The Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is a notebook cover/organiser on steroids. It costs anything from €69 to the equivalent of a small house, depending on your configuration (more on that later). The one I’m reviewing here cost €109.
The Taschenbegleiter has a huge number of options. So many, in fact, that Roterfaden provide a TASCHENBEGLEITER KONFIGURATOR.
The Konfigurator is fatal to your wallet.
Here is what happens: you visit the page and you start looking at all the different options. You start off cheap, configure it just how you want it, see what it now costs, blanch a little, re-configure, think that’s not too bad but it’s still a little too much, and then leave it.
The next day, you come back and play around with it a little more. After a few weeks of doing this, when you’re waking up in the middle of the night wondering if pocket combination 1 is more suitable to your needs than pocket combination 4, you come to terms with the fact that you are never going to get any peace until you buy one of the things.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now: there’s no escaping the fact that it isn’t cheap but when compared to similar products it’s priced similarly and it offers features that are hard to find anywhere else. This is what I’ve been telling myself, anyway (but a little research does suggest it’s true). A classic Filofax, for example, costs the same but is much more limiting in how it can be used.
First there are the sheer number of options.
Size: A4, A5 or A6
Cover: Leather (black, light brown, dark brown) or ‘Dancefloor’ (a sort of vinyl kind of thing) (black, pigeon blue, green, red)
Lining: Suede (dark grey) or felt (orange, red, turquoise, light grey, blue, fuchsia, dark grey, green)
Elastic (to hold it closed): two tone grey/black, black or red
Clips (more of which later): none, three or four
Five different ways of organising the pockets, including options that will hold tablets (iPad mini size with the A5; iPad size with the A4)
Plus an option to have text or an image embroidered on.
While a few options are only available in certain combinations, this is nevertheless enough to make anyone happy. Or mad. Or madly happy. And if it’s not enough for you then you can contact Roterfaden for additional options (such as a larger pen loop).
This is what I got: A5, dark brown leather cover, orange (of course) felt lining, pocket combination 4, standard elastic, three clips.
In my work I go to a lot of meetings and I take a lot of notes. Many of these notes are confidential but need to be kept. The system that works best for me is to take these notes on an A5 Rhodia notepad, tear the page off when I get back to the office, scan it and then shred the note. I wanted a nice leather cover for the notepad. Also, being out and about quite a lot, I liked the idea of having a mobile office: a notepad, a notebook or two, pens and pencils which, combined with my phone, would let me get on with most jobs wherever I might fine myself.
With my particular Taschenbegleiter I can stick an A5 Rhodia notepad in the back pocket. (I need to trim about 1/8” from the side of the cardboard backing.) I keep an Inspiration Pad, two notebooks (one linked to projects, one for planning and thinking and working out), some plastic pockets (in which I keep Nock Co index cards to use with the Chronodex system), a Nock Co Lookout tucked into a front cover along with a ruler/etc set, and finally some business cards.
With this lot in it’s quite fat but it copes perfectly. It’s just a shame the Inspiration Pad sticks out a little but that’s no-one’s fault. The Clairefontaine Age Bag notebook I have in there is quite a chunky and heavy notebook but the clips cope with it without any problems.
The clips are really quite fantastic. They fold over to keep just about anything in place. I fold papers and tuck them in. Notebooks, big and small, stay put. Roterfaden have done a good job with these: it’s as easy as anything to swap paper and notebooks in and out but once in they just stay put. Most organisers use proprietary systems which tie you into the manufacturer’s own products. This can be expensive and limiting. Roterfaden’s clips work with just about anything.
The elastic is nice and stretchy so expands to hold even my bloated Taschenbegleiter together. The pen loop will hold a slim pen securely in place. I don’t use it much because it’s on the outside and I don’t want my pens banging about on desks and in my bag.
I found the cover to be a little disappointing. It’s a soft suede type leather and I wanted something a little less suedey and a little more leathery. That’s my personal preference of course but it’s a shame a classic leather cover isn’t an option. It also picks up marks and oils from skin and from your hastily eaten working lunch. I don’t mind this, myself, and think that over time the leather could well develop character and become something lovely (though not MTN lovely).
The felt lining is good. A nice bright orange and stronger than you might expect felt to be. It’s had a lot of use and hasn’t shown any signs of fraying at all.
The overall quality is extremely high. This isn’t going to fall apart before I do.
I’m very happy with my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. It is expensive but it’s comparable to similar products. The Taschenbegleiter is a workhorse. It has a job to do: it has to keep all my stuff together for me and make it easy for me to use. It does that job perfectly.
You can find some more reviews of the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter on Pennaquod.