What is a bullet journal?
Well to me a bullet journal is a notebook in which I create my own planner/journal all in one. I have yearly collections where I keep track of things, like TV shows and movies I watched this year, books I have read, etc. I then have a yearly calendar, monthly calendar, and weekly spreads that detail my day to day activities. I also will randomly sprinkle in journal entries and trip pictures with my HP sprocket printers. For me, it is also my creative outlet to doodle and draw and create something just for me. Before I go into detail about each journal, let me tell you what I am looking for in a journal and why.
- Sturdy cover that feels nice and looks pretty. I want something I can throw in my bag, and I don’t have to worry about ruining it by it getting crushed or scraped up. I also like pretty things, so there’s that.
- Dot grid paper preferably over 100gsm (grams per square meter, the higher the number, the heavier the paper). I prefer dots so that I can draw or color and they don’t distract from the drawings.
- A pocket of some sort. For stickers because I love stickers.
- I prefer Perforated pages, but this isn’t a complete no-go. I make mistakes, and my OCD likes the thought of being able to rip it out logically rather than cut it out because cutting is scary stuff.
- Lay flat notebook. Because there is nothing worse than fighting your notebook to stay open.
Things I kinda care about, but I am not terribly sad if they are missing:
- Multiple page markers – One is nice, two is nicer, three is a lot.
- Pen loop – this is a luxury, but I carry 1,000 pens with me anyways.
- Numbered pages – Would be helpful but I’ve been writing mine since the start so I know I won’t die.
Things I don’t care about at all:
- Table of Contents – I can make my own.
- Paper Color – Cream or White, couldn’t care less.
To start let’s iron out some details, they are all thread bound which means they all lay flat, all, for the most part, have dots that line up, and all have a pocket in the back. I also ordered all but the archer and olive on Amazon. So, in order of least to most favorite here goes my review of 10 of the most popular bullet journals and a few you have probably never heard of.
10. Orca Pad Aqua Cover
Price: $14.95 Cover Type: Hard Aqua Vinyl cover? But don’t quote me on that. Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 100 gsm # pages: 192 Paper Color: Off White This journal is just ok. The cover seems sturdy, the paper feels nice. 1 page marker, no page numbers. I don’t have much to say about it. It didn’t excite me.
9. Moleskin Classic Soft Cover
Price: $14.74 Cover Type: Light Beige Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 80 gsm # pages: 192 Paper Color: Off White Well, it is a Moleskin. It is a classic notebook, not many features. 1 page marker, no perforated pages, no page numbers, no pen holder, but it is nice and compact, and they come in a wide variety of colors. They have been around forever, and hold up nicely.
8. Archer and Olive
Price: $28.00 (ouch) Cover Type: Light pink embossed Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 160 gsm # pages: 112 Paper Color: White This journal was my biggest let down. I was so excited about it arriving, only to be disappointed when I opened the journal. White Cardstock. That is what it feels like. I was hoping a more excellent journal/linen paper of some sort, but literally white cardstock with dots. While the cover is charming, has a nice feel and is quite beautiful, I couldn’t get over the inside. It does come with 2 page markers, but that is it. No page numbers, no pen holder, no perforated pages. All for $28.00. Not worth it in my opinion. There are cheaper more superb journals that will give you close to the same effect, don’t be fooled by the paper weight. Unless you like white cardstock, then this is the journal for you!! Not a terrible journal, just not my favorite.
7. Leuchtturm 1917 Copper
Price: $29.95 (ouch) Cover Type: Hard Copper Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 80 gsm # pages: 251 Paper Color: Off White I was pleasantly surprised by the pen test on this journal. Definite ghosting, no bleeding, no feathering but if you wanted to use this with particular pens in mind it is doable. It will not work if you’re going to paint or use watercolors as the paper is not thick enough to handle without a layer of gesso (clear waterproof stuff you can paint on to protect your journal). I like that the pages are numbered, it comes with a table of contents and has a ton of pages, the most out of all the journals in this article. The one I ordered also came with a matching pen loop and stickers that you can use to label the front and spine of the journal when finished. The cover is a beautiful copper color, hard and sturdy, and has a great feel to it, which was the main reason I purchased it. It is a small and compact A5 size that would be easy to carry places.
