When it comes to everyday carry, there is always a measure of gear that can be viewed as somewhat optional to carry. For instance, you aren’t always going to need a pair of sunglasses on your person — be that because it’s a cloudy day or because you’re going out at night. However, there are a few core pieces of EDC gear we believe everyone should have in their pockets at all times. And while an argument could be made against hauling a folding knife or portable charger, there is one piece of gear virtually nobody can go without on any given day: the wallet.
Selecting the right wallet for you, however, can be a remarkably daunting task. In fact, the ubiquitousness of this piece of EDC gear and the thousands, if not millions of options on the market makes narrowing down your choices all the more difficult. Even if you only have a handful of reputable brands you’re willing to trust, that can still leave your search results in the tens of thousands. However, we’ve had the good fortune to get our hands on ten of the most spectacular wallets available on the market today and took a deep dive into what makes each of them so special in the following guide covering the best wallets for EDC.
Table of Contents:
1. The Evolution of the Wallet
2. Which Wallet Is Right For You?
3. The Importance of Construction
4. Alternative Features
5. Does RFID-Blocking Matter?
6. Recycled Firefighter The Fire Hose Sergeant
7. Aer Travel Wallet
8. Pioneer Molecule Cardholder
9. The Ridge Aluminum Wallet
10. Bellroy Phone Case
11. Dango T01 Tactical Wallet
12. Bellroy Hide & Seek
13. Tanner Goods Utility Bifold
14. Billykirk No. 263 Large Trucker Wallet
15. Veilance Casing Card Wallet
The 10 Best Wallets
Call it the meat and potatoes of our guide or the section you’ve all been waiting for — either way, these are our in-depth hands-on looks at ten of the best wallets available for purchase right now. Whether you’re a modern jet-setter with a penchant for ultra-tough nylon or a minimalist with sustainability on the brain, you’ll find the perfect cash- and card-carrying wallet below.
Recycled Firefighter The Fire Hose Sergeant
Best Front Pocket Wallet
Founded by an actual firefighter — a 12-year veteran, no less — Recycled Firefighter offers a pretty unique prospect: everyday carry gear (as well as accessories and bags) crafted from upcycled materials that include genuine retired firehouse, military boot leather, and mil-spec nylon. Their flagship product, the Sergeant front pocket wallet, promises to slim down your carry without sacrificing on durability and quality, but still offers peace of mind to those concerned with sustainability.
Form: It’s one thing to be aware that this wallet is meant to be slipped into a front pocket and another to actually get it in your hands. That is to say, it’s remarkably small — small enough that those with larger hands could literally fit it in their palm. In spite of its size, however, it feels quite formidable and you’d likely have to put it through some serious punishment to even leave a scratch.
The firehose exterior is rough in texture, but it’s curbed by stitched edges — which feel like nylon and are much softer — and has a small label attached at the front and an elastic cash strap on the rear side. Our one big complaint therein is that the stitching does seem a little inconsistent and there are a couple of loose fibers at the interior. Aside from that, we can’t be too mad at the overall juxtaposition between its compact size and substantial toughness.
Function: Truly designed for minimalism, the Fire Hose Sergeant has only two storage options in total: one main slot that’s large enough for a stack of cards and a rear-mounted cash strap for a small wad of bills. Regarding the main compartment, the wallet is a bit stiff but not especially tight. If we had only one card to carry, we might be worried that it could fall out. However, more than four can make for a bit of a struggle trying to get them in and back out again. Over time, we suspect it would loosen up and not cause too much fuss — but the sweet spot out of the gate seems to be 3-4 cards.
The cash strap can fit numerous folded-in-half bills horizontally (“hamburger style”) but, unlike the card slot, we’re less concerned with a single bill coming loose unintended. And while the elastic allows for a greater number of bills, we wish it were possible to fit the bills in vertically to keep them from peeking over the sides of the wallet. Still, that’s more of a nit-picky concern than a genuine issue.
Verdict: Small enough to easily stash in a front pocket and, thus, catering better to modern fashion and men who don’t want to mess up their spines with a thick back-pocket wallet, Recycled Firefighter’s Sergeant wallet is a veritable steal at just $29 apiece. It’s not without issues — like inconsistent craftsmanship — and it’s better suited to someone that only needs a couple of cards and some cash, rather than those with a full load of credit cards, identification, and business cards. However, if you’re looking to slim down your EDC without sacrificing durability, you’re going to have a hard time managing that at this (or any) price point better than Recycled Firefighter.
Recycled Firefighter The Fire Hose Sergeant
A slim front-pocket wallet made from actual retired firehose fabric.
- Super Slim
- Inconsistent Craftsmanship
- Limited Capacity
Aer Travel Wallet
Best Travel Wallet
Though still quite young as a brand, Aer has solidified their place amongst some of the best everyday carry and travel brands in the world thanks to their unique combination of sound minimalist design principles and a penchant for superb materials. Their travel wallet is definitely no exception and slots in quite well with the rest of their suite of offerings, while still being interesting enough to stand apart.
Form: Seeing as how this bifold travel wallet was designed to hold a full-sized American passport, a larger silhouette was definitely a necessity. But that doesn’t mean that its size isn’t a bit daunting. Still, the 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon exterior feels both tough-as-nails and pleasing to the touch. Not to mention, the ultra-soft microfiber liner is even more pleasing to the touch — we just hope it isn’t a magnet for static electricity, as is sometimes an issue with microfiber.
