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Looking to invest in a 160 GSM notebook but not sure which one to choose? Don’t worry, I got you covered. With this review, we’ll find the best Bullet Journal notebook.

Best 160 GSM Bullet Journal Notebooks: The Ultimate Comparison | Masha Plans

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I started Bullet Journaling in 2018, when the best you could dream of was a 120 GSM notebook. That was the same year Archer and Olive released their first 160 GSM notebook.

Just a few years later and the game has changed completely with 160 GSM paper being the talk of the community and the top on every Bullet Journal junkie’s wishlist.

There are so many notebooks on the market in fact, that it’s easy to get lost and buy something you might not enjoy that much.

That’s why I’m writing this post and why I did my own research into 160 GSM notebooks.

But first things first, let’s talk about the paper.

What Does It Mean 160 GSM?

GSM stands for “grams per square meter” and that’s the way to measure the thickness of the paper if you will.

The official Bullet Journal notebooks (LT1917) are 80 GSM, which means that these pages are thinner and much lighter than the 160 GSM notebooks. This however also means that there are higher chances of bleeding or ghosting with some types of pens.

The paper used for watercolor and cardstock varies between 100 GSM and 400 GSM. This means the paper is much thicker and a bit heavier, but also can withstand much more.

This is exactly why 160 GSM notebooks became so popular and desired. The paper can withstand so much more! These notebooks basically allow you to experiment with tons of different materials in your journal without ruining the pages.

Notebooks For This Review

I wanted to try as many 160 GSM notebooks as possible and here are the ones I managed to get my hands on.

  • Archer and Olive

I’m very lucky to actually be working as part of the Archer and Olive design team so this is the only notebook I actually got for free.

I chose to work with that not only because I love their products, but also for the values and responsibilities they stand for. We will talk about it a bit more later.

In case you want to learn more about them, check out my detailed Archer and Olive Dot Grid Notebook Review.

  • Scribbles That Matter

This brand has been one of the leaders of the 120 GSM notebook market and when they released their new 160 GSM line I was very curious to know how they did. So I’m happy to share my findings with you.

  • Notebook Therapy

This notebook has been making some noise on the market so I have been wanting to give it a try.

I’ll give you more opinions on the notebook itself later on, but what I want to say here is that it took the notebook almost a month to get to the USA and their customer service didn’t give me any updates on the shipping.

  • Owl Buke Notebook

This journal is on the budget side and I’ve heard a lot about it, so I really just wanted to test what quality it offers for such a price.

  • Smart Planner Dot Grid Journal

This company has been talking a lot about helping people to be productive with their journals, and it got me curious.

  • Tumbitri Meri

This is a small woman-owned brand and I thought it would be nice to support small businesses and see if their notebooks stand the test.

  • Tekukor Journal

Never really heard about this one, but it seemed to have pretty good Amazon reviews so I added it to the list as well.

There are however more journals on the market which I couldn’t get:

  • SeQes
  • Mindful Hookup
  • Eclectic Scribbles 
  • Amanda Rach Lee 
  • Maisie Lane Co
  • Wordsworth and Black
  • Inprint 

How This Review Is Organized?

All the notebooks of course have some similar features: they all are 160 GSM dot grid notebooks with a sewn-in building. Moreover, they all have a 0.5mm sized dot grid.

However, there are also many differences between the journals, and as a complete stationery addict, I wanted to make sure I mark them all and evaluate the notebooks accordingly.

Here is my evaluation scale:

  1. Company values and environmental responsibilities
  2. Packaging
  3. Quality (cover page, paper)
  4. Numbered pages
  5. Cost less than $20
  6. More than 160 pages
  7. Additional pre-made pages
  8. Pen loop and back pocket
  9. Pen test
  10. Watercolor test

Therefore each of these 160 GSM notebooks can get a score from 1 to 10.

