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Reviews > Books > Blank Journals and Writing Implements > Rite in the Rain Outdoor Journal > Test Report by Larry Kirschner

Rite in the Rain All-Weather Outdoor Journal

TEST SERIES BY LARRY KIRSCHNER

Rite in the Rain Journal


INITIAL REPORT - October 4, 2009
FIELD REPORT - December 13, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - February 8, 2010



TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Larry Kirschner
EMAIL: asklarry98 at hotmail dot com
AGE: 45
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 205 lb (92 kg)

I've been an intermittent camper/paddler since my teens, but now that my kids are avid Boy Scouts, I've caught the backpacking bug. I typically do 8-10 weekend hikes per year, and have spent time over the past few years backpacking the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and canoeing the Atikaki wilderness of Canada. I like to travel "in comfort", but I've shrunk to medium weight, and continue to work toward going lighter and longer. With all of my investment into these ventures, I expect my wife and I will continue to trek long after the kids are gone…


INITIAL REPORT
October 4, 2009

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: J. L. Darling Corporation
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Country of manufacture: USA
Manufacturer's Website: www.riteintherain.com
MSRP: $9.95 USD

Listed Weight: 3.2 oz (90 g)
Measured weight: 3.7 oz (104.4 g)

Dimensions:
Page size listed: 4 5/8 x 7 in (117 x 178 mm)
Page size measured: 4 5/8 x 7 in (117 x 178 mm)
Journal size measured: 4 7/8 x 7 in (124 x 178 mm)


ITEM DESCRIPTION

The Rite in the Rain product line is a line of notebooks and journals of varying sizes designed for the outdoor enthusiast or for others that may need a weatherproof writing surface. In other words, "Outdoor writing products…for outdoor writing people," as written on the back cover. All of these products use "Rite in the Rain All-Weather writing paper" to provide a weatherproof writing surface. The pages in this notebook are 4 5/8 x 7 in (117 x 178 mm), although both larger and smaller sizes are available. The paper is definitely heavier than regular notebook paper, and has a slightly waxy feel. The pages are spiral bound with a plastic cover to protect the sheets from damage. The Outdoor Journal line is distinguished by a yellow plastic cover with a picture of a backpacker on it. Other products in the line have different color covers with different pictures.

On the first page of paper are spaces to write my name, address, and phone number, as well as a few lines of space marked as "project".

RiR inside front cover

On the back side of the first sheet is a page labeled "contents", which is where I would put my table of contents if I were inclined to annotate my journal entries.

TOC and regular page of the journal

After that, all of the pages are the same, with heavy horizontal lines and lighter, dashed vertical lines which I could use for making graphs, maps, and so on. This format can be seen on the right side page of the photo above. At the bottom of each page is a blank space where I could indicate the scale of each square. More likely, I would just use these blanks to number the pages. All in all, there are 32 pages in the notebook, including the page with the identifying information and table of contents.

No instructions were included with this journal, although I don't think any are necessary. On the back cover of the journal, it says the following: "For best results, use a pencil or an all-weather pen."




TRYING IT OUT

Before taking this out on the trail, I wanted to see what types of writing utensils will work with this special paper. First, I tried, a Rite in the Rain All-Weather Pen, which worked quite well. Next, I tried a pencil, which also did fine. A regular pen wrote nicely on the paper, as did colored pencils (in case I want to do any sketching) and crayons. As everything seems to write easily on the pages of this journal, I will not worry about the need for specialized writing equipment.

writing in the journal


EXPECTATIONS and INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I was hoping for a journal that will not only survive the rigors of the field, but will also allow me to keep and record my thoughts. So far, I am impressed with the journal, since I can write on the pages just like normal paper. I will see how both the pages and the writing hold up as I take it out in the field.


THE STORY SO FAR

    Impressive
  • A journal that will withstand backpacking with no special care? A great idea!
  • Any writing instrument will do
    Concerns
  • None--I can't wait to start testing


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FIELD REPORT

December 13, 2009


FIELD CONDITIONS

So far, I have taken the journal with me on two weekend trips. The first was a weekend in mid-November to Ray, OH. It was clear and cool, with overnight temperatures of 33 F (1 C). At the time I was writing in the journal, it was probably about 35 F (2 C). The second trip was this past weekend, when I did some lodge camping in Delaware, OH. In addition to these trips, I have carried the journal around in my work daypack for most of the past 2 months.

FIELD EXPERIENCE

A good journal is really the type of camping item about which there is not much to say, unless there are problems. So far, I don't have much to write about. I have used the journal as my camping log for the last two months, which has included the two trips noted above. On these trips, I have written in the journal while "indoors," either in my tent or in the lodge. Thus, I have not actually tried writing in the rain, although I have never in the past felt the urge to record my thoughts while getting wet.

