Mark goes over his Top 10 Wallets 2020. Mark prefers minimalist wallets, but you will find a few bifold wallets, metal wallets and of course leather wallets in this lineup!
(if you want to see all the features and how many cards and cash it can hold, please watch the video)
Today we’re looking at Mark’s Top 10 Favorite wallets of 2020. Of course, when I do wallet reviews I apply an unbiased approach on all the wallets I review, whether I like them personally or not and that’s because there’s always a wallet out there for someone.
Mark’s Top 10 for 2020 starts with the TROVE Swift, then the Hell-bent 3.0 followed by the Das Offene Meer Houbei, which is now called Open Seas Leather. Then the Dango A10, the Bellroy Slim Sleeve, the Akeeni XSTO, the Allett Leather bi-fold, followed by the Taurus Camp Grain Wallet, the Winston from Wingback and finally the Trayvax Contour.
When we do our Top videos we always start with price. Everybody wants to know how much do these wallets cost? Well, let’s look. The TROVE Swift is $45. Hell-bent 3.0, is $99. The Dango A10 is $99 based on using the single card accessory. The Bellroy Slim Sleeve is $79, the XSTO is $66, but goes up to $68 depending on the card configuration. The Allett Leather bi-fold is $45, Taurus Camp Grain Wallet comes in at $68 with the Open Seas Leather Houbei at $79. Finally, the Wingback Winston is $100 and coming in as the heavyweight, the Trayvax Contour at $158.
What makes each of these wallets my favorite? Let me explain first that I prefer minimalist wallets. That’s just my preference and I rarely carry cash and only coins when I travel. So this list is for my everyday carry type wallet where I live, not for when I travel.
Let’s start with the TROVE Swift. The TROVE Swift has been a perennial for me and for a lot of reviews. Its footprint versus capacity is a big positive for me. I like smaller type wallets and when it’s functional like the Swift it’s even better. I did a carry test on this wallet and it didn’t disappoint at all. It’s designed and made in the United Kingdom, and has two layers of bonded, full grain, veg-tanned leather with the main elastic is Italian, very high quality. There has been one concern expressed around the tendency to bend cards over time due to the leather in the middle with the elastic . The pull tab grip on the quick access trap is nice and its rubberized head makes it easy to grab.
Now to the Hell-bent 3.0 wallet. The slimness of this wallet without the money clip is what attracted me to this wallet. The money clip works great and is beautiful in it’s finish, but for me adds too much bulk. Like several other wallets in this review I did a carry test on this wallet and it was great. I really like how the cards fan out easily, but don’t fall out. It’s held together by the tension in the screws on the back
Now onto the Dango A10. I’ve carried a few Dango wallets and I reviewed almost all the rest and I do like aspects of all their wallets. But for me, the A10 really provides the sweet spot if we’re talking metal wallets from the Dango product line. It has a reliable and thought out place for cash, and I do like the “adapt” aspect of the design so you can pick and choose which accessory to use. The slide rail is very clever, being adopted from the M1 Rail wallet, and provides a platform for other accessories to use with the base. I did a carry test and enjoyed it. Unlike other Dango wallets, the A10 is significantly slimmer in width than other Dango wallets. For example, the width of the Dango A10 is only 64mm versus the 74mm for the traditional M2 Maverick.
Lets next look at the Bellroy Slim Sleeve. This is by far or one of my favorites due to the ease of use, capacity to carry what I need and its thin profile. By putting cash folded over once into the back rear slot, it barely sticks out and provides enough exposure to easily grab the notes. It fits US dollars and other currencies of the same size. Designed in Australia and made in India, it’s made from environmentally certified top grain leather, veg tan. Its double stitched in areas where the leather meets, which provides good durability and the layout is incredibly efficient. Long-term I still have concerns about the leather being too thinly split, but I do have a number of reports indicating it performs nicely over the years.
Onto the XSTO from Akeeni, which is the successor to the STOW wallet. This is one of the most exciting wallets of 2020 as the upgrade to the STOW. It’s achieved a wonderful balance of functional excellence that we haven’t seen in a long time from any wallet, whether it’s leather or metal. Metal just happens to be rigid enough to provide that platform in the case of the XSTO. The small and compact footprint is really what makes this attractive to me. Cards are a breeze, they slide in, click, and stay. There’s no way they’re coming out by themselves or with moderate force. Its ability to handle cash is almost equally impressive. There is a spring mechanism that sits in the bottom that provides the backer for cash folded twice and put on the bottom. Cards placed on top provide downward force this, working with the spring platform, keeps cash in place. Cash at the bottom, cards on top, it works brilliantly.
