I struggled for years with a fat wallet mainly because I kept extra stuff in it that I thought I might need someday. It was no George Costanza wallet, but still, it was pretty bulky.
Switching to a minimalist wallet, for me, was a rather prolonged journey from vehement denial to acceptance of the fact that I no longer lived in a cash-centric society. Carrying a large wallet simply didn’t make sense anymore. While it was difficult to part with my Saddleback bifold and its lovely full-grain leather patina, I had to acknowledge that it was a dinosaur and I needed to get with the times.
Are Minimalist Wallets Good?
The benefits of a good quality minimalist wallet outweigh traditional wallets in most regards unless you like to carry large sums of cash. Minimalist wallets can still carry plenty of cards and emergency cash in a much slimmer profile. Many minimalist wallets also feature on-board multi-tools such as bottle openers, wrenches, and pocket knives making them more useful than traditional wallets.
Stick around and I’ll share some key reasons why most of us could switch today and wonder why we hadn’t done it sooner. Also I’ll give you some suggestions for high-quality Minimalist Wallets.
7 Reasons Why Switching to a Minimalist Wallet Is Worth It
Minimalist Wallets Are More Efficient to Use
You practically have to be a contortionist to dig a fat wallet out of your jeans at the drive-through. Many minimalist wallets come with lanyards which make them super easy to pull out even when seated.
Minimalist wallets also make payments quicker. I keep my most used payment card on the very top so all I have to do is slide the card out about an inch to make NFC tap payments. With traditional wallets, you have to fully remove the card from your wallet even for tap transactions.
Selecting a card is much faster too. Most minimalist wallets stack the cards into one slot like a deck of cards. By pushing the card stack out about halfway you can flip quickly to make your selection. By comparison, if you have more than one card in each slot of a traditional wallet you will likely be a lot slower as you dig through each slot to find the right card.
Cash Is Generally For Emergencies Not Day to Day
I can’t even remember the last time I bought something with cash even though I always carry some. I usually just use it to help someone out who’s in a pinch. I’m reluctant to spend cash because then I’m stuck jangling around with a pocket full of change all day.
Cash is great in a pinch but not really that practical for day-to-day life (unless you’re drug dealer).
The thickness of traditional wallets is due to how they are constructed. Multiple layers of leather are stacked and stitched together to make card and cash pockets. The more card and cash slots, the more layers of leather etc.
In my opinion, if you cram a bunch of rarely-used cash in your wallet, you’re just punishing yourself. Just keep your cash hoard safe at home.
Full Pockets Are Annoying
The very first thing I used to do when I got home was to dump my wallet. A half-full pocket isn’t unbearable but it is uncomfortable- just annoying enough for me to want it out as soon as possible. My cell phone, on the other hand, stays in my pocket because it is slim and unobtrusive.
Now, I actually find myself tapping my pocket to make sure I have my wallet because I don’t even feel it!
Big Wallets Tend to Collect Unnecessary Junk
If you tend to accumulate crap in your wallet like George Costanza from Seinfeld then it’s time to get a minimalist wallet. Traditional wallets can be similar to the horizontal surfaces in your home- the extra space tends to collect clutter.
Traditional wallets collect unnecessary crap because they have room for it.
Solution: If there is no room for it, it won’t be collected.
For some reason, my old wallet contained crumpled Costco receipts, parking receipts, a gravel truck guy’s business card, frequent flyer cards, and foreign currency cards I only use while traveling or buying online.
While most of those things are useful, I suggest repurposing your old wallet into an “at-home” wallet for cards and cash you only use once in a blue moon.
Minimalist Wallets Have More Uses Than Traditional Wallets
In practical terms, minimalist wallets are much more useful than traditional wallets. Tactical wallets, such as the Dango T01, come with onboard screwdrivers, wrenches, can openers, bottle openers, knives and key holders.
By comparison, my Saddleback leather wallet is well organized and looks nice, but that’s it. *Crickets*
I’m a highly practical guy, and if I’m going to have something in my pocket all day it might as well be useful for more than just one thing.
Minimalist Wallets Are More Durable
Full-grain leather wallets are tough but they don’t hold a candle to the carbon fiber, steel or titanium that many minimalist wallets are made from.
