Most fountain pen users should be familiar with Leuchtturm notebooks. They are widely used by many people as daily planners, diaries and bullet journals. Unfortunately, while the paper is good, it is not great. It tends to be somewhat inconsistent and is prone to slight bleedthrough.
When I heard that Leuchtturm had a version of their popular notebook with 120gsm paper, I was cautiously curious. Having heavier paper doesn’t necessarily mean better performance. Still, I knew that I needed to give it a try and see how it compared to previous Leuchtturm notebooks and other similarly priced notebooks. Will this paper surpass the normal 80gsm paper or will it be more of the same?
If you’ve used or handled a Leuchtturm notebook before, this one will not come as a surprise to you. All of the expected Leuchtturm details are there. What is different is the paper. The 120gsm paper is significantly thicker than the 80gsm paper. It feels more luxurious and thick and begs to be written on. It also makes the notebook a little thicker than the standard 80gsm notebook. The big question is going to be the paper, so let’s take a look at a few details and then get to the review!
- Pages: 203 (101 sheets)
- Paper Weight: 120gsm
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Lined (6mm), Dot (5mm), Blank
- Size: A5
Ink-handling characteristics (A table with the following properties can be found at the bottom of this post)
- Sheen: Medium
- Shading: Medium
- Bleeding: Very Low
- Ghosting: Very Low
- Feathering: Very Low
- Dry Time: Very High
- Double page ribbons
- Numbered pages
- Table of contents
- Elastic closure band
- Accordion pocket
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re familiar with the regular Leuchtturm hardcover notebooks, this one will seem very familiar. The hardcover comes in fewer color options than the regular notebooks, but still has the same feel to it. An elastic band helps to keep the cover closed while it travels with you. Inside, you’ll find space for your contact information, an index, page numbers and an accordion pocket inside the back cover.
The stitched binding helps the pages to lay flat. I was surprised to find that even with the heavier paper, the notebook has no significant issues with opening and laying flat, or at least no more than the regular notebooks.
Now let’s talk about the paper. It is significantly thicker than the paper you’ll find in most notebooks, so much so that you’ll definitely notice it. It looks and feels smoother than the standard Leuchtturm paper, which really appeals to me. Other than the smoothness, the color and layout are the same as other Leuchtturm notebooks.
Once you start writing on this paper, you’ll find that it feels a lot smoother than the standard Leucutturm paper. This isn’t the only way that it differs. It actually handles ink very well! In fact, if I didn’t know better I wouldn’t believe that it’s Leuchtturm paper. There is almost no ghosting, no bleedthrough, no feathering and good sheen and shading. Dry times are quite high, though.
Use As A Bullet Journal
Let’s talk about using this notebook as a bullet journal. One issue that most people have with the regular Leuchtturm notebooks, or any notebook for that matter, is the amount of ghosting you get. In a bullet journal you’ll want to use both sides of a page, so having excessive ghosting makes a big difference. If there’s any bleed through, that will also make it difficult to use. This notebook should hold up to most types of pens that people choose to use for bullet journaling with little to no ghosting or bleedthrough.
I will say that I did an impromptu test with some pens and markers I could find lying around since I know that not all bullet journalers exclusively use fountain pens. This included Pigma Microns, Gelly Roll Pens, Pilot Hi-Tec-C and Le Pens. I even used a Sharpie. With the exception of the Sharpie, none of the pens bled through and ghosting was similar to fountain pens. Even the Sharpie had a lot less bleed than I would have expected. If you bullet journal with a variety of pens, I think you’ll love this paper.
The one area that may be an issue is the amount of time it takes fountain pen ink to dry. It takes longer to dry on the 120gsm paper than it does on the 80gsm paper. Of course, you also get better performance, but some people may want to pass on this notebook if dry times are more important than other areas of performance.
If you’ve tried Leuchtturm notebooks in the past and didn’t enjoy the paper, the Leuchtturm 120gsm notebooks may just change your mind about the brand. Compared to the normal 80gsm paper, it is superior in almost every way. The only reason some people may not choose the 120gsm notebook is that it costs more, has longer dry times, is thicker, and has fewer pages (203 pages compared to 251 pages) than the 80gsm notebook. If these aren’t deal breakers for you, I would highly recommend you give the Leuchtturm 120gsm notebook a try.
If you’d like a bit more information about how I test papers and notebooks, I wrote an article about my paper rating system.
Interested in trying this paper before buying a notebook? Head over to my shop and pick up a custom paper sample pack.
- Sheen (higher is better)
- Shading (higher is better)
- Bleeding (higher is better)
- Ghosting (higher is better)
- Feathering (higher is better)
- Dry Time (higher is better)
Fountain Pen Love Overall Rating
Pros: Wonderful paper, very little ghosting, all Leuchtturm notebook features
Cons: Expensive, high dry times, thicker notebook with fewer pages than an 80gsm Leuchtturm
Value Rating: 3.29 Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.25
Who this notebook is for: People who want a bullet journal with heavy, high-quality paper.
Upgrade to this notebook from: Regular 80gsm Leuchtturm notebooks
Upgrade from this notebook to: Nuuna Flexcover notebook
Switched from Moleskine to Leuchtturm 1917s three years ago and haven’t looked back. A4s and A5s journals and calendars.
I’ve not has the long-ink drying issue you mention (though perhaps even my wettest nibs are dryer than yours), using Pelican, Lamy, and Waterman inks.
Thanks for the review on what I consider a solid product.
That’s a great switch to make, Dennis. Thanks for reading!
Great review and extremely helpful! Thanks for the detailed evaluation.
Thank you, Reina! I’m glad to hear you found it helpful.
Very timely review, I just finished my old Leuchturm and was looking for something g that would show more sheen. I have an Endless that I started and it’s smooth but the bleed through means I’m only using one side of the page. With a lot fewer sheets, I’ll be going through this fast, so I was thinking of going back to my old Leichturm… now I’ll try the 120gsm instead.
Yay, glad to hear the timing works out for you Traci! I hope you like the 120gsm paper!