In this review we will walk through each notebook one by one, then if you’re interested you can see my review YouTube video, and finally, we will figure out the best 160 GSM notebook at the end of the post.

So be sure to scroll till the end of the post!

Pen Test Pens

One of the most important tests for today is a pen test and for this one, I picked some pretty juicy pens to put this paper to the real test.

For juicy pens, I chose these ones: Ecoline Brush Pens, Zebra Clickart, Pentel Touch, and Karin Brushmarkers. These are the ones that have been giving some problems to my other journals that have less than 160 GSM paper.

I also included some pens that I often use: Tombow Fude, Zebra Mildliners, Tombow Dual Brush Pens, and Faber Castell fineliners.

Talens Ecoline 10 brush pens.
  • Brand : ECOLINE
  • Made in United Kingdom
  • Ecoline brush pen set 10
Karin Mini Box Pro 26 Piece + 1 Blender Transparent Body with Ink Free System Brush Marker Pro Brush, 2 4 ml Liquid Colour: No Felt-Tip Pen Marker
  • Built-in soft head ideal for painting and hand climbing
  • Tone transitions due to easy mix of colours and brightening with water or blender possible
  • Clear tank with 2, 4 ML water based ink
Zebra Clickart Water-Based Pen Bright Light 12 Colors Set, Wyss22-12Clt
  • Water-based color pen
  • Knock Type and Capless
  • Bright light 12 colors set: pale blue, aqua blue, leaf green, mint green, Marigold, pale orange, peach pink, Salmon Pink, baby Red, Cherry pink, lavender, Cocoa brown
Sale
Zebra Pen Mildliner, Double Ended Highlighter, Broad and Fine Tips, Assorted Colors, 15 Pack
  • Double ended highlighter featuring a broad, chisel tip and fine bullet tip for broad highlighting or fine underlining
  • Each highlighter features water resistant, quick drying ink in soft colors
  • Available in 15 subtle hues: Brown, Vermilion, Gold, Magenta, Smoke Blue, Red, Violet, Gray, Dark Blue, Green, Blue, Blue Green, Yellow, Orange, Pink

Among some other pens are Crayola Super Tips, Stabilo Highlighters, and Acrylograph Pens.

Finally, we need to do a water test so I used my Amy Tangerine watercolors and Stabilo watercolor pencils.

Crayola 50ct Washable Super Tips Markers 50 Color Variety
  • Crayola Super tips washable marker set having durable
  • Age.Mfg Minimum: 36
Amy Tan Set Watercolors, Multi
  • INCLUDES: 12 watercolor paints, one pencil, one pen, one water bottle, one sponge, and one refillable water brush pen
  • BRIGHT COLORS: A rainbow of colors is the perfect palette for any creative craft
  • PAIR: Pair with other Stay Sweet products by Amy Tangerine for beautifully coordinated projects
Stabilo Aquacolor Metal Box of 36 Assorted Colours
  • High quality aquarellable coloured pencil
  • Rich colour application
  • Water soluble

Ok, let’s dive in!

Archer and Olive Dot Grid Journal

Final score: 7/10

When you get Archer and Olive journal you know you received the premium product. 

Opening up their boxes is like opening a Christmas present, you know inside you’ll find a unique and carefully crafted journal that will surprise you with its quality and amazingly cute designs.

Archer and Olive 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Archer and Olive 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Archer and Olive 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities 

Archer and Olive pride themselves on their values and for a good reason. This woman-owned business stands for all the right things: inclusivity, appreciation of people’s work, mental health and so much more.

Apart from donating to a lot of causes, they also pay extra attention to everyone they work with, making sure that all creators are well compensated, healthy both medically and mentally, and have a family within Archer and Olive.

I’ll never forget when the quarantine in spring 2020 started and I couldn’t come back home, was stuck in a new country on my first visit, living with people I didn’t know at all at that time, and basically not knowing when I’ll be able to go home and see my husband again.

