Smackelibang skinny swede minimalist wallet review

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The idea of minimalism it not new, but its popularity has grown in recent years into an entire life philosophy for some.  One personal item that seems to find its way into many discussions on minimalism is the ubiquitous wallet.  Slim or “skinny” wallets are all the rage these days, with frustrated gents attempting to shrink down their spine-bending Costanza wallets to something more manageable.  In addition, concerns of wireless identify theft—with information being invisibly “skimmed” from credit cards—are growing.  How does Smackelibang’s skinny swede minimalist wallet measure up?

Click Any Image to Enlarge.

Background

If you’ve been reading the reviews and news items that I’ve been posting for the past several years, you may have picked up on my two ongoing personal quests in the world of gadgetry.  One is for the perfect (for me at least) computer/gadget-hauling bag.  The other is for the perfect (again, for me at least) wallet.  I’ve not found the grail in either category.  Yet.  But it’s not stopped me from continuing to search.

Packaging

The wallet arrived in a plain, brown envelope.  Simple, recyclable.

Contents

The package contents included the following.  Again, simple:

  • skinny swede minimalist wallet

Specs

  • Material – Stainless Steel
  • Dimensions – 3-15/16″ long x 3-1/8″ wide  x 1/3″ thick

Features

The skinny swede has a sleek, metallic appearance, rectangular in shape and tapering inward at the top.  It is made from solid stainless steel that I would guess has been formed through a die-stamping process.  Definitely solid and durable.  It also appears, on the outside at least, to have some sort of transparent coating, perhaps to prevent scratches.  The skinny swede site claims that the stainless steel material will prevent RFID scanning theft, and the video linked from their site on this topic was interesting and informative.

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Its profile is quite thin relative to other wallets at only about 1/3 inch thick, and its taper is also present from a side view.  Thinness is a feature that I definitely appreciate in a minimalist wallet, and the skinny swede has it.

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The skinny swede’s profile is fairly comparable in size to most other wallets at roughly 4 inches long by 3 inches wide.  Its thinness is an advantage when placing it in a back pocket, but due to it being made of stainless steel and having a few fairly sharp corners, it can be a bit uncomfortable in certain carrying positions.  Additionally, although the skinny swede site bills it as a “front pocket” wallet, due to its stiffness, corners and footprint, it felt just a bit odd in the front pocket of my jeans, but it felt fine in my dress slacks and khakis.

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Below is a photo of the “hatch” side of the skinny swede.

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The top of the skinny swede has a small, semicircular corner notch, where you place your finger to pop open the two halves of the wallet.  This is not the easiest motion to perform at first, but once you’ve done it once or twice, it opens quite easily.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_06The top edge of the skinny swede is rolled over and inward to grab onto the opposing side and act as a latch mechanism to hold it closed.  It may not be the most secure-looking of closures, but it does a fine job.

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Opening the hatch side of the skinny swede reveals some quite sharp edges.  And by sharp, I mean edges that look and feel like they were finished with a high-grit sanding wheel by someone who was in a big hurry.  The edges have some severe burrs and cosmetically are not all that pretty (and that is probably an understatement).  Curiously, these burred edged did not seem to appear on every exposed edge of the wallet.

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The the hinge side of the wallet is articulated with–what else?–a hinge!   In addition to the hinge, visible in the photo below is a small spring.  However, this spring is not actually to enhance the articulation of the hinge, but for something else.  More on this later.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_07Popping open the clamshell-style skinny swede reveals the interior features intended to hold cards and cash.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_09The cash side of the skinny swede features a slot designed to hold bills.

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The photo below shows a closer look at the bill-holding features on the cash side of the interior of the skinny swede.

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The credit card side has a small tab that is also connected to the hinge.  The tab is designed to hold credit cards securely.  The spring mentioned above is attached to the tab.

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Interestingly, the tab can be pivoted up, as you’d expect, but the spring doesn’t seem to have enough power to actually snap back closed again, as can be seen below.  So its ability to hold credit cards securely is somewhat questionable.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_15However, if you push it closed manually, it does stay closed, but doesn’t really feel like it has much clamping force.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_16Loading up the skinny swede, I placed some bills in one half and credit cards in the other.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_17Bills can be placed in the bill side either horizontally or vertically.  Horizontally seems to work better with respect to closing the skinny swede, as the fold in the bills does not prevent closing of the two halves.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_18The bill orientation below seems to work best.

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Credit cards fit into the opposite side quite well.

