This is meant more as personal reference for myself, but I thought it might be useful to other people too. This isn't a "fountain pen friendly" list, it's a broad
nib friendly list. Why? I got tired of seeing brands getting stamps of approval from reviewers who only tested with an EF or F nib. If it won't work with a B nib, is it really
fountain pen friendly?
Country Brand Budget Sourcing
By CountryTypically safe:
France, Japan, Germany, Poland
Sometimes safe, sometimes not:
Vietnam (~70/30), India (50/50), Korea (~30/70), Egypt (~30/70),
Taiwan (~20/80), China (rarely works), United States (worse than China)
As more countries pull out of China and change their sourcing, I've noticed lately paper quality from any country is even more inconsistent than before as big business searches for the cheapest option. So, for the time being, take the information in this section of the page with a grain of salt. These are very hazy guesses at this point. The brand specific information is more reliable. Only use this section if the brand is not on here and cannot be found on other fountain pen friendly lists.
Paper is very smooth, sheen will show up less, quick drying, very good quality but typically pricey in the USA and online
Has more tooth to it, sheen will be very vibrant on this, slow drying on this paper, a little thinner than most paper, high amount of sheen visible
Tomoe River (Old formula):
Very similar to Midori, Tomoe River is very high quality and can take very thick inks without feathering, but paper is thin and easily damaged if not careful, moderate to long dry time depending on the ink, very high amount of sheen visible with inks. Several brands use this paper, including Hobonichi. Currently my favorite. Have not tried new formula yet.
Similar in price to Mead, but better with sheening, can handle very thick inks
The only recycled paper I've found that works with broad nibs, minimal sheening, but quick drying, review here
Excellent quality paper and office suitable that will be easier to come by than Clairefontaine and Midori in person if you're in the USA. It's more expensive than UStyle. Good amount of sheen and feedback. Not super silky smooth like Clairefontaine and Rhodia, so if you don't like the super smooth paper types, this may be a better fit for you. Sold in OfficeMax/Office Depot, on the pricier side, but can be gotten at a reasonable price during sales. The note system is similar in style to the Happy Planner, except the paper isn't trash! The extra small papers that can be gotten are good quality, but a warning. Some of the sticker/sticky notes are made in China. I haven't tested them, but they likely will be a different quality than everything else in this line. Check the label before buying.
West Emory (Made in Vietnam versions):
A relatively cheap brand I've seen at Target. No feathering, a nice amount of tooth, and a decent amount of sheening. Even crisp with a 1.1mm stub. Great for a student on a budget. No forestry certification.
Lisa Frank/Innovative Designs:
Surprisingly excellent paper! I figured given the huge emphasis on the cover designs, the paper would suffer as a result, but I was very wrong. Found these at Target after my wife pointed them out, and decided to see if the old 90's brand was actually worth a damn. Has a fair amount of tooth to it, and a little sheening is visible. Lines are very crispy, even with a 1.1mm stub. Great for students, or people who like really flashy designs. No forestry certification that I could find.
HP Papers Office20:
No sheening, but no feathering, a very good amount of shading, and shimmer shows up very beautifully. Tested with B and 1.1mm stub with heavy inks. I assume Premium32 will work as well, but haven't tested it yet. Not too pricey and very easy to find in most stores. Dries relatively quickly, but not super fast.
Five Star/Mead/ACCO (Made in Vietnam versions):
Little sheen will show up but dries in a decent amount of time, paper sometimes inconsistent
Office Depot Stellar:
Very similar in feel and quality to Five Star, but I would rank is slightly better quality, which goes with it's slightly higher price tag
Jane Davenport (Mixed Media):
Scratchy paper due to what it is, but no bleeding or feathering, not ideal for writing but might be good for art projects
More Than Magic (Made in Vietnam versions):
Paper feels a little weird to me, it's okay but makes ink look dull
Not much sheening on this one, and while it can handle a Broad with most inks, it can't handle very thick inks, I would expect a stub nib to feather on this
While this is definitely a fountain pen friendly brand, it takes so long to dry and is more expensive than some of the above options that I only purchase it if it's heavily marketed down
Jot (Made in China versions):
I got this expecting it to be the worst out of Jot's options, but it was actually the best. Very decent, no feathering, but no sheen whatsoever. Extremely cheap.