It was a hard time and I remember Archer and Olive were the first to reach out and helped me so much to stay sane and live through these hard times.

Another core value this company has is its commitment to environmental responsibility. Their packaging is recyclable and covers are made of an ethically sourced fabric of vegan leather. 

They also pay extra attention to social accountability making sure that the manufacturers they use to pay their workers the fair rate.

I believe this adds a lot of value to the brand and as you’ll see now that many companies pay any attention to such things that can be vitally important for so many people involved and the planet as a whole.

Key Characteristics Of Archer and Olive 160 GSM Notebook

Buy here: Archer and Olive (use code MASHA10 to get 10% off your order)

Price: $36

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5, B5, B6, Traveller’s

Paper: Pure White

Pages: 192

Pre-made pages: No

Numbered pages: No

Dots: Light grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 38 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: Yes

Bookmarks: Two

Extras: None

Pen Test

Archer and Olive aced their pen test with flying colors. I threw my juiciest pens and tons of water with watercolors and still, there was no bleeding or ghosting.

Moreover, it did great with my fountain pen – there was no feathering.

Archer and Olive 160 GSM Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Archer and Olive 160 GSM Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

I love all the little cute details the notebook offers, such as a charm on one of the bookmarks, or holographic edges of their Halloween collection.

I’m also happy to see that now they are offering vegan leather covers.

I know this is a premium product and at a price tag of $36 it might be a bit too much. But thinking of how they do business and the values they stand for and actively support it seems like a worthy cause. 

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Journal

Final Score: 6.5

I expected a lot from this notebook and in some ways, it met my expectations, and in some not.

First of all, I really like the cute packaging they have going, as well as the little doodles inside the journal. 

However, the notebook was mislabeled, which I found pretty strange. The cover page says the notebook is Starry Night, while this is actually Scribbles That Matter Pro. Plus the ribbon is so right that it left an imprint on the cover.

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Notebook | Masha Plans

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Notebook | Masha Plans

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Notebook | Masha Plans

Values And Responsibilities

There is nothing mentioned about their values anywhere I could find. They do have a lot of information on why they put so much emphasis on journaling.

Key Characteristics Of Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Dot Grid Notebook

Buy here: Amazon

Price: $25.96

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5, B5, B6

Paper: Pure White

Pages: 153

Pre-made pages: Key and Index

Numbered pages: Yes

Dots: Light grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 38 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: Yes

Bookmarks: Two

Extras: Pen test page, Mindfulness page, Scribbles That Matter fineliner

Pen Test

Since all the notebooks on this list have thick 160 GSM paper I expect most of them to do pretty well, and so did this

If you look closely you can see Karin Brushmarkers pro ghost slightly, but other than that everything did pretty well.

I want to note here that my fountain pen did feather a little bit.

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Notebook, pen test | Masha Plans

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Notebook, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

There are a few things I liked about this journal – the cover page has a special section for when you started the journal and when you finished it.

Another thing I like is that each page has very very slight dots that help you to easily divide it into 4 equal parts. Super useful when you plan your weeklies.

Notebook Therapy Journal

Final Score: 3.5

The first thing I must notice is that the packaging is very similar to Archer and Olive.

Other than that, I simply must note how bad their customer service is. My notebook took a month to get to a USA address and I got no feedback from them about where my notebook is and if it was sent at all.

I must say I did love the cover of the notebook with its velvety feel – that’s a really nice touch. I also like that the spine has a little wave embroidered there, such a sweet detail.

Notebook Therapy 160 GSM Dot Grid Journal | Masha Plans

Notebook Therapy 160 GSM Dot Grid Journal | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities

There is no information about any of these. As far as I can tell their notebooks were made in China which usually entails low factory working compensations and no special efforts towards being environmentally friendly.