6. Poluma Turquoise Bullet Journal
Price: $5.99 (what???) Cover Type: Soft Turquoise Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 120 gsm # pages: 128 Paper Color: Off White This journal right here surprised the heck out of me. It’s slightly smaller than an A5 in width but the same in height. The cover is a little Eh but comes in a pretty bright turquoise color. It is made decently well, comes with 1 page marker and would make the perfect starter journal or the journal for anyone who is bullet journaling on a budget. A little low on the number of pages but a great deal.
Price: $12.99 Cover Type: Hard Black Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 100 gsm # pages: 192 Paper Color: Off White I wanted to hate this journal, probably because everyone else liked it so much, and I always cheer for the underdog. But it has quite a few features that I appreciate, such as; 3 page markers, the most out of all the journals, and numbered pages. It does not have perforated pages or a pen loop, but the paper is nice and feels nice as well. The cover leaves a lot to be desired as your only choice is black, which to me is quite boring, but to others may be lovely. It is an excellent price for the quality and features and comes a close fifth behind the STM journal.
4. Scribbles That Matter (STM) A5
Price: $19.95 Cover Type: Soft Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 100 gsm # pages: 201 Paper Color: Barely Off White This journal is one of the most popular in the Bujo world. I like it, but it’s not the number one for me. Mostly due to the paper weight. If I only used pen in my journal, then it wouldn’t be an issue, but I have an expansive marker collection that I can’t ignore. This journal has a bunch of things on the cover like etched pictures? I’m a plain girl, and it’s slightly distracting. Love the color of the turquoise and yellow combo, which was my favorite of the options. It also has numbered pages, a built-in table of contents, and a pen holder. I like the fact that the paper is barely off-white, it’s nice having a journal with the paper a little whiter. While not my number one, I can see why it is so popular. But I prefer the hard cover of the dingbats over this journal.
3. SuliRun 1981
Price: $10.99 Cover Type: Soft Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 120 gsm # pages: 160 Paper Color: White This journal surprised me, it was the second cheapest I bought. But it has a great feel, nice size, and a lot of great qualities. The cover is a beautiful camel color with a grey faux leather binding with pen loop on the binding. With a nice heavy paper weight like the Lemome but white in color, this one is up there for me as far as quality for the price. It also has 2 page markers, but no numbered pages (not a deal breaker). All in all, an excellent journal for the price.
2. Dingbats A5 (slightly larger than an A5)
Price: $19.95 Cover Type: Dark Green Faux Leather Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 100 gsm # pages: 192 Paper Color: Off White This is the first journal I bought for a Bujo, so it has a special place in my heart. The feel and durability of this cover is the main reason I fell in love, plus I have put watercolor in this journal, and it has held up nicely. No problems in filling this journal to the max, the binding can handle it. It comes with 1 page marker, every page perforated, and a pen holder. It has fallen out of my number one spot, but just barely due to the paper weight.
1. Lemome A5 Cork Cover
Price: $13.99 Cover Type: Hard Cork Cover Binding: Thread Stitched Paper Weight: 120 gsm # pages: 180 Paper Color: Off White My favorite journal, this one is the winner for me. The cover is a very interesting cork, the paper weight is awesome at 120gsm. Comes with a built-in pen loop and has perforated pages. It has an excellent feel, and everything writes nicely. I can get away with some light watercolors and be fine, but I also don’t care if the page wrinkles. The only downfall is only 1 page marker, and the pages aren’t numbered, but of course not a deal breaker for me. I tend to use tab stickers on my monthly pages anyways. The cover looks great and is very durable, even though the rumors have said the cover at the spine hasn’t held up. But let’s talk about the price, $13.99 is a steal for this journal. It also comes in a stylish black box as protection during shipping.
So, there you have it, my honest review. I will try and update as necessary with new journals as I progress through my bujo journey. Please feel free to comment below with any suggestions on what else you would want to know about these journals or ask any questions. Also, let me know what your next journal is going to be, and if you really feel my reviews aren’t accurate, I am definitely not perfect and know I probably misspoke on something along the way. I would love to hear what you have to say.