Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet review

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bellroy-elementspocketwallet-00Ever wish your wallet was the perfect combo of thin, stylish, secure and durable? Yep, me too. I’d been on the hunt for such a unicorn for some time when I discovered that one my favorite wallet makers, Bellroy, had released their new Elements Range of wallets. Billed (see what I did there) as “Extra Wallet Protection For All Weather Conditions,” I immediately wanted to get one in my pocket, so I was excited when Julie game me the chance to try out the Elements Pocket Wallet. Its sporty, slim profile and water-resistant features looked like exactly what I’d been after. But was it? Gadget on!

Background

As mentioned above, a recurring theme for me has been an ever-evolving (as my wants and needs change) search for my “perfect wallet.”  I’ve been fortunate to have tried out several of them during my time here at The Gadgeteer, and although some have come closer to the target than others, none has been a bulls-eye.  In my exhaustive search for wallets, I stumbled upon a company called Bellroy.  Their wallets were expensive, but with their style and construction, several of their wallets quickly caught my eye.  I was later given the opportunity to try out the Bellroy Slim Sleeve wallet, and I was not disappointed—in fact, I was very impressed. I daresay it was my favorite wallet to that point.  However, for as much as I really did like the Slim Sleeve, I was looking for a wallet that was small, provided a bit more protection to its contents (ever s, and still looked cool.  I began looking at the Bellroy Very Protective Wallet, which seemed to meet all of my criteria.  Just as began to save up my pennies to purchase one, I was disappointed to find that Bellroy had discontined their Very Protective Wallet.  Bummer, dude.

However, Bellroy had something bigger looming on the horizon: an entirely new line of wallets called the Elements Range, designed as “Extra Wallet Protection For All Weather Conditions.”  The initial three offerings in the Elements Range were the Elements Sleeve, a very thin, minimalist card holder wallet, the Elements Pockets, a more traditionally-sized zipper wallet, and the Elements Travel, a larger zipper wallet designed to hold passport and other travel essentials.  Bellroy has recently added the Elements Phone Pocket, a zip wallet designed to hold an iPhone 5/5S/6 and some cards.  I immediately took a liking to the Elements Range and in particular to Elements Pocket, which is the successor to the Very Protective Wallet. Interested, I was.

Specs

Per the Bellroy site, the specs of the Elements Pocket wallet are as follows:

  • Capacity: 4-15+ cards
  • Dimensions: 10cm x 7.4cm (3.9in x 2.9in)
  • Leather: premium full-grain vegetable tanned leathers
  • Zipper: Hardwearing and water-resistant YKK zip for weather protection
  • Internal pocket for folded bills
  • Key stash
  • SIM card stash
  • Bills require folding in thirds, accommodating a super-compact design
  • Bellroy’s water resistant all-weather leather
  • Warranty: 3 years

Options

The Elements Pocket wallet is available in three colors:

  • Slate (reviewed here)
  • Black
  • Cognac

Packaging

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The Elements Pocket wallet arrived in a standard Bellroy envelope-like cardboard sleeve with a tabbed flap and the sides stitched closed. I quite like this packaging. Although it does not provide an opportunity to view the product, it is quite protective of the contents and fully recyclable, which I always think is a plus for product packaging.

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Bellroy has also added some artwork in the form of what appears to be topographical map lines to the exterior of the sleeve, a nod to the Element Range’s adventurous and outdoorsy spirit, design and style.

Contents

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Inside the sleeve was the Elements Pocket wallet as well as a small illustrated booklet that explained the wallet’s features.

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One of the first things I noticed about the Elements Pocket was its color.  I’d asked Julie if she would request one in Black for me, and I must admit that when I opened the sleeve and pulled out the Slate colored version, I was a bit bummed.  Julie informed me that at the time, Black was not available, but Slate was.  Well, I must also admit that it only took a short time for the Slate color to grow on me.  Now I really like its subdued dark gray leather with light gray stitching and zipper.

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The Elements Pocket wallet has a basically rectangular footprint, with the two corners on the zipper end beveled at angles.  The zipper wraps around the top and one adjacent side, as well as just a bit of the bottom, to facilitate ease of access of the contents while still affording optimal protection and water resistance.  The texture of the leather on the wallet’s exterior is smooth and has a soft feel to the touch.

