30 August 2012

How Flexible Is The Leather Flex?

Thank you to Helen Fennell for her review of the new Leather Flex cover. 

The Delightful Mr F has had a Flex to use at work pretty much since they first came out. He is not a user of a traditional Filofax, but really liked the Flex and it works really well for him. I had been wondering about one for work too. For me it is best to use a bound notebook rather than a binder for meeting notes etc, but I also have some loose lead bits and pieces I need to carry with me, which fall out if tucked inside a normal notebook.

Then I saw that City organiser had the A5 leather Flex covers in stock, and I thought it would be rude not to buy one!

I chose the blackcurrant leather cover. The cover is lovely, the colour is a very regal looking purple, and the leather is nice, and has that lovely leather smell. It is quite floppy, which I guess it needs to be for this purpose.

The layout inside is slightly different from the First Edition covers. The pockets on the left hand side are horizontal instead of vertical.

It still has the large slots on either side of the folder, and a small slot for a jotter pad.

One of the pockets on the left hand side expands so you can slip your iPhone, or in my case my Blackberry into it. It fits well, and I can see this being very useful around the office as I need to carry
my phone with me.

The folder comes with a pen loop, a jotter pad and a notebook. The pen loop is mounted on a piece of gray card, and I can’t help feeling that this is a bit of a disappointment compared to the lovely leather binder. Although I am not sure what other design solution there is. When the loop is slotted into the opening on the left hand side, it sticks put a long way and looks awful. However, when slotted into the outside pockets, it goes in much further and looks much better.

I had always thought that the Jotter pad looked a bit pointless, but now I have one I find myself using it for “things I must do today without fail” lists. I’ll see how it goes, but I may well adopt that permanently.

The notebooks I don’t like at all, and neither does The Delightful Mr F. They aren’t very good quality, especially compared to the Moleskines I normally use.  Mr F uses hardback Moleskines in his first edition version. They are a tight fit, but they do go in the slots. I tried to get a hardback Moleskine in my leather one, and again it will fit in the outside slots, but it is very tight and I would be worried about damaging the leather. Instead I am going to use Moleskine Volants which fit easily.

When everything is in place it is very thin and neat. I haven’t’ yet quite worked out my system, so when I have, hopefully Steve will let me share it with you.

On the whole I am very impressed with the cover. It feels nice to use and I think it will stand up to the wear and tear of the office. I’d love to see how other Flexers use their Flexes.

Thank you Helen for your detailed review, some interesting changes they have made. 


  1. Lovely review (and lovely colour), thanks! (I too am quite unimpressed at the leather-card pen loop... given the quality of the cardboardish card they used. They should come up with something more in tune, I had an older flex I gave my mother and that particular felt disappointingly cheap even with the vinyl covers...)

  2. Thanks for the review, Helen!

    Good to know that they fit a moleskine volant. I love the volants, but always lament a lack of "pocket space" to fit notes and bits that I need to carry with me. This may be the solution :)

  3. I cannot believe that Filofax would sell such an expensive purple leather cover and then stick a grey card in it as a penloop?!
    Other than that: it looks great! But it would be even better if they had included a small ring option .... ;-) (nuff said)

    1. Just need Tim to go to work on it and fit a small set of rings....

    2. They look naff, but, to be fair the card pen holders wear pretty well. As you saw on my guest post a few weeks ago, I've got two in my A5 Flex that act as the binder closer - so they get stretched by both the pen and the Flex contents. There's no sign of them breaking after 15 months of use.

      I'm resisting buying a leather Flex so far. I know that I would have a modelling knife to it within hours - as Steve has suggested!

  4. Thanks Helen for a very intereting review and thanks to Steve for including my guest post on today's "You might also like" selection.

    Filofax have yet to show any of the new Flex models on their websites, yet City Organiser (UK) and Pens & Leather (USA) have been listing some - but not all - for several weeks. My favourite is the new leather tan A5.

    Filofax are clearly planning to completely saturate the marketplace with new versions of the Flex. When launched last June, there were just three 1st Edition models in three sizes. That's all they are listing now. However, with a little delving onto different websites, I've added them up and reckon there will now be no less than THIRTY SIX Flex models to choose from in the next few weeks! I think these will be as follows:-

    First Edition Pocket: Black, Grey Slate, Pink Magenta
    First Edition Slim: Black, Grey Slate, Pink Magenta
    First Edition A5: Black, Grey Slate, Pink Magenta
    Smooth Pocket: Black, Grey, Red, Pink
    Smooth Slim: Black, Grey, Red, Pink
    Smooth A5: Black, Grey, Red, Pink
    Smooth for iPad/ A5: Black, Red
    Lizard Print Leather Pocket: Black, Blackcurrant, Ruby Red
    Lizard Print Leather A5: Black, Blackcurrant (Helen's), Ruby Red
    Lizard Print Leather for iPad/ A5: Ruby Red
    Nappa Leather Slim: Black
    Nappa Leather A5: Black
    Nappa Leather for iPad/ A5: Black
    Vegetable Tan Leather A5
    Vegetable Tan Leather for iPad/ A5

    All I can say is - phew! Note that the only leather slim model appears to be the Nappa in black. Smooth models will be described as "leather look".

    1. After reading about how you customized your Flex I was wondering if you'd go for a leather A5 flex with and build in the rings or a compact A5 if you had to choose?

    2. Hi Ling. Before I customised my Flex, I just wanted a compact (i.e slim) A5 Filofax. At that time, the only model with 20mm rings was the Adelphi which (without being sexist in any way) was not in any way a masculine organiser. Now we're awash with 20mm A5 Filofaxes! (Luxe, Boston etc.).

