Minimalist Wallets

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always hated the bulk of traditional wallets, this aversion probably went back as far as highschool. Of course, there were more “important” things that interested me then – so I started being particular about it probably during college.

In any case, it’s been so long that I can’t even remember exactly when I decided to use money clips exclusively. But I do remember my first money clip being a Fossil (brand), with a metal mechanical hinged clip – which a fairly short while due to mechanical failure 1 The pin that held the pivot point fell out, rendering the whole clip useless. I started experimenting with different types of money clips with different types of “clipping” implementations, but soon decided that a mechanical hinge was a really bad idea after my second ever mechanical clip-based Money Clip failed due to the same reasons. Soon, magnetic type clips were out of the picture – as they quickly lose effectivity once you have a thick enough wad of cash.

Turns out the simplest design was, and continues to be the most effective: the single piece clip that relies solely on tension. The only real concern there is if you have a material that can hold it’s shape after being bent. And since then, I’ve always kept my eyes open for the perfect balance of form/function – always willing to try different approaches if the design made sense. My only non-negotiables were:

  1. Cash mush merely be “fastened to” (via clip or otherwise) instead of “stuffed in” – for easy access.
  2. Must accommodate credit cards.

And for the most part, I’ve always found decent money clips that suited my needs. But today, I will attempt to veer away from the “clip” design altogether. I will give a product called the Minimalist a chance.

While I’ve been through a ton of money clips, the ones being shown below deserve special mention as they seem to be pretty close to my personal “holy grail” of money clips. They are both very functional and look good (or at least looked really good when they were still new and unscuffed hehehe).

Slim Clip

The best feature of the Slim Clip is that it can hold a lot of [folded] bills! I can confirm that their 30-bill claim is true – so that’s a good thing.

While it’s not necessarily “stylish”, it is streamlined enough to earn style points – if only because of its metal construction. Also, it’s very light. And the best part is that its being sold locally (Fully Booked). So should you lose it (which I’m sure has happened to everyeone at some point) you’d easily be able to replace it without having to revert back to an icky traditional wallet.

Like with any other product, it does have a weakness; that the card compartment can only accept cards of a certain dimension. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue – since all cards are practically universal (or smaller). But in the Philippines, law dictates that drivers licenses should be carried with their respective receipts – that’s why our licenses are usually encased in license jackets.

I never had a problem with this before – as I normally would leave both license and receipt in the only car I liked to drive. After getting my Ducati, I was forced to carry my license all the time – and to be able to use it with the Slim Clip, I’d have to take out the card from the jacket and find some way to pin the receipt between the cards – not the most reassuring method of securing important stuff.

Human Republic Slim

So the search continued to what was most practical for my lifestyle, and I ended up getting the Human Republic Slim money clip.

As you can see in the picture, the Slim has a 3-compartment configuration, each compartment could house up to 5 cards or 15 bills. While this is significantly less than the Slim Clip, you can always mix and match on the fly – which was extremely convenient in my case (or so I thought – more on this later).

Normally, I would put my bills the center compartment, then the outer ones would house my cards in a grouped manner: one side would have commonly used cards, and the other would have discount/membership cards and such. If my bills would get too thick, I could temporarily transfer the cards into one compartment then break the bills accordingly.

And because the sides are open (unlike with the Slim Clip) You can put different sized stuff on it like Starbucks stamp/reward cards, etc. Obviously having the license in a license jacket posed no problem whatsoever with this wallet.

The Slim had its share of weaknesses as well. For one, it’s pretty heavy. Without anything on, it’s already heavier than an occupied wallet. Another thing is that the way the logo was etched was nothing like how it was mocked up. Had known it would turn out this waym I would’ve seriously considered requesting they didn’t put any logo at all.

But the biggest issue was that while I could reconfigure as needed, I would often end up doing it too often – as the bills build up easily with my typical usage.

Capsule Minimalist

To save everyone from a long narrative, the thing that convinced me to give the Capsule Minimalist a shot was the fact that the project owner posted a video demonstration of the product at work:

Thanks to the video, anyone could fairly gauge the quality of craftsmanship put into the product both visually (duh) and structurally (stress testing that was done in the video). And of course, you could also get a good handle if this wallet indeed, would fit your particular lifestyle.

