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Field Notes no. 2 Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I have been a Field Notes fan since having heard about the notebook from Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley on the Pen Addict Podcast in the fall of 2013, when I subscribed to their quarterly service to get the Drink Local colors edition. With that purchase and each subsequent quarterly delivery, the notebooks were always accompanied with a pencil or two. Now after two years as a subscriber, I had amassed quite a number of these no. 2's. Until midway through last year, I rarely used them. I gave a few away to friends, but for the most part they multiplied in my pencil cup. When I decdied to use only pencils for Lent last year, the Field Notes no. 2 became the pencil in my office. I had a lot of them so I figured I might as well use them often. Here are my thoughts.


Prior to my conversion to pencils, they had two basic forms: octagonal and yellow or circular and colorful. I found the FN pencil a breath of fresh air. It is circular and natural. It's understated and simple. It declares to the beholder, "I'm not here to be flashy, fancy, or gimmicky. I'm here to be exactly what I am, a pencil, nothing more and nothing less."

The cedar body is uncolored leaving the wood to make its mark. The wood has a nice light color. What I like most about this natural unfinished look is as it is used. The wood absorbs oil from my hand ever slightly darkening the pencil. I love this. It's an anti-patina. The pencil dulls and darkens as time goes on. It lets me know the pencil likes me. It takes a little bit of me into itself making it "my" pencil.

The traditional Field Notes Futura font is imprinted with a non-toxic black ink across the entirety of the pencil, in the simplicity that has become a hallmark of the 'Field Notes aesthetic.' On one side of the pencil, they printed the brand, website (the irony is not lost on me), and type of lead. On the opposite side is an explanation of the green-ness of the pencil, the only time I've seen that on a pencil. The printing is reminiscent of the info they print in the back of their notebooks. It's like they have their window shades up for the whole world to see. It wouldn't be hyperbole to call this pencil naked. 

The green eraser tops off the look of the pencil. It gives the look of a bud sprouting from a limb. Only this end get smaller instead of getting larger. It's supposed to be bio-degrabable as well, although I don't think that's merely because it's green. 

The ferrule completes the 'Field Notes Aesthetic' of keep it simple {expletive deleted}. It maintain the simple lines, fat and skinny. It's a pleasure to look at.


Over the course of the last year, I've gotten more used to the smaller circumference of woodcased pencils compared to fountain pens. This pencil helped. The lack of a lacquer allows my greasy, sweaty fingers (when they're greasy and/or sweaty) to grip the pencil well. The cedar aids in grip without the fear of getting splinters. They've been well sanded. I don't fear fragments. 

This pencil is also one for long writing sessions. It keeps a point for a long period of time. It's perfect for taking notes in class or writing 1,667 words a day for NANOWRIMO. You won't have to stop every paragraph to sharpen the pencil. I call this the idea pencil for that reason. It doesn't halt your thinking process to stop and sharpen. This aspect also gives it great felicity to be used in a bullet pencil. It can become the quick draw (pun intended) pencil. 

On the darkness spectrum, this pencil puts down a light line. That being said, it's not light enough to be bothersome. I'd prefer it to be darker, though.

I like to use my eraser. I will wear down an eraser, and I did so with the FN no. 2. Using it so much last year, I used up the eraser before I'd used up half the pencil. It does a decent job of erasing, but there might be some ghosting. 


This is a decent piece of graphite. I don't find any scratchiness other than the normal pencil feedback. It's not a smooth as a Blackwing 602, nor is it as inconsistent as the Black Ticonderoga (the newer one) I have.


I've never actually bought one of these pencils since they come with the Colors Subscriptions. If you wanted to purchase a half-dozen from Field Notes HQ, it'd cost you $4.95. This certainly isn't the premium price of the Blackwings, but it's not as cheap as a dozen Palomino Golden Bears, $2.95, or 30 count of yellow Dixon Ticonderoga's, $5.97. They do fall below a dozen General's Test Scoring #580, $12.60. I would choose it over the two cheaper pencils, so in that sense, they're priced decently. I think there's still a small premium, though. 

Is the Writing Reverenced?

There's not much bad I can say about this pencil. It is a solid writer, comfortable in its cedar birthday suit. Reverenced. 

Paper: Nock Co A4 Notebook