While you can get all-leather minimalist wallets, I strongly advise you to go with a hybrid version. You’ll get the strength of a rigid steel frame combined with the heirloom look of a leather wallet.
It’s Inevitable: Minimalist Wallets Are the Future
Time marches on my friend. Pocket watches gave way to wrist watches which gave way to smart watches.
Man purses gave way to wallets which have given way to minimalist wallets. Eventually we’ll just scan our retinas for everything, but until then, minimalist wallets are the ticket.
It may take some of us longer to make the switch and that’s ok, but soon enough large wallets will be as obsolete as handkerchiefs.
The transition is much easier when you discover some of the stunning styles available from premium minimalist wallet makers like Dango, Trayvax, and others. This brings me to my top picks!
Best Minimalist Wallets: The Top 5
Dango M2 Maverick
The Dango M2 Maverick is, in my opinion, the finest minimalist wallet out there right now. It’s also why I have one. It’s rugged enough for the ranch yet refined enough for a black-tie dinner.
- Nickel-Plated Aluminum frame
- 10 cards maximum + cash
- RFID blocking card cavity(up to 6 cards)
- The Front leather pocket(up to 4 cards)
- Mil-spec stainless bolts
- Silicone wallet band
- Weight: 3 oz
The M2 Maverick is also compatible with Dango’s MT04 Multitool(sold separately) which has 10 tools such as a seat belt cutter, serrated/sharpened edges, chisel, 2 paracord tensioners, an O2 oxygen wrench, nail pryer, standard 1/4” inch hex wrench, and of course, a bottle opener. The MT04 fits into metal RFID slot.
Trayvax Element Wallet
Trayvax really knows how to combine the old and new into something stunning and the Element is a perfect example of that. The stamped top grain leather mounted to a rugged metal chassis really pops. Details matter. Like the gun rail-like ribs, lanyard hole makes removing it at the drive-thru a cinch.
Unclipping the button clasp allows access to 3-5 cards as well as a hidden money clip on the bac side for up 5 bills. Made in the USA, Trayvax covers their wallets with a “65 year heirloom warranty”.
Ridge wallets cut clean, slim profile but don’t be fooled. It can hold up to 12 cards plus cash! Ridge wallets are available in a number of materials like carbon fiber, and aluminum, but I’m a fan of the titanium burnt gunmetal. You can choose between a cash band or a money clip for your cash
Ridge wallets include a torx wrench so you can fully disassemble and clean your wallet if needed. A cut-away tab allows quick single handed selection of a card using your thumb and forefinger.
Saddleback ID Wallet
Saddleback Leathers ID wallet is one of the most rugged leather minimalist wallets on the planet. The tough full-grain leather develops a rich patina with time and is stitched together with germain marine-grade polyester. It’ll hold 5-6 cards plus cash along with a handy ID window makes checking it at work easy or just to flash your Costco card at the door.
Saddleback leather wallets come with a 100 year warranty.
Dango T01 Tactical Wallet
The Dango T01 tactical wallet has so many tools it would make Batman blush with envy. It holds up to 12 cards(without multitool), cash and a 14-function multitool that slides out and locks for ease of use.
Some of the functions include: serrated and sharpened edge, paracord tensioner, 10/15mm hex, smartphone stand, nail pryer, ruler, bottle opener…etc. You get the idea.
So basically, the Dango T01 is the ultimate apocalypse wallet. Just remember to remove and check the multitool if you plan on flying.
Switching to a minimalist wallet does have a few trade-offs, but in real-world terms, minimalist wallets don’t give up much capacity, they simply organize your stuff far more efficiently. The days of frantically digging a fat wallet out of my jeans before the drive-through window are over for me. Now all I do is draw my M2 Maverick wallet out with the lanyard, thumb out my debit card, and tap it at the drive-through window. So much easier! Showing my Costco card at the door has become a breeze too.
You get the idea. A minimalist wallets will carry everything you’ll ever need for day-to-day life, do more tasks, make transactions quicker and do it all without bulking up you pockets. The only thing I regret is not switching to a minimalist wallet sooner.
Still not convinced? To each their own. If you still prefer a traditional wallet, then check out my guide to truly durable leather wallets.