use a stapled notebook rather than spiral bound because of this. Also the wet pages did tend to stick together a little. Still all this is minor stuff in the big picture. Pencil is normally pretty useless on wet or damp paper, but not on Rite In The Rain paper. I suspect erasability is a little reduced on dry paper, and out in the rain the difference between HB and 2B lead grades seemed reduced.
Back home, I wasn’t sure how to dry out the wet notebook. I was a little surprised there was nothing printed about this in the notebook. I decide to blot off the excess moisture with a towel, and then put the notebook in the linen cupboard to air. The paper dried out reasonably unaffected although there is a little wrinkling. I checked the Rite In The Rain website but couldn’t find any drying instructions either, but one of the “User Stories” was an acquaintance of mine! The guy thrown overboard with his notebook on the way to Guam.
Just for the record, my walk achieved the following Practical Applications:
So, get yourself out in the rain.