Key Characteristics Of Notebook Therapy 160 GSM Dot Grid Journal

Buy here: Notebook Therapy

Price: $25.98

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5, B5, Original

Paper: Pure White

Pages: 128

Pre-made pages: No

Numbered pages: No

Dots: Light grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 24 x 35 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: No

Bookmarks: Two

Extras: Whale paperclip

Pen Test

It did pretty well with most of the pens, except for Karin Brushmarker pro that created some ghosting.

The fountain pen was also feathering a bit.

Notebook Therapy 160 GSM Dot Grid Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Notebook Therapy 160 GSM Dot Grid Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

I must say that I was absolutely misled by their website. They offer notebooks size original, A5, and B5, however, it’s never stated directly how small the original size is.

From the picture on their website, it looked slightly smaller, so I decided to give it a try. However upon receiving I saw that it was significantly smaller, almost a B6 size.

Honestly, they need to work on customer service and giving proper information about their products.

Owl Buke 160 GSM Bullet Journal

Final Score: 3

This notebook came with a little stencil, which is always a cute addon. The cover also has a rubbery feel to it that I quite like.

However, I must note that the notebook has the most unpleasant chemical smell to it. It’s not too strong but strong enough to notice. And it seems like a bad sign if we are talking about the quality.

The billie band has nice detail with measurements. Even though it’s not something I’d ever need or use, I appreciate them creating something extra to stand out.Owl Buke Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Owl Buke Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities

The original shop is listed on Aliexpress, which makes them mass-produced with little to no ethical labor practices. No more to be said here.

Key Characteristics Of Owl 160 GSM Notebook

Buy here: Amazon

Price: $11.80

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5

Paper: Light cream

Pages: 160

Pre-made pages: No

Numbered pages: No

Dots: Light grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 39 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: Yes

Bookmarks: One

Extras: Stencil

Pen Test

This notebook has probably the worst paper among all of these, however, it still has thick 160 GSM paper, so there was no bleeding.

But, most pens were ghosting, Ecoline brush pens lost their shape and Karin Brush Markers looked weirdly textured on this paper.

On touch, you can also feel how wanter damaged the paper.

Owl Buke Bullet Journal With Thick Paper, pen test | Masha Plans

Owl Buke Bullet Journal With Thick Paper, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

This notebook is quite ok for its price. It can be a good first notebook for beginners since the quality is quite acceptable and the paper is good for its price.

This is a great practice notebook for you to figure out what you want from your Bullet Journal and what things you wish to have in your future notebook.

However, if you’re looking for an upgrade and a high-quality Bullet Journal with thick paper – this might not be it.

Smart Planner 160 GSM Notebook

Final Score: 5.5

Didn’t really know what to expect from this journal, but I really liked that nice black inside of the journal, as well as some pre-made pages.

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities

On their website, all they talk about helping people to be productive and organized, so it’s not very clear what values they have.

Key Characteristics Of Smart Planner 160 GSM Dit Grid Notebook

Buy here: Amazon

Price: $24.97

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5

Paper: White

Pages: 170

Pre-made pages: Key and Index

Numbered pages: Yes

Dots: Dark grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 39 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: Yes

Bookmarks: Three

Extras: None

Pen Test

This notebook had so much promise and yet it failed so hard when it came to the pen test.

Karin Brushmarker Pro bled through pretty bad. Karin and Ecoline brush pens also ghosted and watercolor and watercolor pencils did slight damage to the paper.

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper, pen test | Masha Plans

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

Not much to say about this journal, it’s pretty ok and got very disappointing when the time came for a pen test.

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Tumbitri Meri Journal

Final Score: 6.5

I really liked the packaging and of course the fact that it comes with such an amazing stencil.

The journal gave me a high-quality feel, I loved the design and the rubbery feel of the cover. A sweet little detail was the fact that inside of the notebook they had a little pocket for that stencil that came with the notebook.

It’s also a small woman-owned business so it’s always nice to show them some support.

Tumbinri Meri 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Tumbinri Meri 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities

Unfortunately once again I must say that there is no information about their values and ecological responsibilities.