Sufficed to say, I liked what I saw 🙂 The maker clearly has good attention to detail 2 As demonstrated by discussing the little nuances of the wallets “finish” in the video. But I also, in particular, appreciated the placement of the branding (as you can see from the picture I took). I’ve always been a fan of unbranded stuff – because I always believed that a truly good product should be able to speak for itself – branding or no. That this wallet looks as good as it does without any details speaks of how well thought out it is. Not to mention that packaging was likewise impressive

The only issue I had was that I couldn’t decide which I liked better: the black calfskin nappa leather or the Slate Blue textured leather.

I’m a fan of black, and the sleek nappa leather certainly is appealing. But I could imagine over time that the physical wear on the smoother surface would be more noticeable than the textured leather.

The textured leather on the other hand, is an attention grabber because of it’s unique color, and while both have that high quality feel to them, the textured one seems to exude an aura that you usually find with really expensive branded wallets. The drawback is that the dirt that will accumulate as the leather wears would certainly be more noticeable – and it’s too soon to tell if it’ll do so gracefully.

Since I couldn’t decide, I figured just get both. And I’m glad I did – as now that I’m holding both in my hands, I still am undecided which one I like better 🙂

The only drawback I can think of with this implementation is the fact that its leather – and therefore stretches. This can be a good thing as far as functionality is concerned, but a bad thing as far as lifespan goes. The last two metal money clips I used, while much more limited in functionality compared to the Minimalist, are very likely to last far longer.

Conclusion

I’ll still be keeping the other two, since all three seem to address the weaknesses of each other.

  • As far as functionality goes, Minimalist wins.
  • As far as style goes, Slim wins.
  • As far as durability goes, Slim Clip and Slim are tied.
  • As far as availablity goes Slim Clip wins hands down.
  • As far as weight goes, Minimalist wins.
  • As far as thinness goes, Slim wins but has a fixed limit (as well as the Slim Clip).

So who knows, maybe the minimalist would be my new “standard” – it certainly is off to a great start – only time will tell if it’ll stay that way.

Notes   [ + ]

1. The pin that held the pivot point fell out, rendering the whole clip useless
2. As demonstrated by discussing the little nuances of the wallets “finish” in the video

3 Replies to “Minimalist Wallets”

  1. Hey Carlo,

    I’m not sure if you’ve seen this one yet, but I’m really interested in picking one up: http://www.suprgood.com

    I’m in a somewhat similar boat of trying to find a minimalist wallet that just carries the essentials. The Slim that I’ve linked to won’t accommodate your cash but maybe you’ll consider going cards-only. I try to use my cards much more than cash because it’s easier to keep track of and stay on budget. I do have a money clip lying around that I could use for just the cash. It’s obviously not ideal to have to carry a money clip AND a card case, so I might just end up carrying the cash in my pocket.

    The Slims aren’t available for purchase yet, as it looks like they’re just getting their Kickstarter orders fulfilled but I’m probably going to pick one up as soon as they’re available for regular orders.

    I’ll be interested to see how your experiment goes.

    Rob

  2. Hi Rob,

    Yes, I have in fact seen that project on Kickstarter as well 🙂

    Unfortunately, an all-card setup is not an option for me – as not all establishments in our country support debit-card type payments. Having cash on hand is pretty much a non-negotiable in my case 🙁

    Also, there’s one issue I have with the Slim. It certainly is as minimal as one can get, but I prefer some semblance of structural support. Unless you have enough cards stacked that could prevent them to be bent too much in your back pocket, it’s actually a possibility for the cards to get damaged over time if they keep on bending. This has happened to me before – even with a money clip (which didn’t have proper structural support for the cards). But again, your mileage may vary.

    Given your preference and usage, I also suggest you take a look at the Ainste wallet. It seems to be optimized for card usage, but would definitely support cash in a pinch.

  3. Ah, that’s unfortunate; I was unaware of what the situation is like there. There still plenty of places here in the States that only take cash but most places will take cards.

    I’m not as concerned with the Slim bending too much as I keep my wallet in my front pocket. I’ve also looked into the Thin King: http://www.thinking.fi/all-products but it’s not really adjustable like the Slim, which can expand or contract. They claim it won’t lose its elasticity, no matter how much you change things around, which I hope is true.

    Thanks for the tip on the Ainste; I hadn’t heard of it but I’ll look into that as well.

Have a say