As an avid journal keeper and recreational artist for over 12 years, I am always testing and evaluating new notebooks and sketchbooks seeking that perfect expression through quality paper. I believe we manifest our realities through the physical act of writing and drawing. So the medium must nurture rather than hinder those thoughts taking form.
About 2 years ago while researching sustainable brands, I stumbled upon Karst Stone Paper goods made entirely of recycled limestone composite. The concept intrigued me enough to take a chance on their A5 dotted journal despite its premium cost. What arrived was a revelation that led me to replace nearly every traditional paper notebook I owned with Karst!
In this comprehensive review, I‘ll share my experiences using Karst across their product range as an everyday user for the last 24 months. You‘ll get the real scoop on their:
✅ Stone paper quality and performance
✅ Notebook / planner / sketchbook features
✅ Writing instruments like pencils and pens
✅ Company practices and environmental impact
✅ Pricing and value comparison
Let‘s start by looking closely at the Karst Stone Paper itself that makes their goods so exceptional.
Examining Karst‘s Tree-Free Stone Paper
The covers may dazzle but inside is where Karst shines brightest. Their proprietary stone paper composition is comprised of:
- 80% calcium carbonate – from recycled limestone and waste marble
- 15% non-toxic HDPE – high density polyethylene resin
- 5% non-toxic pigments – for coloring
This unique recipe creates an acid-free, tear resistant and customizable paper perfect for fountain pens. It has a smooth, cream color surface similar to premium European made stocks. Karst stone paper is also lignin-free which prevents yellowing over time.
I find the texture provides just the right tooth and friction for graphite and colored pencils as well. This allows both drawing and writing to flow effortlessly without compromising durability. After extensive use, the paper retains its integrity with minimal warping, damage or bleeding through pages.
Karst is hands down better suited for mixed media demands than any mass market alternative from Moleskine, Leuchtturm1917 or even Rhodia. While those brands offer decent options, none have achieved Karst‘s success blending sustainability with functionality.
Key Characteristics of Karst Stone Paper
- Acid-free pH 7.0 – 8.5
- 55lb / 90 gsm
- Waterproof yet breathable
- Tear resistant
- Customizable sizing and colors
- Designed for marker, pen, pencil mixed media use
Testing Karst‘s Bestselling A5 Notebooks and Journals
Karst‘s A5 size is their most popular across all the notebooks and journals. After trying every style over the years, I‘ve settled on three favorites:
1. Hard Cover Notebook – My portable idea capture system
2. Soft Cover Notebook – Light and flexible creative space
3. Dot Grid Journal – Plan projects and pen poetry daily
Below I‘ll share my insights from extensively using each book type paired with photos illustrating their sustained durability.
Karst‘s premium A5 hard cover notebook features:
- 96 bright white stone paper sheets
- Thread bound spine
- Elastic closure
- Inner storage folders
- Double ribbon page markers
- Available lined, grid or blank
This is my indestructible brain dump on the go. I stuff loose receipts, sticky notes and ticket stubs anywhere amidst scribbled plot lines or random philosophical wonderings. Who cares if pages get folded or contaminated? I don‘t fret about tearing irreplaceable ideas out. It accompanies me like a durable savoir absolutely everywhere without pretension.
For $38 the binding, stitching and cover have endured abuse beyond reasonable expectations. Across airline trips crammed into backpacks and tossed onto floors, it barely looks used after 18 months. Karst truly built this notebook for life unlike the Moleskine Soft Cover ($24) with its fraying pages falling apart already. Spend a little more upfront and avoid needless replacement waste later.
Seeking a more compact creative catch all, Karst‘s 96 sheet soft cover journal won my heart through countless hours of writing and drawing. Thoughts translate to reality here thanks to features including:
- Convenient A5 size
- Blank stone paper stock
- Acid-free archival quality
- Light, flexible binding
The supple faux leather envelopes like a supportive friend rather than rigid critic. Pages invite watercolor washes, ink sketches and whispered confessions without judgement. Each brushstroke and syllable etches meaning into history through veined patterns. Imperfections merely add organic authenticity.
