25 July 2013

Comparing Holborns

The Holborn model has become quite a favourite of mine. I'm currently using an A5 one as my desk organiser. I do swap around a bit every few months though. The first one I got was a Holborn A5 zip, I have found this great for long trips back to UK as a sort of mobile office.

Comparing the two A5's one with a clasp the other with a zip showed up some differences in the design. Likewise the personal size zip and clasp have the similar differences.

Let me explain...

Starting on the outside, the zip model has an outside pocket on the front cover.

Opening up the clasp A5 here is the internal layout:

On the left you have outer and inner full height pockets. 5 card slots and a deeper card pocket at the bottom.  On the back cover again inner and outer full height pockets and a zip pocket as well on the outer edge. A single pen leather/elastic loop is attached to the back cover.

The layout on the A5 Zip is similar:

The main differences to the clasp A5 is that it has 30mm rings compared to 25mm rings, that extra capacity comes in handy when I'm away from the office with it. You will also notice that there are no inner full height pockets on the Zip model. There is the same zip pocket in the back cover though. and the open pocket on the outside cover. This model also gains two pen loops again both leather/elastic.

Moving to personal size, we see similar design cues between the clasp and zip personal size. Once again the zip has the open outside pocket on the front cover.

The clasp personal like its bigger A5 brother has outer and inner pockets on both the front and rear covers. On the inside front cover you will find 6 credit card slots and a deeper card slot at the bottom as well. Like the A5 there is also a zip pocket on the outer pocket of the back cover as well as the open pocket. The zip tab hides like on the A5 behind the leather of the back inside cover.  A single leather/elastic pen loop sits inside the leather clasp.

The zip personal, shares the same 23 mm ring size as it's clasp brother. The credit card slot count increases to a dizzy 7 in total, plus once again the deeper car slot at the foot of the front inside cover. Again like the A5 zip, only outer full height pockets. No inner ones. But like the clasp personal it also has the zip pocket as well as the open pocket on the inside back cover.

Staying with personal size but looking at the compact and slimline sizes.

L-R Slimline, Compact, Personal
The compact in common with other compacts in the Filofax organiser range uses 15 mm rings.  The credit card pockets are orientated vertically in two rows. There is no zip pocket on the inside of the back cover.

The Slimline uses 13mm rings and a similar pocket layout. Again no zip pocket on the Slimline

Finally Pocket size, being somewhat smaller than the others, the layout has to be different. This size is fitted with 15mm rings a size I find very good for fitting in a jeans or jacket pocket

Filofax have retained the inner and outer pocket arrangement on this model, and it also has the zip pocket on the inside back cover. The three card slots require the cards to be slotted in vertically to fit in to the width of the cover. There is also a deeper card pocket at the bottom like on others in the range.

Overall I like the layouts used in the Holborns. The outside might not be to everyone's taste and I know the restricted choice of colours in this model can be a bit of a deal breaker for some. But they do represent excellent value for money for an all leather organiser.


  1. Of the slimlines that I own, the Holborns (I have 2) have the biggest rings at 13mm. All the rest (Kensington, Piccadilly, Guildford, 3CL and the 3 Microfiles) have 11mm rings.

  2. A lovely review of my favourite model ... And I have owned Maldens! Something about the Holborn leather which shrieks quality.

  3. My slimline rings look oval, like a symmetrical egg on its side, is yours like this?
    The rings are smooth, no gaps.

    I suppose it could be an optical illusion.

    1. No it is not an optical illusion. The rings are 13mm wide, but have about the same clearance from the ring mechanism cover plate as the 11mm rings, maybe even a millimeter less.

  4. Thank you for a lovely review of my favorite filofax! I use the personal size in black and in brown and they are my everything, everywhere.

  5. Great review! So tough to decide between Malden and Holborn!

  6. I would love to try a Holborn...they look luscious. But yes, the color choices are a deal breaker for me.

  7. I have mentioned this in the Facebook group, but I want the Pocket Holborn without the clasp, like the slimline Personal. I find the clasp gets in the way when putting it in a trouser pocket.

  8. Is this the complete list of colours: Black, Brown, Wine and Grey?

    1. Call me old-fashioned, but I hope they keep the Holborn range dignified and professional. If you want purple, teal or patent leather orange, there are plenty of other models to fulfil your needs in most sizes!

      My only gripe with the Holborn is the "hand warmer" outward facing inner pockets. I've never found them to be much use - certainly in A5 where they are too big for collecting receipts but too small to take folded A4 documents. If only they went the full width (like the Flex) they would be more useful(IMHO). As well as papers, a Moleskine (or Flex) notebook could be slotted in. Having said that, a notebook does slot into both the inner pockets and it can do so without clashing with the binder rings.