Unlike their planners, the other paper products sold by the company don't use TRP. Hobonichi Papers uses an uncoated paper. It's smooth and very absorbant. Inks dry very quick on it, but there's absolutely no sheening, shimmer will gravitate toward the center of the ink, and you cannot use this paper with heavy inks or a 1.1mm stub. Safe for up to a B nib with dry to moderate inks. Lines are pretty crisp on those. Heavy inks with a B nib look splotchy, and 1.1mm stub feathered. For most inks and pens, it should be fine. Test each ink before regular use. Depending on the ink color, you might be able to use the backside or you might not. There's a lot of show-through. Given this product was aimed more to just quickly jot down on the front side, this likely isn't too much of a concern.
Jalepeño Paper Co:
Paper is made from 100% post-consumer recycled waste, but also made in Vietnam. Given how the quality of paper from that country is not as consistent as it used to be (as what eventually happened with Egyptian paper quality) and the 100% recycled paper, I wasn't sure what to expect. It feathers, though it's near unnoticeable and may not be enough to matter to some. The main issue with the paper is less the near unnoticeable feathering, but the amount of show through on the back is so bad that you can really only use one side of the paper. Which, I mean, then you're kinda just wasting paper anyway. It would likely not feather with an M or lower, certainly not with an EF, but with this amount of show through, does it really matter? It's useable, it's recycled paper, but it's definitely not good paper. If you really want 100% recycled paper that works well, use Yamamoto Ro-Biki instead. If price is a bigger issue for you, and you still want to try to be eco conscious with your paper sourcing, use Mead (Vietnam version) or UStyle.
Just the slightest bit of feathering with a B and almost nonexistant with an M, would be none with an EF or F, acceptable enough
No feathering but tons of show through and dull ink, with a dark enough ink and a B nib, the back of pages may be near unusable
Very light feathering with a B, but really noticeable feather with a 1.1mm stub. No sheening. Would be acceptable with an M or lower.
Jot (Made in India Versions):
There is just a slight bit of feathering, so faint you wouldn't even notice unless you were really looking for it, no sheening whatsoever. Very cheap to get.
A brand easy to find on Etsy and Aliexpress. Very light feathering with a B and 1.1mm stub. Would likely not feather with smaller nibs, and isn't too badly noticeable on the bigger nibs. It's too muh for me, but may be acceptable to some.
Hobonichi Memo Pads:
This uses a different paper than the Techo and the Papers products. It's very thin paper, and feathers heavily with thick inks in a B nib or with a 1.1mm stub. It's not very crisp with dryer inks either, but is acceptable enough and readable. It doesn't feather with dry to moderate inks, but you can tell the paper can barely handle them. The back will be pretty much unusuable. These would be best for jotting down info really quickly with a dry ink. Would likely work fine with an M or lower. If you have the space to carry it around, the Hobonichi Papers is the better deal.
Noticeable feathering. It's not the worst I've seen, but it's definitely visible enough to be too much to ignore for regular usage. It's a shame because some of the notebooks the company makes are actually rather neutral (I expected nearly all overtly feminine) and the outside covers are very sturdy. Normally, I'd donate notebooks that didn't work out, but I like the cover on the one I got too much and will just use pencil. So, it's not a total loss. Another sad loss for Vietnamese paper quality though. It really is becoming more and more hit or miss.