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One interesting feature of the wallet was a couple of raised lines or ridges on either side of the wallet.  They run near the edges of the wallet opposite the zippered sides.  I’m not sure if these features are for cosmetic styling, or if they have some actual function, like strain relief for a bulging contents.  However, I did notice that as I carried the Elements Pocket in the back pocket of my jeans, the blue dye from the jeans began to transfer to these ridges, making them more pronounced.  Not a big deal to me, but curious nonetheless.

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As with the Bellroy Slim Sleeve wallet that I reviewed previously, with Bellroy it isn’t just the overall styling and quality, its the little things, too.  The Elements Pocket includes a very small “bellroy” logo embossed into the leather in the corner of the wallet’s front.  I like that Bellroy has chosen a small, subtle logo, allowing the styling (and quality) of their products to represent their brand, rather than a big, loud, gaudy logo.

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The zipper on the Elements Pocket is a YKK brand, generally considered to be of some of the highest quality zippers available.  This particular zipper has a very small pull with soft plastic grip cover that helps make gripping the zipper pull easier.  This is also a locking zipper pull.  Shown above, the zipper pull is in the unlocked position, allowing it to be unzipped.

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In the above photo, the zipper pull is in the locked position, which prevents it from being opened accidentally.  This helps to provide an enhanced level of protection and water resistance.  Note also that there is a small, black plastic guard located at the end of zipper pull’s fully closed position.  This seems to be a guard that is intended to protect the leather from being deformed after repeated opening and closing and may also help to maintain water resistance.  Of course, this is speculation on my part, but considering how well-designed and constructed the two Bellroy wallets have been that I have reviewed, I would be willing to bet that they included this little feature for some good reasons.

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In addition to the locking zipper pull, the zipper itself is a bit unique as well.  It is water resistant due to the way the material on either side of the zipper meets.  In the above photo, the zipper is in the open position.

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Above, the water-resistant zipper is shown in the closed position.  Note that the two sides of the zipper meet in the middle, covering the zipper’s teeth, thereby helping to prevent ingress of liquids into the interior of the wallet, as well as preventing, dirt, sand or other gunk from jamming up the zipper’s teeth.  I should note here too that the water-resistant features of the Elements Pocket are intended to make the wallet more weather-proof than water-proof.  Think safer in a downpour, but not for snorkeling or SCUBA diving.

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The interior of the Elements Pocket is fairly simple, yet fairly packet with organizational features. Bellroy calls them “layers.”  In the photo above, on the left side of the interior is a pocket which also includes a key slot as well as a SIM card slot.  More on these features below.  On the right side of the interior is another pocket that mirrors the one on the right, as well as another pocket outside of this.  One of the clever design aspects of all of Bellroy’s wallets is that, to keep the thickness down, Bellroy reduces the number of layers of material in their wallets.  This allows the thickness of the wallet to be minimized because it is mainly dictated by the thickness of the contents.

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Above, a detail of the interior showing the pocket with key slot and small SIM card slot just above it.  On the key slot is embossed a small Bellroy owl logo as well as the words: “Elements | water-resistant responsibly sourced non-toxic leather to give a lifetime of happy service.”

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In the photo above are all of the items that I placed into the Elements Pocket.  Other than the spare house key, this represents what I would typically carry in my wallet.  Included are four bills and 12 cards.

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Above, I’ve placed all of the items shown into the Elements Pocket.  On the left, I’ve tucked four cards in the outermost pocket.  These are cards that I would not typically use regularly, and I’ve placed them here because tucking them back in this spot makes them a bit difficult to retrieve.  I’ve also placed a spare house key in its slot, and although I wouldn’t typically carry a spare house key, I might start carrying one considering how easy the Elements Pocket makes it. Also, I didn’t have a SIM card to place in the slot.  Sorry, you’ll just have to image one in there.  Incidentally, I’ve never understood the idea of carrying a SIM card around in your wallet, anyway.

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Above, on the outermost pocket on the right side, I’ve placed three more cards that don’t require daily access.  I’ve also placed the four cash bills, folded into thirds, into the innermost pocket.  This makes the cash easy to get to quickly.  However, I could just as easily have placed a few more cards in this pocket if I’d wanted quick access to them.

