When you think of a wallet, you can’t help thinking of leather. It’s been used since before written history began, not only for its natural beauty but also for its desirable qualities. Durable, tear-resistant, and slightly water-resistant, it’s a long-lasting material that is far more malleable than wood or metal, making it easy to form into lots of different items.
Read our pros and cons of leather wallets to see if this material is best for you.
- Leather is smooth, soft, and subtle.
- Since leather is so smooth leather wallets are very comfortable to carry and form to the shape of your pocket over time.
- Even though leather is soft, it’s also incredibly durable, meaning a quality leather wallet will last you years.
- Leather ages uniquely, looking better and better over time.
- Leather wallets are incredibly versatile and pair well with almost any style.
- Leather wallets are not very water-resistant.
- When leather is made correctly it isn’t very thin, this means leather wallets can become bulkier than other materials.
- Being made from natural materials, leather stretches over time. This means that card slots can start out too tight and become stretched and gaping over time.
- Leather is more expensive than other materials, so leather wallets will usually cost more than wallets made from other materials.
- Leather wallets require attentive care to retain their attractiveness. Owners must care for their leather with special care, like waxes, oils, and delicate cleaning.
When choosing a leather wallet, look for:
- A full-grain leather. This is the highest quality of leather, meaning it looks the best and lasts the longest.
- Environmentally-certified leather. Not all leather is made equally and some of it is far worse for the environment than others. Look for leather that is made ethically and ecologically with natural tanning and water-saving production methods. It's also important that hides are sourced as a byproduct of the meat industry, making them as sustainable as possible.
Our Pick For Leather Wallets:
This slim leather wallet has all the benefits of a classic leather style, minus the bulk of traditional bi-folds. It’s available in 6 beautiful shades of full-grain, environmentally-certified ECCO® leather. The Parliament stores up to 12 cards, 6 in the RFID-protected cardholder and 6 more in the pockets and expandable cash strap. This leather wallet is also a trigger wallet, displaying cards at the click of a button.
Metal wallets are the newest trend in minimalist EDC. Often built with RFID protection, pop-up cards, and slim designs, metal wallets are a more durable and life-resistant option than classic leather wallets. Usually made from aluminum, titanium, or carbon fiber, metal wallets tend to give off a more industrial aesthetic and come with more modern features than leather wallets. But they aren’t the best choice for everyone.
Read our pros and cons of metal wallets to find out if this material is best for you.
- Metal wallets are tough and durable, making them far more resistant to falls and bumps.
- Metal wallets are by far the most water-resistant.
- Though hard, metal wallets are also very smooth when crafted correctly.
- Wallets made from metal tend to be minimalist and slim.
- Since metal is so smooth, metal wallets are very easy to slip in and out of pockets.
- Metal wallets are designed for modern users and have more advanced features like RFID protection, quick card access (sometimes called pop-up wallets or trigger wallets), and can often be made trackable.
- Metal wallets have sharp edges and can be uncomfortable in your pocket if the edges are too jagged.
- Some metals are easily scratched, so you need to be careful about rubbing metal wallets against things like keys and other metal items.
- Some metal wallets can be heavy if they aren't made from lightweight materials.
When choosing a metal wallet, look for:
- High-quality, lightweight metals like aluminum or carbon fiber. These are the two best metals for wallets because even though they are very strong (can withstand the weight of an average car), they are also extremely lightweight. This is why both of these metals can be found in copious amounts in aircraft and spacecraft.
Our Pick For Metal Wallets:
The 3k Carbon Fiber Cardholder is made from military-grade carbon fiber that is 10 times as strong as steel but only a fraction of the weight. It comes in two distinct patterns, Classic Carbon and Forged Carbon. It includes quick-card access where cards are displayed at the click of a button and just as easily stored. This is the perfect minimalist wallet, offering space for up to 12 cards while remaining ultra-slim.
Vegan Leather and Recycled Leather
Another huge trend sweeping the leather goods market is vegan or recycled leather. Vegan leather is any leather replacement made without the use of materials that come from animals. It can be made from different plastics, recycled materials (hence the synonym recycled leather), and even natural matter like pineapples. While its biggest selling point is being environmentally friendly, some vegan leathers are actually more harmful than the real thing.
Read our pros and cons of vegan leather wallets to find out if this material is best for you:
- High-quality vegan leathers can rival the real thing and even surpass it.
- Vegan leathers can be more water-resistant than real leather.
- Vegan leather wallets that are made from upcycled plastic, recycled materials, or natural material such as pineapple are more sustainable and environmentally friendly than real leather.
- Vegan leather wallets when made right are almost indistinguishable from the real thing and have the same desirable qualities of being soft, subtle, and timelessly beautiful.
- Some vegan leathers are more harmful to the environment because they are made from harmful plastics that are highly toxic to produce and almost impossible to recycle.
- While vegan leather wallets can be more resistant to the elements than real leather, it is still not waterproof, like metal.
Our Pick for Vegan Leather Wallets:
The Recycled Parliament is made from end-of-life car windshields. Through a revolutionary process, old car windshields are turned into PVB which is treated to become a material indistinguishable from the real thing. This vegan leather wallet comes with quick-card access and RFID protection. It can also be made trackable with a wallet tracker.