Holy shit, Batman! This is the worst I've ever seen paper come from Vietnam! This brand and Gartner Studios have made me move my listing of Vietnam as near universally safe to just mostly safe. As soon as the ink touched the paper, it feathered like nothing I've ever seen before. Awful paper quality. The covers are the cherry on top of the shit sundae, all of them either being feel good bullshit, quotes by people anyone who's done a good amount of digging will know where largely awful people, or SAVE THE EARTH uwu crap. For the last point, I'm labeling this as a partially greenwashing brand. They may do some in-house reusing and recycling of the waste they produce, something that is necessary to achieving a green economy, and they do use solar panels, but from what I can read on their website, all of their green initiatives are the ones that most directly benefit companies in terms of saving cost anyway because they're reducing overall how much they'll have to use and lower their bills. You see stuff like this as part of a lot of companies' plans, and it's definitely necessary, but they're not all doing this out of the goodness of their hearts either. It's partly PR, partly to save money. (Because certain parts of going green universally save money in general.) This may be step one in a long plan, but until I see either a 100% recycled OR a forestry certification stamp on there, I will be side-eyeing products that say "SAVE THE BEES PLANT MORE TREES CLEAN THE SEAS". Yes, about those trees...you gonna work on that? And obviously, the paper quality isn't even good. So shit sourcing AND shit paper. :/ Also from their website: "Our Chattanooga, TN production facility has received FSC and SFI certification." That's nice, buddy. Your paper is made in Vietnam, and according to your website, is just one of many countries you source from. Your notebooks certainly don't bear these certifications in stores. Seeing deceptive crap like this really pisses me off, obviously. If I have to be in debt hell over that damn degree, don't think I'm not going to point out your BS.
GreenRoom is the Target version, MintGreen is what they sell under at Walmart, they're both awful paper quality for anything other than pencil
One of Michael's store brands, this one actually used to be okay, but it seems all of Michael's paper is now made in China and sucks
Rite in Rain:
The company has the courtesy to tell you exactly what pens/pencils will work and which will not on the notebook itself, these were made for obviously writing in wet conditions and fountain pen ink in general will not hold up in wet conditions, great brand over all just not for fountain pens
Five Star/Mead/ACCO (made in USA versions):
These will proudly display their American flag at the bottom to tell you it's shitty, feathering paper
Overpriced horseshit, I've seen F nibs feather on these
More overpriced horseshit that somehow has even shittier paper than Leuchtturm, from my memory, I recall Moleskine and Leuccturm both used to have better paper quality, they've really gone down hill over the years
The Open House:
Another one of Michael's store brands, this one used to be really good since it was geared more towards artists but all paper supplies by Michael's have gone down hill and use cheap China paper now but are still the same price as before
Why use this fake outdoorsy/manly lifestyle brand when Rite in Rain exists? It's not cheaper than other similar sized pocket notebooks and offers you no extra benefits beyond every Manly blog seeming to sponsor it
I've had non-fountain pen pens not work great with this, seems to work best with pencil despite having a pretty hefty price tag
Class Act/Pink Chandelier:
Lots of feathering
Lots of feathering
Shining Polar Bear/Fancy Lobby:
Moderate amount of feathering
While the Stellar line is fountain pen friendly, regular Office Depot/OfficeMax notebooks are not and will feather on you, they have different paper sources than the Stellar ones (China vs Vietnam, same situation as Mead/Five Star's two lines)
The Happy Planner:
Pretty covers, lots of extras to buy, pretty formats, and absolutely garbage feathering, bleed through hell trash paper. Clearly all the money went into the design and not functionality!
Jot (Made in Vietnam versions):
I expected this would be the only one that worked in the lot, and it was the only one that didn't! Another failure as of late from Vietnamese sourced paper. It's not the worst I've seen, but the amount of feathering is enough to bother me. If you were on a tight budget, it may be acceptable, but given that the Chinese and Indian sourced ones are the same price, there's no reason to buy this unless the other two were out.
Mead/Five star/ACCO (Vietnam) (typically second cheapest option)
Jot (China or India) (cheapest option)
West Emory (Vietnam)
Lisa Frank (best quality without discounts)
More Than Magic (Vietnam)
UStyle (second best quality without discounts)
Clairefontaine (price varies by location)
TUL (when on clearance/sale) (most office friendly)
Office Depot Stellar (during sales)
Rhodia (during sales) (best for journals, notepads)
HP Office20 (printer paper/office friendly)
Mead/Five Star/ACCO (Vietnam): FSC certified
UStyle: FSC certified
Rhodia: PEFC certified
Clairefontaine: PEFC certified
Yamamoto Ro-Biki: 100% recycled
Jalepeño Paper Co: 100% recycled
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