The exterior is as clean and minimalist as we could hope for out of an Aer Travel Wallet, marred only by a small Aer tag on the front side. Truly, the only issue we have with it is one that would be an issue with any wallet of this type: it’s just too big to fit into modern menswear pants pockets. However, if you have a bag of any kind or a jacket with larger storage options, finding a home for this cash and card carrier shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Function: While the exterior of the Aer Travel Wallet is impressively sleek, the interior is fully-featured — almost to the point of overkill. It isn’t overly busy, but we suspect that there is more space inside than most folks can make use of. That includes four dedicated card slots (large enough for two cards in each, but better suited to one), a small pocket behind the card slots accessible via a vertical slot toward the center fold (nice for hiding small items away from prying eyes), a passport-sized slot opposite the card slots, and a huge top-accessed center pocket with a divider down the middle.
The aforementioned center slot is far too large for American currency by nearly half, but it does make a suitable storage space for tickets — be they for a plane, train, or otherwise — which is sort of the point of a travel wallet anyhow. Finally, the whole thing is also padded and features RFID blocking technology — neither of which are essential or necessary, but both are welcome additions for security and comfort.
Verdict: Not that it was ever the intention, but this is definitely not a bifold you could use in your daily life — unless, of course, you travel for work every day. It is, however, one of the best-looking, easiest-to-manage, and best-constructed travel wallets we’ve ever had the pleasure of handling. If we had to pick a gripe, it would have to be that we’d likely never need all the space inside that it has to offer.
Aer Travel Wallet
Ballistic nylon passport-holding bifold made for jet-setting.
- Durable & Minimalist Exterior
- Easy To Keep Organized
- Too Big For Most Pockets
- Excessive Internal Storage
Pioneer Molecule Cardholder
Best Cardholder Wallet
Henry Lefens, the founder of Pioneer, has had a pretty spectacular career working in design for big-name brands that include Levi’s, Black Diamond, and more. But he left that life behind to helm his own everyday carry brand hinging on technical gear to replace bulky traditional materials like leather without sacrificing on quality or style. The brand offers a wide variety of wallets, but our favorite might just be the ultra-slim Molecule — which we got our hands on in two different construction materials, no less.
Form: The Molecule is one of the sleekest, slimmest, and most lightweight cardholder wallets we’ve ever gotten our hands on — measuring up just large enough to house credit cards and/or ID cards inside of it. The fabric — both the proprietary in-house-developed 10XD ripstop (which took a decade to develop) and the 3PN DWR nylon we got to test — are as pleasing to look at as they feel in the hand. They’re not exactly soft, but they aren’t rough, either, despite their very clear durability and toughness. The sturdiness of the fabric is compounded by bartack-reinforced stitching that makes these wallets seem as though they were built for decades upon decades of usage — which they were.
Complete with a front, back, and central storage slot, these purpose-driven minimalist wallets boast minimal branding and virtually no extraneous details — both details which we must assume come from Lefens’s long and successful career working with technical fabrics at the top level. Apart from that, there’s not much else to say about the appearance and silhouette of the Molecule, which (in this case) is a very, very good thing.
Function: Though the exterior fabrics feel moderately soft to the touch — at least as soft as a technical jacket or bag might feel — the wallet itself is actually quite stiff. And while a measure of that speaks to its sturdiness, it does come at a cost. That is to say, all three of the storage slots are equally stiff and, therefore, difficult to get cards and/or cash in and (more importantly) back out again.
It’s worth noting that, while these wallets are initially stiff, they are made to break in over time and morph to whatever it is you carry inside of them. Still, the first few attempts at getting our cards in and out were somewhat frustrating. There’s definitely something to be said for the security that offers, but it also makes speediness seem like a faraway dream. The center slot is also large enough for a small stack of folded-in-half USD bills, which are far less difficult to remove than the cards in the card slots.
Verdict: The only real issue with the Pioneer Molecule is its initial stiffness, which should lessen over time. All told, this wallet was a pleasure to try out in both available fabrics and feels like one of the most durable and substantial cardholders around, all while remaining remarkably slim and minimalist. If you’re the type to carry more than 4-6 cards and some cash, however, you may want to look elsewhere, as this is a minimalist option through and through.
Pioneer Molecule Cardholder
An ultra-sleek cardholder made from groundbreaking synthetic fabrics.
- Incredibly Slim & Thin
- Remarkably Durable
- Stiff Card Pockets
- Limited Cash-Carrying Capacity
The Ridge Aluminum Wallet
Best Modern Minimalist Wallet
When the minimalist wallets trend started some years ago, lots of craftsmen were trying to figure out the best way to slim down traditional materials and create wallets with a smaller footprint. Then, in 2013, The Ridge exploded onto the scene and set a new standard for minimalism by using non-traditional wallet materials — namely, metal. Now, they’re a staple of the EDC world and their flagship aluminum wallet is still as relevant as ever.
Form: Of all the minimalist wallets we’ve come across, this is one of the few that truly has virtually the same footprint as a credit card. Truly, rest a credit card atop it and you can see for yourself that they’re, for all intents and purposes, the same size. Granted, it’s a lot thicker — the result of using twin aluminum plates as the basis for its construction — but it’s still only a few millimeters thick and, thusly, a good deal slimmer than its leather competition. It’s also somehow even lighter than we anticipated, which bodes well for anyone with weight concerns.
