Ali Express Hobonichi Weeks Dupe Review

Everyone is going mad for the Hobonichi Weeks it seems.

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I absolutely love it (I own three) but I know it’s not the cheapest planner out there, coming in at around £30 including postage*. That might seem pretty expensive for such a small planner. As is usually the case, dupes have started to pop up, like this one* from Ali Express. At about £6.50 including postage, this was a bit of a bargain. I ordered one so I could try it out and do a comparison to the real thing.

Delivery was surprisingly swift, arriving in just under a couple of weeks.

I was worried about how it would arrive, as I’ve had issues in the past with things getting a bit battered when they’ve come all the way from China. Thankfully, this arrived looking great!

This is available in a few different colours, but I opted for the grey one. The cover is made from a nice soft fabric, and the gold embossed logo is a nice touch. The inside covers are a black, thick smooth card and the back has a little pocket for storage. 

In that back pocket was a little sheet of stickers, including monthly tabs. 

I was impressed when I unpacked this. The quality felt very nice.

I immediately noticed that the paper also felt smooth and not hideously thin. Given the beautiful paper that the Hobonichi has, this was probably where this dupe was going to win or lose.

Inside the front cover there was a title sheet and a handy guide how to use each section of the planner. All in Chinese, but the pictures were pretty clear.

Then, it was onto the planning pages and the first thing to note is that this is an undated planner. Great for those of you who flip between planners across the year!

It starts with a double page yearly plan, that covers two years. Each month has a box with six checklists in – perfect for birthdays or any future planning. Next, it was onto the monthly pages. 

I like the set up of these pages. Along the left hand side you’ve got an area to highlight the number month, and three checklist boxes for any major tasks. The rest of that side bar is kept clear so you can use it however you want. It’s very similar to how the Weeks is laid out.

In each monthly box there is plenty of room and a space to write the date. Because there are only five rows and nothing along the bottom you actually get more space in these monthly boxes, than the Weeks.

The only downside I can see to this set up is you have a month like December, where it starts on a Sunday and finishes on a Tuesday – you need six rows to plan that out really. But in this planner, you’ll need to use the top left hand side of the monthly view for your 30th and 31st days.

There’s twelve sets of these pages, so it will only last you the year (unlike the Hobonichi which gives you a little more time with fifteen months worth of monthly pages.

Next, it’s onto the weekly pages.

Again, these are set out like the Weeks pages.

There’s a space at the top left again to highlight with month you’re in. There’s then a blank space underneath it which could be handy for weekly goals or something.

Going down the page you’ll see the days of the week in columns, with space to write the date and a space underneath. I think this area would be quite good for if you write the weather in your planner each day, for example. After a dotted line you have the rest of the day and a decent amount of space.

Again, because there isn’t anything at the bottom of these pages you actually end up with a decent amount of writing space for each day. The height of each box is the same as in the Weeks, and the width of the ‘free writing’ space is only 1.2cm narrower than the Weeks. 

The grid paper on the right hand side of the page isn’t as nice as that in the Hobonichi Weeks, largely because it’s made of solid lines, rather than dotted. The dot grid itself is 0.5mm narrower than that in the Weeks. It does however fill the entire page, with no border which might be a plus to some who like to use every bit of space on those pages.

The only thing about these pages that may bother some is the lack of flexibility. The Weeks is set up to create lots of different layouts. In this there’s no guide dots to segment the dailies or anything like that. You could still change up the layouts in this, but not to the extent you can with the Weeks.

Next you get a few notes pages in the back of the planner.

I think I counted 17, which feels like a random number. 

Each page has space for the subject and date and the rest of of the page is lined (with a dashed line). I guess to try and avoid being a full dupe, they avoided doing grid paper like the Weeks.

You may not be able to make it out, but on the bottom and top lines there are little marks. You could use these to draw lines but then you’d end up with very narrow grid paper. Not sure how useful that would be!

It’s nice to have some note pages at the back, and it’ll depend on you whether they’re enough for you. I generally use my notes pages for budget planning, so this would be fine for me as I’d only need 12.

Finally, let’s talk paper!

As you’ve probably seen, this paper is white. If you’re put off by the cream of the Hobonichi paper, then you might like this planner.

Like I said, this was surprisingly thick paper and seems to handle most pens really well. 

There was a bit of bleed/spread on the fountain pens. However it was nothing like I was expecting. You’d have to get up pretty close to find any issue. These are fine nibs though, so I’d avoid this if you’re a medium nib kind of person.

The gel ink dried really quickly and I had zero issues with smearing. I sometimes have problems with gel ink on the Hobonichi paper, so if you love gel ink, this may be a better option for you.

Happily, there was no bleed through on the back page and minimal ghosting. What you can see though, is the binding in the middle not holding up too great.

This is the only quality issue that I’ve found with this, and only on the very back pages.

When it comes to size, this is very similar to the Weeks, and I’m sure Cover on Covers for the Weeks, will fit this. 

Despite not having the Tomoe River paper, this planner isn’t much thicker than the Weeks. 

I was actually really impressed with this planner. For £6.50* it’s an absolute bargain! For a little bit extra you can also buy the set that comes with a multi pen*.

So should you buy this planner?

If you can’t quite commit to the money for a Weeks, or you’re not sure the size is right for you, then I highly recommend trying this out first. It’s a really good intro to this planner size and if:

  1. You’re not bothered about all the notes pages at the back; and
  2. You won’t be doing any complicated layouts where you completely change up the weekly pages.

Then I think you’ll get along really well with this planner.

If for whatever reason you don’t, this format also works really well as a meal planner. Take a look at my health and fitness planner set up for how I use one of my Weeks as one.