Having trouble deciding what to get that dad in your life for Father’s Day or another upcoming holiday / birthday? Or, are you just a dude looking to change up his wallet game and don’t know where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! This guide will give you the breakdown of various wallet styles with some examples of popular models to consider.
This is another one of those posts that does not review a single product, but a larger category of products. And Jason and I are both going to put our two-cents in on this one. This time, we’re covering wallets. Face it. You’ve got one, I’ve got one. We’ve all got one. Some might get lower back pain from their 2 inch thick “George Costanza wallet.” Others might be living fast and loose with just a simple money clip in the front pocket. Either way, the amount of options you have are insane. Now some people might say, it’s just a wallet, who cares. Fair enough. But there’s just something about finding the perfect wallet that is intensely satisfying. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t think I’m the only one. There are lots of options out there and we’re going to try to break them down for you.
We could spend all day talking about wallet materials (leather, fabric, metal, plastic, rubber, duct tape… the list goes on), but thats an entire post by itself. Instead, let’s look at your various options first, and then we can tackle materials in another post.
Alright, let’s get to the types of wallets you can find:
Bifold / trifold wallets
This is what most people think of when they think of a wallet. It’s probably what your dad and countless generations of men before him carried. You have a main slot that holds cash and receipts (so many receipts…) and countless pockets for credit cards, insurance cards, gift cards, etc. Personally, I think this is way too much and leads to an insanely thick wallet that will seriously give you back pain. But it’s a common design for a reason. Some people just like the classic look of a folding wallet, and I can’t necessarily blame them.
Long / trucker wallets
This is about as maximalist as you can get. Due to the length, the cash does not get folded up and the cards are spread out along the length of the wallet instead of all stacked up. Potentially this type of wallet does not get as thick as a bifold or trifold, but it does hang out of the top of the back pocket and is usually paired with a chain or hook to attach to your belt loop. If I had a Harley Davidson and significantly more street cred, maybe I’d be able to rock something like this. I absolutely love the look of this handmade trucker wallet by Dad Hands. She does some amazing work that you can also check out on Instagram.
Minimalist card holders
This is Chris’ preferred way to carry cards and cash. These can vary with the number of pockets, but the thinner and less complex, the better. Ideally the card holder will do a good job at separating frequently used cards (ID, main credit card) from less used items (insurance cards). Cardholders come in a variety of designs and materials from leather (Chris currently carries a gorgeous handmade wallet from nothin but flies) to metal (Chris recently gifted his dad a Ridge wallet in gunmetal aluminum).
This is a dedicated wallet that zippers closed, securing the contents within. These frequently have a clear sleeve for driver’s licenses on the outside. Jason loves rocking this design because it keeps everything safe and contained. He has enjoyed using this OneTigris zippered wallet if he does not need a ton of extra gear and wants to cut down on pocket real estate.
While not wildly different than the above in terms of basic design principles, these serve a bit of a different purpose but can also double as a wallet. EDC pouches will usually sport smaller pockets or compartments (internal, external, or both) for small EDC tools (i.e. pry bars, multitools, fidget gear, etc.) and usually some velcro for attaching “morale patches” or “ranger eyes.” Think of these as “flair” for your pouch. They serve a real purpose for those in the military, but in the EDC world, mostly are for showing your support for an artist or a maker. Jason has been rocking the Maxpedition Micro Pouch Organizer lately and loves it.
These are a great option when traveling abroad and you want to keep your passport and money safe. When traveling and you need to keep your passport handy, there are many options that you can use. Some go around your neck on a string/lanyard (and UNDER YOUR SHIRT) or go around your waist (and once again, under your pants). These are designed with safety in mind, but coming from someone that actually wore one of these, they can get very sweaty and annoying. Plus you need to go somewhere discreet to remove it, which means you need to keep a secondary wallet that’s more easily accessible and has a little cash and a credit card. One option Chris used when traveling to England with his family was a zippered RFID blocking passport holder like this one. This allowed his family to carry 4 passports, backup credit cards, printed reservation documents, cash, and tickets safely and securely. This is something that you keep in a carry-on bag for flying and train travel, but don’t carry with you when going out and about.
Cell Phone Case Wallets
One way that I’ve seen people carry the essentials is a simple rubber slip for cards and some cash that will allow you to stick it to the back of your phone, which keeps everything important in one place. Alternatively, there are some phone cases that feature a flap with the option of storing an ID, credit cards, and cash. I’d say the major downside to this is that if you lose your phone, you also lose all your credit cards, cash, and ID.
I (Jason) used to carry around money clips for many years. Sometimes they’d be a pure money clip, with something else to hold my cards. Or it’d be a combo wallet with clip for cash. Either way, I dedicated a good decade of my life to this wallet style.
The principle here is an easy, outside-the-wallet method of accessing your cash. Clips are either tension-based or magnetic. In my experience, the tension-based clips are best because they have a more secure hold on your cash. Magnetic clips lose their holding ability as the number of bills increases. So if you’re a baller with fat stacks of cash, you should probably opt for the tension-based clip. Even so, there is an upper limit on how much cash a money clip can really hold. But in the world of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think fewer and fewer people are using cash. And one day, if my vision for the future holds true, we’ll be paying for things with decentralized cryptocurrencies so these will become moot. While Jason’s ancient money clip has been lost to the sands of times, you can pick up an inexpensive one like this Travelambo Carbon Fiber Money Clip or there are even money clips that feature a small blade for everyday cutting tasks like this Gerber GDC money clip. Note that neither of us have actually tested these money clips for durability, but maybe that’s something worth looking into for a future article.
So what type of wallet do we recommend? It’s a total cop out, but whatever one suits your needs. I highly suggest you try out a minimalist option and see if you really need all those extra cards. So many cards (transit cards, membership cards, loyalty rewards cards) can be saved into an app on your phone that it does not make sense to carry them with you every day. Also, there is really no need for dozens of credit cards either. Keep one, maybe two, on you and leave the rest at home. Seriously.
Did we miss anything? Disagree fundamentally? Or just want to tell us how awesome we are? Leave a comment below!