Keeping notes while out bushwhacking can be a rather tedious task. From carrying a notebook and writing utensil where they are relatively handy to making sure the notebook does not get wet during inclement weather, there is a lot of necessary juggling involved to keeping notes. Unfortunately, note taking is a necessity if one wishes to chronicle their adventures for a blog or just for their own information.
Note taking can become increasingly difficult in wet conditions. During wet conditions, such as during or after rain showers, paper can become difficult to write on or pens can stop functioning. Although writing in the rain can become almost impossible, it is still very difficult to keep notes in under any wet conditions such as the morning after a night rainfall or even periods of very heavy dew. In rather wet areas like the Adirondacks, this could result in a large portion of a trip being completely without note. Unless you have a very good memory, the lack of notes can be real problem.
At one time I attempted to use technology to solve the problem of note taking during wet conditions by purchasing a personal recording device. For bushwhacking (or just backpacking for that matter) such a recording device would need to be small, lightweight, rugged and waterproof (or at the very least weather proof). Unfortunately, after doing an extensive search I could not find any recorders that met all those criteria.
Eventually, I did settle on the purchase of a SONY PCM-10 Recorder. It was more rugged than its cheaper competing models, being partially made out of metal, but it was not especially small, lightweight or weatherproof. Although somewhat rugged, I never felt all that comfortable carrying it in my pocket like my Garmin eTrex Legend GPS. It is so sensitive that you must stand completely still or it will pick up every little sound made, including those made by the wind or rain drops striking surrounding foliage. Plus, every time I heard my voice recorded on it I cringed.
Although I only used the recorder once for note taking I did find an additional use for it. It is superb for recording the morning chorus of birds, not to mention the buzzing of the hordes of mosquitoes present this summer.
Eventually, I ended up going back to the simple and less technological solution of a notepad and pencil. But instead of a single notepad (the pocket-sized), I carried two. One of the notebooks was for dry weather conditions (a simple notepad sold in stores such as Staples, etc.) while the other was for wet conditions. The wet conditions notebook was not made with ordinary paper but was a Rite in the Rain notebook made especially for writing in rainy conditions.
Rite in the Rain products are purposely designed to be used in wet conditions. They were originally designed for the logging industry in the Pacific Northwest during the 1920’s to deal with the issue of soggy and illegible paperwork. According to their website, Rite in the Rain is an environmentally responsible, patented, all weather writing paper that sheds water and enables one to write in any weather conditions. Their products come in single sheets of paper or in numerous types of notebooks including both staple and spiral bound.
Rite in the Rain notebooks come in numerous varieties (they even make a specific notebook for birding) but in my opinion the All-weather Journal (No. 391-M) is the best suited for recording bushwhacking or backpacking trips. Its 3-1/4 x 4-5/8 inch size makes it a perfect fit for most pockets leaving it readably accessible for taking notes. This notebook has a sturdy tag cover and is side stapled with 24 numbered pages (12 sheets total) and a total weight of only 0.5 oz.
These notepads are perfect for note-taking in wet conditions and any bushwhacker or backpacker wishing to record their adventures should carry at least one. In addition, a regular small notepad of similar size should be carried for those dryer days since they are much cheaper than the Rite in the Rain variety.
In addition to carrying notepads, multiple writing implements should be included on all adventures. Although they make special pens that write in wet conditions (regular pens often will not function in wet conditions regardless of paper type), I prefer an ordinary No. 2 pencil. These ordinary pencils are far superior to mechanical pencils since it is nearly impossible to lose the lead and they can be continuously sharpened using a small pocket knife.
The best note-taking system for any backcountry adventure includes a regular small notepad, a No. 391-M Rite in the Rain notepad and several No. 2 pencils. With these items on hand it will be easy to record all your adventures so you can share each and every one with family and friends upon your return.
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