There’s certainly a stiffness to the wallet — a symptom of the metal construction — which doesn’t allow for flexing when in your pocket. The good news therein is that it means all your cards are kept safe inside. The downside is that, at the right angle, it can jab into your leg while in your pocket. Thankfully, the corners are rounded so the discomfort is kept to a minimum. Pair that all with a sleek almost industrial design and it’s pretty easy to see what makes this wallet so popular.
Function: As is the case with many slim minimalist wallets, The Ridge is all about saving on space. As a result, the organizational options are practically nil. There are two storage options: one main interior slot that can hold a stack of up to 12 cards between the plates (held together with elastic bands that won’t loosen even when packed to the brim) and a back-mounted cash strap or money clip (your choice at the time of purchase). The money clip feels sturdier but has a higher profile, while the strap is slimmer but less secure — which is a choice you’ll have to reckon with on your own.
To access the main slot, there’s a small thumb slot cut into both plates that, in theory, allows users to simply slide the stored cards out. However, in trying to get a grip on the wallet, we’ve found that this is difficult to do one-handed, as the tighter you squeeze the wallet, the harder it is to slide the cards out. As such, you may find yourself using two hands to access your cards, which is a minor inconvenience but can prove frustrating.
Verdict: It is exceedingly clear based on our experience why The Ridge wallet is so popular — including its uniqueness, sheer minimalism, and expandability (a purchase even includes a Torx driver for maintenance and adding in expansion screws to allow for carrying more than the standard 12 cards). A lack of organizational options is the tradeoff for its slimness and frankly tiny footprint, but that’s a compromise we think many modern folks will happily make in exchange for the benefits this wallet offers.
The Ridge Aluminum Wallet
A game-changing metal cardholder wallet made for modern EDC.
- Incredibly Small Footprint
- Clever Design & Materials
- Difficult To Access Cards
- Limited Organization
Bellroy Phone Case
Best Smartphone Wallet
Perhaps the youngest wallet type, phone case card carriers are still mostly in their infancy, as they’ve only been around a fraction of the time that modern smartphones have existed. Still, there are some brands that have taken a dive into their creation with spectacular results. Australian brand Bellroy is one such brand and their Phone Case (we got our hands on the standard iPhone 11 version) might just be the best of the bunch — as is the case with many of their offerings.
Form: As is outlined on the packaging, the Bellroy Phone Case is crafted from a combination of environmentally-certified leather and polymer. That leather exterior looks spectacular and the polymer frame offers quite a bit of rigidity — which is a welcome feature for a non-folding smartphone. The bumpers wrap around the phone well and all the buttons, ports, camera, and speakers are still accessible and unblocked.
It is a bit on the thick side of the spectrum — a symptom of the fact that it’s designed to hold a trio of cards (credit and/or ID) — but freeing up your pockets from the burden of both a wallet and phone is worth the extra bulk, which makes it seem quite minor in the grand scheme of things.
Function: This phone wallet has a number of hidden talents. First and foremost, there’s a magnetically-sealed door on the backside that has space for a trio of cards and can close completely even when fully-loaded. Those cards are also easily accessed — meaning they’re not difficult to retrieve — but are also not at risk of falling out accidentally, thanks to the secure magnet door. Furthermore, when open, the door functions as a kickstand, so users can prop up their phone on a flat surface — which is a handy if unnecessary addition.
There is also an additional duo of hidden storage slots inside the case itself — one for a SIM card and another for a pin to assist with removing SIM cards. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated space for cash, though you could conceivably fit a couple of bills behind your phone inside the case. The microfiber lining is also a nice touch, as it helps ensure your tech isn’t getting scratched up inside the case.
Verdict: If you’re looking to slim down your carry to the bare essentials, this phone case could end up becoming your new favorite piece of EDC gear. However, it does suffer from a glaring and unavoidable issue: it’s only useful so long as you own a phone that fits inside it. However, the cleverness, craftsmanship, and bonus features have the potential to make up for that issue, especially if you just got a brand-new phone that will be in your repertoire for the next couple of years.
Bellroy Phone Case
Wallet-replacing phone case made from premium leather & polymer.
- Eliminates Excess EDC Gear
- Beautiful & Durable
- Storage Limited To 3 Cards
- No Area For Cash Currency
Dango T01 Tactical Wallet
Best Tactical Wallet
Dango occupies a unique space in the everyday carry world in that their ethos encompasses dual facets of the EDC universe: both that of minimalism and the tactical. And that makes them stand out amongst the crowded gallery. Furthermore, they also build all their offerings — including the T01 Tactical wallet — right here in the USA, making them even more desirable to anyone with a flavor for American craftsmanship.
Form: The T01 is immediately a bit intimidating upon removing it from its tin case. It’s a bit heftier than some of its similarly-featured competition and the styling is undoubtedly aggressive and industrial. For those who appreciate military-styled gear, it’s certain to be a hit. Still, in spite of its tactical design, it’s still quite slim and definitely well-suited to front-pocket carry.
The construction hinges on an ultra-sturdy aerospace aluminum frame, an RFID-blocking plate, a leather exterior sheet, and a silicone band that holds them all together. The frame also features knurling on one corner for better grip and a cutout that exposes a part of the brand’s proprietary stainless steel multi-tool insert. Though fairly minimalist in its size and shape, the styling is still very tactical and will likely not suit those who prefer sleeker urban styling.
