Not JUST pens and paper…
Gear reviewer X steps to the microphone, “Welcome to another exciting article here on Woodsmonkey.com let’s see what knife we are reviewing today….” Muffled voices off mic. “Wait, I’m not doing a knife review? Probably some new tech savy camping device then huh?….”
More muffled voices. “No? What am I reviewing then?” Muffled voice “Pens and paper?…….OK, seriously what am I reviewing?” Foot steps approaching the microphone……editor’s voice: “Here, it’s a set of Rite in the Rain notebooks and pens. The is a Big Game Hunting Journal, an Outdoor Journal, a Tactical black Clicker pen, a .375 MAG bullet pen, and an Outdoor Journal kit.” Muffled voices and jostling sounds as reviewer X hugs the editor and the editor fights for release. “These are not just pens and paper”, says reviewer X.
Yes friends these are not your ordinary pens and paper. These are so much more. I admit some drama in the intro there, but it’s not far off of my response when I was asked to review this set of products from Rite in the Rain. I have used their notebooks for years and have been well pleased with them. But the use isn’t the whole story. Just as I said these aren’t just pens and paper I’ll also explain the efforts of the company in environmental and domestic business initiatives. Check out the manufactures website at www.riteintherain.com to learn more.
Rite in the Rains motto is simple: “Outdoor writing products for outdoor writing people.” That does a nice job of summing up the origins and directions the company has taken since its development of “Rite in the Rain” paper for the Pacific Northwest logging industry in the 1920’s. If you’ve ever ventured into this area of the country you can imagine the need for it was great, and like any good product the need necessitates the invention. I would guess the company could have just stopped there and made themselves a nice profit on their little niche market. Seems they had their sites set a bit higher though. Today the company is probably the best known outdoor notebook manufacturer there is and certainly hasn’t rested on their laurels in the area of research and development.
Rite in the Rain now offers numerous products for the needs of outdoor industry as well as for recreational users. In the packet sent to us for review we received a variety of their products. First is the all-weather Outdoor Journal, a bright yellow spiral bound notebook which is item No. 1773 on their website. It is 4 5/8”x 7”, has 32 sheets printed front and back with prominent solid lines and dotted grid lines. Each page also has a notation on the bottom for scale, i.e. Scale: 1 square equals _____. The paper of the pages feels like a heavy bonded linen paper and it’s a dream to write on. Even when literally soaked, a pencil or “all-weather pen” make it a snap to jot down notes or graph out a trail route. I was impressed with the size of the journal also. I have kind of big hands and found it was easy to make notes by simply holding it and didn’t need to put it on my thigh or a base to make it stiff enough to take a note. This, I would guess, is attributed to the heavier paper bond and the durability of the covers. Both the front and rear covers are the same bright yellow making it easy to find when set down in leaves or when buried in your pack. They are made from 100% post consumer waste; the paper is also fully recyclable. This makes me feel good as a consumer and since we are all lovers of the outdoors it’s a good idea to make sure it sticks around.
On the subject of the environment a little cyber snooping on the company’s website reveals their initiatives to be ecologically friendly to say the least. Their process does require virgin fiber as they are producing a more durable paper than most, but they purchase through FSC certified sources to meet “high ecological and social standards and practices.” In short they don’t buy from some schmoe poaching wood from our national parks. Even their production process is claimed to have zero ecological impact. No air pollutants are produced nor emitted and the printing plates are recycled along with processing liquids. Why the printing ink is even soy based, a renewable resource. A sizable total contribution to our friends the American woodlands I’m sure you’ll agree.
But alas, back to the function. Like I was saying with any given pencil the Rite in the Rain paper works just fine but when you use one of the company’s “all-weather pens” you can just tell they were made to compliment each other. The two pens I received to test are both the all-weather variety and have a few similar features. For one they both had black ink but other colors are available. Once I tore them apart I realized the refill cartridges are actually the same models, this made my redundancy monkey giggle and wring his little hands. These pens also share some fairly unique qualities to make them stand apart from your everyday ink spitter. These pens ink cartridge are a sealed pressurized cylinder with floating ball to act a piston pushing the ink out. When the tip touches paper you can hear it come off its seat just a fraction of an inch to allow ink to flow. I have no idea how they regulate their flow but it’s neither to much nor to little, it’s just right. This gives the pens the ability to write at any angle, even upside down. The specifications claim the pens to be able to write from -30 degrees to +250 degrees as well as being able to write over a mile of ink. Being as the cylinder is sealed the ink won’t dry out either.
The two different pen styles I received were the Tactical black Clicker pen and the .375 MAG bullet pen. First the Clicker, No. 097. A fairly normal looking pen to any passerby, they won’t even know you have advanced technology at hand. The housing is tough; being some sort of coated aluminum I would venture to guess. In no way does the company endorse this statement, but I think the tactical applications of this model would be easily at home in the realm of a point striking weapon. The construction is excellent with even the threads that hold it together being robust, yet the weight is miniscule. I found the action of the Clicker to be smooth, never jamming or missing a full engagement. The ink dispersal is nice. Kind of hard to explain but it almost feels slippery against the paper, there is very little drag.