In terms of how the journal has functioned so far, the simple word is: great! I have been using the Rite in the Rain pen, which has a medium-sized writing tip which I prefer. As advertised, the pen writes both upright and upside-down, so that I was actually able to write in the journal while lying on my back. Although I liked this initially, I found it somewhat tiring to hold my hands up while writing. Because of this, my penmanship, which has never been great, was even worse than usual. This issue aside, the journal was easy to write on. Also, there has been no smearing or smudging of anything I have written over the past two months. This includes the fact that the writing on one page does not get rubbed off on the facing page.

In terms of size, I have found that the journal is just about perfect for me. It is large enough for me to write my thoughts for the day on a single page. Of course, if I have a lot to say, I can cover two or three pages, but this is unusual. The lines are spaced at a comfortable distance apart, so that my writing is reasonably organized.


WEAR AND TEAR

Although I have carried the journal around for about 2 months, it has not had any problems. The cover of the journal has resisted any scratching or crushing. The wire binding is a little bit bent out of perfect alignment, but it does not restrict free movement of the cover or the pages. Although the journal has been in my bag when carrying it around in the rain, I cannot see any evidence that the pages are wet. Of course, it was among my other papers, so the whole group would have had to get wet for me to see any effects


FIELD IMPRESSIONS

To be honest, although I don't have too much to write about, I really like this little journal. It's sturdy and weatherproof, and just the right size for me. Over the long-term testing phase, I am planning to do more rigorous testing of these qualities, even if it means resorting to some artificial environments for the test.

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LONG-TERM REPORT
February 8, 2010

FIELD CONDITIONS

Over the long-term testing phase, I have continued to take the Rite in the Rain Journal with me on my trips. These have included a weekend trip to Portsmouth, Ohio in mid January. This trip was one night of cabin camping in a rustic cabin and one night of tent camping. Temperatures over the weekend ranged from around 40 F (4 C) to 52 F (11 C) on mostly cloudy days, and it rained overnight when I camped outside. It also accompanied me on two overnight trips for work. Although I didn't use it outdoors, it got crushed down in my suitcase in much the same way it gets packed when I am on the trail. I have also continued to carry the journal with me in my daypack for work. Additionally, the weather here has been quite wet, with a mix of rain and snow. I took the journal out one day when it was raining just so I could test it out under wet conditions.


FIELD EXPERIENCE

Over the past 2 months, I have continued writing in my Rite in the Rain journal every time when I am away, regardless if it is for business or pleasure (i.e., camping). The journal has held up amazingly well. The plastic cover really resists rain and dirt and essentially looks unmarked. The wire binding has held its shape remarkably well, too.

Since this journal is billed as an "All-Weather Outdoor Journal", I wanted to test how well it worked when used in the elements. As described above, I have written in the journal in the heat and in the cold with no problem.

For this part of the report, I specifically tested the journal in the rain. Normally, this is not something I would I would do, as I write almost all of my journal entries in my tent at night before I go to sleep. Nevertheless, I took the journal out in a moderate drizzle to see how it would go. As shown in this photo, the plastic cover did a nice job of shedding rain.

Waterproof cover

Next, I opened up the journal to see how things would go on the pages. Much to my surprise, the pages of the journal also shed water. The only trouble I had writing was when my pen ran into a rain puddle on the page, in which case there was a little smudging. Once the words were written, further rain did not do anything to them.

waterproof pages too

After writing a bit, I turned the page over to see if any water was seeping through the page. The underside of the page and all the pages behind were completely dry! I also tried writing on the page with a pencil, which gave similarly excellent results as with the pen.

After sitting outside with the journal open for a while, I shut the journal and came back inside. Despite the fact that I did not specifically air the journal, the pages were dry after 2-3 hours. Although the pages were initially a little "wavy" after drying out, they have subsequently flattened out. All the writing I did in the rain is still easily legible, and the writing I had done before taking the journal out was similarly well preserved. It didn't matter if I wrote in pen, pencil, crayon, or whatever-it was all fine. I even tried using my fingers to rub off some of the writing, but couldn't do this. I feel confident that the journal will keep my thoughts for posterity.


SUMMARY

All in all, I have to say that the Rite in the Rain All-Weather Outdoor Journal works GREAT. It is simple but sturdy, and the size is just right for me to record my thoughts after a day on the trail (of course, it comes in other sizes for more or less wordy hikers, too). Most importantly, the writing in the journal has not faded or otherwise changed over the four months of the test. My only dilemma is to decide if I want to continue using my current journal for my upcoming trips, or if I will buy myself a fresh one for future recording of my experiences.

Things I liked about the Rite in the Rain All-Weather Outdoor Journal:
  • Really works in all weather
  • I can record my thoughts with any writing instrument
  • Writing does not fade over time
Things I disliked about the Journal:
  • None-this is a great product

This concludes my report on the Rite in the Rain Outdoor Journal. My thanks once again to JL Darling for providing this equipment for testing, and to BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in the evaluation process.


-larry kirschner

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