Trapper Keeper

Trapper Keeper

One of the keys to scholastic success is to stay organized. And, thanks to the folks at Mead, students from the 70s and 80s could count on a nifty little helper to keep all those notes and assignments in their proper place. Introduced in the late 70s, the Trapper Keeper quickly became the organizer of choice for millions of students, who still fondly remember filing away their school work into the confines of this handy device.

The Trapper Keeper was designed to work more efficiently than the standard 3-ring binder of yesteryear. Metal rings were replaced by plastic sliders, which held the Trappers in place. Trappers were a Mead-designed folder, unique in that they were connected in three areas to the binder, the spine, the bottom and the top, helping to prevent fly-away papers from falling out unexpectedly and scattering across the floors of classrooms, hallways, school buses, etc.

A Trapper Keeper usually also included an enclosure for pencils and other supplies, all held together by a snap fastener in the early years, later replaced by space-age Velcro. Of course, by the end of the school year, it wasn’t unusual for the pencil bag to fall apart from wear and tear, and for the Velcro to lose its cling. Even the plastic sliders would eventually break, necessitating the purchase of a new Trapper Keeper each year.

That was okay, though, for Trapper Keepers were produced in such a wide assortment of designs that, by the time one was worn out, you already had your eye on a spiffy new replacement. Some were a solid color, others had geometric designs and patterns. You could even find a Keeper with your favorite animal, cartoon character, or other pop icon. And, if none of those designs suited you, a Trapper Keeper was easily customizable. Simply cut a slit in the clear plastic exterior and you could insert whatever artistic masterpiece your little heart desired.

Trapper Keepers are still produced by Mead to this day, but they are not a must-have school supply like they were in decades past. Back then, you simply weren’t cool if you didn’t have a Trapper Keeper, and you were probably less organized than your peers.

If you replaced your 3-ring binder with a Trapper Keeper back in the day, we’d love to hear your recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to a school supply that was both practical and a fashion statement, and, as such, is fondly remembered to this day by millions of former students.

4 Responses to “Trapper Keeper”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. jennifer harris says:

    I had one as a 4th,3rd grader.

  2. Wil says:

    I remember when my Middle School banned Trapper Keepers, because the plastic sliders simply broke way too quickly. Of course we were not happy with this. but what are you going to do because if you got caught with one it was confiscated.

  3. Emily says:

    I thought they made those with magnets in later years, because of the issue with the plastic slider breaking too quickly, as Wil said. Anyway, I never had one, but I did have a Le Kitt pencil case–does anyone remember those?

  4. Robin says:

    I lusted after the Trapper Keeper with the horse (the very one in the picture above!). I remember very distinctly that they had limited popularity (at least at my school). They went from cool to lame in about a year. After the initial excitement had died down, only nerds used them. I gave up using mine when one day my brother grabbed mine out of my hands at the bus stop, tossed it into the air, and ALL of my schoolwork came flying out of it and blew all over the street. I was humiliated and my Trapper was broken. I’m so glad you only have to go through middle school once. LOL.

Leave a Reply to Emily Cancel reply