The second pen is the .375 MAG bullet pen, No. 086. Also an all-weather pen with all the same specifications and abilities. Its construction however is a big departure from the clicker. This pen is constructed from an actual .375 Magnum case. Pulling on the bullet releases an o-ring fit and the pen slides out, reverses, and fits back into the casing for use. I kind of expected it to be awkward in my fingers but it surprised me being easy to write with and comfortable in the hand. The novelty of it is really cool but it strikes me that it could well be functional hunter. I live in Ohio and here when you take a white-tailed deer you are required to “tag it” on the spot. I’m forever fumbling to the bottom of my pack trying to find a writing utensil which is usually frozen or dried up. In steps the .375 MAG bullet pen. Not only does it have the ability to go to -30 degrees and never dry out, but it is a bullet. Most hunting packs, jackets, and vests have expandable elastic sleeves made to hold hunting cartridges anyway. You could have a superiorly trusty writing instrument directly at hand securely stored.
This transitions us directly into the last notebook, the Big Game Hunting Journal. Most of the physical features are the same as the outdoor journal. Having the same paper type, being spiral bound though at the top not side, and having the plastic front and rear covers. However the Hunting Journal is more specific to task than the outdoor journal. The covers, though the same material as the Outdoor Journal, are a blaze orange color. Also on the back cover each side is lined with a ruler. One measures 13cm on the left and the other on the right measures 5 1/8 inches. Each page in the journal is the same, with a sort of form for tracking the conditions and pertinent information of your hunt on the front and the back lined for notes. The form is laid out very well. Ask any professional hunter what the secret to his success is and barring endorsement driven answers the true answer is usually scouting and preparation. This form is set up to streamline the information from your scouting into a concise structure for reference. Moving down the form we find sections for where and when you were out, license and tag requirements, GPS position, weather and wind conditions, rut phase, sign notes, what scents and decoys you used, sightings, weapons notes, and scoring. If that isn’t enough for you remember the back of the page has a full sheet of notation lines marked out. Basically it comes down to what my grandfather always told me, “Andy, when you’re dumb you gotta be tough.” No wait that isn’t it. “The difference between a smart man and a fool can be a notebook and pencil.” Simply put we are stupid creatures, the less we have to rely on ourselves to remember the better off we are. The same goes for hunting, do you want to remember what deer did on a spot you hunted 3 years ago on a full moon with a storm coming in at the start of the rut? It might be easier to just flip the page in your notebook.
I mentioned earlier I was already a user of the Rite in the Rain products, never having owned one of their pens, but using the notebooks. In testing for this piece I did some testing that exceeded my previous uses. Splashing them with water and writing in the puddle that pooled up. Soaking a page in water for 30 minutes to see if the page broke down or the ink ran. I am glad to report that neither happened. I even smeared some blood on the Hunting Journal pages to simulate taking notes after dressing out a kill. The blood didn’t run off like water but it did not make the page illegible either. When I wiped it off the blood had set up somewhat and the remaining amount just gave the page a brutish look of toughness that I rather liked.
The final product included to review is the tan Cordura cover, which comprises the Outdoor Journal Kit, No. 1773-KIT. This kit gets you a No. 1773 Tactical black Clicker pen mentioned above, the Outdoor Journal No. 1773 mentioned above and a fairly swanky Cordura cover. Inside the cover we find four pen sized slots, these could also hold small penlights or what have you. There is a leaf pocket behind this that the cover of the Outdoor Journal can slip into, and one on the opposing side to make it like a book binder cover. Also on the opposing side is a large pocket that will receive the Big Game Hunting Journal’s cover. So really this cover could pull double duty with many products – “Mmm, yes I see”, says the redundancy monkey with a nod of respect. There is a YKK zipper that goes all the way around with a single pull. These notebooks are tough as nails and could easily handle the abuse of riding shotgun in your pocket alone, but I must admit it is nice to have the extra level of organization. I found myself more often than not throwing this kit into my cargo pocket and hitting the trail. The cover is oversized too, so it will accept a wad of back up cash or some keys readily.
The product list available from Rite in the Rain is impressive. There is far too much to make mention of all of it here. They do bulk paper, copier papers, and various custom journals like the big game hunting one but specific to species and activity, and more pens. Check out the website to see them all. MSRP’s are reasonable and street pricing can usually be found lower on some items.
There you have the in and outs of some fine outdoor products manufactured with an outdoor mindset and developed to suit our needs. The one point I failed to mention is that these are American made products, something we maybe all should be paying more mind to. I think you can see I’m a believer in these products; the chance to review them was as much a chance to boast on them as it was to get my hands on some new test gear. The quality, reputation, and direction of the company are obviously good. Next time you find yourself trying to decipher some note scribbled on a napkin and left for dead in the bottom of a jacket pocket maybe it is time to upgrade. Maybe you deserve the “outdoor writing products for outdoor writing people”
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