Field Notes Brand should call this “The Josh Edition”. I couldn’t be more enamoured by it.
Unexposed, Field Notes Brand’s 24th Colors edition, wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t like the loud, eye-catching neon colours and I especially didn’t like not knowing what I was receiving in each package. Unexposed actually made me fall out of love with Field Notes memo books.
The folks at Field Notes Brand had deviated from the classic Field Notes appeal for three straight — maybe even four straight — Colors editions. I began to wonder if we would ever see a return to the classic design like Day Game, Drink Local, and Night Sky.
But my wishes were granted this past week. Ambition is every bit the Field Notes aesthetic we’ve come to know and love. And, despite the return to the traditional look, Ambition also marks a few deviations of its own.
I couldn’t be happier buying tons of these for Christmas gifts. Ambition is the best Field Notes edition I’ve reviewed and used. You should buy a bunch of them.
Field Notes Brand’s 25th Colors edition comes in three different colours of the classic 100#C French Speckletone stock. Each three-pack comes with a three-course meal — an “Olive”, “Chocolate”, and “Wine” book stand in all their classic glory on my Field Notes shelf. There is nothing loud or outspoken about Ambition’s covers. Instead, Ambition is elegant and simple.
To continue that trend, Ambition’s covers are stamped with embossed logos of “Ambitious Gold” Futura text. Like Traveling Salesman before it, Ambition’s embossed logos create a tangible element to the edition’s front covers. However, unlike Traveling Salesman, the Ambitious Gold lettering more heavily contrasts the Olive, Wine, and Chocolate cover paper. In fact, Ambition’s date book looks like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
The 100#C cover stock is coloured paper, meaning the books won’t crack and wear with white paper underneath. I’ve always been a big fan of these coloured papers. I expect these books to wear more like a Kraft Field Notes than a Drink Local or Cold Horizon book.
The inside covers are printed with the same Ambitious Gold lettering as the outside covers. I’m always persnickety on inside documentation, and Ambition is neither here nor there in this department. The Chocolate book won’t be good for documentation, but the Wine and Olive books will do just fine for my purposes.
New to Ambition’s ambitious design are gilded pages. Like gilded pages found in Bibles or other beautifully designed books, Ambition’s pages snap, crackle, and pop the first time they are bent and folded.
I love how the breaking-in of a new book adds yet another sense to the Colors experience. Of course, all the Colors editions look different. But Drink Local books feel tangibly different than a Kraft Field Notes. Unexposed books have a noticeable smell to them. And now Ambition has found a way to sound different than a Kraft Field Notes. I love the thorough experience of collecting Colors editions.
This gilding process is just the cherry on top. I’d be in love with Ambition if gilded pages weren’t included. Instead, I’m left wondering how Field Notes Brand continues to pull off these incredible designs despite selling three-packs for $10 a pop.
If the Ambitious Gold lettering and gilded pages weren’t enough gold, Ambition is finished off with three gold staples. Only makes sense.
The similarities with past Colors editions end when you open Ambition’s covers. Everything inside Ambition is new, and it’s all for the better.
Field Notes Brand went with a new Cougar Natural 50#T stock decked out with a “Double Knee Duck Canvas” light brown printing. The Cougar 50#T paper is an off-white colour and the light brown grids all look right at home.
The Cougar Natural paper feels slightly thinner than the standard Finch paper found in many other Colors editions. I’m not sure if the thinner paper is necessary for the gilding process (as every other gilded book I’ve ever come across has extremely thin paper) or if Field Notes Brand wanted to go with something new and exciting.
Despite the thinner feel, the paper feels and writes better than standard Finch opaque paper. My ballpoints roll smoother than ever before. And better yet, my quick TWSBI 580AL experiment was met with less feathering and a very smooth writing sample.
The Cougar paper does have some showthrough though, especially with the wetter TWSBI 580AL. I don’t see the paper being unuseable on the backside, but don’t expect much of a showthrough improvement over past Finch renditions.
The fun doesn’t end with the Cougar paper though.
Ambition comes with three new rulings. The Olive book is printed with a ledger ruling akin to Traveling Salesman from a few years ago. The ledger is great for making lists or keeping track of numbers or statistics. I work at an accounting firm, so you can bet I’ll be using plenty of these ledger books going forward.
The Chocolate book is packed with a 56-week calendar template. This is a first for a Field Notes book, both in utility and in size. Each page is titled with the month and the corresponding boxes can be filled in with dates, events, and task lists. For the casual person who needs a casual date book, this Chocolate Ambition book will fit the bill perfectly.
The Wine book is ruled with the standard grid found in many past editions save for one perfect addition: a title line at the top of each page.
One of my favourite characteristics of ruled editions like Shelterwood and America the Beautiful are the title lines. All my Field Notes books are documented with a date at the top of each page. With past grids, I just chose a random line, wrote the date, and jotted down my notes. With Ambition, everything will be formatted that much better. I couldn’t be happier to see this title line in the grid-printed memo book.
Since each three-pack of Ambition comes with three different books, Ambition has become the first three-pack that can be used at once.
Generally speaking, I imagine most people have a — as in one — Field Notes going at a time. Once the book has been filled, it’s filed away and a new book is whipped out.
But with Ambition, each of these books can be used simultaneously. The ledger book can keep track of lists, expenses or mileage. The date book can store your dates, events and tasts. And the memo book can store everything else.
I bought a Raydori a while back and I now have a new reason to pull it out. The Raydori is a Midori-style cover that can house multiple Field Notes books at once. While I will still carry around a memo book for general notetaking, my Raydori will now be filled with the Olive ledger book and the Chocolate date book.
I’ll probably eat through these books at a slower pace than the standard memo book, but I’m super excited to see Field Notes Brand increase the utility of the three-pack as a whole.
I’ve become a bit of a Field Nut. There’s no doubting that. Regardless of that fact, I bought six packs of Ambition. When I first saw Field Notes Brand’s introductory video for Ambition, I knew I would fall in love with this edition.
I won’t be the only person to fall in love with Ambition either. I can see Ambition opening the door to an entirely new group of people. Ambition as a three-pack is a more rounded product than any previous Colors release. For $10, you get three different books that fulfill three different purposes. For this reason alone I bought a pack for my boss and co-worker. They would have never needed a memo book, but they’ll definitely appreciate having a ledger book and a casual date book.
Not only is Ambition an ambitious stride forward in terms of physical material and design, it’s also an ambitious stride forward in terms of utility. I’m impressed with Field Notes Brand’s ability to throw a curveball from time to time. With Ambition, that curveball could not have been executed more perfectly.