Today we’re going to look at a roundup of alternative wallets. These are fun, different, and sometimes game changing ways for you to tote your two cents around. I’ve searched the internet from here to there and I’ve come back with a closer look at some of my favorites.
To start, I’d like to say a quick thank you again to all the companies and artists who supplied some of their product for our review.
Click here for a video slideshow of all the wallets we’re looking at.
In no particular order, here are our contestants:
The Slim Timber – available for $45
Hand carved from one piece of wood, minimalist
ACM wallet – available for $40 and up
Completely unique card delivery system, attached money clip, custom printing option
The Slim wallet clip by Human Republic – available for $50
Much sturdier version of the infomercial staple, extremely modern and minimal
The consoliwallet by Wintercheck factory – available for $25
Made in the USA, powder coated for long lasting color, durable aluminum and latex rubber cord, very minimal.
The AO wallet by Nooka – available for $35
All silicon construction, comfortable in back pocket, modern looking, many color options including glow in the dark!
The obtainium wallet – available for $125 or more from kickstarter expected to ship 3/13
Strong enough to survive the end of the world, aircraft grade aluminum, very modern and minimal
The CINCH by LepleyDesign – available for $18 (oak) or $25 (stainless steel)
Steel backbone is strong and the weight of it is satisfying, holds more cards than you carry and many bills as long as you fold them.
Nerd herder gadget wallet by Rockitbot – available for $29 in many designs
Handmade from many different fabrics, stores a cell phone as well as some cash and small accessories. Regular and XL sizes are available.
Handmade leather billfold and pocketbook by inblue – available for $25 and up
Handmade leather designs, genuine leather, custom printing to your preference.
We’ll be comparing style, functionality, durability, size, elegance, and wow factor. Each wallet was carried around for a couple days as my main solution to evaluate real world performance. I was actually stopped at least once with every single wallet used by someone with a question or comment. These are all unique and exciting alternatives to the everyday wallet.
Style – the CINCH wins!
The hard thing about style is that it’s subjective. You might not dig what I dig. Maybe the reason you read my reviews though is because you appreciate my point of view? That said, the minimalist style has won me over. With phones getting larger and larger, my pockets could use a break. A minimalist wallet helps me keep things simple and to the point. Among the minimalist options I looked at, the CINCH really stuck out. I was more skeptical about this wallet than most but the CINCH just works. If you want to remove one card only, the others stay in place undisturbed, as if by some invisible hipster magic! For most all situations the CINCH was a standout. If you can control the amount of stuff you carry, I think it will work for you too. I highly preferred the stainless steel version over the oak version, the weight of it feels great in your hand.
Functionality – the ACM wallet wins!
Remember, looks aren’t considered here. The acm wallet looks and feels like a futuristic robot wallet from a movie in the 80’s. It’s very boxy and large and slightly odd, but if you’re a gadget lover you’ll do everything you can to overlook those things. It’s such a cool unique mechanism and to be able to slide a button that says “visa” and see your visa card appear is a bit of wow. Get used to people asking about the wallet a lot. You’ll either use the money clip or purchase the optional leather case which adds a business card pocket and money storage area. Either way, you can get to everything when you need it and besides the size it’s easy to carry. Of course, I already mentioned that the cinch works well functionally. The slim clip was also very easy to use as well as the obtainium, but only for cards, cash wasn’t easy to carry with the obtainium. In the end, the ACM just was the simplest option in most situations.
durability – the Obtainium wallet
Not much of a competition here, the obtainium costs the most, but it is also made from aircraft grade aluminum. The wallet is actually machined from a single block of aluminium, due to the complex design the machining takes over 80 hours per piece, and that’s only the first step in production. After that they also apply a scratch-resistant hard anodized coating. In the end, it’s completely stain and waterproof and it blocks RFID skimming. Of course it’s not your only option for the RFID blocking. The ACM and Consoliwallet both claim the same functionality. Also, the consoliwallet is powder coated which is the same type of paint technique you’ll see in things like farm equipment. It’s color that’s meant to last. The only thing that stops the consoliwallet from taking top durability, is the latex shock cord used to secure it. I don’t know how long it would hold up over time, especially depending on if you have it next to keys in your pocket every day.
size – the slim timber, consoliwallet, and the CINCH tie!
The slim timber is handmade and carved from a single piece of wood. It’s only slightly larger than a credit card and it’s thinner than a deck of cards. It will hold 8 credit cards easily, but you’ll probably find it difficult to store cash inside. It seems to be a great business card holder and everything is secured with a leather strap and magnetic clasp. The CINCH again is slightly larger on all sides than a standard credit card, when loaded up it is larger than the slim timber in most situations, but you can store more here. The cinch also stores cash well but you have to fold your bills. The consoliwallet is very similar to the CINCH in size, but it is harder to get cards in and out.
elegance – handmade leather pocketbook by inblue wins!
