Bullet Journaling

[Bullet Journal] A Notebook Review

[This review has not been sponsored by either party mentioned below. These products were purchased at full price by me at the sites linked. Also, these are just my opinions and reviews of these two items, according to my own personal tastes, preferences, and uses. Feel free to use this review as a starting point, but not as an end-all authority on what you should/should not purchase. It’s just the opinion of one person.]

It’s over two weeks since I started a new notebook insert in my Traveler’s Notebook bullet journal. For those of you who are just joining us, I have been using the Bullet Journal planning system since June 2015 in order to help me remember all the tasks I had to accomplish in a given day as well as increase general productivity between work and home. After a year using a gridded Mead Composition Book…

Photo May 09, 1 43 23 PM (1)
…personalized…because…well, BECAUSE!  😉

…I moved my bullet journal system into a Traveler’s Notebook.

Photo 20160613, 1 20 52 PM (1)

For more details on this type of notebook system, you can go to this blog post where I explain what a Traveler’s Notebook is and why I made this move.

Go ahead…take a minute to read that post. I’ll wait.

Ok. All caught up? Good!

Now one of the challenges (or benefits, depending on how you feel about it) of being in a Traveler’s Notebook system is that I end up switching into new notebooks on a more frequent basis (every two months, at this point). Depending on the level of type and quality preferred in paper, this can get pretty pricey. Notebooks range from around $5.00 each to $10.00 each. As for me, I like a nice, heavy paper that is a smooth surface to write on and does not bleed through as easily as your typical paper.

So the two notebooks I have tried thus far are:

  • The gridded Goulet Notebook (which you read about in the above blog post) with 52 gsm white Tomoe River Paper. 48 sheets (96 pages). Cost – $8.00 per notebook plus shipping

I have used these notebooks for 2 months each, and feel I have landed on a preferred notebook. But before the grand reveal of my “favorite so far,” I wanted to give you all a basic review of each…and why I preferred the one I did.

So…ready or not, here we go!

Goulet Notebook w/ 52gsm Tomoe River Paper,Reg TN, Graph
(by The 
Goulet Pen Company)

First Impressions: When I first received this notebook, I noticed that the paper felt a bit thinner than I expected. Not being familiar with the “paper world,” I was worried that this thin paper would cause most of my pens to bleed through the paper. I was also worried that my desire to use this notebook as a scrapbook journal would cause the pages to start tearing away from the binding (two staples).

But I jumped in…because I would never know until I tried.

The Trial (How I Used It): As I began to put the first lines upon the pages with all of the pens I planned to use, I constantly flipped to the next page to see if I could detect any trace of ink bleeding through to the other side. I even used my fountain pen (my Jinhao x750 with a Goulet Stub Nib inked with Noodler’s Black), which would probably be the wettest ink I would use, to see how that would hold up.

I also was interested in the drying time of the pen inks. But I never purposefully attempted to smear inks, as I didn’t want to tempt fate and, by chance, end up with ink all over my hand and page.

I threw a lot at this notebook over those two months…here are some of the spreads in all of their colorful, scrapbooked glory:

Performance Review: In terms of my bleed through concern…nothing…NOTHING…bled through!! Truth be told, I did not use Sharpies or anything like that, but the paper held up against all of my regularly used pens/inks with zero bleeding. The little bit of ghosting was hardly detectable and I could totally live with that.

The drying time was a bit longer than I had patience for, honestly. There were many times where I would forget to be careful and would end up with minor smearing on my page and hand. But…I chalked this up to the balance between the resiliency of the paper to withstand bleed through and ink absorption. Once I figured out about how long the drying time would be, the smearing was kept relatively under control.

And as for the strength of the binding…all of the pages remained intact! It’s true that the very middle pages were a tad loose, but the fact that the paper did not tear away with the amount of weight on it was pretty remarkable to me.

Taroko Design Tomoe River Regular Size Notebook, Dots, White
(by Taroko Design)
currently unavailable; similar in “cream” on Amazon.com here)

First Impressions: Having come off a very satisfactory experience with one Tomoe Paper filled notebook, I had high expectations for the Taroko. After all, the gsm comparison was 68 gsm compared to the 52 gsm of the Goulet. And even feeling the paper, I could tell the different in weight. So…same paper, heavier weight…obviously, it should perform even better, right?

Of course, the major strike Taroko already had going against it was the sheet count. 16 sheets short of what Goulet offers, unless Taroko truly blew me away with the greater paper weight, I didn’t know if I could justify paying $.08 more per sheet.

The Trial (How I Used It): I pretty much used the Taroko in the same ways I used my Goulet Notebook. I used the exact same pens in almost exactly the same ways.

Performance Review: Just like the Goulet Notebook, there was zero bleed through. I had expected that and was glad that it met my expectations.

Then there was the ghosting. Being a heavier weight paper, I had assumed that the ghosting would be markedly reduced (and if it was, the Taroko would have come out victorious). Well…this is what the comparison looks like:

[left] Goulet Notebook  [right] Taroko Notebook
There does seem to be a slight difference in ghosting, with the lesser being on the Taroko side. However, for me it wasn’t enough difference to make me feel Taroko had a definite advantage over the Goulet. Maybe it’s just my higher tolerance level for ghosting that is swaying my opinion, but…yeah, no. Not enough difference.

The drying time was just a tad longer on the Taroko notebook than the Goulet. Not sure what causes that, but there are times where I will leave my notebook open for the ink to dry for 30-45 minutes, and come back and STILL slightly smear my Noodler’s Black fountain pen ink. But for my more commonly used pens (Staedtlers, Faber Castell Pitt Artist, Stabilo Mini 68s), there wasn’t a significant difference.

I didn’t feel I could make an honest comparison in binding between the two notebooks, mainly because I didn’t do as much scrapbooking and used regular paper printouts of photos (instead of photo paper printouts) in my Taroko. Without a doubt, the middle pages definitely did not loosen as much as the ones on the Goulet Notebook did. But to give it a fair comparison, I feel I would need to test out the Goulet Notebook again using the regular paper photo printouts and fewer scrapbooking spreads.


Both notebooks worked very well for me, and I definitely enjoyed using them over the course of the past four months. The Taroko won by a narrow margin in terms of ghosting and binding (though Goulet did impress me more on the drying time). However, for me the margin was too narrow to really think that Taroko has a marked advantage over the Goulet and, therefore, pay more per sheet.

So…if I were to choose between the two, I would say I would probably stick to Goulet Notebooks. I do love their notebooks, and enjoy using it immensely.

If you have any further questions of my impressions of these two notebooks, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Until next time, keep on living to learn and love!


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