Modern mobile man -- giving up a fat wallet for a slim wallet

I carry around a smartphone, a Fitbit, keys, and a wallet. Yet my wallet looked like something out of the 1980s. I needed to catch up with fashion...
Written by Matt Baxter-Reynolds, Contributor

My ZDNet colleague James Kendrick has done some great pieces over the past few months about the various paraphernalia that you need in order to have a satisfying mobile life. For example, "What's in my platform agnostic gear bag?", and "Five trips to travel smart with mobile gear".

But there's one thing that that's been bugging me, and perhaps it's been bugging the other men out there. I have to carry around a remarkable amount of stuff in my pockets. Between my smartphone, Fitbit, wallet, and keys, I'm constantly weighed down and accompanied by bulging pockets.

Something I could fix, I surmised, was my wallet. And so I looked into -- and bought -- a new one designed for my "mobile first" digital life.

Slim wallet

First off, let's talk about a wallet.

They're stupid. They're about -- what -- five years away from being redundant. I need a wallet to carry the following:

  • Credit cards -- essentially just a huge chunk of solidified petrochemicals each carrying a few bytes of data. Data which could be expressed on my phone perfectly easily.

  • Receipts -- mashed up dead tree, which could more appropriately and easily just be emailed to me whenever I bought anything.

  • Photos of loved ones -- again, I have a smartphone weighed down with gigabytes of pictures.

Here's my current wallet. A smear of murdered cow's skin wrapped around a whole load of stuff I don't need to carry around:

163g (0.4lbs) of wallet and stuff. I've carried this around with me every day for eight years.

What's curious about that wallet is that it's basically identical in terms of volume, mass, and contents to the wallet my dad carried around with him throughout the 1980s. But wait! This is 2013. We men are supposed to be all metrosexual and avant garde. We must eschew the ways of the menfolk that went before us, yet still learning from their wisdom, yadda yadda...

If I have to carry around all this anachronistic stuff, there must be a better way.

What I didn't want was as wallet-slash-smartphone holder, such as this one by Sena, as I didn't want the smartphone experience compromised by a flappy wallet-y bit.

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 09.02.04
A smartphone case and wallet combined. Not my thing...

Googling for "slim wallet" throws up loads of results -- they really are the height of fashion at the moment. But a lot of them are Kickstarter projects.

I've bought quite a few things off of Kickstarter over the past eighteen months. Scratch that -- I've wasted a lot of time, effort, and money on Kickstarter over the past eighteen months. I've come to the conclusion that Kickstarter is essentially just a way of spending money in exchange for disappointment.

What I've always looked for in a wallet before is one that could hold each of my cards individually. I did a MoSCoW analysis of my wallet contents (I want to be cool, but I'm such a geek…) and discovered that I have four bank cards I must have, two store cards I must have, four other cards I need to keep around, and some detritus I didn't need at all. I typically don't carry cash, but I do collect a ton of receipts.

I happened across Bellroy, which specialise in slim wallets. They have a bunch of different wallets. What I liked about them -- and why I ultimately bought this one -- was that each product page on their website has a clear video that shows exactly how the wallet works. This made is super-easy for me to understand whether the wallet would fit my needs. None of the other sites did this, and it made the sale very easy.

I can't embed the video here, but here's a screenshot from the "Note Sleeve" wallet that I bought. Click through to have a look -- the video makes it so obvious how it works.

Screen Shot 2013-08-23 at 08.51.03
The videos Bellroy have on their website make it really easy to understand the product proposition...


And so?

The wallet came beautifully packaged. (And so it should at $100/£65.)

Beautifully packaged slim wallet is beautifully packaged...

Do I like it? I had my old wallet for eight years, and every wallet I had before it was more or less the same idea -- a slab of leather stuffed with rubbish I'm dependent on. But here's the Bellroy Note Sleeve side-by-side with my old wallet:

Fashions of 2013 and 1983 compared...

What I don't like about it is that each card doesn't have it's own slot, so accessing a card on-demand is a little fussy. But I do like the fact it's smaller. And, you know, I feel more metrosexual and cool. I'm living the dream of modern mobile man! Here's the final result:

Nice enough wallet, but would be nice to lose it. Although "lose it" in the sense of "not needing it", as opposed to actually "mislaying it", having to cancel all the cards, etc. That would be a pain...

The fact is though, I don't want a wallet at all. A smartphone should really be everything I need.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

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