Everyday Carry

What's the Best Material for an EDC Wallet?

Leather vs. elastic vs. metal

Authored by:
Bernard Capulong
What's the Best Material for an EDC Wallet?

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If you're just getting into everyday carry, one of the best places to start is with something you probably already own: your wallet. Chances are you've got something bigger and bulkier than it needs to be. I recommend upgrading to a proper EDC wallet—one that's as slim, minimal, and efficient as possible.

Why Carry a Minimalist Wallet?

Right off the bat, there's a number of problems with carrying a big, traditional wallet. Because they're so big, you're probably keeping it in your rear pocket, where it's more likely to fall out. Even if you're lucky enough to avoid that nightmare, by sitting on your wallet, you're risking a needless potential spine injury. It's best to carry your wallet in your front pocket if you can, for your spine and security's sake.

I know some of you just hate the feeling of too much stuff in your pockets (although if you're on this site, maybe your definition of too much stuff is different than others). This is where minimalist wallets come in. By design, they fit better in your pocket and can even be a little restrictive at times, encouraging you to be more considered in what you actually keep in them. Traditional wallets with a ton of card slots make it so easy to overstuff them with cards you'll probably never use while you're out.

Money and Material Things

In the everyday carry scene, you hear the phrase “form follows function” thrown around a lot. But one part of the equation doesn't get the attention it deserves, especially when it comes to wallets: materials.

If you think about wallets as much as I do (and I hope you don't, because that would be kinda sad), you'd realize the material of choice becomes a huge factor in shaping the design of the wallet.

Traditionally, most wallets are made of leather. The growing popularity of minimalist EDC wallets gave rise to non-leather options like elastic wallets and even metal ones. Of course, other types of wallets exist: duct tape, Tyvek (like those crazy durable envelopes), sailcloth, and firehose, just to name a few.

Leather, elastic, and metal are the big three wallet materials I'm going to look at today and want to hear your opinion about. Ultimately, this will all help you narrow your search for the perfect wallet to slip into your front pocket.

Leather EDC Wallets

Leather is comfortable, durable (but not water resistant), and looks better with age. Depending on the kind of leather, they can be super supple or more rigid and beefy. Regardless, quality leather has a luxurious, organic feel in hand that's hard to replicate. Aesthetically, leather wallets are versatile enough to fit in modern or classically styled EDCs alike.

Wallets made from leather tend to be thicker, especially if they layer pieces of leather to create individual card slots, as all that material adds up. Leather does stretch a tiny bit, but not much. As a result, your wallet takes up a fixed amount of space in your pocket. If you carry only a few cards, you might end up with “wasted” or unused space in your wallet. If you carry lots, you might (irreversibly) stretch your wallet out or find storing and retrieving tight-fitting cards to be a hassle.


  • Comfortable in the hand and in the pocket
  • Looks better with age
  • Durable enough for most people


  • Can get bulky or lead to overcarrying
  • Generally not weather resistant
  • Often costs more depending on quality of leather

Examples of leather EDC wallets: Bellroy Slim Sleeve, Anson Calder 1/8” Calfskin Wallet, Nodus Compact Wallet

Elastic EDC Wallets

If your top priority is having the slimmest, most compact wallet possible, look into elastic wallets. Functionally, an elastic wallet is like a glorified rubber band. While they're not for everyone, they're the best at taking up as little space in your pocket as possible, no matter how many cards you carry. The tension from the elastic band keeps a snug fit on as little as one card, but easily expands to secure a much larger set of cards (as shown above).

Usually, elastic wallets don't offer much organization for individual cards in the interest of achieving the slimmest possible profile. You might see one or two quick access slots for your most used cards, but the rest of your cards are usually stacked on top of each other. This shouldn't be too much of a problem as these minimalist wallets encourage carrying fewer cards anyway.

Carrying cash in an elastic wallet isn't as convenient as other options either. You'd usually have to fold bills a few times for it to fit in a wallet so small, and all that folding adds more thickness. Paper bills also lack the rigidity cards have, so the tension in the elastic can crumple them up.


