Nik’s Minimalist Wallets
Not so long ago, Nik realized he wasn’t satisfied with his old leather wallet. Its exposed stitching was failing and, as Nik repaired the wallet, he realized he could design a new, more minimalist wallet that he’d be happier with overall. As with most wallets with a lot of pockets, Nik’s old wallet got thicker as time went on and he collected receipts and other detritus: it got so bulky he’d end up taking it out of his back pants pocket (it was too big to fit in his front pocket) after getting in the car and, as a result, he’d occasionally forget it in there.
In designing and making his new wallet, Nik’s design criteria were:
- Keep it simple.
- As little bulk as possible. Comfortable in the front or back pants pocket.
- Fits the essentials: a few credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance and library cards, a few folded cash bills.
- Clean design.
- Definitely no extra room to invite the endless accumulation of receipts.
Other folks at the TOM BIHN factory took notice of Nik’s clever new design and asked him to make wallets for them, too. Tom carries his Wallet #1 in his front or back pocket, Matthew carries his wallet in his front pants pockets, Darcy carries hers in an organizational pocket in her Small Cafe Bag and Tim carries his in his ID messenger bag or Synapse 25. When everyone agreed (well, almost: minimalist wallets aren’t for everyone, after all) these were the best wallets they’d ever used, we decided it was time to offer the wallets to you guys, too.
three four versions of Nik’s Minimalist Wallets can fit up to about 6 credit cards or 3-4 credit cards and 4-6 ID, health insurance, or membership cards or similar (the raised text and numbers of credit cards take up a little more space and the thickness of other cards can vary slightly) and a few folded paper bills of any currency. Note: U.K. business cards fit in the Wallets but U.S. business cards — which are larger than the size of a credit card — don't.
Each version has two interior pockets and a simple elastic band to keep the wallet shut. Something else that’s pretty cool: you can fold the wallet in reverse, so that the “interior” pockets are on the outside.
Nik’s original wallet and the most minimalist of them all. Two interior fabric pockets. No exterior pockets.
Two interior pockets: one is fabric, the other is clear urethane. And this time, there’s one exterior pocket.
Nik and Fong worked together on the day the wallets debuted to make this version in response to feedback from members of the TOM BIHN Forums. Wallet #4 is exactly the same as Wallet #3 except for one key difference: a small webbing loop through which gives you the ability to securely and conveniently tether your Wallet #4 to any TOM BIHN bag with O-rings. You'll need a Key Strap to do this, but given that all of our larger bags come with one 8" Key Strap in Black, you probably already have one. If you don't: see our various styles, lengths, and colors of Key Straps here.
Two interior pockets, both of which are fabric. One exterior pocket. Basically, it's a #3 Wallet with a fabric pocket instead of the clear urethane. This was the most requested new version/variation of the wallets, so we made it happen.
What makes all
three four versions of Nik’s Minimalist Wallets unique is how truly minimalist they are.
Upon delivery, the empty wallet will appear soft and somewhat unstructured. Why add a piece of unnecessary stiffener material, Nik thought, when the end users ID, credit cards, etc. could serve as the stiffener? Put your cards in the wallet, use the elastic band to keep it closed, and you’ll find that within a day or so your wallet will form a slight crease down its spine: after that happens, both sides of the wallet will naturally close together whether or not you use the elastic band.
Traditional wallets are made of leather. Tough, yes, but also bulky. The stitching that holds the leather together is typically exterior stitching and the required seam allowance (the additional margin of material beyond the stitching) adds to the overall silhouette of the wallet. Nylon wallets (“Velcro® Wallets”) are typically thinner and lighter than leather wallets, but are usually made with exterior bound seams and have an even larger silhouette. What’s golden about Nik’s design is that the seams are turned to the inside, and add almost nothing to the silhouette or bulk of the finished wallet.
The design of the nearly seamless look was achieved by Nik through a process similar to that of origami. He had to imagine and conceive of a series of internal folds that would — after the final action of turning the wallet inside out post-construction process — create pockets for cards/cash and achieve that seamless look.
You’re likely to be as crazy about this wallet as we are if…
- You want a minimalist wallet.
- You appreciate a clean design and look. No fuss.
- You want a wallet that’s slim enough to comfortably fit in your front or back pants pocket.
- You only want or need to carry 6-10 cards and a few folded cash bills.
- You realize that having space for more than that in your wallet allows you to fit stuff you no longer need in your wallet — like old receipts or expired cards — which forces you to clean out your wallet on a regular basis.
- You realize that extra space for more stuff you don’t need requires brain energy that you’d rather devote to other tasks.
On the other hand, these wallets probably aren’t for you if…
- You want to carry standard-sized business cards in your wallet (they’re just a little too big to fit in these wallets without the corners getting dog-eared).
- You carry a significant amount of cash.
- You don’t like to fold your cash bills.
- You want a phone/wallet combo.
- You like to have a lot of organizational pockets in your wallet.
- You want an RFID-blocking wallet. Because, in part, of the debate over whether RFID-blocking is necessary or just a gimmick, we opted not to make our wallets RFID-blocking.
- You prefer a wallet with a zipper or you want a wallet with a snaphook so it can clip securely to an o-ring inside of your bag. If either or both of those are the case, see our Clear Organizer Wallet.
And, finally, a note on wallets and colors…
Wallets have a tendency to show wear and tear more than bags. Think of how often you handle your wallet, or how the indigo dye of some denim can transfer to what’s carried in one’s pants pockets. If you don’t mind a wallet with some character, or you plan to carry your wallet in a bag or be fastidious with its cleanliness and care, by all means choose a lighter color. If that character is going to bug you or you just want to prevent your wallet from showing stains or wear, choose a darker color.