The Best 160 GSM Bullet Journal Notebooks: The Ultimate Comparison

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Out of all Bullet Journal supplies, getting the right notebook is probably the most important thing to do.

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

If you’re new to Bullet Journaling and not even sure what 160 GSM actually means – don’t worry; we will talk about that as well.

In this review, we will be looking into the 7 most popular journals on the market and see which one will be the perfect notebook for you.

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 entirely, 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 research into 160 GSM notebooks.

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

Also, be sure to scroll until the end to get your free Ultimate Guide To Bullet Journal Supplies, which will give you journal recommendations, as well as some other supplies you’ll love using in your BuJo.

At the end of the post, you’ll also find more related content, including detailed reviews of some of these journals.

What Does It Mean 160 GSM?

As a stationery enthusiast or an artist, it’s hard to deny the importance of quality paper. And in the world of paper, weight matters.

If you’ve ever come across the term “gsm” written on a paper pad, you know it’s more than just a random set of letters. GSM, or grams per square meter, is a significant indicator of paper quality.

The higher the GSM, the heavier and thicker the paper, which affects its texture, durability, and usability. When it comes to Bullet Journaling, you want a paper that not only looks good but can also handle various pens, markers, or paints.

Yup, whether your notebook will have any issues with bleeding or ghosting is mostly dependent on the GSM of your journal!

That’s where 160gsm paper comes into play. It’s sturdy enough to prevent ghosting or bleeding, yet it’s not so thick that it feels cumbersome to write or draw on.

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

Let’s talk a bit more about all the benefits you’ll get from using an 160 GSM journal. I’m sure by the end of this post, you’ll be in a rush to get your hands on one!

160 GSM Notebook Benefits

When it comes to paper quality, 160 GSM Bullet Journal notebooks are a game-changer. Not only are they strong and durable, but they also offer a smooth surface for your favorite pens and markers to glide across.

And with their minimal ghosting and bleeding, you won’t have to worry about your creative ideas clashing or blending together.

Whether you’re writing to-do lists, creating mood boards, or tracking your habits, these notebooks can handle it all.

So here are all the advantages you’ll get from using a 160 GSM journal:

  • No more ghosting and bleeding

Do you often find yourself frustrated with ghosting or bleeding in your Bullet Journal? These issues can really detract from the visual appeal of your BuJo, and I know how catastrophic and upsetting it can feel.

But fear not! Thicker paper, like the 160 GSM, can make all the difference. With this type of paper, you can use any writing tool you please without worrying about bleed-through or ghosting on the other side of the page.

This not only makes your work look better but also allows you to use both sides of each page without hesitation.

  • Use any medium you’d like

One of the most exciting aspects of Bullet Journaling is the ability to explore your artistic side. A 160gsm Bullet Journal notebook provides an ideal canvas for a range of mediums, from markers and gel pens to watercolors.

The thick paper allows you to create bold and captivating illustrations, experiment with different color combinations, and layer various media to achieve stunning visual effects.

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just starting out, a 160 GSM journal provides a versatile and empowering space to explore your creative potential.

  • Durability

With frequent handling and carrying around, it’s no surprise that some Bullet Journals can show signs of wear and tear over time. This is where thicker paper, like the 160 GSM one, comes in handy.

Not only does it provide enhanced durability, but it also allows you to take your journal with you on all of your adventures without worrying about pages getting easily crumpled or damaged.

And let’s face it, isn’t carrying your Bullet Journal with you to your favorite coffee shop one of life’s small but enjoyable pleasures? With a sturdier journal, you can do just that while ensuring that your thoughts, plans, and artistic creations remain intact and presentable for years to come.

  • Premium look and feel

There’s something special about the weight of the paper and the way it handles different mediums that makes even the most mundane tasks feel luxurious.

Not to mention, the sophisticated look of a sleek and well-crafted notebook adds an air of professionalism and luxury to your day-to-day planning. It’s like treating yourself to a gourmet meal instead of settling for a fast-food quick fix.

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 fortunate to actually be working as part of the Archer and Olive design team at that time, so this is the only notebook I actually got for free.

I chose to work with them 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.

  • 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 inquisitive to know how they did. 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 that I couldn’t get at that point.

If you have some more ideas on journals you want me to try out, be sure to leave them in the comments, and I’ll create another review!

This post may contain affiliate links. They will be of no extra expense for you, but I receive a small credit. Please see my Disclosure for more details. Thank you for supporting Masha Plans!

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 actual test.

These are the pens that I use the most and the pens that did cause me some ghosting or bleeding on my non-160 GSM journals.

Here is everything I’ll be using:

Ok, let’s dive in!

How Is This Review 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 0.5 mm-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. Packaging
  2. Quality (cover page, paper)
  3. Numbered pages
  4. Cost less than $20
  5. More than 160 pages
  6. Additional pre-made pages
  7. Pen loop and back pocket
  8. Pen test
  9. Watercolor test
  10. Anything extra (like an amazing addon the journal comes with or maybe the general values and responsibilities of the brand)

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.

Archer and Olive Dot Grid Journal

>> Final score: 7/10

When you get the 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.

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, A4, US Letter, Square

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 | Masha Plans

Something Extra 

Archer and Olive also get an extra point for their clear 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.

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.

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 or vegan leather. 


I love all the cute little 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 they often have sales, and you can always get an extra 10% OFF with my code MASHA10.

Scribbles That Matter 160 GSM Journal

>> Final Score: 6.5/10

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 tight that it left an imprint on the cover.