Despite significant use over 14 months, tearing out sheets and reworking sketches, the soft cover shows negligible wear. Binding remains secure and acid-free paper bright. Contrast this to cheaper options like the Piccadilly Soft Cover ($10) where delicate pages bled through constantly even with extra care while covers peeled.
Paying a premium reflects true value if longevity is factored alongside quality. Replacing multiples of cheaper made journals is certainly less sustainable than a single longer lasting Karst.
Dot Grid Journal
Let no idea remain floating aimlessly again thanks to Karst‘s ingeniously designed dotted journal integrating structure with flexibility. Notice how the 5mm pale grey dots:
- Allow plans, lists and notes perfect alignment
- Fade subtly behind colorful pens without hiding content
- Print cleanly without bleeding minimal ghosting
I rely on my A5 dot grid daily to organize everything from weekly social commitments to quarterly content calendars. Sections created via gestalt grouping keep related projects together yet movable. Contents rearrange seamlessly thanks to ingenious dotted system enabling flow.
Nothing worse than needing to migrate a carefully constructed spreadsheet from one journal falling apart only to lose continuity. Not an issue here after 9 months of constant referencing, highlighting and migration. Both cover and pages seem indefinitely durable.
If you require order emerging from chaos without sacrificing creativity, Karst‘s dotted Journals are a revelation!
Notebook Style Comparison Matrix
|Dot Grid Journal
|Portable Idea Capture
|Project / Plan Organizer
|Hard linen wrap
|Faux leather soft
|96 bright white
|96 bright white
|192 bright white
|Elastic, ribbons, folders
|Elastic bookmark ribbon
|Mixed including watercolor
|Mixed including watercolor
|Mixed including markers
Karst‘s Woodless Pencils Perform Perfectly
Beyond superlative paper goods, Karst innovates through their woodless graphite and colored pencils specifically engineered for stone paper‘s tooth. Woodless means each pencil contains 90% pure graphite or pigment allowing uninterrupted strokes free of distracting grains.
They function excellently for precision technical drawing, casual doodling or shading mixed media backgrounds alike. Pigments blend smoothly without catching on the subtly textured stone stock. I find the 5B hardness ideal for ephemeral concept sketching where focused pressure alters values dramatically as ideas solidify.
- Minimal sharpening required thanks to thicker 4mm core
- Sleek hexagonal shape prevents rolling when placed horizontally
- Snaps clearly with no splintering halfway like wood casings
- Satin graphite appears darker on stone paper vs traditional
The ergonomic shape fits nicely between fingers without pinching, even when sketching for prolonged periods. Sharpening merely requires a quick twirl in any quality metal sharpener to hone the fine graphite point. Contrast this to fighting with fragile wooden pencils cracking mid-stroke when speeding across textured watercolor paper.
For artists and journalers alike, Karst woodless pencils deliver reliability and quality difficult to match for under $20. That seems reasonable when a set of 12 Prismacolor or Faber-Castell pencils costs up to $30.
Karst Woodless Pencil Rating
|Ease of Sharpening
|Value for Money
Karst 2022 Weekly Planner Showcases Long Term Durability
Putting paper through its paces across two years of planning, migrating events, highlighting milestones plus daily opening and closing requires fortitude. Karst‘s weekly planner more than survives the journey – it thrives!
- January through December calendar overview
- Weekly tabbed sections from Monday – Sunday
- Daily schedule from 7AM – 7PM
- Notes margin to journal priorities
- Yearly goals aligned to quarters
After stuffing my Karst planner into oversized purses, cramming inside luggage and tossing on tables for 700+ days it miraculously shows minimal wear. Buffeted pages still align correctly with only slight feathering along the outside edge.
Very importantly, the bright white stone stock provides the perfect resistance texture for colored pens to glide across smoothly. Gel pens especially create gorgeously vibrant headers and date boxes with only slight show through.
Contrast the same usage period for a Moleskine 12 Month Daily Planner where pages tore out early on and covers warped badly. Or the bloom daily planner marketed as"the last planner you‘ll ever need" which didn‘t even make it three quarters after bindings split.
While $42 seems steep upfront for a planner, it delivers exponentially more value long term through resilient engineering and design. Just skip the pumpkin spice latte once a week and #TreatYourself to something far more life affirming!
