Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tom's Near Thing

Ahhhh. The Search for the Perfect Sketch Bag. This is never-ending and frustrating, but in a thrill-of-the-hunt kind of way.

My latest try is the Field Journal Notebook by Tom Bihn. I like Tom Bihn and have had very good luck with both the quality and design of their other bags and paraphernalia. Good outfit! So I was eager to get this Field Journal Notebook in my hands.

First, go watch the eight minute video demo on this bag. It's good.

At left is the Notebook, as I have it packed and ready. (The keen of eye among you will notice 3 rings missing. More later.) It's holding, clockwise from top left:
-- 1 Bic Wite-out correction pen
-- 2 Copic Multiliner pens and 2 Pilot Razor Point pens
-- 1 Pentel Waterbrush
-- 1 2-oz. bottle of water
-- 2 Lamy Safari fountain pens
-- a square of paper towel slid up into the pocket behind all the pens
-- my 7-1/2" x 8" everyday sketchbook
-- and in the outside zippered front pocket, the small watercolor box in a Ziploc bag

  • Slim and compact size.
  • Quality materials/workmanship.
  • Slots in the top are wide enough to hold fat items like a bottle of water and the Bic.
  • When open, it lays flat and all your tools are accessible.
  • The whole 3-ring-notebook component was -- I knew going in -- going to get pitched, in order to make way for my sketchbook. This was a shame because I do imagine it's a significant part of the cost of the thing. The 3-ring-notebook component ought to be an optional accessory. Rather than part of the package.
  • It's just barely thick enough to accommodate all that's in it (which I consider the bare minimum of equipment). It's a tight fit! I would have liked a half inch more overall depth in the main compartment. Or a half inch more depth in the exterior front zippered pocket. Or, best of all, both.
  • At $75, it's damn expensive!

An Alternative:
I have also tried the Spec-Ops Pack Rat Organizer. With almost an identical footprint (height x width x depth) as this Tom Bihn Journal Notebook, the Pack Rat feels more roomy. And holds more stuff. And is 'only' $52. (Here's a picture of the inside.)

I plan on using both of them this Spring, during sketching outings, and will report back on the performance of both of these new bags.

Travel Sketchbooking
Sketching Inks: Tips, Suggestions, And So Forth

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