EDC Wallet Showdown: Saddleback Leather vs. Hell-Bent Kydex

Saddleback leather on the top, Hell-Bent Kydex on the bottom.

Saddleback leather on the top, Hell-Bent Kydex on the bottom.

As our every day carry discussions evolve beyond the obvious topic of firearms, one subject that will arise is wallets. I don’t know for sure, but I’d imagine that the vast majority of GunsAmerica readers carry some type of wallet or pocketbook. And at the risk of sounding even more presumptuous, I bet you carry a specific wallet for a specific reason, which I hope you’ll share in the comment section below — I’m always interested to hear what other like-minded individuals carry.

Before I highlight the two wallets I mentioned in the title of the article, I want to briefly discuss what one expects from a wallet. I’m not sure if anyone has ever said it better than inimitable George Costanza, who famously quipped, “A wallet is an organizer, a secretary and a friend” (see clip below). Indeed!

To explicate, a wallet must hold your money, your ID, your credit cards and if you’re like the neurotic Mr. Costanza, a bunch of other stuff as well including but not limited to: Irish money, “free save the tiger poster” rebate, Sweet’N Lows, spare change, “free guitar lesson” slip, hard candy.

I must admit, I’m a bit of a minimalist in terms of the contents I keep on my persons and in my wallet. I try to keep my wallet filled with just the basics: credit cards, cash, ID, but I do — like George — from time to time toss in a receipt, especially if I’m traveling for work. Yet, regardless of how much stuff you put in your pocket, there’s no escaping the fact that a wallet is one of the most useful items a man can carry. And if you move beyond the mere utility of the wallet, there is also something to be said for the style, which brings me to Saddleback leather and Hell-Bent kydex.

Saddleback Leather Co. Small Billfold Wallet

A look inside the billfold.

A look inside the billfold.

Saddleback Leather Co. was introduced to me by my girlfriend. It was a year ago. My J. Crew “magic wallet” was in tatters after a solid ten-year run and I was clearly in the market for a new pocket organizer. When my birthday came around she made the decision that she was going to buy me a wallet. She had heard about Saddleback from a coworker, who exclaimed that it was the best (leather) wallet-maker on the market given the company’s “100-year warranty.” She checked em out, was duly impressed by their products and ordered me a brown, small billfold wallet.

I’ve carried the wallet for over a year now and I have to say that I’ve got only one complaint: it’s a little too big for my tastes. Just a little bit. I’ll discuss this a little more in depth below but let me first share with you the specs and details of the wallet:

Price: $49.00
Closed: 4” W x 3” H
Open: 8 ¾” W x 3” H
Weight: 0.15 pounds
RFID Protected

In terms of craftsmanship, this wallet is impeccably made. The stitching is fine and straight and the dark coffee brown, full-grain leather is classy, and since I’ve had it for over a year, it’s starting to develop some character from traveling with me on a day-to-day basis: scratches, nicks, and a softer brown patina in some spots. It’s really a nice-looking wallet. And I’d be lying if I did’t say I feel more sophisticated carrying it (back in the day, I used to just take a rubber band and wrap it around a wad of cash and my ID).

You can see what the Saddleback billfold looks like in my shorts.

You can see what the Saddleback billfold looks like in my shorts.

Part of the Saddleback approach is to make an item using as few pieces of leather as possible so that the integrity of the item is more sustainable over time. Makes sense. Two pieces of leather stitched together will probably last longer than four. Four will last longer than six, etc.

From the looks of it, the small billfold is made from a total of four pieces of leather, the back strip, the inside strip and two little strips that make up the card slots. I can’t imagine this wallet breaking down anytime soon or, actually, at anytime in my lifetime. It is a really solidly designed and constructed wallet.

As I noted before, my only complaint is that it’s a bit too large, a bit bulky. When I carry it in my front pocket it certainly prints. Anyone with a careful or thieving eye can see exactly which pocket I’ve placed my wallet. Obviously, that’s not good.

In hindsight, I wish my GF would have bought me the smaller and slimmer front pocket ID wallet, which Saddleback sells for around $39.00. That is more my style, as I rarely carry cash anyhow. Yet, despite this compliant, I’ll hang on to the billfold for the foreseeable future. It’s only going to get more comfortable and more broken in over time.

Hell-Bent Black Carbon Fiber Combat Wallet

I love that "Star Wars" character, what's his name again?

I love that “Star Wars” character, what’s his name again?

Recently, I attended a gathering of Youtube personalities that represent the gun community. While there, I ran into a little outfit called Hell-Bent Holsters. I quickly learned that in addition to making holsters, they also made wallets.

The spokeswoman there showed me their Black Carbon Fiber Combat Wallet, a very cool and very sleek looking kydex wallet. Part of its appeal to me is obviously it’s size, which is perfect:

Wallet Price: $35.00
Money Clip: $50.00
Size: 2.875″ x 3.875″
Weight: .125 lbs
Materials: Kydex, Black Carbon Fiber
RFID Protected

What separates this kydex wallet from others I’ve seen is, well, two things: (a) the notch for the optional titanium money clip and (b) the clipped slot that allows for easy card retrieval. See, with the retention pressed straight into the kydex, one can easily thumb out one’s cards in a fanning motion to get to the right card quickly. It works great.  I love this wallet.

Side by side shot.  You can see that difference in thickness.

Side by side shot. You can see that difference in thickness.

One thing I will say about the money clip and wallet combo is that when placed into the notch, the money clip has a tendency to scratch the the surface of the wallet. Not a big deal, but a cosmetic issue for sure. If one is worried about the appearances, then it might be best to keep the money clip and the wallet separated.

