My EDC, Part 2: Wallet

This isn’t my wallet, but mine was virtually identical, down to the hand-tooled decorations.

Thirty years ago, in 7th grade shop class, I made a nice hand-tooled leather bifold wallet with sewn edges. It was totally sweet, and also a total George Costanza back-breaker. The subsequent three decades have been a long war of attrition between me and wallets.

I have two major beefs with wallets. The first is that I’m a front-pocket man. The only things I put in my back pockets are handkerchiefs, shopping lists, and the occasional receipt. A lot of wallets are not designed for front pockets, and most of those that are, are tri-fold designs.

Which leads to my second beef: IMHO traditional wallets are fundamentally stupid. All you need is a sleeve for your bills and cards. But most wallets have crap-tons of extra pockets and slots and holes and dividers and other folderol, AND then you take this stupid over-built thing and fold it over two or even three times. The result is that a huge chunk of the thickness of most wallets in actual use is the wallet itself, not its contents. It’s like the space shuttle – most of the tonnage that the shuttle system lofted to orbit each flight was the orbiter itself. Well, bump that. For me a wallet is just a means to an end, and the more it gets out of the way of the contents, the better.

Oh, screw this noise forever twice.

(I realize that I may be pissing off the people who are as dedicated to wallets as I am to notebooks. If so, may peace be upon your pocket leather fetish – to which I am not wholly immune, as will eventually be revealed – and may a thousand gardens grow.)

Some of you are probably wondering why I didn’t just go with a money clip. There are two reasons: first, I never completely trusted money clips to hold all my stuff securely, no matter how many positive testimonials I read. But more importantly, I discovered the Chums Surfshort wallet.

I got my first Chums wallet back in 2015 before going out to southern Utah to look for dinosaurs. I knew I’d be living out of a tent, and I couldn’t leave my cash and cards there, nor could I have them knocking around in my backpack. Partly because my backpack tends to get filled up with rocks (deliberately collected) and sand (incidental), and partly because I need the security of having my necessary shit physically on my person. I don’t carry a lot, but I want it in my pocket, just a reassuring pat away, all the time. So I was looking for the cheapest, most minimal thing I could find to carry the bare minimum of cash and cards. That first Chums wallet was basically just a nylon envelope with a zipper, with a single internal compartment. No extra slots or dividers, nothing folded back on itself, but with the security of complete enclosure, unlike a money clip.

The new Chums wallet – only one layer of nylon dumber than the original. I don’t keep my keys on mine.

When I got back from the field, I thought, “Hey, wait, why should I transfer my stuff from this little thing to my bigger, dumber wallet?” So I used that first one as my only wallet for two years, until I finally wore a hole in it. I replaced with another, nearly identical, except the new one had a clear plastic window for an ID and a single internal divider. The internal divider only slightly offends my sensibilities. On the downside, it is an extra layer of material. On the upside, it’s only a single thin layer of nylon, and it let me separate my used-all-the-time stuff (cash, debit card) from my use-only-rarely stuff (ID, insurance cards).

Yes, the Chums wallet is not fancy and it is not going to impress anyone. I’m cool with that. Anyone judging me by my wallet is voluntarily joining the “values too alien for me to care about” category, so that’s a self-correcting problem.

Anyway, I was perfectly happy with my minimalist nylon zipper pouch, until an even less obtrusive solution presented itself. But that will be a story for another post.

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3 Responses to My EDC, Part 2: Wallet

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    You are not the first to tread the lonely path of obsessing in print over the contents of your own pocket. As so often, G. K. Chesteron got there first. (It’s short, and well worth reading.)

  2. Matt Wedel says:

    Hadn’t read that before. It’s wonderful – thanks for posting.

  3. Pingback: DIY notebook sheath | Echo Station 5-7

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