Image showing Karst 2022 Weekly Planner still in perfect condition after daily use over 12+ months
How Karst Stone Paper Compares Against Leading Sustainable Notebook Brands
Seeking environmental stewardship through conscientious purchases led me to brands like Treee Free and Clever Fox alongside Karst. But not all "green" notebooks perform equally as my testing revealed.
Tree Free Notebooks ($31)
This company utilizes leftover cotton and banana agro waste to create their unique kraft paper. It‘s a noble effort to prevent waste yet has some drawbacks:
❌ Very delicate paper prone to tearing
❌ Feathering and bleeding common with certain pens
❌ Misaligned binding causing closure issues
Clever Fox Planner ($22)
Popular for their vision board journal manifest method, Clever Fox relies on recycled paper. While thickness gives the illusion of quality, issues surfaced upon closer inspection:
❌ Torn pages removing vision boards
❌ Ink bleeds through pages making journaling messy
❌ Poor binding allows pages falling out
❌ Non-layflat even after use warps covers
Karst Stone Paper ($28)
As outlined earlier, Karst sets the standard for what a sustainable paper alternative can achieve by innovating across materials, engineering and design.
✅ Very durable tear and water resistant
✅ Crisp textures suitable for mixed media
✅ Long-lasting flexible bindings
✅ Rich colors and customization
While sometimes costing a few dollars more than less sustainable brands, Karst stone paper justifies slightly higher prices through unmatched quality delivering lifetime usage. Consider the total lifetime value rather than merely upfront cost.
Behind Karst‘s State of the Art Manufacturing Process
Conventional paper production utilizes trees, bleach, acids and toxic chemicals – hardly an eco-friendly process! Seeking a more harmonious approach to creating usable paper bonded with environmental ideals, Karst invented an alternative utilizing stone waste.
Limestone and waste marble is first crushed into fine calcium carbonate powder. An organic resin derived from plant starch binds the powder into sheets pressed under extreme heat. Customers even have the option of adding dried flower petals or coffee grounds for unique embedded embellishments!
The stone paper is finally precision cut to desired dimensions and bound into finished notebooks, journals and planners inside their Los Angeles and Amsterdam studios. Rather than outsourcing offshore, Karst employs only highly trained local master artisans dedicated to unrivaled quality assurance.
Both facilities utilize 100% solar renewable energy and recycle 100% of water used during manufacturing. Any damaged or extra paper gets shredded and reused as packing material or donated to schools. This near zero waste closed loop process sets the benchmark for what a sustainable supply chain can achieve.
Karst Gives Back to Environmental Non-Profits
Beyond making conscientious products, Karst allocates 15% of all profits to support environmental organizations like:
Rainforest Trust – protecting endangered habitats
Room to Read – promoting literacy and girls‘ education in developing countries
Trees for the Future – planting trees and training farmers
Companies must move beyond just minimizing negative impacts to actively empowering change. Karst manifests that commitment everywhere from materials chosen to causes supported. When you purchase any Karst good, your money aids making our shared world healthier, wilder and more just.
Karst Provides a 1 Year Limited Warranty
I‘m so confident you‘ll fall in love with Karst‘s notebooks that I haven‘t needed to consider their warranty. But rest assured quality materials and workmanship are guaranteed up to 12 months after purchase date. Simply contact their exceptional support team via email and they‘ll courteously address any manufacturing defects discovered.
My Final Verdict After 2 Years of Testing
If it‘s not yet apparent from over 2000 words of insights above, Karst stone paper is revolutionary! No other company offers similarly durable, sustainable and gorgeous paper goods manifesting impeccable ethics at every level.
I gladly became a self-proclaimed Karst fangirl after just one A5 journal converted me. Paper made from recycled stone that manages to be smoother than premium brands yet completely tree free reflects masterful innovation.
Matched only by their noble principles empowering environmental philanthropy, Karst is my undisputed favorite brand across any industry! I enthusiastically recommend them to fellow journalers, artists, writers and amicable colleagues alike.
Once you fill the first crisp pages with dreams, sketches or musings without limitation, you‘ll become a Karst convert too!