While many of today’s options could be described as elegant, leather is timeless and always refined. From the look of it, Inblue’s pocketbook could have belonged to your great grandfather, minus perhaps the little robot printed on it. It’s handmade out of leather and string. A computer wasn’t involved until you go to buy one from Etsy. Zero technology here, it doesn’t use clasps, magnets or Velcro to close. A simple leather cord is attached and used to wrap and close the pocketbook. Of course the pocket in pocketbook refers to your coat pocket. This is from a more elegant time when men wore coats and hats and opened the door for a lady if the situation called. It feels like it will last for 50 years and your bills stay crisp, clean, and neat as they are not folded at all and are constantly pressed. This is really satisfying for the OCD crowd (which a part of me is a member of). The billfold from inblue that I received was printed with a wood grain that really looks great against the leather. If I had to choose, the pocketbook with the wood grain would be my perfect combination. The best feature of inblue’s lineup of wallets is the many options. You’ll choose style, color and graphics to suit your taste among their wide selection.
wow factor – the ACM wallet wins!
Before reading this article, you probably didn’t think that there was that much to get excited about when discussing wallets. Something like the ACM wallet is unique enough though, that people will actually stop you on the street and ask what is that thing? To the point that the company includes 5-6 business cards that say, “Hey, where’d you get that” and include contact info. This is actually a great idea and all the makers on our list should adopt this practice as they all make unique wallets that different folks will appreciate. ACM also offers custom printing on their wallets for an extra fee. You’ll see in the pictures above that I was able to get a logo and my name printed on the wallet. This is a great extra step in something as personal as a wallet. You can print lettering in different fonts and print logos, pictures, or anything you want in just about any size that fits on the top section of the wallet. Keep in mind that more customization quickly equals more cost, but for something you carry with your every day of your life, price is a bit negligible.
The overall winner is…. The CINCH minimalist wallet!!!
This was a very tight race between the ACM and the CINCH. Both are great, well designed and solve the problem of replacing the boring everyday wallet. The ACM’s only real flaw is that it only holds 6 cards in the actual mechanism. It works very well if you carry less than 6 cards. In fact the ACM would have won if I personally didn’t need to carry more with me everyday. If you remember, I mentioned that I was skeptical about the cinch. After my initial testing concluded, I just kept finding myself reaching for the CINCH. As long as you don’t mind folding up papers and bills, the CINCH carries just about everything. I’m still amazed at how when you need a single credit card, you find the one and remove it and the others stay in place. You’d assume that everything would fly around constantly or be impossible to remove but it’s effortless. The stainless steel model even has a built in bottle opener when you fold down the elastic band. Above all, it’s reasonably priced and you can customize it a bit with different colored bands and stainless steel or oak backbones. You’ll enjoy the CINCH.
Make sure to watch the video slideshow of all of the wallets included here if you haven’t already.
Honorable mention – AO wallet and the Nerd herder gadget wallet
These are both great looking wallets and people were intrigued when I’d pull out the completely silicon AO wallet or the very stylish Nerd herder. The AO is design first and it shows. It has some really nice curves and a removable card sleeve. The problem is that it’s all silicon, it grips a bit too much when trying to remove folded bills and it attracts dirt and pocket lint like nobody’s business. It ends up looking a bit shabby most of the time unfortunately. It is available in 7 colors though, including GLOW IN THE DARK! The Nerd Herder is made by a lovely woman named Brook. She offers almost limitless styles and a regular and an XL model. The particular wallet I received was in the “suited” style. The wallet is secured with an elastic strap and it unfolds to reveal a large storage pocket that fits just about any smartphone. The standard size is designed to be the length of an iPhone 4/4s at 5” tall. The XL is 5.5” tall and fits many more phones but was not quite tall enough for my galaxy note 2, but it did fit the width of the phone. The nerd herder has pockets meant for things like a usb thumb drive, SD card, earbuds, and guitar picks. You can’t store too many of these things at once though, or the wallet can become lumpy and awkward to carry. Think of it more as a phone sleeve with some extra storage for flat things like an extra SD card for your camera or some guitar picks. It also comes with an attached spring loaded clip to attach to your bag or belt loop.
Buyer beware: things to consider…
- The obtainium is really only meant for cards, it’s not great for cash storage.
- When using the AO wallet bills stick a bit too much during use.
- The consoliwallet can be difficult to pull one single card from the wallet at a time.
AS ALWAYS… ENJOY YOUR GADGETS!