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Reviews > Books > Blank Journals and Writing Implements > Nomad Journals Waterproof Trail Journal > Test Report by Edwin L. Morse

NOMAD ADVENTURE JOURNALS WRITING JOURNAL
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - November 10, 2009
FIELD REPORT - January 05, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - March 06, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 72
LOCATION: Grawn, Michigan USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Last May I did a 2 week hike in Northern Minnesota. My starting pack weight was 35 lbs (16 kg), including 10 days of food and 2 qt (2 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Nomad Adventure Journals
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.nomadjournals.com/
MSRP: US$8.50
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 2.3 oz (65 g)
Other details:
Listed dimensions: 4x5 (10.2 cm x 12.7 cm)
Measured dimensions: 3.75" by 5" (9.5 cm by 12.7 cm)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

My initial impression was that the Nomad Adventure Journal Writing Journal is a handy and sturdy little notebook. The journal came with a hang tag attached, which I ripped off before taking it on the first hike.
front and hang tag
front and hang tag

At the bottom of the last page it states that "Cover and paper made from post consumer recycled plastic."

The covers are transparent green and feel like plastic. The lined writing pages feel, to me, like very high quality paper. The first page is blank on the front and on the back side has a space provided for name, address and phone number.
inside front cover
inside front cover

I wrote my name first using a roller ball pen, then wrote my address and phone using a cheap ball point pen. I rubbed my thumb across what I had written and my name, written with the roller ball pen, smeared. I then wrote my name above with a pencil and rubbed my thumb across again. Nothing more smeared.
ID and first page
ID and first page

I copied the following from the website:
"Our waterproof lined journals are great for writers, students and just about anyone taking notes inside or in the great outdoors. Keep a personal diary or just write your thoughts and impressions. These journals are completely waterproof and tear-proof, which means you can take them anywhere."

I found it interesting when I attempted to test the tear-proof quality. I could not tear the first sheet on the narrow bottom side. On the other hand the page tore easily on the longer side. I did not expect this to happen or I would not have tried to tear the page. Now the first page looks like my cheap note books after a week of backpacking. The two tears are visible in the above picture on the right side.

It is also stated on the website: "120 lined pages". I counted 41 pages, 39 of which are lined on both sides while the last page is lined only on one side. The first page is blank on the first side and has the journal name and space for owner's name and address on the reverse side. According to my arithmetic this provides 79 lined pages on which I can write notes.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The bottom line on the last page states: "For best writing results, use a ball point pen or pencil".

After my experience I think a "Number 2" pencil is the best writing instrument to use since it can be erased. On the other hand, a cheap ball point pen is the easiest to read.

TRYING IT OUT

Our local hiking club has just completed a four mile (6 km) reroute of the North Country Trail. With unseasonably warm weather predicted I planned a short backpacking trip to finish with a day of blazing the new trail. Since the whole hike was less than 8 miles (13 km) by combining the section being replaced I stopped several times for notes and pictures. Here is where I sat down for lunch. It was up to 60 F (16 C) when I sat down, already the predicted high.
lunch break
lunch break
I updated my notes at that time then took a few more pictures.
I had taken a hammock so my choices of a place to camp were different. Just for an experiment I set up on the nearest to a flat area on a very steep slope. I tied the hammock to two trees about 70 (21 m) feet below the top of the slope and about 100 feet (30 m) above the Manistee River with a nice view from the hammock. The temperature was up to 70 F (21 C) by the time I started getting set up.

I put everything away for the night after I took a last two pictures and then got in the hammock to update my notes and read. Then I learned that pitching a hammock on a steep slope presents some different problems. The hammock was tied to a small cedar tree on one side. That tree was straight and vertical when I first tied up the hammock. It was almost completely dark when I took the last pictures were taken and I didn't notice the tree was pulling loose. When I got in the hammock the tree pulled down horizontal and I was lying on the ground. I had to retie the hammock to another tree and redo all the tarp guy lines - with a headlamp for light. This episode gave me a lesson and a few more journal entries.

SUMMARY

I find the Nomad adventure journals writing journal to be a functional piece of equipment. I always carry a small note book for recording things I want to remember on all day hikes and backpacking trips. There are good and less good things about any piece of equipment. At this time I have found few of either about the writing journal.

Good points;
* no sharp wire ends on the spiral binding
* recycled material

Not so good;
* not tear proof as it was stated on website


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

So far I've carried the Nomad Trail Journal on two overnight car camping trips and ten day hikes. I did not use the Trail Journal for the car camping trips since I used the Nomad Camping Journal those two days. The day hikes included two days of cross country skiing on nearby trails and eight days of snowshoeing. I wrote in the Nomad Trail Journal during all the skiing and snowshoe day hikes.

The locations were all in either the Manistee National Forest or the Pere Marquette State Forest in northwest Lower Michigan. The terrain varied from slightly rolling small hills to often steep and very hilly dunes. A few of the days were sunny but most days included falling snow. During three days when I was out the snow was not so much falling as it was slashing horizontally across the open areas.

The temperatures on the skiing and snowshoeing outings ranged from 15 F (-9 C) to 27 F (-3 C).