Function: This is where things get somewhat complicated. As mentioned above, the wallet has a sturdy frame with integrated bottle opener functionality, a silicone band, an RFID-blocking plate, and a leather pocket. It’s inside this leather pocket that one’s most frequently-used cards should be placed, however it’s really only suitable for 1-2 cards. The other 9-11 have to slide under the backside plate where the multi-tool insert is housed (and you’ll have to remove the multi-tool if you do intend to store 12 cards in total). The multi-tool actually clicks into place within the wallet — it was designed to slot into the gaps in the frame securely — and can be tricky to remove in a pinch. Furthermore, the silicone band also doubles as a quick-and-easy cash strap.
Removing the multi-tool insert drops the weight of the wallet significantly and makes it immediately TSA-friendly, which is great for travel. The tool itself — which is included with purchase — also offers 14 built-in functions that range from hex wrench slots to a saw blade edge and everything in-between. It’s cleverly designed and hugely useful for those with an interest in DIY fixes and maintenance, but the difficulty of removal and non-TSA-friendliness are both marks against it.
Verdict: Of all the wallets on our list, the Dango T01 Tactical wallet certainly qualifies as the most over-built. For some — like DIY enthusiasts and those with a flair for the tactical — this will be a huge boon. For others, the aggressiveness and heft might be a bit much. Still, the sheer utility and uniqueness of this front-pocket offering help it stand out like a bright shining light against a crowded gallery of other options.
Dango T01 Tactical Wallet
Both minimalist & tactical with an included removable 14+ function multi-tool.
- Nearly Indestructible
- Removable Multi-Tool Included
- High Learning Curve
- Very Aggressive Styling
Bellroy Hide & Seek
Best Slim Bifold Wallet
In the modern world, one in which gear of all kinds including everyday carry is slimming down more and more, the classic bifold is somewhat a dying breed. However, the folks at Bellroy have figured out a bit of a compromise in their Hide & Seek, offering a classically-featured bifold that’s much slimmer and easier to carry than its thicker counterparts. And that’s not all this cash and card carrier has to offer, as it boasts some handy hidden details.
Form: The Hide & Seek is undoubtedly a beautiful piece of everyday carry gear with sleek design lines and little-to-no extraneous details. Futhermore, and despite its traditional format, it’s also very slim — measuring up at just a few millimeters deep when empty. The leather exterior is also sleek and feels high-quality like you might find in a good pair of dress shoes, plus there is minimal branding — just Bellroy’s signature owl icon in the front lower right corner and a small brand of the company name on the inside.
The size and shape of this bifold are such that you could comfortably stash it in either a back or front pocket. The latter, however, might work better when the wallet isn’t fully loaded, as the more cards and cash inside, the thicker the wallet becomes. The stitching on both the exterior and interior is kept to a minimum and is done quite well, which speaks to Bellroy’s commitment to reducing waste wherever possible.
Function: With four card slots on the inside, a deeper card-sized coin slot accessed via the top-right interior, and a secondary hidden card pocket inside the cash compartment, you’d have to be the proud owner of far too many credit cards to fully load this bifold. Still, none of these pockets feel extraneous or excessive. Furthermore, the cash slot has a divider down the center for a bit of organization — making this a great slimmed-down option for those obsessed with order.
The name of the wallet, Hide & Seek, also directly references one of the wallet’s best features. You see, beneath a clever slender flap at the back of the cash compartment, there’s a final hidden pouch perfect for securing any small items (like a key) or folded papers away from prying eyes. While the wallet isn’t large enough for a passport, this hidden compartment does bode well for anyone looking to use it during domestic travel.
Verdict: If you like the idea of carrying a traditionally-featured bifold wallet, but you aren’t keen on the bulk, the Bellroy Hide & Seek wallet is definitely going to be a hit. Truly, it’s hard to find any fault with it other than those associated with bifolds in general. It’s even slimmer than most of its classic leather competition. Perhaps this is why this wallet is always in such high demand — and rightfully so.
Bellroy Hide & Seek
Modern slimmed-down take on the classic bifold with hidden features.
- Slim Yet Still Fully-Featured
- Handy Hidden Pocket
- Not Entirely Front Pocket-Friendly
- Thin But Maybe Not Thin Enough
Tanner Goods Utility Bifold
Best Classic Bifold Wallet
As mentioned, classic bifolds are on the decline — but they’re far from dead. In fact, if you’re a lover of superb craftsmanship and heritage-level materials, it’s still a fairly easy prospect to find a bifold wallet to suit. However, if you want one that’s really impressive and beautiful, you may want to turn your attention to the spectacular Tanner Goods Utility Bifold.
Form: From the minute you first pick it up, it’s clear that the Tanner Goods Utility Bifold screams heritage and character. The smell of the leather is intoxicating and the craftsmanship and care put into its construction are very clear. The natural color is pleasing and the fold is neither too stiff nor too loose.
Of course, there are downsides that are mostly unavoidable. Namely, the five stitched-together layers of leather make it quite thick — thicker than most of the other options on our list. But that’s the price you pay if you want to carry around a traditional leather wallet. Still, the thickness of this particular wallet is still slimmer than many other bifolds that are similarly featured, thanks to Tanner Goods limiting the materials down to the bare necessities. In fact, there’s not even a liner in the cash slot — and, frankly, it doesn’t need one.
