Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter A5 Organizer Review

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I found out about this product back in December while listening to the Pen Addict podcast (thank you Myke Hurley).

If you don’t speak German, Roterfaden is the manufacturer and Taschenbegleiter is German for, “bag companion”.  This is without doubt the coolest organizer I have ever had the pleasure of owning.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.
Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter with early 1950s Aurora 88.

The Taschenbegleiter is a custom made-to-order organizer that utilizes a unique clip system that allows you to clip in all sorts of notebooks and loose paper.

Tachenbegleiter clips
Taschenbegleiter clips

The Taschenbegleiter comes in three standardized formats: A4, A5, and A6.  For the outer cover you have two material choices (in multiple colors): dance floor and leather.  Dance floor is a synthetic material that was originally used for (you guessed it) dance floors.  I opted for the black leather option.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

The black leather has a suede-like finish that is very soft to the touch.  The Taschenbegleiter has a wonderful organic hand-made quality to it.  Depending on the colors and options you choose it can be more casual look or more professional looking.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter
Few scuffs on the back from taking the Taschenbegleiter in and out of my bag.

For the inside material you again get two options for materials, suede and wool felt.  I chose the blue wool felt and I also chose to have my name embroidered into the felt in a light blue thread and Interstate font.  You can actually send them a picture and they will embroider it on the organizer!

Empty Tachenbegleiter with all the clips open
Empty Taschenbegleiter with all the clips open

There are various pocket configurations that include an option designed specifically for an iPad mini.  Instead of pockets on the back cover you get 4 elastics that hold the iPad Minis corners.  I chose the large pocket (which also fits an iPad) because it serves a dual purpose as a pocket for smaller notebooks like Field Notes and work as an iPad holder when I travel.  The downside of course is that you have to pull out the iPad every time you want to use it.

iPad Mini in the back pocket.
iPad Mini in the back pocket.

There are more options still.  You can have all the pen loops you want.  You can have them on the bottom the top or the side (as I have on mine).  If you like to use really fat pens you can specify the size of the pen you want to use and they will make the loops bigger.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

You can also specify the number clips.  The standard is three but you can have none, one, two or four if you request it.  This is an important consideration because it will determine how much stuff you can put in your Tachenbegleiter and how fat it will be.  Mine is about 1.5″ wide with the three clips in use…but you can make it even fatter if you really stuff it.

Roterfaden makes various refills and inserts for the Tachenbegleiter.  They all look beautiful and are of excellent quality. Let me show you how I normally have mine loaded up:

I always fill from the back forward.  This is the notepad.  It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.
I always fill from the back forward. This is the notepad. It comes with a cardboard cover and the pages are blank on one side and graph on the other.  The pages are perforated so they tear off easily.
Notepad cover
notepad cover
Next is the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Next is the middle clip which I use to hold the diary refill and three sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Sheet protectors.
Last up is the calendar.  The clips work beautifully as book marks.
Last up is the calendar. The clips work beautifully as bookmarks.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover.  Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.
Calendar refill with optional cardboard cover. Cell phone, memo pad and business cards in the cover pockets.

Here are some more pictures of the unusual diary refill which has a stave on one side and a dot grid on the other.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.
Notice that you can see glue and the red stitching on the spine.  Also notice all the lovely signatures!
This is right in the middle of the notebook.  Notice how flat it lies.
This is right in the middle of the notebook. It lies ultra flat.

I love the red stitching in particular.  The different booklets have different papers.  The calendar has 70g paper that does show some bleed through with fountain pens.  The 80g paper in the diary booklet holds up well to fountain pen ink.  If you write with a fat juicy nib you might get some light bleeding but nothing serious.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

 

There is some minor show through and some pretty minimal bleed.
There is some minor show through and some bleed from the juicy OMAS nib.

I have not yet had the chance to sample the 120g drawing paper booklets.  Most of the larger booklets have an optional cardboard cover and while they are not necessary they are nice to have as the booklets are otherwise protected by paper only.

Because the Taschenbegleiter comes in standard A series sizes you can put pretty much any A5 notebook in the organizer.  I have also been able to put a standard Field Notes in one of the clips (top or bottom only).  The new larger Field Notes Arts and Sciences notebooks work beautifully.

Field Notes Sciences
Field Notes Sciences Notebook

 

A5 Kyokuto Notebook
A5 Kyokuto Notebook

I have been using mine everyday for the last five months and there are some downsides.  The main one being that it’s a pretty big organizer and its weight wont go unnoticed in you bag.  For personal travel I tend to take my smaller Midori Travelers Notebook with me (maybe I need to get an A6 Taschenbegleiter).

The clips are also great for loose piece of paper and receipts.  A folded A4 piece of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.
The clips are also great for loose pieces of paper and receipts. A folded A4 sheet of paper will fit perfectly into the clips.

The other downside is the price.  It’s expensive, especially if you start adding options like a leather cover and embroidery.  The basic A5 size runs 89€ or $120 USD (this includes VAT which is not applicable outside of Europe).  With options mine came to $182 USD but with VAT removed (because I live in the USA) the organizer cost about $150 USD.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

While expensive, I do believe you will have a hard time finding a better quality organizer for double or even triple the price.  I have looked and I haven’t found anything close.  The Taschenbegleiter is completely hand-made in Germany.

Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter

I love my Taschenbegleiter.  It is a wonderful product and I recommend it to anyone in the market for a high-quality and highly adaptable organizer.

