A good intro! Thanks!

A few comments from some long-ago experience. I recently set up an upstairs bath for darkroom work and it revived some old memories.

Absolute black is good, but not always obtainable, and printing processes are much more forgiving than film. Even with film it seems that a few tiny leaks, not visible from your film loading surface, aren't very dangerous. I closed things up in the darkroom and sat for a timed 10 minute in the dark. The tiny points of light, invisible from the counter, seemed to have no effect on ASA 400 film.

I've had good luck with cutting the film tongue squarely, and leaving the film on the spindle, or even in the cassette housing and then when it's all on the reel, cutting it off the spindle, or tearing the tape. Fewer chances for finger prints. Your mileage may vary.

BTW, if you peel the tape off the film you get a lovely blue-green static discharge. I've never had it fog the film, but YMMV.

A changing bag is a good idea for your field kit. If you somehow rip the film off the spindle or if it breaks mid roll (I had that happen with my MX and a winder) you can at least unload it. In the dim days of antiquity Kodak put up its film in METAL cans, color coded by emulsion. So the film retrieved in a changing bag could be put in an opaque container. Those days are long gone....

Ah, the smell of hypo in the morning....