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The skinny swede site reports that the wallet has been “optimized” for 6 cards.  I was able to fit 7 cards into the card-holder side.

smackelibang_skinnyswede_minimalistwallet_10Although 7 cards did fit into the card side of the wallet, in order to make a fair assessment, I removed one card and went down to the advised 6 before attempting to close the wallet.  With 6 credit cards and three bills in the wallet, it was not quite able to fully close, leaving a slight gap, as show in the image below.  In this state, it is easier to pop it open accidentally.

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Conclusion

Smickelibang’s skinny swede is an interesting design.  It is certainly thin, but a wallet’s tradeoff for thinness is typically reduced capacity, and that is the case with the skinny swede, as it holds a minimum amount of cash and cards effectively.  But if you are looking for a minimalist wallet, this is likely a tradeoff that you will accept.  The durability and RFID protection of the stainless steel are plusses, but the rigidity paired with the geometry of the wallet can make it feel a bit odd when carried in pants pockets in certain orientations.  Have I found my wallet grail?  Not quite, but the skinny swede is certainly interesting, unique and minimal.

 

Product Information

Price:$14.99
Manufacturer:Smackelibang
Requirements:
  • None
Pros:
  • + Thin
  • + Durable
  • + RFID scan theft blocking
Cons:
  • - Minimal capacity in cards and cash
  • - Can feel a bit odd when carried in pockets
  • - Sharp edge burrs (like really sharp)
Posted in: Reviews, Wallets

{ 19 comments… add one }

  • Meister Vu January 31, 2013, 12:20 pm

    This reminds me of a cooking competition in which the competitors have to combine certain specific ingredients for a dish – metal and wallet in this case. The result tastes like a fish sorbet.

  • Uli January 31, 2013, 3:02 pm

    A somewhat lengthy review for an ugly, ill-manufactured, overall non-appealing product looking like it was hammered together by someone with too much sheet metal and a pair of heavy pliers …

  • jim sturtz February 1, 2013, 8:57 am

    altho not a wallet i switched to the smart money clip from storus years ago. might look into them.

  • Charles February 1, 2013, 10:13 am

    Is it April 1? Some products just deverve an “ehh” and this appears to be one of them. The review states that the wallet is covered in something to keep it from getting scratched, yet the photos show it pretty scratched up and dinged for a review product that obviously got little use.

    Durable? The review says the little clip to hold the credit cards is weak.

    Three bills and 6 cards and the thing won’t close and somebody has the nerve to call this a wallet.

    C’mon. Either give a proper review “this thing is useless and dangerous with the sharp edges” or send it back and refuse to do a review.

    Let’s summarize:

    Holds very little – not enough to be useful
    Has sharp edges where you can hurt yourself
    Doesn’t feel comfortable when in your pocket

    There’s your review.

  • Marc L February 1, 2013, 10:55 am

    This review encapsulates pretty much everything I have come to dislike about The Gadgeteer in the last year or so. Too bad, because it used to be one of the more useful and well-written review sites out there. Unfortunately, it looks like the quality of Julie’s collaborators continues to decline and therefore I am forced to seek reviews elsewhere. A shame.

  • Julie February 1, 2013, 12:05 pm

    I went back and re-read Andy’s review. He was definitely too kind. But I don’t see where in his review that he says that he actually likes the product. I’m going to be honest… this company originally sent ME the wallet to review and I hated it from the moment I opened the package. I found the edges to be sharp and it wouldn’t be a wallet I’d ever carry in one of my pockets due to size and shape. I got a little behind in my reviews so I offered this wallet up to the team an Andy volunteered. Although his review is verbose for what the product is and does. I think he did a good job explaining everything about it. In the end he said that the wallet has some plusses and minuses. Other than him coming right out and saying that he hates the wallet, he spelled out the good and bad. With the good only being that it protects against RFID theft and it’s durable. Durable meaning it’s steel… it probably won’t break if you drop it.

    With all that said, I’m taking these comments to heart and will make sure we don’t not sugar coat our feelings if we can’t recommend a product. I’ve considered implementing a star or 1-10 kind of recommendation scale for our reviews. Do you think that would be helpful/useful?

  • jim sturtz February 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

    the star system is an idea, but once you get past 3 (poor, middlin, good) it gets tuff to decide between a 5 or 6, a 3 or 4?

  • Tim L February 1, 2013, 2:36 pm

    I have to disagree with the negative comments. I think it is what it is advertized to be – an inexpensive minimalist wallet. I purchased one of these several months ago, and have been very happy with it. I bought three more and gave them away to friends. Mine does not have sharp burred edges. The sharp corners are just a function of the shape of the wallet. I think it has a very cool, space-age look to it. I typically carry mine in my breast pocket in my suit. It doesn’t carry a lot of cash, but I think that’s the point. It is supposed to be a minimalist wallet. Carrying more than a driver’s license, a couple of cards and a couple of bills isn’t minimalist. Let’s remember that this is a $15 product. Expecting perfection is not realistic. My has held up beautifully, does what it is advertized to do, and the price was right.