All clips closed.
All clips closed

 

Hobonichi Planner 2014 Review

Hobonichi Planner

Having abandoned my Cartier diary (as the refills have increased an unbelievable 60% in price) I began searching for a replacement and stumbled upon a thread on The Fountain Pen Network discussing diaries for 2014.  The one that seemed to peak everyone’s interest was the Hobonichi Planner featuring Tomoe River paper.  To my knowledge, 2014 is the first year that this planner has been released in English.  After doing more research and learning about the awesome layout I knew I had to have one.

Hobonichi Planner

The appearance of the planner is simple and elegant.  The cover is a thin flexible black leatherette with “Techo” (in Japanese) and three keys printed in silver.  Printed on the spine in silver is “HOBO” and “2014”.  I like the look of the black leatherette cover so much that I am tempted to use it without a case.  The planner measures 105mm wide x 149mm high x 14mm thick (that’s approximately 4.13″ wide  x 5.87″ high x o.55″ thick).  Pictured below is the spine with the book open.  Tomoe River paper is so thin that you can fit 464 pages + the cover into a 14mm dimension.  The planner lays flat thanks to its excellent construction.

Hobonichi Planner
For those interested in book making look at how many tiny signatures (folded sheets sewn together) there are!

Hobonichi Planner

The layout of the planner is quite nice.  You get a full page per day with 4mm grids.  Each page shows the current moon phase and every two page spread features a quote.  Most of the quotes are from Japanese cultural figures.

Hobonichi Planner
Up front you get full months spread across two pages.
1 month per column and a day per row.
1 month per column and a day per row.

For Sunday the print on the page is orange instead of the normal black/grey.  In the back of the planner there are several pages of blank orange dot grid followed by some reference pages (clothing sizes, international holidays and country codes) as well as informational pages like a sushi guide and a sake guide.  One thing that I would like to see in the Hobonichi is a color map of the world.

Sushi Guide...I particularly like the part on the top right pages that says "If you are having trouble ordering....Just point!"
Sushi Guide…I particularly like the part on the top right page that says “If you are having trouble ordering….Just point!”

The paper, as I have show in my review of a Tomoe River notebook , is simply amazing.  It holds fountain pen ink as well or better than any other paper I can think of.  It’s hard not to love this planner.  The Hobonichi planner is reasonably priced at 2,500 Yen (approx $24 USD) before shipping and handling.

Hobonichi Planner
No issues with bleeding or feathering…the only draw back to this paper is dry time.
Hobonichi Planner
There is show through but it is not something that would prevent you from writing on both sides of a page.

Naoko at Hobonichi Planner was kind enough to send me this planner free of charge for me to review.  Along with the planner she included a cover, a couple of stencils and a set of page flags.  The design of the cover to be honest, is not my cup of tea.  The polyester cover was designed by the children’s book illustrator Ryoji Arai.  The front features a bright red donkey against a sky blue cover and the spine and back cover has some doodles and pictures.  It’s a very interesting composition.  The inside of the cover is bright pink and has two neon green page makers with pink tips (one is a rectangle and the other is a triangle).

Hobonichi Planner
Hobonichi cover with a Montblanc 149 in the pen loops.

There is a pocket on the outside of the back cover which I have found to be handy for slipping in receipts as well as a Field Notes journal.  There are two large pen loops, one attached to the front of the cover and one attached to the back so that you can slip a pen into both loops to keep the notebook shut.  I was able to easily slide my Montblanc 149 into the loops which is good news if you like to use oversized pens.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the front cover there are 5 card slots that fit the Hobonichi stencils perfectly. There is an additional pocket behind the card slots.

Hobonichi Planner

On the inside of the back cover there is a black tag that says “Hobonichi 2014” as well as two small pockets.

Hobonichi Planner

The retail price of this cover is 1,900 Yen (approx $18 USD).  This same cover in a plain solid color is 1,500 Yen (approx $14.50 USD) and in leather is 8,500 Yen (approx $81.50 USD).  The are several other cover designs that cost as much as 31,500 Yen (approx $302 USD).  The polyester cover is reasonably priced and and provides a lot of functionality.

The Hobonichi planner and covers can be purchased in English directly from Hobonichi here.

Hobonichi Planner

Please note: (as mentioned above) this product was provided to me at no charge by Hobonichi for review purposes.

Here are some great reviews of the Hobonichi Planner:

(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)

Tiny Cartridge – Tiny Review: Hobonichi Techo 2013The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

The Well-Appointed Desk – Review: Hobonichi Planner 2014

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar Review

When I tried Field Notes journals a few years back I didn’t like them; the paper wasn’t fountain pen friendly so I gave them away and that was that.  Recently, I saw a friend’s vast collection of limited edition Field Notes and realized that I couldn’t live without them.  Beyond the journals I have ventured out into some of their other products which brings me to the Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar.

The calendar features the same Futura Bold font as the journals and the chipboard backing has the typical sort of campy/amusing signage you expect from Field Notes.  For example, it states “No maintenance or special tools required.”  As the name suggests this calendar has 18 months starting November 2013 and ending with April 2015.

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (front)
Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (front)

The back of the chipboard features a list of “Real Big Days” including major holidays and the dates of (random) historical events; here is a sample of the dates:

Mar 22: “Leonard ‘Chico’ Marx, hat-wearing comedian (b. 1887)”

May 1 : “1982 World’s Fair opens in Knoxville, Tennessee (1982)”

Jun 12 : “Dr. Cyclops begins filming in three-stage Technicolor (1939)”

The back also lists details about what was used in the manufacturing process.

Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (back)
Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar (back)

The calendar itself is very simple; the only real features are moon phases and holidays.  There isn’t much space to write in the date boxes so like the Field Notes journals you would buy this more for looks than for function.  The Field Notes 18-Month Work Station Calendar looks great and I am excited to use it at my desk.

fieldnotesbrand.com