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In the photo above, I’ve placed the last five cards in the center of the wallet, and actually more could fit there if needed.  These are the cards that I would access most frequently, like my ID, my two main credit cards, and of course my McDonald’s gift card for coffee cravings (though I am more of a Dunkin’ Donuts fan, but I digress).

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Above, a photo of the Elements Pocket, fully loaded with the contents shown above.  Even with 12 cards, four cash bills and a spare house key, the wallet is pretty thin.

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In the photo above, you can see that the corner of the wallet opposite the main zipper opening corner actually tapers down.  I’m not sure why it does this, other than perhaps this is intended to help with keeping at least a portion of the wallet tapering to a narrow edge.

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Above, the main zipper side of the Elements Pocket.

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Above, the end opposite the main zipper side.  Note the tapering corner on the left.

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The Elements Pocket wallet has a pretty darn small footprint.  It’s comparable to the size of most standard bi-fold wallets, maybe even a bit smaller, like the size of a standard tri-fold wallet, but I think its capacity is quite high considering its size, yet it remains thin.

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I’ve been alternating between using the Elements Pocket wallet for front pocket carry and back pocket carry. It fits equally well and rides comfortably in either location due to its small footprint and thin profile, even when loaded with quite a few items.

Conclusion

I really like the Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet.  Like the Slim Fold Wallet, Bellroy has another winner as far as I’m concerned.  It has a small footprint and remains thin, even when loaded with several items, including a dozen cards, some cash and a spare house key.  The interior is simple but well laid-out, with just the right amount of pockets for useful organization but without adding much to the wallet’s thickness.  Its weather-resistant leather has a smooth, great-feeling texture and its locking, water-resistant YKK zipper really help to protect the wallet’s contents.  Bellroy wallets are certainly a little pricey, but in this reviewer’s opinion, worth the price.  I’ll go so far as to say that I’ve found my new favorite wallet that I foresee will be part of my regular EDC.  At least for now.  😉

Update 04/18/15

This is hands-down my favorite wallet that I have used in quite a while, maybe ever. Slim and compact, but holds quite a few items and is very durable and water-resistant. I am using it regularly as of this writing.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Bellroy. For more information, please visit their site at http://bellroy.com.

 

Product Information

Price:$89.95
Manufacturer:Bellroy
Pros:
  • Small footprint
  • Thin profile, even when loaded
  • Water-resistant leather and zipper
Cons:
  • Can be difficult to remove items from the outermost interior pockets
  • A bit pricey
Posted in: Reviews, Wallets
{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Charlie January 15, 2015, 10:40 am

    very cool. I’ve been looking too. went through the Swiss one from amazon as well as an Eagle Creek that was very similar that doesnt appear to be made anymore. I signed up for their mailing list… if I get a decent coupon to get it to about half that cost I’d go for it.

    • Andy Jacobs January 15, 2015, 3:27 pm

      If you do buy one, try it out for a while and come back and let us know what you think!

  • JD January 18, 2015, 11:28 am

    Nice review but not worth $89.95 in my opinion. The Waterfield Finn (#25) is a much better choice at less than half the price. The Finn looks better and the internal pockets are laid out better.

    • Andy Jacobs January 19, 2015, 8:36 am

      I do agree the Elements Pocket is pricey (I made comments to that effect above in the review), but worth it in my opinion. See my reply to Louis below for further comments.

  • Louis January 18, 2015, 8:47 pm

    I have the wallet reviewed here and the Waterfield Finn. The difference in cost is well justified in my opinion. The leather on the Bellroy is “heartier”, while the leather on the Finn is more like glove leather. Empty, the Bellroy still feels firm while the Finn feels like a marble bag. The internal design on the Bellroy is much more thoughtful and functional (although it is tight and needs to be broken in). The stitching and craftsmanship on the Bellroy seems better to me too. The leather on the Bellroy is sculpted. Most importantly, both have been through the was (as I am careless at times) and the contents fared much better in the Bellroy.

    • Andy Jacobs January 19, 2015, 8:35 am

      I have the Waterfield Finn as well and could not have said it better myself, Louis.

      • Julie Strietelmeier January 19, 2015, 9:38 am

        Hmmm, now you both make me want to try this one since I’m a huge fan of the Finn and can’t really imagine using any other wallet.

