Slim is in. And for a lot of you, a minimalist wallet is a great asset to your everyday carry. But here's the thing: sometimes, you just need to carry more than your ultra slim wallet can handle.
That doesn't mean you'll need to give up on compact wallets entirely, though. Considering how popular EDC zip pouches are, and the inevitable times when you'll wish you had an easier way to carry loose odds and ends, a zip wallet—when done right—makes a lot of sense for everyday carry.
Today, I'll give you my hands-on impressions of the wallets so you can decide for yourself if a zip wallet design is what your EDC's been missing.
Good Materials, Good Looks
Right off the bat, this is one stylish wallet. I especially like the choice of materials here: full-grain Italian leather, smooth nylon liners, and a well-proportioned YKK zipper. It doesn't end up looking too “designer-y”, nor does it come off as overly clunky and utilitarian, which is easy to do when zippers are involved. The stitching is tight, consistent, and discreet throughout. Clean lines, hand-finished edges, not a loose thread in sight.
A Super Configurable Design
Here's where the real fun begins: getting your hands on the wallet and discovering all the ways you can configure your cards and cash. Where other minimalist wallet designs can only be used one way, as the designer intended, Capsule really aimed for versatility with the Accomplice.
Practically every feature here can be used in multiple different ways, which should come as a breath of fresh air to wallet enthusiasts. But it does comes at the price of a steep learning curve. Let's look more in depth at the features here, going outside in.
There's a single exterior card slot on the front of the wallet. The pocket is cut tall enough such that if you put your card all the way in, you wouldn't be able to see it from the outside. This is useful if you want to keep prying eyes at bay when traveling abroad (no RFID security here, though), but it can be frustrating if you prefer to slide your cards out with your thumb. Easy workaround: don't push your cards in all the way and leave a bit poking out, otherwise you'll need to slide your thumb and finger under the pocket to pinch your card out. Without breaking in the leather, it can be a tight fit.
The wallet opens with a half-zip only, shaped like an L, so your cards don't fall out every time you open it. The leather pull tab feels good and is sized just right too—enough for your thumb to grip on to and it doubles as quick retrieval from your pocket, like a lanyard.
The action of the zip itself is smooth thanks to the smaller teeth and "speed-beveled" corners. You can pull in one direction and the angle on the corners guide the zipper through, instead of needing to pull completely to the right, then all the way down once you hit the corner.
Most of the time, these corners work flawlessly. That is, unless your bills aren't 100% crispy when folded. You might experience bills or cards “catching” on part of the zipper. It doesn't happen often, but I know for some of you a zipper can make or break a wallet.
On the inner left side of the wallet, there's a single slit for cards cut into the nylon liner. Like the rest of the wallet, this pocket is multifunctional. While it's a perfect fit for an ID or credit card, I've used it to carry random loose stuff in my EDC: a quarter, spare key, SD card, even a couple of Aleve.
Now, as weird as it may sound, my favorite part of the wallet is this big empty nothingness in the central cavity. It's surprisingly really useful. It's liberating to not have to rely on a pull ribbon or navigate a ton of interior slots to get to your cards. In the Accomplice, the back of the wallet acts like a spine of a book, and the cards become the pages. They fan out naturally as the wallet opens, letting you quickly ID cards and flip through them to get what you need.
Again, this is a really useful pocket in that you don't need to use it just for cards. You might only carry a handful of cards that the outer and left-most slots can handle. That gives you room to get creative: put a Victorinox Swisscard or other credit card tool in here, maybe a really slim phone charger, bandaids, a flat USB cable, or whatever else. In my Accomplice, I keep a little travel pen in there.
Now it wouldn't be a Capsule wallet without their signature Cash Strap, which sits on the inner right side of the wallet. Compared to Capsule's Minimalist wallet, the Cash Strap on both the Accomplice and its bigger brother, the Diplomat, is much more supple and pliable. That's because the strap is on the interior, so its contents can be secured by the zipper itself. Secondly, the Accomplice's features don't suffer from a functional fixedness: the strap can do more than accommodate cash. Right now, I use it as a secondary divider for my less frequently used cards to declutter the middle compartment and to also provide structure for bills to slide in against.
Unfortunately, the strap isn't exactly effortless to use because of how the zipper doesn't open past the bottom. I've found the best way is to come in at an angle at the top, then pivot the cards or cash in towards the bottom. If you've used the cash strap on the Minimalist, this might feel like a step down in terms of ease of use. It's another example of the ambitions of this wallet contributing to a steeper learning curve and longer break in process.
For Travel Essentials, There's the Diplomat
The Diplomat is like the Accomplice's bigger brother, designed with an emphasis on carrying your passport, boarding passes, and different currencies. It features a vertical external pocket on the rear, and a similar but different layout to the Accomplice on the inside. It features two slanted interior card pockets, but they feel a little loose because of how supple the leather behind it is. And because of how large the wallet is, you don't get the same card-fanning in the main cavity compared to the Accomplice. It's nice as a passport holder, but I'd personally rather carry a separate wallet for just my cards and cash.
Pros, Cons, and Other Stuff to Consider
You could say the Accomplice is a minimalist wallet, but that use case isn't where it shines. I've used other wallets that handle carrying next-to-nothing like a champ. But when I'm traveling, handling a lot of cards, or visiting cash only establishments, I'm confident the Accomplice can handle all of it.
That's because it carries a ton if you need it, but stays slim if you don't. For instance, take a look at it zipped with 10+ cards and 4 bills compared to one of my other favorite wallets, a Bellroy Slim Sleeve, which is similarly sized to accommodate bills too. The Bellroy, even completely empty, is about the size of a fully stuffed but zipped up Accomplice. It's an impressive result of approaching organization and storage from a different way, letting the cards themselves and the 'spine' of the wallet do the work.
- Impressive slimness:capacity ratio
- Actually carries cash!
- Multifunction/different use cases on pretty much every feature of this wallet
- Excellent leather, successful hardware, superb fit and finish
- Zipper can sometimes catch on things behind the cash strap
- Steep learning curve and break in period at first
Other stuff worth noting:
- Outer pocket in functional limbo: not the quickest quick access pocket, not the most secure security pocket
- Zipper leaves a small gap at the spine, but this isn't meant to be a weather-resistant wallet
Should You Get This Wallet?
This is not your typical minimalist wallet that sacrifices utility and versatility by chasing a smaller footprint. But it might be more complex or bigger than you need depending on how much you typically carry.
Coming from another slim EDC wallet? If so, enjoy the newfound freedom of being able to carry more. And be sure you can get behind the idea of using a zipper. If you're coming from a traditional style wallet with little EDC wallet experience, be prepared for some learning curve and a break-in period. If you've owned the Capsule Minimalist and are on the fence about “upgrading,” consider the Accomplice if you carry more than 4-5 cards. But be prepared for a slightly larger wallet, a different Cash Strap, and slightly slower access.
If you want a more compact wallet but have struggled with trying to fit your life into a “minimalist wallet,” the Accomplice might just be the “slim maximalist” solution you're looking for. It's a little bigger than other wallets in this space, but the versatility is worth it to me. I'll keep carrying mine for a while. It's a great bang for the bulk.
You can grab the Accomplice and Diplomat at Capsule's on-going, fully funded Kickstarter campaign before it ends on 11/13/16, in three leather options starting at $55.
Disclosure: These wallets were provided by the manufacturer at no cost to me for the purpose of editorial consideration. That doesn't, however, affect my honest opinion of the products as stated in this review.