      However, my Flex customisation has been so successful (for me) that I won't now be tempted by any of the 20mm ringed Filos. The 13mm rings I fitted to my Flex are just enough for me - especially now I've got an iPad 2 and am doing even more digitally than I was last year. The Flex fits into an A5 pocket in my messenger bag and weighs barely 500g with contents and pen.

      I do want a leather version though. So, I'm currently debating whether to try an A5 leather Flex as sold. To keep it slim, I would make some of my own booklets - 3 month diary/ agenda (using Philofaxy templates), home-printed key information booklet and a homemade slim notebook. The fourth main slot would have the standard Flex year planner and I would have a jot pad.

      It might work, but I suspect I would quickly want to return to my current set-up. I can see me with a beer and a modelling/ craft knife fitting my 13mm rings to the new Flex, late one night! It would be an irreversible operation though!

      The ability to add/ move/ remove pages with a ringed mechanism is my ultimate in flex-flexibility! Even if I made my own booklets for a Flex, they would soon look tatty and have hand written updates on them. With a ring mech any page can quickly be replaced with updated info.

      Anyone else trying to go slim A5?

    3. Tim I followed you and took the penknife to the Flex and put 13mm rings in ... works great .... I then ordered the leather version but sent it back as a most importantly the internal layout was different - I use all the six credit card pockets plus the bottom pocket holds post it notes and spare blackberry battery etc ...... and secondly it was much more 'soft' so you needed to lean it on something to write .... a real shame as it looked 100% better than the first edition and smelt lovely as ever ....

    4. Tim, thanks for your extensive reply, it's very useful. I actually bought a first edition A5 after reading your tutorial, but I can't find 15mm rings here in NL.

      I just love the vertical pockets. I have bought a Holborn personal and will be using that when it arrives. But if I can't get used to the personal size, I will think about a compact A5 and in the meantime I hope to find 13 or 15 mm rings. Stephen, may I ask where you found yours? Wait, you cut them out of a Filofax slimline, if I remember correctly.

    5. Ling - I think 15mm rings would be too much. 12/13mm is the maximum. Slimline rings sound ideal, if they're not riveted to the binder (I'm not a Slimline man!)

      Helen/ Stephen - today's photos and comments have put me off the leather version a bit. Is it really that flimsy? Do the card pen holders stiffen the cover up enough? The First Edition Flex (plastic) is not attractive, but it is sturdy!

  5. Thanks for the review; it's very interesting how the pockets are different from the First Edition ones - I'm not sure that would suit me at all.

    I also love seeing what other people do with their Flexes, as there aren't very many Flex set-up posts out there. I've recently posted a bit about how I use my Flex on my (very new) blog - http://antidisorganisation.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/my-filoflex/.

    1. A kindred spirit! For those still looking for a slim ring solution, Horsellian's idea looks great! It also saves the Flex from surgery! Well done Horsey!

    2. Wow - I've never heard of these binding spines before. What a brilliant idea! I suppose there is an investment in the punch.

      I have been considering using a Flex as a notepad binder - I like to take notes in meetings etc in a bound notebook - I currently use A4, but was thinking of going to A5 so that it matches my FF.

      Decisions, decisions!

    3. Great idea! Thanks for sharing those rings!

    4. Yeah - the punch isn't cheap, particularly if you've not got other uses for it (though I got quite a good deal on ebay IIRC).

      Mine gets used a lot: it binds sheet music for my husband's choir, 'workbooks' for my preschooler, books of resources for my Brownies, etc. etc., so it's worked out a good investment for me.

    5. I wonder if the Staples' ARC A5 notebook would be a similar option but would enable you to move the pages around easily too. I don't know for certain though, as I don't have a Flex cover.

  6. Hi Helen (and everyone else)

    I really purchased one of these, to go with my new Purple Malden and like you was really dissappointed with the pen holder.

    It is good to know that the Volants fit as I'm not a fan of the flex notebooks.

    Thanks, Kelly

    1. That's a really nice idea, thank you so much for sharing. I didn't know about this kind of bine spine. How does it look when the Flex is closed? Do you think one size bigger (16mm internal diameter) would fit nicely or would that be too large? I can see myself using this for hobbies and such. I could even make several booklets for different subjects.

    2. I've not got a great pic of the Flex closed - only this one of it with a Metropol personal on top of it! You can see it's quite neat looking closed though - nothing sticking out.

      I would think the larger spines would probably be too big and the Flex wouldn't reach around it properly (though I've not tried), but the 12mm ones claim to hold up to 95 sheets.

  7. Hi,

    Is it possible to use a A5 leather flex as a cover for a tablet?

    1. Certainly NOT an iPad. That's why they're introducing a Flex iPad version. Note - not designed for The New iPad (iPad 3).
      Standard A5 Flex cover is 170mm x 223mm.
      iPad size is 186mm x 241mm.
      A5 iPad Flex version (for iPad 1 and iPad 2) will be 205mm x 260mm.

    2. Tim,

      Thank you fot the information.

  8. I love my first edition Flex. I'm using it to plan for NaNo at the moment, and it's really useful. It's not showing signs of wearing too well though - the vinyl is chipping off the corner after only a month of light use. I am very, very tempted by a leather one, although I wish they hadn't messed with the card pockets - I have a set-up I'm happy with in the Flex and I don't really want to change it. I took a photo of mine and wrote a review on the Flex feedback site about a week and a half ago, but so far it isn't showing up there :( I had a lot to say, so maybe it's taking them a long time to read it!

  9. Great review, I have been thinking about a flex for a while now and haven't been sure if i'd like it. I'd love a zip pocket in the flex like in the Malden if that's correct(sorry I'm newbie). I may give in and buy one and give it a review, apart from the card slots it does look quite pretty and would go perfect with my purple A5 Domino! (How I use it, is on my blog!)
    Till next time!