I was so excited to review this planner. Upon initial research, The Luddite Function Pro Freefield Vertical B6 Planner ($19) had a lot of things going for it:
- Available in A5 and B6 size
- Tomoe River 52 gsm paper
- Freefield Vertical layout (as well as 4 other page layouts)
On the plus side:
- The lines are a light grey and inside the field areas are an even lighter 5mm grid.
- The type used for the days of the week is crisp, unobtrusive Futura.
- The weeks start with Monday.
- I love the “Freefield Vertical” layout. I don’t have a lot of meetings to account for on my calendar but lots of projects, to-dos and notes I like to track. This type of layout provides space at the top for AM/PM or home/work events and then the rest of the column/below area is open for other information. I tend to use this type of layout treating the lower section as a communal space for weekly activities. I may make a section to track activities, list out books I’ve read or podcasts I’ve listened to, etc.
Unfortunately, the reality of this planner did not align with my expectations.
- Somehow in my head, I thought the size was A6, not B6. While B6 (approximately 5″x7″) is quickly becoming a popular size, I do not own any covers that are B6 sized.
- The monthly pages are all in the front and the weekly pages follow. Since this is a bound softcover planner, there are no built-in book marks or tabs to make flipping back and forth easy.
- The covers of the planner are the thinnest cardstock. The book is floppy and needs a cover of some sort to stiffen it and make it durable enough to be used for a full calendar year. The thin 52gsm paper provides no additional stability so without a cover of some sort, this notebook will be a wrinkled, crumpled mess within a couple weeks.
- The 52gsm Tomoe River paper is not the Tomoe River paper we have grown to love. This must be the new Tomoe River 52gsm and, I hate to say it, it’s garbage. I tested multiple pages and fountain pens to verify that it was not a fluke. These images (comparing the Luddite planner with an Elia Note) shows how differently the paper behaves. The writing was done with the same pen and ink on the same day. Yeah… horrifying.
- And finally, the 52gsm paper reminded me why I have never really taken to the Hobonichi planners — the show through from day-to-day and week-to-week is too distracting for me. It looks and feel messier than a more opaque page. My planner pages can get messy enough as it is but seeing the mess from last week just makes my skin itch.
It breaks my hear a little to do this but I do not recommend this planner. Just the paper quality alone os enough for me to say no, no, no. If you are not a fountain pen connoisseur, then there is no real appeal for buying a Tomoe River planner so I can’t even caveat this review with “well, other pen users might like it”. Nope. Hard pass.
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
6 comments / Add your comment below
I have never loved the 52 gsm TRP though I have learned to accept it in my Hobonichi Day-Free a6 during 2021. Using a Pilot Coleto Multi instead of a fountain pen, I liked it well enough to buy another for 2022. BUT I am anxiously searching for a replacement for the 68 gsm TRP that has been my favorite for personal journaling for several years now. I use fountain pens for that and my favorite store for buying fat blank a5 notebooks seems to be transitioning to Cosmo Air Light dot grid with fewer pages. I have one more of their old style notebooks left, two that have half the number of pages, and I have a blank a5 with Toro Next paper on the way from Japan.
From what I understand, the 68gsm Tomoe River paper has been manufactured on the new equipment for some time and is probably what most of us have been using. I have not tested this theory however so if you have had any experience with recently acquired 68gsm TR, please let me know your thoughts. Thanks.
I got a Nanami Seven Seas Crossfield after the change in Tomoe River paper, and I hate it. It’s not enjoyable to write on; it does nothing for the inks. But so many pages to fill up.
I purchased the Parallel version, B6, a few weeks ago. Your review reflects my experience with this planner. Per specs it seems really great. I like the layout and how it looks, its listed as having Tomoe River paper and I like B6. I got this to carry me over until my selected 2022 planner (a Midori Professional Weekly) kicks in. I figured, being undated, I could then find another use for it. Nope. My first thought when writing in it was that its nothing like any other Tomoe River paper I’ve used before. Fountain pens bleed straight thru like tissue. Even gel pens have too much show thru. The only way its kind of usable is to skip weeks in between written pages. The paper is also so flimsy the pages keep curling up on the edges and corners. After just a few weeks on my desk it looks terrible. Mine also has some missing stitches in the binding so pages are kind of coming out. Just a completely disappointing product. Thankfully, the Midori planner starts with December 2021 so I can start using it this week.
Matthew, So sorry that you had the same experience with the Luddite planners that I did.