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Reviews > Books > Blank Journals and Writing Implements > Nomad Adventure Journals Camp Journal > Test Report by Brett Haydin

NOMAD ADVENTURE JOURNALS HIKING BACKPACKING CAMPING JOURNAL
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - November 03, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 12, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 16, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Brett Haydin
EMAIL: bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE: 37
LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 195 lb (88.50 kg)

I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Nomad Adventure Journals
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.nomadjournals.com
MSRP: US $15.00
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 9.2 oz (261 g)
Listed Dimensions: 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.8 cm)
Measured Dimensions: 5 x 7 in (12.7 x 17.8 cm)

Other details provided by manufacturer:


  • Trail information (terrain, conditions, difficulty, distance & more)
  • Recommended maps and guidebooks
  • Campground information
  • Hiking and driving directions
  • People you met along the way
  • Weather conditions
  • Grub & Grog
  • Plenty of room for extra notes
  • 120 pages (29 daily entries)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Nomad Adventure Journals Hiking/Backpacking & Camping Journal (I'll call it the journal from now on) is a hefty, spiral-bound journal that is suitable for keeping detailed notes on outdoor adventures. I am immediately impressed with the layout of the pages and with the high quality workmanship of the journal. The front and back cover are made of thick cardboard that seems quite sturdy. The paper included within the journal appears to be of good quality.

Before receiving the journal, I took the opportunity to visit the manufacturer's website. While it clearly states the dimensions, this journal is much heavier and a bit larger than I was anticipating. I was and still am looking forward to using the entries daily on my hikes and camping trips over the next four months.

The first page in the journal has a place for my name, address and telephone number in case I misplace the journal. The back side of this same page has some information about the manufacturer. I appreciate their commitment to the environment by using recycled materials and soy based inks.

The pages really do allow for a lot of data to be collected. I have compiled an image below showing the different pages and what information can be written down. There are four pages with each entry. Two pages have fields listed for suggested information, such as date, location, maps needed, etc. The remaining two pages are lined pages suitable for writing anything I can imagine. Since they both are identical, I have only included one example in the image below.

pages
Page detail



There are enough pages for 29 separate entries. I'll do my best to fill them all over the next four months, but I also hope to do more hiking than writing! I am excited at the level of detail I will be able to keep in one place as I start to explore more of the Rocky Mountains.

SUMMARY

My plan over the next four months is to carry the journal with me on my day hikes and backpacking trips. While it may be a bit heavy for a journal, I am commonly referred to as the "pack mule" in our groups. I seem to be the first to grab those little items that nobody wants to claim, so a few extra ounces is just fine with me!

So far, I am pretty happy with the journal. It is well organized and has a place for a lot of additional information I have not thought to record before. While I was a little taken aback by the size and weight, I hope that it will prove its worth to me in the long run.

I would like to take the opportunity to mention that Nomad Adventure Journals has provided me with their weatherproof case. While I won't be reviewing the case in this test series, I think it speaks to the character of the company for providing this additional item for this test.

I would like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and all the monitors at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series. Please check back in approximately two months for an update on how the journal is holding up!


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the past two months, I have used the journal on two overnight camping trips as well as to keep track of four day hikes. I have chosen to carry the journal along with me on my backpacking trips so I can see how useful the space is for journal writing as well as the notes I have been taking.

My first overnight trip was into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness along the Browns Pass Trail. While hiking in the area over the summer, I noticed a turnoff to Lake Hartenstein that I wanted to visit. Elevation for this trip ranged from approximately 9,900 to 11,500 ft (3,018 to 3,505 m) and while the trail was snow covered in spots, the snow was noticeably deeper over 10,500 ft (3,200 m). Weather was cold with a low of 10 F (-12 C) when I checked in the middle of the night. The high was about 40 F (4 C). While the skies were overcast on the hike in, they cleared up at dusk and remained clear the rest of the trip. The hike into the lake is a fairly easy 3 mi (4.8 km), but I spent a fair amount of time exploring the area as well.

The second trip was along a section of the Rainbow Trail in the San Isabel National Forest. For this trip I hiked about 6 mi (9.6 km) in to a suitable camping spot. The weather was fantastic with temperatures near 40 F (4 C) and mostly sunny skies. Overnight low was about 20 F (-7 C). The trail was in great shape considering the amount of snow the area has seen recently and snowshoes were only needed in particular areas. Elevation range was approximately 8,500 to 9,800 ft (2,590 to 2,990 m).

My day hikes varied in conditions and elevation but were consistent with the conditions of my overnight trips. The farthest day hike was about 9 mi (14.5 km) with one that was much shorter with my daughter and her friend.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

As I mentioned, I have decided to carry the journal along with me while backpacking despite the hefty weight and size. I should mention that I am notorious for carrying "extras" along with me; I generally don't mind the extra weight. While useful, I have to admit I have not used the journal for writing in to the degree that I had hoped. I have made a lot of notes about the trails and the interesting tidbits that the journal has space for, such as local restaurants and special places to enjoy beverages. In addition, I have also used the space to make daily notes on how other items I am testing are performing. For this, this journal has been fantastic!

