I, like many of my fellow geeks loved the weeks leading up to school. Granted, we knew school meant plenty of negatives, homework, gym class, the jerk from 3rd period who kept trying to copy your answers for every quiz, and all that. However, school supply shopping was pretty great, and for me, it didn’t get much better than 6th - 8th grade at Marlton Middle School. Two words, Trapper Keeper! In the late 80’s and early 90s’ a Trapper keeper was the best school supply ever. A binder, organizer, writing implement carrier, and, by mid school year, something to stab at with your pen until the plastic tore. Now, it’s 2014. We live in a digital world my 11 year old self couldn’t dream of. A random search online revealed to me that Trapper Keeper is back, and, to quote a Twitter reply, “fresher than ever”.
Fortunately, my local Target had the goods, and I came home with the binder, 2 notebooks, 2 folders, and a pack of dividers. The whole deal (along with a sweet “Avengers” pencil pouch cost around 12 bucks. The binder is only $6, but the binder comes completely empty. Nary a notebook or folder comes with it. I definitely did miss getting some folders and a pad of paper inside, but not the end of the world.
Looking at the binder first, they have kept the font! My wife and I were both thrilled about this. It screams nostalgia, and retro 80’s chic! Color-wise, they had blue, red, green, and purple. While I miss the radical graphics of the 80’s versions (that knock-off Ferrari image was my favorite of all time), I can appreciate them going with a bold color with a blending dot pattern. It’s pretty simple, and it works. All of the add-in pieces, the notebooks, planners, folders, and dividers feature the same style and color (though the dividers get a surprise which I’ll discuss later).
No more Velcro. Now’s it’s a button to open to keep your precious science notes and notebook secure. I’m not happy about this.
- First, I miss the tactile feedback the Velcro gave. It was very satisfying to open.
- Second, trying to center the button is aggravating, though it snaps and unsnaps in with a solid click.
- Third, the Velcro had a dual purpose, as you could use it to adjust your Trapper Keeper based on whether you had a lot of stuff in it or a little.You weren’t stuck at a predetermined distance, unlike the button. Due to the single button design, the flap bends around circumference of the button depending on how you hold it. I’d worry about things sliding out due to this if they aren’t bound in.
The binder ring is 1”, which may or may not be okay, depending on how many classes you have and how much stuff you need to shove inside. (It may make sense to own 2, one for morning classes, and one for afternoon. Or swap as needed.
Original Trapper Keepers would come with a notepad on the back, that was held in place with a clip that also held a pen or pencil above it, much like a clipboard. That piece of functionality (which was good for quick notes and general doodling) is gone and in place of it you have a folder pocket. I’d rather have the clipboard. You always wound up having a pen or pencil on you, and if you left your notebooks at home due to studying, you still had some paper on you. Seems like a cost cutting measure.
The left side of the binder has another pocket. I hope these are tougher than the “swiss cheese” pocket the original ones had, which tore too easily.
One of the biggest changes is on the Trapper Keeper folders and notebooks. A yellow band of hard plastic is on each, called the Snapper Trapper. It has 3 holes which match up with the holes of the binder. Basically the Snapper Trapper allows you to remove and insert notebooks, folders, and dividers without having to open the binder itself. It’s a nice idea, especially for when you are sitting in class. The plastic is stiff, but flexible. While I haven’t tried it millions of times, I think they will hold their shape.
The design of the notebooks are nice. The covers of each one doubles on the inside as a folder as well. Paper-wise, it feels like your normal single subject notebook paper. The spacing is 9mm, and each page is perforated, making for nice clean tears.
At first glance, except for Snapper Trapper integrated into the folder, they look like standard folders, where you slide in your papers from the sides. If you look at the tops and bottoms though, you will see a section that pops out the more you put in papers. This is a great feature. It allows for more sheets to be placed in without worrying about the glue coming undone on the folder, or putting too much stress and just tearing the folder apart with your amazing essays on “The Biology of the Dung Beetle”. It works, and it works well.
The dividers? They divide things. They come in a 5 pack, with the aforementioned blue, red, green, and purple. Then, to shake things up, we get a black one! They have nice angled tabs built into them, with each color being a different height, making dividing up your classes simple. The tabs also have plenty of space to write which subject that tab is for.
A caveat to the Snapper Trapper. While the notebooks have the yellow band as an addon to the notebook (you can break the Snapper Trapper and still put the notebook into the binder), folders and dividers have it as the only way to insert it. If they break, you are buying a new folder or divider.
Fortunately, you can still use the binder like a normal binder, and regular notebooks and folders with the appropriate holes will fit fine. The only problem with that is then your non-Trapper Keeper notebooks sit slightly short, and should probably be at the top of the stack (or use only Trapper Keeper ones).
Like I said, I bought a pencil pouch with the Trapper Keeper. Due to the lack of any way to hold a writing implement, and since the binder comes empty, you will need to get one.
There’s one thing I really appreciate it about the entire setup. It’s very utilitarian. There’s no odd “tablet holder” or anything awkward like that. This thing is meant to hold notebooks, planners, folders, and writing implements, and that’s it. Too often we see companies feel this need to try and incorporate everything, when it’s not needed. It’s nice for Mead to know that they are sticking to what works well in the system, and not clog it up with garbage.
Overall, this system is awesome. While there are some changes I’m not thrilled with (I’m looking at you button!), overall it’s still as good as it was 15+ years ago. While kids may be using tablets or laptops, it’s good to know that they can still store their random papers and notes like their parents did.