      I fitted my A5 Holborn with 19mm rings and salvaged a second popper from another binder and fitted it to the strap, so that the clasp could be closed tighter.

    2. Tim, you might like to try one of these for the Slimline.


      It fits perfectly, eliminates the outward pocket problem and adds a lot of functionality and waterproof protection as well.

      Side view

      and from above

      Mine is an older model with two elastic pen loops at the sides rather than the central one but it should still fit. Lying open for use you barely notice it's there. It also allows the Holborn to lie perfectly flat, whereas the zipped Filofaxes are constrained top and bottom by the zip itself.

      Loads of pockets and takes trifold A4 easily.

    3. Is there really a gray? Be still my heart---I'd kill for a gray personal.

    4. Dear Susan,
      Did you just call for some enabling? If yes, hop over to Filofax.de and get yourself your gray personal Holborn ....

      Great review. I also have an A5 Holborn in wine and really like it. It's not as floppy as the A5 Malden, but the leather is really really nice. And very sturdy! It's a pity that it only comes with 25mm rings ...

    5. Thanks Natalie - That's a useful piece of kit! Certainly food for thought! I've an Eagle Creek toiletries bag that I purchased in Chicago many moons ago - so I know how hard-wearing their products are!

      And YES, Susan Mac- grey (or gray, if you prefer!) Holborns certainly exist in A5, Personal, Pocket and Compact!

    6. I was about to buy a Rite in the Rain cover and then I remembered I had this one.

      It acts as accessory pockets really. To get that much carrying capacity, zipped pockets, card pockets etc you have to have a MUCH beefier Filofax which confounds the objective of total flatness. I don't need more paper, I need pockets!

      The water protection is a bonus, it also protects the leather from getting bashed about which can't be bad either.

    7. Can't believe that I didn't know--- huge thanks Jotje and Tim for the lovely revelation.

    8. That Eagle Creek pocket looks interesting. I have a Holborn Slimline and I worry about it when I travel. I will have to keep this in mind before my next long trip!

  9. Ahhh, the Lovely Holborn.....my second favorite Filofax after #ChameleonLove!!!!!

  10. I've been considering the Holborn for a while, but opted for the Calipso instead. The pop of colour distracted me ;) But if I ever need a black filo I think the zipped Holborn and I will get along great! Love the pictures of the different types. MAkes it so much easier to decide which you like better when you can SEE them (and there isn't any shops in the country that sells them).

  11. I was lucky enough to do an in person comparison at the meet up. One person had the Slimline, I had a Compact, and the other brought a Personal. I love the leather of the Holborn and all those pockets! I wish I came in other colors. Black, Brown, Grey, and Wine are not enough!

  12. I love the Holborn! I have two personals in black and wine. :D I love all of the card holders and just the feel of it. I would love to get it in A5 as well. To have one in grey would be amazing!

    Although I have to say that I have my eye on the Malden as well. I'm just waiting to snatch one up for a steal on eBay. ;)

  13. I wanted a Holborn for months (I live in Holborn, so I decided I just HAD to have one) and eventually got the compact in black. I think it's the only filo I've ever paid full price for! To be honest it was an anti-climax. Even though the leather is really wonderful, there just seems to be a key ingredient missing when I compare it to my favourites (Scanda, Kendal and Cuban). I've never sold any of my binders, but if I did it would be the Holborn.

  14. The Holborn slimlines are listed under Filofax UK's Last Chance To Buy with the brown color at 40% off.

    *Cue panic*

    1. Don't panic Laurie! It's hardly a "last chance" - they've been out-of-stock for weeks! Presumably, there will be more...

    2. Now back in stock - probably for the last time in the UK. The Slimline Cuban finally disappeared a few weeks ago from the official UK site.

  15. The leather on the Holborn is sooooo nice. I bought the Pesonal zip and A5 zip both in wine and started using them - meanwhile I bought the same combo in black and brown afraid they wouldn't be available one day - plus A LOT of other Filo's - but just can't move onto and into any of the others. The leather on the wines have taken on such a sheen and are soooo smooth - they feel like an old friend and I only bought them this year! I have purchased some Maldens and they are very nice - even have an pocket ostrich - but the Holborn is my "heart" Filo - maybe on e day I might get to use the others! What this experience has shown me is that - yes, I am one of those one Filo (well, two!!) kind of people - I seem to "marry" these things - same with wallets and handbags and I know from experience, once I move on, I rarely return to a former one ... My drawers and closets will readily attest to that!!


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