Field Notes Shenandoah Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Summer is nearly here, all the plants are turning green and blooming, and there's an abundance of troublesome pollen in the air and on our cars. Before we know it, it will be the middle of the summer and we'll be begging for cooler weather. Given that information, I'm a little perplexed as to why I chose to open up the Shenandoah Field Notes over something more bright and cheery. My only excuse is that these covers are gorgeous and I can't get enough of them.

The Field Notes Shenandoah edition was released last Fall, and it's quickly become one of my personal favorites. After I used up my first pack, I ordered some more to keep on hand. They're good notebooks, and I've really enjoyed using mine.


Being a Colors edition, the specifics are a tad different than the standard offering.

The Shenandoah edition was printed in September 2015 in a run of 40,000 3-packs. The three books each feature a popular tree found in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia: the Red Maple, Sweet Birch, and Chestnut Oak. The back of each notebook features a drawing of the leaf and a short description of the tree. Each notebook has a unique color scheme, which features a different color for the outside and inside of the cover.

The paper inside the notebooks are all grid pattern, and the paper is Finch 60# instead of the standard 50# found in their standard notebooks. Of course, it's the standard 3.5" x 5.5" size with 48 pages per book for a price of $9.95. No surprises there.


One of the first things that caught my attention about this edition was the paper they used for the insides. 60# weight, to be exact. The normal Field Notes books use 50#, which doesn't do well with fountain pens or wet liquid rollerballs (like a Retro 51 Tornado or Pilot Precise). I was excited to give it a try since I haven't had any direct experience with this paper before.

Long story short? It performs better than the standard Field Notes paper. But, if you dislike show-through, it will really disappoint you. I happen to really hate show-through, so I've relegated these notebooks for gel pen use only. Still, I wasn't hoping for too much with these notebooks because they're so utilitarian and easy to use with anything that you have on hand. It's part of the appeal for me.

Fine-tipped fountain pens will work well enough on the paper, but wetter, larger pens will destroy the paper. That being said, it's a smooth paper that's a joy to use. I just prefer using non-fountain pens with it. I had a slight hope that this would be a great fountain pen paper, but those hopes were dashed after I turned over the page I was testing on. On the other hand, there isn't a lot of feathering with most nibs/inks I tried, so that's a positive.

Bottom line, this paper can handle fountain pens, but it's not optimal. There are much better options out there in the 3.5" x 5.5" category.


I'm fairly picky about which Field Notes editions I like, and the Shenandoah edition really hit the sweet spot for me. They're gorgeous notebooks, the paper inside is a step above the normal books, and they use a grid pattern paper. My favorite color of the three is Sweet Birch. Honestly, if I could buy 3-packs of Sweet Birch, I would jump all over it.

You can still pick up the Shenandoah edition at several retail locations and online stores. I purchased a pack from Field Notes first and JetPens later.

Posted on May 18, 2016 and filed under Field Notes, Notebook Reviews.