Since publishing this detailed guide and FAQ to discbound planners, I’ve been getting a lot reader emails asking which discbound system is best. There are quite a few discbound systems to choose from these days (list is in this post). For this post I’ll be comparing the 2 best discbound systems (in my opinion) and the 2 that are the most widely available:
Arc versus MAMBI – which Discbound system is better?
If you’ve never come across Discbound system before or want to know more, see this guide.
MAMBI discs come in plenty of colors these days including teal, pink, gold, silver, yellow, black, purple, green and blue.
The ARC discs come in black, silver, gold and pink.
Disc color isn’t important to me – I’ve only ever used the black discs as black looks good with any color and any pattern I choose when creating DIY covers.
The Happy Planner comes in 3 disc sizes:
- Mini (0.75″)
- Medium / Classic Planner size (1.25″)
- Big (1.75″)
Medium discs (1.25″) are basically at full capacity with just the MAMBI monthly + weekly pages and no notes for the 18 month planner version.
The ARC comes in 2 sizes: (big are 38.1mm or 1.5″) and small (19mm or 0.75″).
To me, the MAMBI classic (1.25″) is the perfect size – not too chunky and can still fit a lot on the rings.
Definitely get metal discs if you can. You’ll pay a bit more but they’re much better quality.
The plastic discs from MAMBI aren’t as sturdy although they’ll do the job if you’re gentle with your planner. I’ve only ever had the MAMBI plastic discs break during transit from the USA to Australia, not from day to day use.
Because I live in Australia I prefer the ARC as it comes in A5 and A4. It does come in half letter and us letter size if you live in the USA.
MAMBI have non-typical page sizes (with the exception of the Big / US letter size), so you always need to trim any printables before adding to your planner.
MAMBI currently come in 3 page sizes:
- Mini = 5″ x 7″ (11.43cm x 17.78cm)
- Classic = 7″ x 9.25” (17.78cm x 23.495cm)
- Big = 8.5″ x 11″ (US Letter) (21.59cm x 27.94cm)
MAMBI is from the USA however is widely available online. My sister stocks it in her planner supplies shop.
I started using the ARC around 6 years ago when it was available at Staples in Australia. With it now having changed to Winc they don’t seem to be stocking many ARC products 🙁 it’s still available at USA Staples though.
The MAMBi punch doesn’t feel the greatest quality. It can’t take many pages either.
The ARC punch has a separate handle that feels a lot more sturdy, can punch more pages at once, can punch through laminate and can store a lot of the paper clippings before the tray needs to be emptied. It also has a handy slider that helps you quickly line up different page sizes.
It’s worth noting that other Discbound brands have a punch as well which are compatible (e.g. TUL, Levenger).
In terms of durability, the ARC is definitely more sturdy – especially the leather covers. Be prepared to pay more for better quality though.
MAMBI have laminate covers which are prone to bending on the corners. To me, it’s not a big deal plus it means the planners are an affordable price.
Michaels in the USA seems to have a sale every other week on MAMBI stuff (or coupons that can be used for MAMBI products).
To save money you could also get one on clearance that is expiring soon and change out the pages (but reuse the discs and cover), or use date dot stickers.
The ARC system doesn’t seem to ever go on sale. The leather cover and discs are more expensive than the MAMBI.
ARC’s paper is so smooth to write on. It feels thicker than the paper in most planners. There is some light ghosting (mainly highlighters) but overall one of the best papers I’ve found in a planner.
The Happy Planner has one of the thickest (best) papers I’ve come across. There is really only ghosting (and a little bit of bleed through) for the marker pens.
MAMBI have tons and tons of accessories to choose from:
- Half sheet refills
- Refills for dot grid, graph and lined (some with decorative page borders too)
- Sticky notes
- Meal planning
- Daily planner refills
- Weekly spread refills
- Budget extension pack
In contrast, the ARC system only has a few: sticky notes, a few basic / boring inserts, pocket folder, dividers and task pads.
The ARC stuff is a lot more gender neutral / plain colors whereas MAMBI has lots of color and options.
The ARC is really good quality. I’ve had my ARC’s for 6+ years and they’re still in as new condition. The leather covers are super sturdy and I’ve never had a disc break.
MAMBI plastic discs can break and the laminate cover can bend. Although they do have leather covers available too. Relative to price, I do still think MAMBI is good quality.
Which is better?
The ARC punch is more sturdy and better for different page sizes if you’re printing your own inserts.
MAMBI is better for colors, the number of options, layouts, planner cover variety and basically everything except their punch.
So if I had to choose I’d say get the MAMBI planner and accessories, add a MAMBI leather cover for durability and use it with the ARC punch.
More posts about discbound notebooks
- Where to find discs to make a discbound planner or notebook (downloadable comparison)
- Guide to Discbound Planners & Frequently Asked Questions
- How to make your own DIY discbound bullet journal, notebook or planner
- 7 Planner supplies that aren’t worth the hype
- Highlighters vs. Highlighter Pencils: Are they worth the cost?
- Finding planner peace: how to choose the right planner page size for you
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