Thursday, July 03, 2008

Rite In The Rain

I found a parcel in my letterbox the other day. I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but Stephen from Pencil Talk sent me some Musgrave, FSC Canada and Papermate Canadiana Naturals wooden pencils. I haven’t seen any of these before so it was good to get them. However, the main contents of the parcel were four notebooks. A small black ‘Moleskine’, a brown ‘Field Notes’, an orange ‘Rhodia’ Bloc No 08 and a ‘Rite in The Rain’ No 393 All-Weather Spiral. Fantastic stuff. I’ve seen Moleskines locally for astronomical mind-boggling prices, but the others I have only seen on the net and I don’t think they are imported down here. As indicated by my blog sidebar link to Black Cover I am interested in notebooks.

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.
Sorry about the state of handwrting, but I've got a good reason - driving rain, freezing wind, hands shaking, notebook balanced on my knee, etc, etc, etc.
Here’s a quick 2-minute sketch of the golf course where I stopped. Note the absence of golfers at 8.30am on a weekend morning. It was driving rain on the tee rather than driving off from the tee.
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:
03-Inspired Ramblings
05-Shoddy Sketches
06-Half-Ass Calculations
12-Small Ideas/Notions
17-Escape Routes
23-Phone Numbers
24-Treasure Maps
26-Topographic Studies
28-Scrapbook Fodder

So, get yourself out in the rain.


Unknown said...

LOVE Field Notes! Not so hot in the rain, but the paper is awesome.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering....does it also work with hot liquids or staining liquids (like coffee)?

Germ said...

Nice post.

However, don't you have like 10,000other pencils in front of these? What warrants recent parcels or purchases to the front of the line?


Also, I have a bird you can study. :)

Just a little levity, people. Yeah, we've heard it b4, but it had to be said.

Kiwi-d said...

So, Germ, I know its 4th of July. You been out drinking beer and shooting off rockets? Thought you'd shoot a couple down my way?

Crazy concepts like Rite In The Rain always jump the queue, it's just the way of the world.

Haven't you got 57 Excaliburs you should be off dusting, polishing, re-arranging?

Kiwi-d said...

Mike - your challenge is very tempting, and I have thought about it as I drank my tea (sorry, not a coffee person) but I've decided this is one challenge i will not accept. Perhaps Rite In The Rain themselves will answer this one for you :-) could conduct your own research and tell us all about it :-)
Look forward to hearing back from you.

Germ said...

"Haven't you got 57 Excaliburs you should be off dusting, polishing, re-arranging?"

Hey, i resemble that. and no, didn't have any bottle rockets left after chasing small children with them. mwuahahaha!!!!!!

naw, i know better than to use fireworks these days. murphy's law would get me, and my fingers/hands.

I'll send ya a picture of that bird so that you can study it. :)~

Germ said...

oh, the pictures, the links arent working. showing up as links when hovering, but nothing happens when click. maybe the HTML needs fixing?

Germ said...

modified a picture:

Kiwi-d said...

Hmmmm, so your theory is that a Handsome Reward is fine for any ladies that might find a lost notebook, but that men should have an equal incentive too?

Anonymous said...

I've tried it with hot coffee - by accident. And it does work, I could write through the coffee stain, wipe off and the pencil writing was there as if nothing had happened. My notebook also survived a washing machine/tumblerdryer treatment. It is some notebook! Unfortunately a little too expensive for grocery lists etc.

best regards Henrik

Kiwi-d said...

Henrik, thanks for the dose of caffeine.

Jonathan said...

Rite in the Rain is produced in Washington state, which is just about as wet as New Zealand. Perfect fit. :D