New Journal & Migration: Trying Shinola for the First Time!

Features & Comparision with Leuchtturm1917

Yesterday, I broke open a new Shinola journal that I’ve been dying to use since I bought it a few months ago. It’s called the “Large Hard Linen Journal” and I chose Pine Forest for the color. I also chose blank pages, although they have a traditional grid option as well. I’ll provide some more thoughts on it at the end of the post, but for now, some of its features compared to the Leuchtturm1917 A5 hard cover (which I normally use) include:

  • Free monogramming!
  • Size: Slightly larger at 7″ x 9″ versus my other journals which have been A5 size (5.71″ x 8.27″)
  • Blank ivory pages and 60 lb (~90gsm) thick paper (Leuchtturm is 80gsm)
  • 192 pages (Leuchtturm had over 245 pages)
  • Elastic band
  • Pocket in back cover
  • No page numbers or index 🙁
The free monogramming is offered in gold or silver
The kind Shinola employee who offered to monogram my journal before I could even ask!
The kind Shinola employee who offered to monogram my journal before I could even ask!
Hard cover linen cover



A Detroit-based company


This will be my third bullet journal and my first time not using Leuchtturm1917. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my Leuchtturm1917 dot grid and plan to go back to it come the fall, but I chose to use this new journal, as opposed to another trusty Leuchtturm1917 dot grid for several reasons:

  • The nature of my life for the next three months — traveling! During May, June, and July, I’ll be traveling to Boston, Taiwan, Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, and Colorado, which means my life won’t be filled with the usual appointments and due dates that staying at home might entail. Thus, I concluded a travel journal would probably require less structure. I want to try more sketching, writing, and different creative pursuits, so a blank journal was more important to me than the dot grid. Plus, I’ve survived without the dot grid before in my first journal!
  • Supporting a Detroit-based company. I was born and raised in Michigan, but never made a point to purchase Detroit-made products. In college, I realized that supporting these companies is important because it supports jobs and the economy of the city. Plus, the notebooks are manufactured right in Ann Arbor!
  • Friends’ recommendations. So many of my friends own Shinola journals or planners and since many of them were willing to give Leuchtturm a try per my request, I thought it was worth giving Shinola a shot.


Migration & Set-Up

Before migrating and setting things up, it’s important to break in your journal (see how to in this video). This is because every time you open your journal, you apply a stress along the spine. If you happen to open your journal the first time at the center, but nowhere else, the stress becomes concentrated at the center, even when you open other areas. Thus, breaking in your journal essentially applies small bits of stress along the entire thickness of the spine, so that in the future, opening it spreads the stress out rather than concentrating it. That’s a super nerdy explanation, I know.

Migration is a key part of transitioning from a used journal to a new one. It’s the process of compiling the important information you want to keep, condensing it, and copying it into a new journal. For me, it meant reviewing every page of my previous journal and deciding what I wanted to keep. It turned out, there wasn’t much, only my Goals page. Usually, this is weird to only want to migrate one thing, but I figured it was because I closed such a huge chapter of my life just recently when I finished school.

Making the big move!

I also began setting up several key elements, which I have at the start of each bullet journal: the Index and Future Log. Both of these had to be hand-drawn using a ruler, since the new journal doesn’t have dots. For the Index, I chose to keep it to a single page, so I added a second column. In my last journal, I only used 1.5 pages single column.

For the Future Log, I stuck to the simple format that Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal system, uses. It’s worked well for me in the past (find out how to set it up here and how to use it in conjunction with weekly spreads here). I knew that this journal would most likely be used for four months, so I laid out May-August, then added an extra page to jot down appointments and events beyond that.

A pretty simple layout! The paper roughness took some adjusting, so my off-centered title and penmanship wasn’t to my liking, but it’s ok!
No page numbers in the journal means I had to write them in myself!
Another simple layout for the Future Log


An extra page after the Future Log for things that might take place after I finish this journal


Final Thoughts

Overall, there are some things I’m really happy about. The biggest thing is the thickness of the paper, which has a lot less ghosting than my previous journal. If you’re interested in the pens I use, check out this post. All of the Micron pens ghost a lot less! Also, I’ve always had issues with bleeding using the Stabilo Fineliners, but this notebook really fights against that. I suppose it could still bleed if I was doing something intense like coloring, but I’m only writing some lines here and there.

Not having a dot grid, index, or pagination is a bit cumbersome, but having a ruler and bit more time on my hands now that it’s summer, so it’s not a problem for me. I’m willing to sacrifice these things so I can do some drawing or sketching of my travels in the future in blank pages.

The paper roughness is slightly less smooth than the Leuchtturm1917, but I don’t notice a difference unless I’m doing some precise lettering using my Micron pens. Otherwise, I can’t tell the difference in smoothness when drawing lines or using the Muji pens I have!

I’m really excited for this journal and to fill it up with my adventures. I still plan on going back to the Leuchtturm1917 dot grid in the future when my summer ends and I start working full-time. However, if Shinola decides to make a dot grid journal in the future, I would totally get in on that!

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