Monday, March 17, 2014

Bellroy Card Sleeve Review

I am and have been on a journey over the last few years to shrink what I carry but still retain or improve its effectiveness.  To that end, I scoured the Earth before finding my beloved Blade Key.  I am obsessed with the Dragonfly II.  I love my tiny little Muyshondt Aeon, Mark II.  Everything I like is about making what I carry smaller, more effective, and higher quality.  But in that five or six year quest I have been stuck on my wallet.  I needed a few things that just didn't exist.  So I had a Big Skinny wallet, with its Power Rangers material, as my only wallet.  It worked.  It just wasn't amazing.

I have found amazing.

How good is the Bellroy Card Sleeve?  It is the first product I have ever bought from the website.  You see, when samples come in, they always get earmarked for giveaways.  I do not keep anything for myself, unless I have paid for it with my own money.  But when I got the Card Sleeve I was so taken I realized that I just had to buy it.  So I earmarked my own money for the site, including the cost of shipping, plus a little more.  The first product I have ever done that with, ever.  I was waiting for it to happen eventually and when the Card Sleeve arrived at my house I knew it was the one within about 20 minutes of opening the package.  Its...fucking...awesome.


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Here is the product page.  It costs $54.95.  They sell four colors, coco (brown), black, cognac (maroon), and blue steel (Zoolander's choice).  Here is a good Reddit review with a nice conversation after.  Here is a video review.  Here is the review of a slightly larger Bellroy wallet, the Note Sleeve, I did a while ago.Here is a link to the Card Sleeve from Amazon (with sales benefiting the site):



Finally here is the review sample, sent to me by Bellroy (that I now own):

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Twitter Review Summary: For those that use cash sparingly, this is wallet perfection.

The Bellroy Card Sleeve is a super small wallet.  It is designed as either a tiny minimalist wallet or as a business card holder.  To that end the construction and design is exceptionally bare.  For example, there is no liner of any kind.  This wallet is basically leather and stiching, that's it.  Here is the wallet with the Bellroy tab in use (and a few showy bills) so you can get a sense of scale:

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The overall design is clever.  For example, the angle at which the exterior card slots are cut allows you to show an ID without removing it from your wallet, all the while doing away with the cheap and often dirty plastic ID windows.  There is, of course, the Bellroy pull tab, which, as usual, works quite well.  

The fit and finish on the Card Sleeve is really impressive.  I have seen stitching this clean, even, and nice before--it was on the seat in a Mercedes.  Really, honestly, the leather, the stitching, and the embossing are second to none--peerless at this price point.  You can, of course, find nicer wallets as wallets are one of those items for which there is no upper limit.  Dumb rich people will buy just about anything.  Compared to brands available at local stores and in the same price range, the Bellroy is vastly superior.  Any number of offensively overpriced Tumi wallets pale in comparison to the Card Sleeve.  Only my friend's Pickett wallet was better than the Bellroy and it wasn't so much better as to embarass the Card Sleeve.  

Leather wallets end up being a thing of great personal connection.  They wear in and develop a fit as unique as their owner and the Bellroy has already started to show that weathered, authentic, lived-in look.  But unlike so many other leather wallets, this one is thin.  SUPER DUPER thin.  

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That's 8 cards, a few bills, and an ID (and yes, I got that $100 just for the review, I never carry more than a few dollars on me--cash is so inconvenient).  Its small enough and thin enough, even when packed, to be a front pocket wallet or even a shirt pocket wallet.

There are a few drawbacks, all necessitated by the wallet's size.  First, you really have no idea how much cash you have just by looking.  Because this isn't a billfold, the cash is not as accessible either.  In fact, none of the items, even the outside cards, aren't as accessible as they would be in a billfold.  Finally, because of the stacking and sliding, the cards might wear more quickly over time.  I have not had any problems with cracking or breaking, but I could see how this would scratch your cards early.  
All of these concerns are more theoretical problems, problems that exist only if you decide to use this wallet in a way that the design steers you away from.  This isn't the perfect wallet.  But if you use it as a minimalist wallet with infrequent cash use, it is one of the best designs I have ever seen.  This is the first product review sample I brought outright.  That should say it all.  This is a great wallet for minimalists. 

12 comments:

  1. Nice, but I'd take a Saddleback ID Wallet for $20 less...

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    1. Seconding the Saddleback.

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  3. Check out the offerings from Flipside wallet. Their wallets offer RFID protection, are as rugged as they are functional, and driven by excellent design. Brains behind the operation are an aircraft engineer and an architect who were fed up with traditional wallet design: www.flipsidewallet.com

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    1. I usually pocket carry my wallet, so hardside wallets aren't a favorite of mine, especially since 90% of the time I carry my wallet on my backside.

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    2. Do you pocket carry your iPhone? These are a little smaller in form factor than an iPhone and will slip comfortably into your front pocket (or into the AR15 pockets of your TAD covert pants). Carrying your wallet this way will also revolutionize your (sitting) life.

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    3. In the time since I last wrote here, I have been carrying my flipside wallet in my rear pocket and have found it to be quite comfortable. It is certainly strong enough to be sat on, as in the demo video they jump on one of these repeatedly and run it over with a car - all with no damage to the wallet or the cards inside. It feels the same as sitting on any other wallet really.

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    4. I should say rather, that it is no less comfortable than rear pocket carrying/sitting on any other wallet, though I still recommend not sitting on your wallet.

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  4. All of these are excellent suggestions.

    Two points comparing the Saddleback. First, the ID window on the Saddleback basically forces you to make that slot the ID slot. Not so with the Card Sleeve. Second, my impression is that the Card Sleeve is a bit smaller.

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  5. I'd like to see a revisit in about a year to see how the leather had aged and how the wallet has held up. The price seems right too (although I havent checked on Canadian Shipping - the crux of most online purchases for us Northerners).

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  6. You should give this a try. A good minimal solution.
    http://www.tumi.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11639548

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