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 journal.

If you look closely, you can see Karin Brushmarkers pro ghost very so 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 | Masha Plans

Something Extra

The journal came with a fineliner, which is a great add-on and a welcomed gift for any Bullet Journal enthusiast.

But I also wanted to mention a bit of a situation that happened surrounding the brand in 2020.

They had a bit of a scandal when they used the work of some of my friends without permission to create advertisements on Facebook.

To be transparent here – they ended up apologizing and compensating the artists; however, it definitely was a stressful process for all the creators involved.

Let’s hope the company learned their lesson!


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. It’s super useful when you plan your weeklies.

Notebook Therapy Journal

>> Final Score: 5/10

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.

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 | Masha Plans

Something Extra

It’s not a big thing, but the journal did come with a little paperclip that was on theme with the journal cover designs.

It’s not a big enough item for a full point, but I’ll give it a half since it was a cute addon.


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: 4/10

The cover 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.

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 water damaged the paper.

Owl Buke Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans

Something Extra

The journal came with a little stencil, which was a nice thing to add. Nothing too extravagant, but it’s a great stencil to use, especially for beginners.

The billie band has excellent detail with measurements. Even though it’s not something I’d ever need or use, I appreciate them creating something extra to stand out.


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: 6/10

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.

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 badly. Karin and Ecoline’s brush pens also ghosted, and watercolor and watercolor pencils did slight damage to the paper.

Smart Planner Bullet Journal With Thick Paper | Masha Plans


Not much to say about this journal; it’s pretty okay, and I was very disappointed when the time came for a pen test.

Even though it has a pretty high score, it failed so badly in pen tests that it’s really not worth the money it costs.

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Tumbitri Meri Journal

>> Final Score: 6.5/10

I really liked the packaging, and the journal gave me a high-quality feel; I loved the design and the rubbery feel of the cover.

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

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 | Masha Plans
Tumbinri Meri 160 GSM Journal | Masha Plans

Something Extra

Soemthing extra for this journal is, of course, the amazing stencil it comes with! I actually already had it and can attest it’s super useful and functional.

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.

They are definitely getting an extra point for this stencil!


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 is the index page – it looked kind of weird to me, and there was no separation between the entry and writing down the page numbers.

Maybe it’s a little nitpick, but it’s definitely something that bothered me.

My final thoughts are that this is a great starting notebook.

Tekukor Dot Grid Journal

>> Final Score: 5.5/10

Ok what’s happening with the band on this notebook? I’ve never seen one that big! It’s neither good nor bad; I was just really surprised by it!

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

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 | Masha Plans

Something Extra

There wasn’t anything really extra that came with this journal, but there was this one thing that really bothered me personally.

The notebook was covered in twice the plastic you actually need – both the box and the notebook were wrapped, which seems a bit excessive to me.


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

160 GSM Notebooks Review: Video

I just uploaded a review video where I put these notebooks to the test with some of my favorite pens. You’ll see firsthand how the paper holds up with fountain pens, gel pens, and more.

Some of these characteristics are definitely easier to see in a video format.

Plus, I’ll share some additional thoughts and insights that might just help you decide if these are the notebooks you’ve been searching for.

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.

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 – a 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 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, it has a pretty good paper.

Free Stationery Guide

Before you head out to buy your perfect journal, don’t forget to get your freebie.

The stationery world is vast, and there is an overwhelming amount of stationery available out there.

That’s why I created this guide, which condensed it all into a few pages and has the best recommendations for all types of stationery for all your journaling needs.

Simply sign up in the form below, and once you confirm your subscription, the guide will be on the way to your inbox.

Sign up in the form below, and once you confirm your subscription, the Ultimate Guide To Bullet Journal Supplies will be on the way to your inbox.

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

Share with us in the comments!

More Resources

Are you looking for some more notebooks? Still not ready to make your choice?

I’ve got a few more posts that will help you with that.

Read these next:

Hope this post was interesting. If you find it so, please share! If you enjoy my content and want to show your appreciation, please consider supporting me with a cup of coffee.

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

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  1. Nice thorough review! I began journaling in 2018 and have pretty much used Scribbles the Matter exclusively. I think you must have just had a bad experience with the mix up on your purchase and feel it led you to score it lower than it deserves. It really is an amazing notebook and is durable with beautiful bright white paper. The little demarcations that mark true center, horizontal center, and vertical center are wonderful! I purchased an Archer and Olive and the paper was so rough I felt it would damage my markers! I must have gotten a bad one because people love them.
    Thanks for your great review. I always enjoy your content.

  2. I use a 160gsm A5 bullet journal from Papershire.com (on holiday until 30th Oct 2020) it comes in 3 colours and each has a design from her store. The paper is gorgeous, the dot grid is light grey, easy enough to see when you’re looking at it but it doesn’t get in the way when you’re just looking at your page/spread. The paper is smooth rather than toothy. Ive used acrylic paints, black and coffee coloured stamps, felt tip pens, acrylic paint pens, fine liners, gel pens, and all sorts. I haven’t had a hint of ghosting, or bleed through with any medium I’ve tried. Even watercolour is fine as long as you don’t overdo the water.

    Ive got a full flick through of 3 months of daily use on my you tube if you want to see how much its held up against x


  3. I totally agree that the A&O notebook is the best but have you ever tried the brand @mymellowdays? They are located in France and they made first a 180gr notebook for journaling and recently a 160gr one which look so pretty.

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