Function: It’s hard to find fault in the functionality of this wallet, but it’s also difficult to say that it is doing anything special. Between the two sides of the wallet, there are four card slots (which fit a single card nicely but can stretch to accommodate two each), two “hidden” pouches behind the card slots (ideal for coins or a key), and a capacious card slot.
The stitching that holds the wallet together is also kept to a minimum, but it seems sturdy, even when tugged at and stretched. You can fit a good amount of cards and cash in this wallet, but that’s really all there is to it. Of course, that’s also a good deal better than the extraneous and excessive alternative — and the ability to carry your cards and cash over a long period of time is really all you should be asking out of a wallet anyhow.
Verdict: The Tanner Goods Utility Bifold is a beautifully-built heritage-level leather bifold that cuts down on the unnecessary elements of its predecessors without reducing its capacity or ability to haul. And while the minimalism is definitely a plus, there’s not much else to it. For those who appreciate classic bifolds, it is sure to be a hit. But if you’re looking for true minimalism and slimness, you may want to look elsewhere.
Tanner Goods Utility Bifold
Traditionally-styled bifold made from classic materials.
- Heirloom Materials & Construction
- Plenty Of Onboard Storage
- Too Thick For Front Pockets
- Not Ideal For Modern EDC
Billykirk No. 263 Large Trucker Wallet
Best Trucker Wallet
Also called long wallets, trucker wallets were first widely popularized in the 1950s as a purpose-driven tool. That is to say, long-haul truckers — at the time — carried a lot of cash on their person and normal folding wallets simply couldn’t properly contain the large wads of cash. As a result, these longer, non-folding versions — which were often paired with a wallet chain for security — were born out of necessity. Today, they’re still used by truckers, but have also become a staple of biker culture — and Billykirk’s No. 263 is one of the best around.
Form: Measuring up at 7.75″ across and 3.375″ tall, the Billykirk No. 263 is by far the largest wallet of the ones we’ve gotten our hands on. And because it doesn’t fold in half, that silhouette is as compact as this cash and card carrier gets. That means, to cope with the size, you’ll either need extremely deep pockets or somewhere else — like in a backpack — to keep your wallet.
Still, the craftsmanship and quality of the materials and hardware — harness grade leather and brass or nickel, respectively — are also abundantly apparent. It’s clear that the brand spent time on the design and considered the kinds of things a trucker or biker might need in the process. Better still, there are a couple of modern considerations that make this a much more credit card-friendly option than earlier options in the segment.
Function: If sheer capaciousness and organization are high on your list of requirements, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better wallet than this one. In fact — between the quartet of card slots (including one easily-accessible one on the backside of the wallet), a pair of cash pouches, and a third zippered pocket — you could fit the contents of several wallets inside of it and then some.
The wallet also features a pair of snap buttons, of which both close securely but are easy to snap back open — on a flap that closes over all three cash pouches. Furthermore, the zipper on the third, smaller, more-secure pouch opens and closes easily and without snags, which is good news if you use it for change or to stash anything you need to grab in a hurry. Our one big gripe is that, despite this being a trucker wallet, you have to specifically select and pay an extra $45 for an attached wallet chain — which is easy to miss when purchasing through their site and seems like a bit of an oversight considering the sheer size and purpose of this cash and card carrier.
Verdict: If you carry great quantities of cash or documents on your person or if you are, in fact, a trucker or biker yourself, this heritage-quality vessel is going to meet and perhaps exceed your expectations. However, the sheer size of the thing and the lack of a wallet chain anchor point without an additional/optional charge are both barriers to entry for anyone who doesn’t absolutely need a cash and card carrier of this size.
Billykirk No. 263 Large Trucker Wallet
Abundantly spacious cash & card carrier for truckers and bikers.
- Unrivaled Onboard Storage
- Exceptional Construction & Material Quality
- Extremely Large
- Extra Fee For Chain Attachment
Veilance Casing Card Wallet
Best Minimalist Bifold Wallet
For those unfamiliar, Veilance is actually an even higher-end sub-branch of Canadian technical outdoor brand Arc’teryx and primarily plays in the space between adventure-ready gear and high-end technical streetwear. Their gear is tough as nails, extremely minimalist, and quite expensive. While they mostly produce clothing, they do offer a small range of everyday carry gear, including their enigmatic and esoteric Casing Card Wallet that we had the good fortune to get our hands upon.
Form: Of all the wallets we’ve handled, the Veilance Card Casing Wallet, at least when unfolded, is by far the slimmest. In fact, at its thickest point, it’s only about as deep as two credit cards. It’s also completely free of any kind of stitching — created from tanned Horween leather made to Veilance’s proprietary specs — and has only two pockets and almost indiscernible branding on the inside surface.
When open, this wallet is still slim and small enough that you could feasibly fit it into your front pocket. However, even when folded in half (as was the intention of Veilance), it’s still remarkably slim and trim — meaning it could fit alongside all your other everyday carry with very little trouble. To say that this is ultra-minimalism at its finest is perhaps not doing this wallet justice. Our one issue: folding the wallet in half leaves somewhat unsightly creases along the inside edge.