Key Characteristics Of Tumbitri Meri 160 GSM Journal

Buy here: Amazon

Price: $23.95

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5

Paper: Bright White

Pages: 220

Pre-made pages: Index

Numbered pages: Yes

Dots: Dark grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 38 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: Yes

Bookmarks: Three

Extras: Stencil

Pen Test

Mostly it did ok, especially with the watercolor. And there was no feathering from my fountain pen.

However, there was some ghosting from Karin Brushmarkers, Ecoline Brush pens, and Zebra Click art. Karin ones were ghosting the most, bordering with bleeding.

Tumbinri Meri 160 GSM Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Tumbinri Meri 160 GSM Journal, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

This is a pretty good notebook and I love that it has so many pages. Even though it makes it a bit bulky it also means that it will last you for much longer.

However, a few things I didn’t like are the pen test and the index page – it looked kind of weird to me.

My final thoughts – this is a great starting notebook.

Tekukor Dot Grid Journal

Final Score: 5

Ok what’s happening with the band on this notebook, I never saw one that big! But this doesn’t really matter.

The notebook comes in a pretty package and looks like a sturdy pretty thick journal.

Tekukor 160 GSM Notebook | Masha Plans

Tekukor 160 GSM Notebook | Masha Plans

Values and Responsibilities

There is no information in any official sources on what are their values, however, there are a few things I wanted to note.

It says that their paper is from Japan and the notebook is made in China, which seems like a lot of unnecessary carbon footprint.

Another thing is that the notebook was covered ibn twice the plastic you actually need – both the box and the notebook were wrapped, which seems a bit excessive to me.

Key Characteristics Of Tekukor 160 GSM Notebook

Buy here: Amazon

Price: $20.97

Cover: Hard

Sizes: A5

Paper: Off white

Pages: 192

Pre-made pages: No

Numbered pages: Yes

Dots: Dark grey, 0.5 mm

Grid: 26 x 38 boxes

Back Pocket:  Yes

Pen Loop: No

Bookmarks: Three

Extras: No

Pen Test

This notebook did pretty well on the pen test. The only betrayal was by Karin Brushmarker pro that did ghost quite a bit.

There was also a slight feathering of my fountain pen.

Tekukor 160 GSM Notebook, pen test | Masha Plans

Tekukor 160 GSM Notebook, pen test | Masha Plans

Notes

I liked this notebook and the three ribbons were a great addition. I also really enjoy how light the page numbers were.

Video review

Want to see these notebooks and pen tests in action – check out my review below.

Final Score

So, who are our winners? Which notebook can be called the best 160 GSM notebook for Bullet Journaling?

Well, here they are!

The best notebook overall is Archer and Olive journal!

No surprise here, they are really the standard of what a good notebook should be. If you want to learn more be sure to check my Archer and Olive Dot Grid Notebook Review.

The best 160 GSM notebook for beginners is Tumbitri Meri!

I really love this journal, the way it feels in your hand and it does have everything one might need – pre-made index, numbered pages, and a pen holder.

Three bookmarks are also very useful, that way you will be able to easily navigate between your future log, monthly log, and a current weekly.

Some heavy-duty markers might ghost, like Karin or Ecoline, but the paper is still pretty good and considering I really advise it for beginners – you probably won’t have such stationery in your collection yet.

Finally, the best notebook for your buck is Tekukor.

If you’re looking to upgrade your paper but don’t have much of a budget – this notebook will be perfect for you.

For $20.92 you’ll be getting a good quality journal with such useful features as a back pocket, numbered pages, and three bookmarks. And of course a pretty good paper.

What notebooks did I miss out on? Which journals are your favorites? 

Share with us in the comments!

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And remember: Keep Bullet Journaling and Don’t Be A Blob.

Best 160 GSM Bullet Journal Notebooks: The Ultimate Comparison | Masha Plans

Signature Masha | Masha Plans