04 January 2012

Cuban Zip Review

Firstly, thank you to Filofax UK for supplying me with the Cuban Zip for review.

The zipped range of organisers from Filofax are not high in numbers. In a recent post I asked for peoples thoughts on zip or clasp closures. As you will see from the comments some people like the extra security that a zip organiser gives them whilst others prefer the 'speed' of being able to open and access their information.

The point of this review is to look at the Cuban Zip in detail and pick out the differences and the features contained in this particular model/design.

The Cuban Zip is of all leather construction, although the many pockets are lined with a textile material. The leather is smooth Italian leather and the one in the pictures is the saddle brown model with cream stitching. It is also available in chilli red.

The personal size Cuban Zip is slightly bigger in overall size compared to say a Malden Personal. It's also thicker, but it does have 30mm (internal diameter) rings rather than the 23mm rings in the Malden.

On the outside front there is a vertical pocket, this has a small flush magnetic closure on it. This pocket would be useful for tickets and papers you need speedy access to whilst travelling. It would save you those vital seconds to unzip the organiser. I'm surprised other organisers don't have this feature.

Opening the organiser after unzipping it on all three sides. My first thoughts where how small the pages looked inside the organiser! A combination of the slightly larger size and of course the large rings I suppose.

One of the first things you will want to know is 'Does it lay flat?' No not out of the box is doesn't. But I know with time and a little 'training' and some leather treatment it will improve, although I might need to borrow some dumb bells if I am going to follow Terri's example!

The inside left hand cover has seven credit card slots, although using the very top slot is a little fiddly next to the zip... not that I have that many anyway.  There is also a business card slot at the bottom of the inside front.  There are two individual lined vertical slot pockets and also a deep vertical zipped pocket.

On the inside right hand cover there is another vertical pocket, this will hold a personal size notepad if you require it.

There are two pen loops, one each side on the inside of the zip, so you shouldn't lose your pens. Both pen loops are leather with a short elasticated section included in them. These hold most pens I've tried nice and snugly.

The larger size rings certainly gives you more capacity. As a comparison I removed the standard page fill supplied with the Cuban and then replaced it with the pages I currently have in my Malden. The Malden I would say is about at capacity in terms of being comfortable to be able to turn the pages and to be able to close it easily. Although I have seen pictures of people with a lot more pages than I have in similar personal size Maldens!! But the Cuban just swallowed the contents of my Malden as if it was just a snack and it laughed back at me 'So where is the rest then? Plenty of room in here!'

I have tried my two diary insert set up in the Cuban and it fits easily. In the Malden this same set up is a bit of a squeeze and I have to be selective as to what pages I include. Oh for a Malden Personal with 30mm rings!

Another advantage possibly to using the Cuban I discovered is because the organiser is wider than the clasp closing type it has the extra space required to be able to use Franklin Covey Tabbed pages without them sticking out the edge of the organiser.

To be honest I'm still undecided on my preference if I had to decide between the Malden or the Cuban Zip, both have their advantages and disadvantages for me. I will alternate between both to try them for more than just a few days, to see if there is one that I like more than the other.

Other zipped organiser posts:

Once again thank you to the people at Filofax for supplying me with this review sample.


  1. I really love the look of the Cuban organiser in either form.
    It just looks so classic so I'm going to be looking out for one over the next year, but I agree having bought an A5 graphic last year that the zip sometimes makes it more of an enclosed unit.
    Nice to have the relative luxury of using either sort to find out.
    Thanks for the review Steve
    Happy New Year

  2. For those who would like to try a zipped Filofax without spending too much money: there are some nice non-leather ones as well.
    I have a Graphic Zip in Brown (discontinued, but still available, e. g. from FF Sweden) and a Sketch Zip in Black and I love them: they are lightweight, durable, lay flat - and they have a notepad pocket!

  3. Ahh, the humble unassuming Cuban Zip...glad to see it getting it's time in the spotlight :D
    Great review! Can't wait to find out what you think after you've used it a while.

  4. Stop press. More sale items on Filofax UK site.

  5. I have been using my Cuban zipped for about a month now and I love it! It has taken some training to lie flat and it does pretty well, but with my FC inserts it is just perfect! Not sure I can see myself swapping binders in the near future!

    Great review Steve, well done!

  6. I've had a zipped planner before for all the obvious reasons and find I never zip it. It seems like such a little thing to do but when it comes to doing it I never do it. I rarely clasp purses for the same reasons so I've stopped buying ones that zip across the top

  7. One of my all time favorite Filofaxes!

    Looks gorgeous (simple & elegant), fully functional (huge 30mm rings, 2 pen holders that stretch - I just clip my 4 pens to it w/o worries) and very secure (can relax knowing that the filo innards won't spill out in inappropriate places/situations)!

    Now that I think about it, after using the personal Cuban Zip devotedly for the past 2 months or so, I'm not constantly perusing the internet shopping sites to purchase yet another filofax....


  8. that's weird. I made a comment on this post earlier and now it's gone. ?? Maybe I didn't fill out the catcha or something.

  9. maybe it got caught in the spam catcher because I used the term "hard core" in reference to my flat-training?

  10. Nothing trapped, you did leave a comment on 'My setup part 2' earlier... which is linked to this post..


  11. @steve - LOL! Now you see why I need a Filofax! ;-)

  12. what a great details review! thanks steve. I still love my soft holborn zip , just wish it come with 30 ring.... maybe I will save up for Cuban next year.

  13. heh heh. she said "hard core"

    i love the cuban and have been waivering back and forth on whether or not to get the personal zip before it's gone forever. but then some things are happening this year which may warrent something else and p&l was having a going once... going twice... sale on the a5 cuban saddle....i know i'm not an a5-er but i'm thinking i'm gonna need a family planner soon with our future move and having to take care of some stuff for my folks.... btw, has anyone here used the family organizer sheets? i should bring it up on a free for all forum... meanwhile, let me just say, i LOVE the compact osterley

  14. Just found this thread. This is my view of my red Cuban zip which is now almost 8 years old.
    First, great Filofax. Used for work and took it all over the place travelling and also for my MA studies.
    However, a couple of years ago it started to crease badly on the front when you open and close it not far from the stitching on the front. The crease runs top to bottom and has actually started flaking.
    I have other Filofax's most leather and older than my Cuban zip but none have creased like this or started to flake.
    So, tried several leather restorers/creams to try and stop it but nothing works. It does look like it is going to split at some point.
    As a last resort looked at the Filofax website care sheet. Really not helpful at all so I emailed them asking specifically for a known brand and what their customer care people have done with leather like this.
    So disappointed in their reply. All she did was quote the website and gave me a link to the same page I already looked at!!
    Still haven't found anything to stop the flaking or creasing.

  15. I just returned to my beautiful Cuban Zip from 2010. I see what you are talking about. I did not give it much thought. Figured it would get that "distressed" leather look. Now, I see your point. I don't think there will be anything we can do about it.