TLDR: Because a foil-lined paper sleeve for an ID was hard to use with 6 cards inside, and in the process of making the NoPro Wallet, my opinion changed somewhat unconventinonally on what a wallet should be.
The Foil-Lined Paper Card Sleeve
For years, the “wallet” I used was made up of the aluminum foil-lined paper sleeve my ID came in, a SwissCard and some cash held together by a rubber band. As the ID sleeve deteriorated, I reinforced it with Scotch tape, and trimmed the top so my fingers could fit inside to pinch and tug cards out. The paper stretched to fit a total of 5 cards, but when the addition of number 6 made using it a chore, it was time for a new wallet.
Other Minimalist Wallets
I searched and searched for a minimalist wallet, and didn’t like the thickness and size of even the most thin minimalist wallets I came across, made from exotic materials like carbon fiber or titanium. When some of the most slim wallets on the market boast being 6mm thick to start with, a fabric wallet is practically 5 to 6 times thinner, with only a narrow strip of doubled-over fabric and pull strap around the opening and with no metal clip, there are no pressure points to get pushed into the wearer’s body. Tweave is about 0.5mm thick (and sheds thickness as it stretches), while a 30mil thick credit card is 0.76mm. Add stamped numbers to the card and thickness increases.
Leather is also comparatively thick, and turning seams inside out on something with seam tolerances so small is unheard of. So leather wallets are forced by nature to have a footprint larger than a credit card’s 3.5×2.125″ by a significant margin. Turning a fabric wallet seam-side in adds some bulk, sure, but it’s along an edge that doesn’t contact the body when worn, it’s not stiff, and it’s easily compressible with other things in the pocket.
I’d used Tweave on the Papoose and now love it for its mix of gentle coarseness, durability and 4-way stretch. Unlike spandex, Tweave retains its elasticity between washes and stretch cycles. As a result, its fit is consistent and repeatable, making it perfect for this unusual application.
Foil lining prervents radio waves from interfering with chips on crerdit cards, and this was a necessity around ports and ships with powerful radars. I had to replace an ID multiple times because such radiation destroyed its chip, locking me out of accounts at work. But now I don’t spend time anywhere near such machines, so I have no need for RFID blockage. Because today’s credit card chips are encrypted (unlike those from a decade ago), RFID blocking is a useless feature. Stacking cards also blurrs near field communication signals. Next time you get gas, try putting a stack of 2 or 3 cards up to the reader to see what I mean. To be clear, encryption does nothing against a radar’s powerful radiation. But this radiation has always affected the ID, and never credit cards in my experience. Encryption prevents the credit card’s info from being lifted in the unlikely event someone passes by with a powerful reader in a backpack, for example. This thief would have to get within inches of the cards, and get a new encryption key off the card to obtain actionable information off of it.
The Useless Chassis
What about the NoPro Wallet’s missing rigidity? All that thickess on regular wallets is justified by its use as a chassis. In the process of tinkering with the NoPro wallet I realized that all it needs to do is keep the cards stacked. This is the essential function of whatever holds them together. So if you insist on there being a chassis in the wallet, I submit the SwissCard (Victorinox’s spin on the credit card-shaped Swiss Army Knife, as thick as about 3 cards) as a practical option. (Here it is in blue, pink, and red; here are more options; Amazon associate links) I use one more for its contents than the added structure. These contents include:
- Rulers (up to 3″ or 7cm),
- Small knife/letter opener,
- Scissors (which hook on a finger and stay out of the way for full use of the hand despite their presence),
- Good quality Victorinox tweezers
- Nail file/flat tip screwdrier
- Tooth pick
- Pressurized blue ballpoint pen
- a pin
The pin has fallen out, so when I get a new SwissCard, the first thing I’m going to do is discard the pin to prevent it from ending up in the bottom of a pocket and jabbing me at the worst time possible. SwissCards come equipped in a variety of configurations. I have no need for a magnifying glass or coin cell flashlight, so I chose the one with the above tools.
Having settled on a fabric pattern, some time later I discussed it with my wife. She prompted me to rethink its construction. The result is simpler to make and more easily repeatable.
The NoPro wallet is the result of a nerd’s passionate tinkering sparked by a need. I enjoy the discoveries that come in the process of refinement, and I like making things to be efficient and utilitarian. Let me know what you think about this take on the wallet below. Thanks for reading!