  • Achieves maximum slimness
  • Slim by default due to tension, but can expand to accommodate more cards
  • Usually less expensive


  • Less durable as a material
  • Less organization overall
  • Tension may be too loose (not secure), or too tight (difficult to use)

Examples of elastic EDC wallets: Elephant E8 Wallet, Trove Wallet, Infinity Wallet, BASICS Wallet

Metal EDC Wallets

Metal adds structure and rigidity to a wallet without all the bulk. Like other tools in your everyday carry, a metal wallet will be sturdy and potentially overkill if you just need something to keep your cards in one place (better safe than sorry, right?).

In these wallets, the metal component is usually either a single unibody frame or a set of plates that sandwich your cards. Typically, they use an elastic band or O-rings to secure the cards, so some of the pros and cons of elastic wallets explained above apply here to a lesser extent.

Smooth metal surfaces and typically compact designs make metal wallets easy to slip in and out of your pocket, but they aren't the most pocket friendly overall. They can wear out your pockets faster, scratch other gear you're carrying, and feel heavier than leather, elastic, or other fabric options. Despite all this, they're still common with EDCers for hitting the mark on ruggedness and efficiency.


  • Most overall durability, with high impact and weather resistance.
  • Improved security with RFID protection
  • Good balance of slimness and durability


  • Less comfortable in the pocket and can wear down fabric
  • Can scratch other gear in your pockets
  • May add extra weight (stick to aluminum or titanium if possible)

Examples of metal EDC wallets: Trayvax Element, RIDGE Wallet, Machine Era Slim Wallet

Which of these three materials is best for most people?

As far as materials go, leather probably wins here. Any shortcomings from leather as a material can be fixed by the wallet's design or how you carry your cards. They manage a good balance of comfort, durability, and pocket friendliness.

If you're a diehard minimalist who prefers only keeping a few cards on them, you'd probably vibe with an elastic wallet.

If you're after something sleek and ultra-rugged and you don't mind dealing with a little discomfort for the sake of cool, well-engineered gear, look into metal.

So, what's your preferred wallet material for everyday carry? Leave a comment below as I'd love to hear other EDCers' take on this.

There's a good chance your go-to wallet isn't made from any of these materials too. While other wallet materials don't impact the design and usability of wallets as much as these do, we'll still take a closer look at those options in future articles. In the meantime, you can find even more wallet options in these buying guides:

Wallets pictured in header, clockwise from top left: Bellroy x Barneys NY Slim Sleeve, OBSTRUCTURES A4, Secrid Wallet, Trayvax Element, minimum squared m^2, Trove Wallet, Capsule Minimalist

Bernard Capulong

Founder and Editor-in-Chief

About the Author
Bernard Capulong is an everyday carry (EDC) gear expert, entrepreneur, all-around nerd, and the founder and editor-in-chief of EverydayCarry.com—the largest online community for EDC gear enthusiasts. Since founding Everyday Carry in 2009, he’s built over a decade of experience in the industry, reviewing and highlighting brands and products, including pocket knives, flashlights, wallets, watches, bags, pens, and much more.

Bernard is known for bringing everyday carry out of obscurity and into the mainstream, having been published or featured in various publications such as GQ, TIME Magazine, The New York Times, VICE, HYPEBEAST, and many others. He has also played a part in curating, designing, and developing digital and physical products, resulting in successful crowdfunding projects or limited edition collaboration products with established softgoods brands. He stays on the pulse of the EDC industry by attending trade shows, participating in online interest communities, and actively engaging with fellow gear enthusiasts on social media.

In addition to being the editor-in-chief and main social media personality for EverydayCarry.com, Bernard is an avid gearhead and collector in general. His personal collections span technical bags, fountain pens, digital cameras, retro gaming hardware, personal hi-fi audio gear, and mechanical wristwatches, to name a few. Bernard Capulong is a prominent figure and trusted authority in the everyday carry industry with a career dedicated to helping people discover this hobby and stay prepared with quality gear.

