The Crazy Suburban Mom: Filofax Shootout: A5 Finsbury vs. A5 Malden

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Filofax Shootout: A5 Finsbury vs. A5 Malden

I use both my A5 Filofaxes.  I only use one at a time but switch back and forth so my  posts show both of them in use.  I had a request for a comparison and decided to do it because while there are similarities in design there are subtle differences worth considering before a purchase.

Both are in Filofaxes current line and available.  Although they don't make the emerald green finsbury it comes in some wonderful colors.  It's currently selling for US $99.


The Finsbury has a very wide color line, I think only the Domino's have had more variety.  You can still find discontinued colors on eBay and some are very coveted (Think: Aqua!)

The Malden line is currently available for US $145 but for me the colors are a bit of a downer.  I really like the clear, bright rainbow that is the Finsbury line.  


The Finsbury leather is described as 'soft cow leather printed with a traditional "rambling" grain' and the Malden leather is described as 'Vintage-look buffalo leather.'   There are a lot of strong opinions on the Malden leather regarding how much it feels like leather .   I don't mean the way natural leather varies but more like is it even leather at all?

I've seen some described very leather-like with a  natural,  soft  finish while other descriptions seem to show a more synthetic 'hand' and overall appearance.

malden vs. finsbury

Mine definitely has a Naugahyde vibe.

The A5 Malden is listed at 9 1/4" x 7 3/4" with six 1" rings while the Finsbury is 9 1/4" x 8" with six 1 1/4" rings.   I took a picture to show the difference in the width.  Just an FYI I haven't noticed a difference in ring size so, hmmm.  Don't know about this.

malden vs. finsbury

The front inside covers are similar; both have a zip pocket, a longer slide pocket (two on the Malden) and horizontal credit card slots.   

malden vs. finsbury

Both layouts are useful  (although many people prefer vertical card slots) but the Finsbury's stiffness make all the slots less useful.  

malden vs. finsbury

The zipper pocket on the finsbury is under the front side pen loop and it's hard to get things in and out.  I don't think the problem is the pen loop but the absence of gusseting on the pocket.  It's so tight there's almost no point in having this feature because it doesn't really provide any space.  Even putting flat things in there is a chore.  

malden vs. finsbury

The same goes for the slide pocket.  

malden vs. finsbury

While many people don't like the floppy factor of the Malden this flexibility makes the binder space much more usable.  Zipper sections open much wider...

malden vs. finsbury

As do the slide pockets.

malden vs. finsbury

The Malden has the same leather inside and out while the Finsbury has a coordinating fabric.   The only issue with that is fabric wears faster and stains are harder to remove.   Also the fabric isn't the same quality as the early Filofax fabric which looked classier and wore better.  Over the years these quality details have deteriorated quite a bit and the internal fabric areas on the Malden feel quite course when compared to say, my Personal Portland from decades back.

The pen loops on both are all leather.  The Malden's front side pen loop is quite large.  My Lamy pen fits without stretching which is impressive.  The Finsbury's loops are all much smaller.  (My Finsbury was bought used and is an older model.  It's possible they changed the pen loop size on the newer one's...)

malden vs. finsbury

Both had the Filofax 'F' on the spine and they are similar widths.  Both have contrasted stitching which is much less noticeable on the Finsbury because of the color variations in the binder.   I know a lot of people like the contrasting color on the Malden but I'm not a huge fan.  It gives the planner a more casual vibe and I don't think it adds anything to the design but I realize this is a very personal preference.

malden vs. finsbury

The back inside cover of both have a notepad slot but I don't use one in either.  The back Finsbury pocket has the same problem as the front.  Much too difficult then it should be to get things in and out.  It really is suited for just a notepad that stays put.  Since I don't use one, it's a bit of a bummer.

malden vs. finsbury

The Malden being a much softer material allows for maximum stuffage.   In the Finsbury you can add a few items if you want too but with the Malden you can easily overfill it and  still see what you have in there and get stuff out.  

Overall, I'm a fan of both although neither is without design and materials issues.  The Finsbury line is much more appealing to me in many ways but because of the flexible nature of the Malden it's so much more usable. 

 I'm a much bigger fan of the Finsbury Leather and colors but ultimately  it's the Malden's usable space that tips the scale for me.   Since both are similar in overall and ring size it's the  subtle differences in how useful the other features are that point me in the Malden's direction.  Pretty is great but ultimately what  I'm buying is a tool to organize my life not a fluffy part dress. 


The Perpetual Student TPS 10/10/12, 11:40 AM  

What if they made the Malden in emerald green...? ;b

Tracy Reinhardt 10/10/12, 2:26 PM  

Kate, now there's a great idea!

MTMTE 10/10/12, 5:35 PM  

Oooh, Malden in emerald green...hello heaven, it's nice to meet you ^_^

Tracy Reinhardt 10/12/12, 12:46 PM  

MTMTE - Its the best color! I really love it - I have a blazer in the same color and just showed it to a person who said it looked like something someone wears to play golf! I get it, it kinda does but I just love that color


Rich 10/15/12, 6:47 AM  

I'd like a Malden in a midnight blue colur!

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