I finally got around to doing a little testing with my fountain pens in Field Notes and Doane Paper notebooks like I've been swearing to do for months. I can't say there were any real surprises, but here are a few takeaways:
Field Notes America The Beautiful Edition
The Spring 2013 COLORS subscription release from Field Notes is what got me interested in doing this test due to the thicker 70# Finch “Soft White” paper. As expected, it handled the sampling of inks I threw at it very well. There was little feathering, and virtually no bleed through the back of the page. This is a nice upgrade to the standard Field Notes paper.
Field Notes Red Blooded
Speaking of the standard Field Notes paper, the stock Red Blooded Edition uses Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 50# Bright White. I have good luck with my ultra fine nibs on this paper, but as the nib gets wider the feathering becomes more noticeable. There is also more bleed through to the back of the page, rendering it useless if you like to write on both sides. Others report using wide nibs with success but I'm not seeing the same results.
Doane Paper Utilty Journal
Being the genius that I am, I cleaned some of the fountain pens I had inked before testing them in the Doane Paper Utility Journal. I think the 80# Text Stock 100% recycled pages handled my pens wonderfully. Writing felt smooth and clean with no feathering and only slight bleed through to the back.
With the rare exception, notebook manufacturers don't put fountain pen friendly paper high on their spec list for pocket sized notebooks. Which is the best notebook for fountain pens? This test is far from exhaustive, but from these three popular models I prefer the Doane Utility Journal. I thought it had the cleanest overall writing performance. America The Beautiful is right there performance-wise if you prefer lines over grid + lines, with the Red Blooded (and other stock Field Notes) further down the list.
As manufacturers keep making them, I'll keep testing them. Stay tuned!