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The Best Binder - 2021

Last updated on July 8, 2021
Best Binder

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Our Picks For The Top Binders

Show Contents
Our Take
  Best Overall

Cardinal Economy 3-Ring Binder, 12-Pack

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Cardinal

Economy 3-Ring Binder, 12-Pack

Overall Take

Great for Teachers or Large FamiliesIf you're searching for a budget-friendly binder set, this lot has you covered.

  Best Basic

Amazon Basics D-Ring Binder, 4-Pack

Amazon Basics

D-Ring Binder, 4-Pack

Overall Take

Large CapacityThe front and back covers on this binder are customizable.

  Earth-Friendly Option

Samsill Earth’s Choice Biobased 3-Ring Binder

Samsill

Earth’s Choice Biobased 3-Ring Binder

Overall Take

Biobased and Environmentally FriendlyFor those concerned about the environment but unwilling to sacrifice style and functionality, this set works well.

  Zips Closed

Case-It D-146 3-Inch Zipper Binder

Case-It

D-146 3-Inch Zipper Binder

Overall Take

Easy Closure, Plus TabsWhen you need a little more functionality, this easy-carry zippered option provides pockets and additional features.

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Guide written by Danielle Smyth
Last updated on July 8, 2021

Binders can be indispensable organization and storage tools for academic, office or business use. These practical items have been around for over 150 years, and their design has not varied much over the years.

Binders differ by ring style and number, width, number and type of pockets and color, as well as some smaller details. For example, some have a hole in the spine to make it easier to remove them from crowded shelves. The most common design features three round, evenly-spaced rings — but especially for larger binders, a D-shaped or slanted D-shaped ring design is common as well. This design makes it easier to turn to specific pages when the binder contains a large number of documents.

When selecting a binder, consider the materials, as well as what size and ring design is appropriate. Binders come in sizes ranging from half an inch thick to four inches and are commonly made of plastic. Some of these plastics may be plant-based or otherwise eco-friendly, which gives options to the environmentally conscious. Most binders also contain a chipboard inside the vinyl or plastic covers, though some are simply made of thick material.

Another consideration is the customizability of the binder. Many binders come with clear plastic pockets on the front, back and spine. These can be easily labeled or customized by inserting printed paper into the pockets. You may wish to color-code your binders, too.

The Best Binders

1
  Best Overall

Cardinal Economy 3-Ring Binder, 12-Pack

Get the school year started off right with this set of binders. Each of the 12 included binders are capable of holding up to 225 pages; however, sets with a large spine are available if you think you'll need to store more than that. Additional features that make this set of binders a top pick include two interior pockets, a durable spine and a reinforced cover hinge.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Cardinal
Model
2
  Best Basic

Amazon Basics D-Ring Binder, 4-Pack

Thanks to the 2-inch spine on this binder, you'll be able to store up to 500 sheets of paper. The set includes a total of four binders, each of which is lightweight for easy transport. You can use the binders to keep track of your school work, or organize a presentation for work or to store your favorite family recipes.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Amazon Basics
Model
3
  Earth-Friendly Option

Samsill Earth’s Choice Biobased 3-Ring Binder

This set of binders is a USDA Certified Biobased Product, thanks to at least 59% bio-based content such as recycled fiber and renewable plastic. These binders keep papers organized with archival-safe, PVC-free and non-stick materials.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Samsill
Model
4
  Zips Closed

Case-It D-146 3-Inch Zipper Binder

A durable cloth cover and full-length zipper protect your papers in this practical and versatile binder. With a additional pockets on both the interior and exterior as well as a shoulder strap, this is a multi-functional organization solution.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Case-It
Model
5
  High-Capacity Pick

AVERY 17838 500-Sheet Capacity Binder

This classic binder features durable hinges made to last. The pliable edges resist tearing and splitting. A slant-ring design accommodates up to 500 pages of paper without undue strain. A smooth film finish and linen pattern add texture.

Features


Specifications

Brand
AVERY
Model
6

Antner A6 PU Leather 6-Ring Binder

A soft and smooth exterior and magnetic closure make this binder stand out. The six-ring design is suitable for A6 paper or envelopes, and the two pen loops and multiple internal pockets provide additional organization and storage.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Antner
Model
7

Wilson Jones Basic 3-Ring Binder

This high-capacity binder features materials without PVC and uses chipboard that is 100% recycled, with 75% from post-consumer waste. Transparent pockets on front, back and spine make this storage book fully customizable.

Features


Specifications

Brand
Wilson Jones
Model

Our Binder Buying Guide

Binders can be indispensable organization and storage tools for academic, office or business use. These practical items have been around for over 150 years, and their design has not varied much over the years.

Binders differ by ring style and number, width, number and type of pockets and color, as well as some smaller details. For example, some have a hole in the spine to make it easier to remove them from crowded shelves. The most common design features three round, evenly-spaced rings — but especially for larger binders, a D-shaped or slanted D-shaped ring design is common as well. This design makes it easier to turn to specific pages when the binder contains a large number of documents.

When selecting a binder, consider the materials, as well as what size and ring design is appropriate. Binders come in sizes ranging from half an inch thick to four inches and are commonly made of plastic. Some of these plastics may be plant-based or otherwise eco-friendly, which gives options to the environmentally conscious. Most binders also contain a chipboard inside the vinyl or plastic covers, though some are simply made of thick material.

Another consideration is the customizability of the binder. Many binders come with clear plastic pockets on the front, back and spine. These can be easily labeled or customized by inserting printed paper into the pockets. You may wish to color-code your binders, too.

DWYM Fun Fact

There is some debate and confusion on the exact origin of the paper binder. Two patents were filed in 1854 by an American, Henry T. Sisson: one for a two-ring binder, and one for a three-ring binder. However, the first ringed binder appeared in Germany a few years later, in 1886, from an inventor named Friedrich Soennecken. In the U.S. the first binder wasn’t available for purchase until 1899, from the Chicago Binder and File Company.

The first binders to be sold came with just two rings and were made with a cardboard binding. Soon, binders were largely standardized to the most common three-ring configuration and have remained that way for more than 100 years. However,  in some areas other configurations are more common. For example, a paired four-ring configuration is popular in Sweden.

The Binder Tips and Advice

  • Make sure the ring configuration matches the size, shape and position of the holes in your paper or the hole puncher you plan to use. While the standard three-ring binder is most common, there are a variety of other styles.
  • For additional organization, some binders include pockets, expanding files, or other storage solutions.
  • There are also binder inserts for sale that can hold your writing utensils, cards or other small items.
  • Look for acid-free non-stick materials that won’t imprint ink from the paper contained inside.