Function: As mentioned, this wallet only has two internal slots, both of which are suited to carry 1-2 cards at most. A small stack of folded American currency could also fit into these slots, but the bills still out over the halfway mark, making it awkward to fold in half with the bills inside. If you can get away with just four cards or less and no cash, however, this is an exceptionally sleek and slim option that could be called peerless.
Perhaps to retain the quality of the Horween leather until the end-user has a chance to break it in, the Card Casing Wallet actually comes unfolded and flat. That means, once it arrives in your hands, you have to fold it in half for the first time. This does come with one downside: the wallet doesn’t want to stay folded, instead springing back open and flat. Because of the nature of the leather material, it will wear in over time and eventually be easier to keep folded in half. However, until that time, the springing open of the wallet could prove frustrating and may even be visible through the fabric of your pants as it tries to open while in your pocket.
Verdict: From an engineering and material standpoint, the Veilance Casing card wallet is completely unrivaled. Built from proprietary Horween leather and featuring no stitching of any kind, this wallet is certainly something to behold. However, it isn’t without frustrating tidbits, like the unsightly center crease, a lack of cash storage, and the fact that it doesn’t quite stay folded initially.
Veilance Casing Card Wallet
Stitchless proprietary Horween leather ultra-slim bifold cardholder.
- Remarkably Slender
- Utterly Minimalist
- Unsightly Creases
- Doesn't Stay Folded
The Evolution of the Wallet
From Coins To Cash To Cards
When it comes to everyday carry, there is probably no item more ubiquitous than the wallet. In fact, only the smartphone even comes close — though we suspect that smart devices will overtake the wallet over the course of the coming years and as our world continues down the path to becoming more digital. And while the purpose of a wallet is fairly obvious — e.g. a device that allows users to safely transport currency and personal information on their person securely — their form and functionality have actually evolved quite a bit over time.
The very existence of the wallet can be traced back to the creation of a distinct signifier of civilization: the invention of currency. Prior to the invention of currency, goods and services were simply traded for one another. However, roughly 5,000 years ago, the Mesopotamian shekel was created and replaced the barter system with a more standardized form of trade. Following the creation of coin currency, people needed a means of carrying these shekels around, and thus the purse was born.
Yes, you read that correctly. The first version of the wallet was actually the purse and, in fact, wasn’t a gendered piece of gear — meaning both men and women carried them. The earliest examples were little more than pouches into which someone could stash a handful of coins, sometimes with a cinch for closure purposes. Interestingly, purses would remain the primary form of currency carriers for thousands of years. In fact, the wallet as we know it today wouldn’t first peek its head out of the annals of history until the 1600s — around the same time that paper currency was becoming standardized.
Even then, the modern wallet — the version most like what we all carry today — wouldn’t come into being until the early 1900s. You see, prior to the 1920s, wallets were not meant to be pocketed. Rather, they were made to be attached to bags or on the outside of clothes and were a reflection of the person carrying them; the fatter the wallet, the more important the person. As WWII set in, however, textiles of all types became more scarce and, therefore, wallets became smaller and slimmer — more akin to those we know and carry nowadays.
Finally, over the course of the last couple of decades, wallets have seen another evolution begin to take hold — one of technological advancement. People are now carrying less cash, fewer cards, and relying more on the digital transfer of information via devices like smartphones and smartwatches. As such, wallets have become smaller and slimmer than ever and even have their own technology built into them, like RFID blocking or electronic wallets made to store cryptocurrency. And there’s no reason to think that this technological evolution won’t continue as the world becomes ever more digital.
Which Wallet Is Right For You?
The Six Major Formats
As mentioned, wallets have changed quite drastically over the course of history. And while some styles have come and gone or been repurposed, there are a few that have stood the test of time and others that have become staples of the everyday carry world. As is the case with all EDC gear, your wallet style of choice is going to depend on a number of factors — including, but not limited to your own personal style and tastes — but the information we have below outlining the six major formats currently en vogue could help shape your decision, as it will serve to illuminate the benefits, drawbacks, and more of the most common wallet types around.
Only a decade-or-so ago, bifold wallets dominated the market. To this day, they still may be the most popular and readily available style, though their previous dominance has waned some — due largely to increasingly available alternatives, the course of popular fashion, and a decrease in the necessity of carrying cash. This style of wallet is marked by its ability to fold in half — hence the name “bifold” — and occupies the space between trifolds and cardholder wallets.
Typically, these wallets feature a large central compartment accessed through the top in which a user would stash paper currency, a number of smaller card-sized slots on the interior at either side of the central fold, and — on occasion — a clear sleeve for an ID card. Obviously, there are variations depending on the design of a given wallet, but a good portion of these features can be found on most existing bifolds.
There are a number of names that describe this particular style — including cardholder, slim wallet, and front-pocket wallet. However, whatever they’re called, the basic idea behind them remains the same. Rather than featuring a folding design, cardholder wallets are typically a single, small, credit card-shaped pocket storage device. These vary a bit more in their format than other, more traditional wallet styles, but there are some commonalities between them.
For starters, cardholder wallets typically do not fold in any way — though some do have a flap that “closes” the wallet. Instead, the card and cash slots are accessible from one or both sides of the wallet or they have a central unorganized slot into which users can stash a stack of cards and/or cash. Furthermore, some don’t have a slot for cash at all. The greater purpose of these wallets is to keep their bulk to an absolute minimum, thus freeing up pocket space for other gear, allowing for front-pocket storage (which will save your back from wrenching with a thicker wallet in a back pocket), and offering an altogether sleeker and more quickly-accessible format.