Discussion (31 total)

I guess I'm one of those suckers for wallets having a whole range of them. Tend to use my Trove and Secrid the most. Use them with a Cavity Card to carry coins and a key.
Jeff williams ·
Love my Trayvax Element, Leather, medal and a touch of Paracord. Works and feels good. I tried another minimalism wallet but this is the EDC.
I love the worn in feel of a leather wallet. I picked up a Saddleback card wallet a few years ago and haven't looked back.
White Knight ·
Nice article and making people think about which to choose. I'm a bit of a traditionalist, but love modern stuff too like Tyvek / Carbon Fiber. Your depends on need too. I may not carry the same wallet to an evening on the town that I would carry on an expedition or a week in the forest. But that gives us a chance to own tooo many :) Metal gives good protection but doesn't do it for me. Yet. Elastic is great for minimalizing, but I have seen too many frayed, slack and sad items after a time. Leather would be my choice from these three.
White Knight ·
Leather has a lovely feel to it, is easy on the pocket (both ways), and will end up with with a wonderful patina. It can be waterproofed too with, say, Nikwax.
Except for the high price, the Trayvax Contour is the best in my opinion.
apologiabiology ·
How 'bout a duct tape wallet? It's nearly indestructible and crazy cheap. Bit of a pain to make, though.
Scott Johnson ·
Mine has just one compartment. No card slots. Easy.
Brian Draghi ·
I rotate out three different wallets to avoid having them and my pockets from wearing out. The DistilUnion Wally Micro, the Minimo Wallet and the Recycled Firefighter Sargeant are my top choice. Each have a certain use depending upon the situation. I've tried plenty of different wallets but these are the best.
Garrick Zinecker ·
Think you guys missed a solid choice for a compact wallet: TGT wallets. These guys are made from genuine leather and are an ultra slim option I have had my Nightcall 2.0 for a few years now and I love it.
1 more comments
Scott Johnson ·
Three things about me:
1/ I'm a lazy DIYer - I'll make my own gear but only if it's easy and quick.
2/ I'd rather have something that works well then something that looks good.
3/ I'm cheap.

The best for me is cheap flexible duct tape from a dollar store. Lasts longer then one might think and are insanely thin. I usually make a new one once a year for 50 cents.

A side note: the rfid wallet craze is just marketing hype. The banks have a ton of security built in to foil anyone with a pocket scanner. Use whatever wallet you want even if it doesn't block rfid.
Nathaniel P ·
Y'all need to do a write up of the Hellbent Holsters Combat wallet. Made of kydex, so it's strong, lightweight, durable, plays well with other gear, and the basic ones are affordable at only $25. The pricier ones even have REMOVABLE carbon fiber/Ti money clips, and everything is handmade in the USA.

Honestly surprised I haven't seen a write up about them in this site; it seems like it would be right up your alley.
Tom Macarol ·
I have the mighty wallet which is made from tyvek and i have to say i'm impressed. The pros are definetely that it is light and slim and very comfortable to carry. The only con i see is that it isn't ass durable than some other materials. Another thing to note is i carry about 4 cards around so for people with more cards i dont really suggest it :)
Zach Groenewald ·
Personally I carry a leather card holder similar to the Nodus above, but for a very long time I had a Dynomighty Tyvek Wallets. Thin, light, strong and weathers very nicely. You'll want to replace it every few months mostly because it doesn't look as neat anymore, but at $15 each I don't really care and I changed up the style every time.
Kevin J Meyer ·
I carry an 'Exentri Leather Wallet' an love it. It is slim and you can still organize all your cards and bills
Maksim ·
Hazard4 wallet made from cordura and it has a carabiner.That's all i need from it.
Since I wanted to go slimmer but wanted the familiar Bi-fold style, I went with a Slim Fold that was mentioned in a previous article on this site. Synthetic material is more comfortable to me and the waterproofness is an added bonus.
7 more comments