        • Andy Jacobs January 19, 2015, 9:47 am

          Don’t get me wrong, Julie. I do like my Finn (a lot), but for me, the Elements Pocket is just that must closer to what I was looking for.

        • JD January 30, 2015, 7:51 pm

          Julie, I’m curious to hear your opinion on the Bellroy elements pocket wallet. You see, your reviews on the Waterfield wallets convinced me to buy them, first the Catch (no longer available) and then later the Finn. After reading the Bellroy reviews here, my impulse buying got the better of me.

          I decided to buy the black version of the Bellroy elements pocket wallet and I got it today. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed, especially considering the price. First of all, the packaging and instruction insert were very well made. You can tell a lot of thought went into it but I have to wonder if it was to somehow justify the price of the wallet. The wallet just feels cheap to me. It’s very light, the leather seems almost paper thin and it doesn’t scream “QUALITY” like I think it should.

          It’s smaller than the FINN and one annoyance is that it’s only slightly bigger than the cards you put into it so when you zip the wallet closed, it’s rubbing right up against the edge of the cards. The Finn has a little extra length so it’s not a problem. Also, I prefer the Finn’s layout of the inner pockets. One on each side that opens parallel to the bottom of the wallet. In other words, you insert the cards from top to bottom in the pockets while in the Bellroy, you slide them in front to back. I have 5 cards in one pocket of the Finn and another 3 or 4 cards in the other pocket. I do carry a spare apartment and car key in a plastic sleeve the size of a credit card and this also fits in the one of the pockets of the Finn. There’s still room for more cards in these slots. In addition to all that, the Finn has a larger open compartment in the center where I can fit a wad of bills, receipts, etc. Basically the Finn expands so I can carry a lot in it. Unfortunately, the Bellroy doesn’t have enough room for me. I would have to lose about half of what I currently carry. To me, the Bellroy elements pocket wallet is more of a minimalist or perhaps a minimalist+ wallet. I’m not sure how long it will hold up, since the sides and pockets are so thin, it doesn’t seem like this would hold up for many years, but only time will tell.

          I’m not sure if I will keep the Bellroy elements pocket wallet or not. I doubt I’ll return it, worse case is I would give it to a friend. I think the price range should be closer to $25 or $30 for this wallet, certainly not the $89.95 that it cost. Maybe part of that cost is due to it’s water resistant construction but in several decades of carrying wallets, I’ve never dropped one in the water or sent one through the wash so that particular feature doesn’t do much for me.

          In all fairness, I should try to carry this for at least a few weeks, maybe I would be more positive about it but first I’d have to decide what to leave out.

          I’ll be waiting for your review, Julie!!

          • Julie Strietelmeier January 30, 2015, 9:53 pm

            After I went back and re-read Andy’s review, I decided not to spend $90 on the Bellroy. This wallet looks too small for my liking and the comments about it being difficult to remove items from the pockets really turns me off. With the Finn I like that I can easily fit a stack of cards and a bunch of cash and still have room in the center for folded notes or other items. So I’m sorry, but I won’t be buying a Bellroy. I’m going to happily stick with my Finn.

  • Louis January 18, 2015, 8:49 pm

    That should have read: “both have been through the ‘wash'”

  • Stephen Walker May 6, 2015, 1:33 pm

    Nice review, my friend – and wallet, come to that.
    Shame they don’t make one for the UK user ie a folded £20 is 80mm x 75mm, so this wallet is too narrow, And we carry coins too. How complicated. I’m designing my own as we speak.
    You say “Incidentally, I’ve never understood the idea of carrying a SIM card around in your wallet, anyway.”
    I’ve read that folk bang info on one just in case of an accident eg their will, blood group, bank details, personal details. Could be a tad iffy if half-inched, eh what?

    • Andy Jacobs May 6, 2015, 4:21 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Stephen. Although I do appreciate how compact this wallet is, you are correct in that it would not fit cash for a UK user very well, which is unfortunate. Coin carrying is also not the easiest, but I try not to carry too many coins in my pocket or for very long.

      Interesting insights on the SIM card use for emergency info, I’d not thought of that. But it would have to be one of the very small micro- or nano-sized SIMs to fit in the small pocket in this wallet.

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