The phone wallet is a relatively new invention that has really only been around for the last couple of decades maximum. And that’s because they hinge on a very specific and similarly-new piece of everyday carry technology: the smartphone. The idea behind the phone wallet is relatively simple — to integrate two of the most common forms of EDC gear and, thusly, save on overall occupied space — but the execution can vary widely, which is actually a benefit for those who like this style, as it means there are numerous options regarding both style and functionality.
As you might expect, these wallet types are fairly straightforward — typically comprised of a phone case with integrated card and cash storage — but there are some different common styles out there. The most minimalist of them is essentially a phone case with a couple of card slots added to the back of the case, allowing users to carry only the bare essentials (like a couple of credit cards and an ID). There are also larger format options — those that close like a large bifold on which one side is the phone case and the other is the functional wallet portion with a number of card slots and/or a large currency sleeve. There’s also a third, albeit far less common option that’s a zipper-closure wallet large enough to fit a phone inside of it.
Calling the travel wallet a distinct style might be a little bit misleading — the reason being that a travel wallet could theoretically be a bifold, cardholder, or even a phone wallet. But there is a distinct difference between the larger categories and a travel wallet. That is to say, a travel wallet has one major requirement in order to qualify for travel purposes: it has to be able to fit a standard passport inside of it. So long as a wallet was made to fit a passport — an essential document for international travel — it qualifies as a travel wallet.
However, outside of that, the other features of the wallet can be pretty nebulous. There are versions that are little more than oversized bifolds. Similarly, there are those that include other handy travel-friendly features, like an integrated travel pen, a hidden pocket for sensitive items and documents, or even a zippered closure for added security. Whatever the case, if you find yourself frequenting the customs line, you might want to seriously consider diving into the realm of travel wallets.
While they still exist, trifold wallets are certainly a dying breed — and there are a number of good reasons for that. As the name suggests, these wallets hinge on their ability to fold into thirds. While on the surface, that seems like a fairly good idea — more folds means more room for cards, cash, etc. — the downsides almost completely outweigh the benefits for most people. Simply put, trifold wallets are bulky, which is all the more apparent if you ever try to slip one into a back pocket. And there are further implications therein, like that a large lump in your back pocket is both unsightly and can (over time) cause damage to your spine and mess with your posture.
Having said all that, there are still some old-school folks who prefer to carry a trifold — either as a style preference or a necessity because of how much stuff they carry in their wallet on a day-to-day basis. Outside of its triple-fold format, there are any number of materials and/or style elements that can go into a trifold. However, we’ve certainly noticed that most of these traditional wallets are made with traditional materials, like leather.
The perfect example of a wallet style driven primarily by purpose, trucker wallets were specifically made so that long-haul truckers could carry a significant amount of currency (usually bills) without the need to fold them. Typically, these wallets are crafted from traditional materials (like leather and brass), have snap closures, and come with long and secure metal chains to ensure they don’t fall out of a trucker’s pocket and into the hands of a ne’er-do-well.
Interestingly and unsurprisingly, this style of wallet happened to fit in nicely with another class of road-going person: bikers. From the typical snap-button closure to the chain that attaches to a belt or belt loop, these wallets were perfect for carrying on long rides, as it was far less likely that they’d slip out of a pocket and end up on the highway. You don’t have to be an avid motorcycle fanatic to carry one of these wallets, but it’s worth looking into them if you spend a lot of time on two wheels out on the road.
The Importance of Construction
A Menagerie Of Materials
As is the case with all everyday carry gear — or any gear, for that matter — the material out of which a wallet is constructed can have a significant impact on its appearance, form, functionality, and longevity. Similarly, rarer materials and those that require longer, more drawn-out construction processes also tend to be more expensive. As such, picking out the right wallet is usually a balancing act between what you like, what you need, and what you can afford. Thankfully, there are a few materials most commonly used in the creation of wallets, and learning about them can make selecting the right one a good deal simpler and speedier.
Typically made from cotton — though it can be made from alternative materials, such as hemp — cloth/canvas is one of the more readily available materials used in the construction of wallets. While cloth and canvas are not necessarily the toughest materials in the world and will break down over time faster than, say, leather, they’re comparatively cheap — making them quite accessible when compared to alternatives. Furthermore, their durability can be bolstered by the addition of exterior coatings — like DWR, polyurethane, and more — which can give this material a bit of an edge. It’s worth noting, however, that the same coatings can also be applied to nylon, which is a decidedly more naturally robust material.
One of the oldest, most traditional, and most tried-and-true materials around, leather has been used to fashion clothing and gear for longer than most other human inventions have existed. And there’s a good reason it’s still around today: when properly processed, it’s one of the most naturally-durable and -beautiful materials around. Like some metals, leather will age uniquely based on the life and environment of the user and, thus, acquires character over time in a way that other fabrics and materials simply cannot. Of course, the use of leather does require animal agriculture and a fairly daunting amount of chemicals, dyes, and water — meaning it isn’t particularly environmentally-friendly, even when harvested through more responsible means.