And there’s a secondary storage area on the top that provides for non-credit card sized carry items like ID, loyalty cards, business cards etc. You can even put additional cards here if desired.
Now to the Allett Leather bi-fold and it’s big. Much bigger than all the other wallets we’re looking at in this review. Designed and made in the United States, in California to be specific, what makes this wallet impressive is its capacity and it’s not just George Costanza type quality, although that is impressive. It can maintain up to 24 cards while still being very functional and incredibly thin. The leather used on the exterior is a Napa leather, which is soft to the touch and pliable. There are two separate areas in the cash billfold space for receipts and cash, all currencies fit in this wallet. The seams are created to prevent overlapping, which helps enhance the design and maintain thinness. The design ethos is to allow inclusion of significant items without creating bulk, while maintaining minimalism as best it can, and they do that brilliantly.
Next is the Taurus Camp Grain Wallet. I have done a carry test on it and found it very functional, which is due to the function design principles approached by the owner. When designers put in extra effort to understand how people use a wallet so they can make refinements to their design, it makes it a better experience. And this is truly an example of that. It has the ability to keep cards for tap payment in the front, and I like being able to flip open the flap with my thumb. The two step down finger and back thumb notches on the back is a great help, recognizing that instead of digging to get to the card, a small notch to expose some of the card to grab would be better, nice thinking. The version I have is the 8cm model which will handle any currency. If you’d like one that’s slightly smaller (7cm) they have that too which works with US and like dollar currencies.
I know we have reviewed quite a few of the Das Offene Meer wallets, now renamed Open Seas Leather. That’s a translation of Das Offene Meer from German. The wallet that made this top 10 is called the Houbei. All of Michael’s designs are pretty unique, but this one encompasses everything I’ve been looking for. This is made in the USA or wherever Michael Bluth is stationed, as he’s full-time United States Navy. It’s made from a veg tanned, full grain, Italian Buttero leather which comes from the Concertia Walpier Tannery in Italy. The company recommends seven to eight cards and up to 20 pieces of cash. That is a very significant amount of cash to stuff in a wallet. Because it is a wrap style wallet it’s designed for this function. I feel 10 slips of cash are fine and won’t make it feel too thick. It does not work with Yen or Euro, just US Canadian, Australian and like currencies.
Let’s move on to the penultimate wallet, which is the Wingback Winston. There are similar wallets like this on the market, including a couple we’ve reviewed that have an open back for the billfold space instead of an enclosed pocket. You have quick access to your cash, the ROIK wallets and the Octovo wallet we reviewed also have this feature. I like this wallet in particular, for several reasons. One is the refinement in the construction and finishing elements. The weight of the leather is just perfect, the thickness used is different weights depending on application. It feels very elegant and simple in a very tight footprint. There’s nothing sloppy with this wallet. And I really love how the edges are beveled and edges are painted. It’s just this kind of attention to detail that brings a lot of elegance to this carry. It’s designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom. And like I said, it’s made from full grain, veg tanned leather which is environmentally certified, is hand-sewn, and uses Gutterman thread from Germany.
The final wallet in the Top 10 wallets of 2020 is the Trayvax Contour. All Trayvax wallets are unique and require a level of engagement, learning, and understanding with their designs that require mental application. They don’t necessarily come easy to understand or use, and in some cases, this leaves their wallets too difficult to use for people. Of all Trayvax wallets, this is my favorite and it’s a little involved, but I like it. The quality of materials makes this a solid wallet, not too big and very capable.
Designed and handmade in the United States from CNC’d machine stainless steel plate, in also incorporates Horween leather on the back, which is a top grain oil tanned leather made in Chicago. Quality just oozes from this wallet. Once you get the hang of the hex screw that is used to adjust the capacity clip, it all comes together and it becomes a joy to use.
There you go, that was a quick look at Mark’s Top 10 wallets of 2020.