I've been a planner girl for almost a year now, so it stunned me to find out that Paperchase has their own line of planner binders that I had never heard of. I was vaguely familiar with the Paperchase brand, having seen folks post about them in various Facebook groups, but I'd been under the impression that they were just a stationery store who happened to carry Filofax. Turns out that isn't the case!
They make some gorgeous planner binders (which they call organisers - and be sure to spell it with an S or your search won't turn up results.) There's still an overabundance of floral & butterfly themes, but at least they've got some options that aren't pastel. There are A5, personal / A6, and pocket sizes available; however, not every design comes in every size, so be sure to check your options before making a purchase.
I picked up this exquisite binder covered with a patchwork of vintage maps. I'm a sucker for historical cartography and when I noticed that one of the maps even features my beloved Pacific Northwest, I knew I had to have it! It was on sale for $30, down from $43. With just $6 for shipping, it's a solid option for planner girls like me whose budget doesn't extend to more expensive brands.
Did I mention there's a whole line of matching accessories? Yep. I didn't buy anything additional, but if you're into coordinated office supplies, the chance is there.
All in all, I think this is a solid planner purchase that's well worth its sale price, but I wouldn't pay full price for it. Let's take a look at why.
The binder is covered & lined with leather. The outside is printed with the maps, and the interior is a dark grey-blue. The feel of the leather under my fingers isn't as soft or as supple as that of the Carpe Diem line from Simple Stories; I'm a little bummed about that, but that's personal pickiness. The quality is just fine for the price.
There's also a definite chemical smell when I open up the box. In my experience, that'll dissipate within a few days of being out in the open air, but if you're particularly sensitive to scents, watch out.
There's a quarter-inch leather pen loop inside the closure strap. I'm not used to using a pen loop that isn't elastic, so I'll be curious to see how it holds up (and holds in.) There are a couple of minor dings to the leather of the interior, though, so if flaws are a thing that bother you, you'll want to check one out in person before buying.
The closure clasp isn't a snap but a magnet, which surprised me. On the one hand it's a smart way to avoid the problem of snaps wearing out with use... on the other hand, the magnet may not be strong enough to hold things closed if you like to stuff your planner to the brim.
There are six card slits inside the front cover as well as an ID pocket with a clear window. Both the front and back covers have horizontal pockets where stickers or other papers can be stored, and the back cover also includes a vertical pocket if you like to carry an additional notepad.
The binder comes with seven dividers in black, grey, and white. Three are pre-labeled: Diary, To Do, and Meetings. The other four have blank tabs, and there's a sheet of tab stickers included so that you can label the dividers as you like. Unfortunately the pre-printed stickers only come in black and grey, so they won't match if you put them on a white divider tab.
The paper quality is categorically dreadful. It's thinner even than basic 24lb copy paper - so thin, in fact, that even pencil ghosts through to the other side of the page (and leaves divots in the paper to boot!) Unless you've got a light hand, you'll want to replace these inserts immediately with something sturdier.
If you do want to use the inserts, the planner comes with a Personal Data sheet (name, address, phone number, and emergency contact info) as well as month-at-a-glance planner sheets (useful if you're into bullet journaling) and horizontal daily sheets for July 2016 through June 2017. As an added bonus there are 10 sheets each of To Do checklists and Meetings notes.
There is also a nice little Today notepad in one of the front slots, similar to the kikki.K binders. The paper quality is garbage on this too, but it doesn't matter as much for brief disposable notes. I'll still use it. Your mileage may vary.
The findings inside the binder are silver-toned, with 1-1/4" rings. The rings are nicely tight and smoothly manufactured, so there are no edges to catch your pages on as they turn. The rings do feel a bit more difficult to snap open than other planners I've owned; I'll have to update later if that changes with regular use.
One thing that does concern me is that the rings don't appear to be attached to the book board interior of the binder - only to the leather of the lining. As a person who often turns her binder upside down to let the pages hang evenly before I close it, I worry that the rings may come loose and eventually fall right out of the binder this way. But, as with the rings, it will take some regular use to determine whether it will be a problem or not.
Overall, I'm personally happy with my purchase. The binder is sturdy, the rings are exceptional, the pattern of the cover is just gorgeous, and since I design my own inserts anyway, the crummy paper quality isn't the end of the world. $30 for a genuine leather planner binder is a great deal.
That said, the inserts are useless, and that earns Paperchase a pretty big black mark in my book. If a company's whole business is stationery, I expect better paper quality. As a customer I don't want to pay full price for a product that's only half functional. So while I do recommend Paperchase organisers at sale prices, I wouldn't recommend them at regular price.