The idea of a metal wallet is a fairly modern innovation, but it can be traced back to some more traditional pieces of carry — like the humble and out-of-fashion cigarette case. Today, wallets can be made from literally any kind of metal, though the most common types used are aluminum, steel, and brass. Furthermore, these wallets may be made entirely out of metal or they might have a metal frame with other material — like leather or nylon — making up the bulk of the body. Metal does tend to be used primarily in more minimalist formats, like front pocket wallets, as it doesn’t fold or bend well. Metal wallets also often have the added benefit of natural RFID blocking, as RFID signals cannot pass through most metal.
Invented in the early-1900s by DuPont, nylon is the world’s first commercially successful synthetic thermoplastic polymer. And — while it first gained prominence as an essential fabric used in women’s fashion, with “nylon” even becoming synonymous with “pantyhose” — it quickly became one of the most important fabrics used to support the Allies during WWII. You see, due to its molecular makeup, nylon is naturally durable, water-resistant, lightweight, and even has a measure of elasticity and resistance to bacteria. It’s also been widely used in uniforms, parachutes, bags, and so much more. To this day, nylon remains one of the best bang-for-your-buck materials around, especially when paired with additional coatings that enhance all the natural properties of the material.
Technically speaking, nylon is a synthetic material. However, it’s far from the only synthetic around. As a broad category, “synthetics” refers to any manmade material used in the construction of wallets and includes the likes of sailcloth (literally used to built boat racing sails), Kydex (a brand of thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride), silicone, neoprene (a synthetic rubber used to make wetsuits), polyester, and more. There are even companies, like Pioneer Carry, that have developed their own proprietary synthetic materials for use in the construction of their wallets.
This isn’t a standalone category of material in and of itself, but it has become abundantly more popular as people have begun to realize the ecological implications of waste on our planet. Now, with sustainability at the forefront of many people’s minds, gear made from recycled and/or upcycled material is on the rise. To be clear, these wallets can be made from any of the above material categories and more, but they must be sourced from existing scraps and/or waste. And while making a wallet out of plastic waste isn’t going to immediately solve the issue of garbage in our landfills and waterways, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
It’s no secret that the primary function of a wallet is to carry your credit cards, cash, identification, etc. However, in the modern world, a wallet doesn’t have to solely act as a carrier for your sensitive information and varying forms of currency. In fact, if you’re a believer in maximizing your everyday carry gear, they can offer up so much more. Granted, the bonus features will largely depend upon the designer and/or the brand offering the wallet, but it isn’t unusual to see some alternative functionality.
It’s hard to pin down exactly how many different kinds of bonuses there are, but a few that are the most common include bottle openers, multi-tools, hideaway security pockets (this feature is more common in passport holders or travel wallets), integrated writing utensils, easy-access pull tabs, ejection systems, integrated money clips or cash straps, attached paracord lanyards, zippered closures, and even weather-resistant treatments. None of these are standard or even expected features, but they can be extremely valuable to the right user and, as such, should definitely be taken into consideration when shopping around for a new wallet.
Does RFID-Blocking Matter?
Protection Against Skimming
The concept of RFID — which stands for “radio frequency identification” — has been around since WWII. In fact, the technology was originally used by radar technicians to identify both friendly and enemy aircraft flying far above the ground, which would otherwise have needed to be done visually. In the military, a similar version of this technology is still used to this day, though it is referred to now as IFF or “Identification, friend or foe.” Whatever you call it, the technology that allows for the near-instantaneous transfer of coded data wirelessly between two points was to quickly become a game-changer across numerous industries around the globe.
In January of 1973, a man by the name of Mario W. Cardullo claims to have received the first patent for an active RFID tag with rewritable memory. The benefit of this new technology, as opposed to the military’s IFF tech, is that it allowed for far more versatility. Now, RFID chips could be embedded with information that, when it outlived its usefulness or became compromised, could be erased and rewritten. Eventually, that led to further implementations of the tech, including the ability to scramble data — meaning it would be encoded in an RFID chip and could only be read by a device built to decode that data. Pair that with the inevitable shrinking down of technology over time and RFID has become a wholly pervasive inclusion in everything from tracking packages and organizing warehouses to allowing for the wireless transfer of banking information.
Though the technology is relatively old, it wasn’t until the 2000s that wireless RFID tech was introduced to the world of passports and credit cards. And while it made reading and verifying information much quicker and simpler, it also opened a new door to scam artists and thieves. You see, if a thief had a small device designed to read and decode an RFID signal, it could steal the banking information right out of people’s pockets and bags without them even knowing they’ve been robbed. This scam became known as “skimming.” Quickly, companies realized they needed to protect people against skimming and, thus, RFID-blocking technology was born.
The concept is actually quite simple: a piece of material would be put into a wallet, for example, that prevented the RFID signal of a credit card’s chip from being read while inside the wallet. That simple addition could all but halt your information from being skimmed, so long as your card stayed in your wallet. As such, RFID-blocking technology became so widespread so quickly that skimming in this manner was no longer a viable form of theft and, for the most part, went the way of the dodo.
All that having been said, RFID-blocking technology has not technically outlived its usefulness. Yes, it is largely unnecessary simply based on the fact that banks have gotten better at encrypting RFID data and skimming has largely died off. However, that doesn’t mean you’re completely safe. As such, RFID-blocking technology should be looked at as a preventative measure. No, you’re probably not going to need it, but you’ll be thankful that you have it in the case that you do.
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