  • Charles February 1, 2013, 2:36 pm

    Ratings are a difficult things. Many of the products are provided by the vendor and it is hard to give a product a “this is really bad” rating.

    Perhaps one could come up with the following system

    -I’d buy it for myself (and did) – meaning “I really like it”
    -I’d buy it for myself but don’t really need this product right now – meaning “great product but I already something in this category that like as much.”
    -I’d buy it as a gift – meaning “it isn’t for me, but good quality and features”
    – I wouldn’t buy it – meaning “not horrible but I wouldn’t even buy it as a gift.”

    Additionally, there should be a category “returned to vendor without review” for either unsuitable or really poor products. There can be a section where all the “returned to vendor” items are listed and readers can draw their own conclusion.

    That way a vendor won’t feel that you slammed their product and readers will continue to have faith in the quality of reviews.

    Nothing in this review was bad. Andy seemed honest but the whole thing just seemed like he was trying real hard to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. There were two points in this review where I would have said “I’m not reviewing this and I’m sending it back” – when I saw the sharp edges and when the thing wouldn’t close with 6 cards and three bills.

    I feel the pain because I’ve been looking for the perfect wallet (and the perfect laptop bag, carry-on etc) forever. My wife isn’t happy about that but relatives and friends are because they get lots of good, new, hand-me-downs that looked good on paper but didn’t make the cut in real life.

  • Charles February 1, 2013, 2:41 pm

    Ahhh – excuse the typos in my post above.

    To self – don’t try to type and talk on the phone at the same time.

  • Michael February 1, 2013, 3:22 pm

    I’ve had this wallet for months and love it. It’s thin and very durable. I want to point out that the credit card slot is large enough to hold business cards, which is not possible with other “thin” wallets I have tried. Cary cash, credit cards, & business cards all in one attractive, slender case with a price that cannot be matched for this quality. Some edges are thin, but I did not notice any “sharp” edges.

  • Julie February 1, 2013, 3:43 pm

    @Charles thank you for your ideas. I was just telling the team that it would be a good idea to ask ourself at the end of the review if we’d spend our own money on the product and then if the answer is no to add the reason to the review.

  • Ola February 1, 2013, 4:40 pm

    I have been an owner of this product for about 8 months and must say I am very satisified with it. I have been trying various kinds of slim wallets, but never really liked them until I got this one.

    The Skinnyswede Wallet is thin and simple, as it has two compartments: one for cards and one for bills. I normally have it in my front pocket on jeans or slacks; with its design it neatly slides into the pocket. I do not agree it feels “odd” at all nor that it has particularly sharp edges. Even my metal clip holding the credit cards works really well.

    I highly recommend this product.

  • Charles February 1, 2013, 4:45 pm

    @Julie – sure. Maybe I’ll send you a product review of something I own – a “how do I like it after 6 months” might be an interesting review too.

  • Julie February 1, 2013, 5:06 pm

    I hate to say this, but I think we have some fake comments being posted… As you can see there are 3 “I love this wallet” comments that have come in this afternoon. I’ve gone ahead and approved all of them because they are from different IP addresses and I can’t prove they are fake… My gut tells me they are being posted by friends of the Swede company though.

  • Charles February 1, 2013, 10:32 pm

    @ Julie – isn’t the internet wonderful? It is so easy to hide behind an IP address but what some vendors overlook is that customers aren’t stupid and will see through fake attempts at promoting their products. Once a reputation is damaged it is very hard to rebuild it.

  • Tim L February 2, 2013, 11:05 am

    I posted a positive comment above, and Julie has declared it fake. It seemed that many of the comments were from people commenting on the review, rather than people who owned the product. I don’t need my integrity challenged just because I like the product. I guess this site is just for negative reviews. It makes me question the value of this site. When I get home I will forward Julie my purchase confirmations and a photo of me with my wallet. I stand my my earlier comments.

  • Ola February 2, 2013, 7:01 pm

    +1 Tim; my comment it also genuine. Julie, if you need proof, please contact me instead of public questioning.

  • Julie February 4, 2013, 4:19 pm

    FYI: Tim L sent me a copy of his PayPal receipt for the wallet. So he’s a real customer… Sorry for saying otherwise.

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