The last outing, with a friend, was an exploration hike in which we were searching for a route for a multiuse trail. This was the longest snowshoe hike I've done this winter, 6.4 miles (10.3 km) as well as the worst weather for snowshoeing. Soon after we left the Jeep a light freezing rain started to fall. Even though the snow felt soft under my feet the added moisture caused snow to stick and cake on the snowshoes I was using. Even the rain did not affect the notes I wrote when we stopped for a short lunch break.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The trail journal has performed very well for me in the last two months. I generally use a pencil or sometimes a mechanical pencil, so the instructions to use either a pencil or ball point pen were of little concern. I haven't used the Trail Journal in real rain but I have used it several times in falling snow. When the snow gets too thick I just brush it off the page and keep writing. My notes have stayed legible, that is as legible as my fast writing can be.

On one recent snowshoe hike I forgot to put a pencil in the pocket with the journal. When I got to the trail parking area I just took along the pen from the Jeep I use for recording fuel use. This pen writes like a ball point but the ink is very wet. In the falling snow the wet ink soon smeared badly. By the time I got home I could just make out the date and an occasional word. It appears that there was good reason for the caution to only use a pencil or ball point pen.

SUMMARY

I am impressed with the waterproof paper in the Nomad Trail Journal. Most of the snowshoe hikes I've done included heavy falling snow and one with a freezing drizzle. I have not tried to protect the Journal from the weather while writing down my notes. The only time my notes have smeared and become illegible was the time I accidentally used the wrong kind of pen.

The Nomad Trail Journal is the size notebook I prefer to carry whether I'm out just for a day or for several days of backpacking. Since the paper is waterproof I don't have to protect the notebook from falling snow. Except for my one blunder with the wrong pen the Nomad Trail Journal has done much better than the cheap notebooks I usually carry. The spiral binding is well made and there are no sharp ends to catch or snag on my pockets. This little Journal solves the problems I've had with the cheap notebooks I've carried previously.

This completes my Field Report about my use of the Nomad Trail Journal.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Since my Field Report I've used the Nomad Waterproof Trail Journal in the Manistee National Forest, The Pere Marquette State Forest and in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore which are all located in northwest Lower Michigan. The terrain in these areas varies from relatively flat to very steep dunes. All these areas are forested, mostly with deciduous hardwoods and stands of conifers, with some areas relatively open and some very thick. The weather has also varied from hard driving snow with poor visibility and temperatures of around 10 F (-12 C) to cloudy with temperatures around 20 F (-7 C) to bright sunny days and temperatures up to 40 F (4 C).

I also used the Journal on three days of a six day hike in the Ocala National Forest in Florida. The terrain in this area is flat with mostly open forest of mixed conifer and deciduous trees with some areas of palmetto. The days I used the Journal on this hike were mostly hard rain with temperatures from 55 F (13 C) to 65 F (18 C). I only used the Nomad Waterproof Trail Journal for notes I wanted to record while it was raining. The rest of my hike was recorded in the Nomad Camping Journal.

Overall, I've used the Trail Journal on more than 15 different days to record observations while I was hiking (or skiing or snowshoeing).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This little notebook is doing very well for me. Everything I've written is still easily readable. I find this amazing since I've used the Journal in hard driving snow, heavy wet snow and hard driving rain and even a few sunny days.

When I'm backpacking in an area I'm not familiar with I carry my maps and notebook in a zippered nylon pocket clipped to the pack straps. Before my hike in Florida I had thought the pocket was waterproof. When I took the Journal out to write down some thoughts I found everything in the pocket was soaked. My map of the Ocala National Forest is in bad shape. The Florida Trail map and the Nomad Waterproof Trail Journal show no damage. The notes I wrote in the hard rain are a little blurred but still easily readable. My camera was in another small shoulder strap pocket that had protected it from rain several times before. The Florida rain was too much and my camera died the second day I was out. I didn't get any of the pictures I expected on this hike.

I've been doing mostly snowshoe hiking since returning to the north country from Florida. As soon as I could I also bought a new camera. Most of my hiking has been on the North Country Trail (NCT), both in the Manistee National Forest (MNF) and the Pere Marquette State Forest (PMSF). Here is a picture from a hike in the MNF near the section of trail I maintain. The trail is over the edge of the hill near the pines in the background. I needed a place to sit out of the snow.
Lunch near NCT in Manistee National Fore
Lunch near NCT


Then another picture from a newly built reroute section of the NCT. This bench is on a high bluff overlooking the Manistee River. Besides a good lunch stop any time of the year this bench is a good place to watch kayakers on the river below during the warmer months.
Lunch on NCT reroute
Lunch on NCT reroute

SUMMARY

In my opinion this little notebook is a keeper. I carry and use it every time I'm out hiking, skiing or snowshoeing. The Nomad Waterproof Trail Journal still looks like new even though I've used over half the pages. I've used the Journal in some of the worst winter weather Michigan and Florida have to offer.

I am impressed enough that I will soon be ordering two more copies so I don't have to fall back to the old cheap notebooks. Yes I will continue to use the journal as long as they sell it and I can keep hiking.

I would like to thank Nomad Adventure Journals and Backpackgeartest.org for the opportunity to use and test this backpacking journal.

This completes my Long Term Report about my use of the Nomad Trail Journal.

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

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