It's February, we're about halfway through the winter season now, and so following my own trend I'd say it's about time for me to review this past season's Field Notes release - the Snowblind edition. What better way to kick off this month?
I've had plenty of time to spend with Snowblind at this point, and as I write this I've just finished working my way completely through one of the new books - something that I try to do before giving my thoughts on any new Field Notes release. Snowblind isn't what I'd call the most bombastic or classic-styled release from the past year, but there's still plenty of things to cover here, so let's dive in.
Taking the outside cover at face-value, it looks a lot like some of the white-on-white memo books from COLORS editions past, but upon closer inspection you'll spot some changes. First off are the "Field Notes" logo-type and memo book descriptions, which are both in a special new "Photochromic Blue" ink. And if you take a look around to the side of Snowblind you'll spot some all-white staples in fitting with the the theme. A first for Field Notes, and it's always fun to see a new staple color make an appearance in the line.
Turn and twist the book around a bit, and you'll see the cover ink sparkle and sheen a little differently as the light hits it - hinting at other things to come, and looking amazing while doing so. The way light plays with the outside type is easily one the high-points from Snowblind for me, and I can earnestly say that I found myself just gazing at Snowblind's covers whilst turning the book back and forth over the past month or two. So pretty it's mesmerizing.
This is all - of course - before I've even mentioned Snowblind's signature trick: a layer of photochromic ink on the outside cover which turns the book from a minimal white-on-white cover into a brilliant light-blue on white look when exposed to direct sunlight. With the ink fully transitioned to the light blue color it really is something to behold - and would easily place among my top Field Notes editions... If I only got to see that version of the cover more.
Unfortunately, it takes a bit of exposure to bright sunlight in order to bring out that effect in the Snowblind books - certainly more sunlight than my Field Notes usually see in their daily routine of pocket and desk duty. As a result of this I've only ever seen that brilliant blue color a handful of times in my months with Snowblind - and I have to admit that the majority of them were while taking the photos for this piece. As cool as it is, I just didn't get to have the transition happen all that often, and I think the my impression of the edition suffers for it.
I wish the folks at Field Notes had found a way to make the exposure a lot more sensitive, or that they had shipped one or two books in every three pack which started out in the blue color scheme and then transitioned to white-on-white in the sun. That's not the case though, and while it's still a really cool, beautiful trick it's just not something that I ultimately got to experience all that often - if I'm honest, that's a bit saddening to me. Not sad enough to turn me off to Snowblind completely, but definitely an unfortunate downside.
Moving on to the inside you'll find more of Snowblind's white-on-white color scheme - though this time adorned with a fetching "Interference Blue" ink for the inside cover text. The paper stock is more of Field Notes' seemingly new standard #60T stock, and I'm extremely happy to report that it performed a lot better here for me than when I first tried the stock out last fall in the Shenandoah edition.
There were still some times where bleedthrough and feathering were prevalent, but on the whole the #60T stock held my Kaweco fountain pen ink much better, with less feathering, bleedthrough, and nastiness across the board. It's still no Shelterwood, America The Beautiful, or Workshop Companion, but it's a step in the right direction for what's looking to possibly be Field Notes Brand's new workhorse paper stock. Thumbs up guys, keep it going strong.
One last thing of note about Snowblind is that it did wear a little harsher on the whole than the average Field Notes memo book. The back cover of my Snowblind book has a fair deal of ink-staining from a set of small cards I was also carrying in my DDC Stuff Sheath, and the front cover has something akin to smudging around the logotype if viewed in the right light.
While a bit odd in regular lighting, the extra wear does look fantastic when Snowblind is in it's sunlight-exposed state. You can see all the little scratches and dings show up as white marks on the cover. I love this.
I'm not sure if this extra visual wear is just because it's an all-white book, if the photochromic ink is a bit more susceptible to wear, or if I was just more tough on the book than I usually am over the course of the month. It's not something I'd call an overly desirable look with a white book like Snowblind, but it's also not something that really makes an affect on how I feel about the edition as a whole. These books are made to be used, and if they show wear and tear I'd like to think it's just a sign they're being used the way they were intended. Take note if keeping your Snowblind pristine is important to you, but it doesn't really bother me - especially with how awesome the wear looks when exposed to the sun.
So what do I think of Snowblind on the whole? Well, I'm not completely sure to tell you the truth.
The edition has a lot of good things going for it. I'd never turn down a minimal white-on-white design like Snowblind's, and the little details of the shiny cover font, white staples, and blue ink accents on the inside all make the design even more appealing to a Field Notes fan like me. The interior #60T stock is much improved over it's first showing in Shenandoah, and is nearly as usable as a #70T stock most of the time. I don't even mind the extra wear and tear that are visible on the covers...
But I just can't get myself fully over that photochromic cover.
It's so cool, but yet I almost never get to see it. And I think it's that little niggling thought in my mind which makes me feel like I'm not using the books properly, or that they're going to waste with me. That I never see Snowblind's beautiful metamorphosis really does make me sad. And I probably would've been just fine with Snowblind's un-sun-exposed state as this COLORs release, but the fact that so often I find myself missing out on what's arguably it's most beautiful trait makes using these books have just a little twinge of sadness for me.
With all that said, my sadness with Snowblind is admittedly a personal problem, and so outside of that I'd have to give the edition an endorsement. The all-white design is nice, the paper stock is decent, and the sun-transition is a little gem of a special detail. Snowblind certainly belongs in any Field Nut's collection, and it's not like it's a bad book to pick up as a casual user either.
I just wish I got to see that brilliant blue more.