Alongside your phone and your keys, a trusty wallet is one piece of everyday carry gear that no guy can go without.
But be careful — If you’re not keeping a close eye on how much you actually stuff into your wallet, you might end up with a mess like George Costanza’s.
That’s the real benefit of a finely tuned everyday carry wallet: It streamlines what you’re able to carry, and packs it away in a pocket-friendly package (that won’t give you back troubles when you sit on it).
In addition to making our own wallets for everyday carry, we’ve tested and/or reviewed about a half dozen other brands to put this guide together. So take a look through, and see which one best suits your everyday carry style.
How to Choose the Best EDC Wallet for You
There are three main questions you should ask to figure out which EDC wallet is perfect for you:
- What kind of material do you want?
- How much do you need to carry? Cards, bills, coins, etc.?
- What style of wallet do you find most aesthetically pleasing?
For the material, you’ll pretty much be choosing between two options — classic leather, or a more modern metal. That’s the market for EDC wallets these days, and the style of wallet largely depends on what material it’s made out of.
Next, how much do you really need to carry in your wallet? A classic billfold gives plenty of room for cash and cards, whereas more minimalist takes may be limited in their storage capacities. Try to find a wallet that gives you just enough room for your essentials, but doesn’t encourage you to overstuff it.
Lastly, what sort of look are you going for in your wallet? This thing will be with you every day, so you’ll want to invest in a wallet that really suits your style. If you prefer natural materials, a good leather wallet will age and patina nicely as you carry it. But if you’re more of the high tech sort of guy, a titanium or carbon fiber wallet might be a better match.
Now, onto the wallets!
Best Leather Wallet: The NutSac Billfold
We’re awfully proud of the time and attention to detail we put into our Billfold, from the top notch full grain pull up leather we use in its construction to the hand-stitched detailing that’s entirely made in the USA.
A full length pocket gives plenty of room for cash, and two internal pockets comfortably store about six cards each. That gives enough room for easy access to your daily necessities, without so much space to encourage you to stuff it full of receipts.
In short: We made the wallet that we really want to carry, and then made it tough enough to last for a lifetime — quite literally, since it’s backed by NutSac’s lifetime guarantee.
And in case the traditional billfold style isn’t really your speed, we also have one of the best minimalist wallets around: The NutSac Slim Wallet. It’s made from the same buttery soft leather Madone leather as our Jones 13 bag, and has just enough room for about 8 cards — perfect for front pocket carry or tossing into your EDC bag.
Best Metal Wallet: The Ridge Wallet
The Ridge’s collection of minimalist metal wallets has become a favorite of the pared-down side of the EDC community, and with good reason — they’re tough, simple to use, and come in a wide range of material and color options.
An expandable design lets the Ridge Wallet hold up to about 12 cards comfortably (though 8 cards seems to be the sweet spot, from our testing). To access them, you just push on the indented divot and fan the cards out.
There are options here for either a cash strap or a money clip as well, and dozens of color and material combinations to choose from. If you’re trying to pare down to just a handful of cards and a few bills, this is without a doubt a great wallet for you.
Best Card Holder: Ekster Aluminum Cardholder
One step slimmer than even a minimalist wallet, the card holder explains itself in its name. And from the card holders we’ve looked at, Ekster’s lineup of aluminum or leather-wrapped Cardholders definitely seems like the best option.
The real draw here is Ekster’s unique card deployment mechanism. With the push of a button, it will fan out up to 15 cards for easy access — though we’ve found that once again, the sweet spot for this type of minimalist wallet is between 5 to 8 cards.
An aluminum body gives Ekster’s Cardholders a good weight to durability ratio, but we do wonder how long the internal mechanisms will last, as they appear to be made primarily of plastic. Overall though, it’s a really cool wallet option that wins big on style and function points.
Most Unique: Ezra Arthur’s Japanese Wallet
Japanese wallets are an underutilized category, but we think their design is really darned cool. In contrast to American wallets, Japanese wallets are expected to be able to hold cards, cash, and coins.
Ezra Arthur’s Japanese Wallet is hand-made in Phoenix, Arizona, and it’s 100% leather — no linings, rubber, or glue — with a lifetime guarantee on the stitching. Meant to be held in the front pocket, it’s a truly unique everyday carry option for guys who want to show off a different sort of style.
Also Consider: Bellroy’s Flip Case
Bellroy’s Flip Case is so small and sleek, it almost doesn’t even register as a wallet at first. But the design details are all in place here, from the molded hardshell construction that’s covered in leather to the dual magnetic closures for easy and secure access.
This is about as small as you can get for an EDC wallet, with storage capacity for just 6-8 cards and a couple of folded up bills. We imagine it would be great for the guy who doesn’t like carrying a wallet in his pants pockets, and prefers to stash it inside his everyday carry bag instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
To round things out, let’s answer a few of the most common wallet-related questions we’ve heard guys asking online.
What is an EDC Wallet?
EDC stands for “everyday carry” — meaning that an EDC wallet is one that you’ll have with you, well, every day. But beyond that, it refers to a philosophy of use that focuses on durability, versatility, and clean design.
What is a minimalist wallet?
Minimalist wallets usually eschew the bifold or trifold design of classic wallets, and trim everything down to hold no more than about 12 cards and a couple of bills.