Because the journal is not waterproof, I have to keep it tucked in my backpack and safe from the elements. Nomad Adventure Journals does have a weather resistant case that can also be purchased, which I am currently using as an extra precaution.

As for the Observations / Notes pages, I have yet to fill up both pages from a single day. The manufacturer suggests making a separate entry for each day on the trail, which I have done. After the first day, much of the information tracked becomes wasted space. I see no reason, for example, to note the directions to the trail head on day two of a backcountry experience. I could imagine if the hike was a shuttle hike, but so far all of my backcountry trips have been out-and-back or loop trips.

There are a few small areas where I found myself wanting more space to write in. I have run out of space in the campground notes section. Of course, I have used this for noting the backcountry site I have chosen. I found other spots nearby that I wanted to comment on, but put those under the Observations / Notes section instead. Under the Pets Allowed section, a line would be nice to note any special conditions. Several areas I hiked in required dogs to be on a leash at all times, others had no such requirement. Finally, I also ran out of room noting where water supplies were. The notes I made were of several stops along the trail where water flowed abundantly. Again, there was plenty of room to write my notes in Observations / Notes section!

I really like that the journal is easy to write in. The cardboard cover is quite thick, making a sturdy writing surface. The pages are holding together well so far and I can still read all of my notes, however illegible my penmanship is!

SUMMARY

I am really enjoying using the journal to keep track of my notes about the trails and other gear I am testing. I like that there are designated areas for a number of interesting pieces of information about the trails I have hiked. While the space allowed for some sections has fallen short of what I need, there remains ample space for additional observations. It is a bit on the heavy side for carrying in the backcountry overnight, but so far this hasn't bothered me too much.

This concludes my Field Report. Please check back in approximately two months to see how the journal is performing! I would also like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Over the last two months I took the Journal on an additional three backpacking trips. My first trip was a three day trip into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area of Colorado into the Harvard Lakes region, elevation 10,300 ft (3,139 m). My partner and I hiked approximately 4 to 5 mi (6 to 8 km) each day. Except for the hike to the lakes, we cut our own trail trails through snow that was 12 to 24 in (30 to 60 cm) deep. The weather was fair; mostly cloudy with periods of clear skies and very little wind. Temperatures ranged from 10 to 40 F (-12 to 4 C).

I also took an overnight trip along the Colorado Trail, just below Mt Yale camping for the night at 10,500 ft (3,200 m). My dog and I hiked about 5 mi (8 km) along snow packed trails in mountainous terrain. The weather on this trip was cloudy with a high near 35 F (2 C). My thermometer read just below 20 F (-7 C) when I turned in for the night.

My final trip was in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to Ptarmigan Lake, at an elevation of 12,147 ft (3,702 m). The trail to the lake was fairly moderate and snow packed. Like most mountain terrain, some sections were steeper than others! Temperatures were between 10 and 35 F (-12 and 2 C) and while the weather was fair during the day, it turned into snow from dinner until I arrived back at my car.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Now that I have been carrying this journal along with me for the four months, I must admit I love the functionality of this! I am able to capture all the information I really want to and still have space left over as I need. I still stand by my comment in the field report that some sections could be a little larger to accommodate more detail, primarily the campsite notes.

One area where I have wavered on is the bulk of this journal. I don't mind the overall weight however fitting this into the front zippered pocket of my backpack has become a nuisance. It doesn't fit in the cover well, and it seems odd to just put it in the pack randomly (I like things compartmentalized!). I know this seems odd to think of it this way, but in the future I think I will leave it at home for shorter trips where I am likely to remember the details a little better. For longer trips, I think I would like to have it as a way to track my thoughts and trail a little better.

Almost every night on trail I have used the journal to write my notes in. Many times this was by headlamp, and it was always easy to collect my thoughts and reflect on the day. The pages are holding up quite well thanks to the sturdy front and back covers. Because I have kept this journal in the optional weatherproof case, I haven't had any problems with it getting wet so I can't report on how it holds up under those conditions.

SUMMARY

Overall I am very happy with this journal as an aid to chronicle my backpacking and camping adventures.

Things I really like:


  • Well laid out
  • Ample room for notes as well as journaling
  • Very durable construction


Things I wish were different:

  • Almost too bulky to easily pack in a backpack
  • Not enough space to describe campsites

CONTINUED USE

I am pretty sure I will continue to use this journal to chronicle my backpacking over the coming years. I really like all the space that there is to write in. While I haven't filled it up I do know that spring and summer are more active seasons for me, so I will likely have to buy another one before the end of the summer!

I am especially looking forward to tracking the camping trips with my family once the weather warms. My children are still too young to accompany me on most of my winter trips, so now that spring is coming up I hope to include them in the process. Who knows, maybe they will be great items to pass along one day!

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Nomad Adventure Journals as well as the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this neat item!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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