They do have a bunch of different options for the money clip in terms of color, design and style. The one they gave me has a non-trademarked “Star Wars” character. I’m not sure which character it is. That was a joke. How do they get the designs on their clips?

According to the website, “Anodized color on the Titanium versions is produced by light refraction and interference of wavelengths. The film thickness is very thin and can actually be polished out with a commercial steel polish. The anodized layer is durable though; it takes heavy polish and rubbing to remove. The anodized layer may change color due to the oil in your fingers but the color will return with a light cleaning with Windex or a similar cleaning product.”

Pretty cool. In terms of durability, kydex is about as good as it gets. It doesn’t break down the way leather does over time. But, it also doesn’t have the mystique or character leather has, in my humble opinion.

Conclusion

I have to be honest, you can’t go wrong with either Saddleback or Hell-Bent if you’re in the market for an every day carry wallet. In fact, I’ll gladly be a return customer to either company. Obviously, do your own due diligence. Check out their websites (here and here) and read their stories to get a sense of their company ethos. I think you’ll find that they’re great people making great products.

As for myself, sad to say that I will be giving away my Hell-Bent Combat Wallet, the one you see pictured in this article. In full disclosure, the folks at Hell-Bent gave it to me free of charge. Instead of keeping it for myself (which I’d love to do, I thought about doing a seasonal change, Saddleback in the winter, fall when it’s colder and I’m wearing a coat or jacket and Hell-Bent in the spring and summer when I have just a t-shirt and shorts) I’ve decided to give it to one of you guys for the benefit of GunsAmerica. I know, I’m a nice guy.

For details on the giveaway, check out our GunsAmerica Facebook page.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • andy December 27, 2016, 12:38 am

    Case Cover & Protectors with 2 Credit Card HolderItem specificsCompatible Brand:HTCType:Case Provides good overall protection for the device – Modern design, durable construction, premium materials. Protection Without Limiting Access The Wallet Flip Cover provides exceptional protection for the smartphone\’s screen when not in use and is easily flipped open for full access to the screen when needed. The Wallet Flip Cover was developed with the user\’s lifestyle in mind. This smart case, designed to protect and enhance the Smartphone, combines protection with style and convenience. Accented with polyurethane leather or fabric and available in multiple colors, this case provides as much style as it does function. Need to travel light? No problem. This ultra slim flip cover features a card pocket for carrying a credit card, debit card, driver\’s license, and more.click here to read more ..

  • Akbar December 19, 2016, 1:46 am

    Item specifics
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  • jay October 30, 2015, 9:45 am

    Let me save everyone here from frustration and bother and leave this link here to the best of the best of the best. http://www.flipsidewallet.com/

    No need to thank me, thank the guy that invented this perfect thing.

  • Fishrodguy October 29, 2015, 10:51 am

    For an everyday carry wallet nothing beats a trayvaxx. Nothing. Leather and kydex can not stand up to stainless steal and para cord. Sorry guys you lost this debate before it even began. May I suggest better due diligence.

  • Bill October 27, 2015, 9:04 am

    I (still) carry a duty-bag….yes, I carry a “man-purse”. Let the laughing and jokes commence. The practice started when I was a police officer and continues to this day – turned in my badge in 2003. I absolutely despise carrying shit in my pockets. Period. My bag goes with me everywhere and contains damn near everything – Leatherman, Surelight tactical flashlight, basic first-aid kit, etc, etc, etc. It also includes a wallet, actually (2) – my old leather wallet and my “infomercial” alumawallet. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but given the bag I don’t have to choose. If I did it would probably be the alumawallet. The bag is still the best solution for me.

  • Bill Creighton October 26, 2015, 5:33 pm

    I just wanted you to know a Manta Ray Skin wallet will last and wear 5 or more years of carrying compared to cow hide. The wallet I now carry is over 5 years old and does not show any wear. These Ray Skin wallets are priced around $35.00 and up on the internet.. Ray Skin wears so good the sword makers of old used it on their handles back then. I have made wallets out of shark, snake , ostrich, elephant, and cow hide and nothing comes close to MANTA RAY HIDE…

  • BRASS October 26, 2015, 5:03 pm

    Before retiring I used to carry a side opening rot proof fabric wallet matching the material of my utility uniform made from a tough dense woven material and a waterproof inner lining impregnated outer. It only had two pockets, one on either side and I only carried drivers license, military ID, weapons card, security badge and one credit card. Thin was in and hard use guaranteed.
    Since then I have used a small leather credit card case, side opening with two main pockets, one gusseted to hold more and two secondary pockets for limited items. It works well as I now carry much more than I used to with drivers, license, military id, concealed carry license, health, car, medical, dental, liability & firearms insurance cards; VISA, AMEX & one speciality credit card; several mbrs cars for big box stores, resort (casino) cards, firearms lawyer card, misc range cards and a few other thin items.
    It still only comes out to about a 3/4″ thick but is huge compared to what I used to carry and what I like to carry. I have not found a conventional wallet that can hold as much as this “credit card only” wallet without being much too big and thick. I do rearrange the non-essential items according to my schedule accordingly and don’t travel with them all. When it finally wears out, I don’t know if I’ll ever find one that works as simply and easily. As it isn’t a secure wallet, I do vary its location on my person by the type of clothing I wear, pockets with zippers, velcro tabs, buttons or nothing, etc.
    I miss the days when young and able to use an inside chest pocket with tiny zipper or fold in flap I had sown inside all uniforms and civilian shirts, carrying only ID card and drivers license in them. I also miss wearing boots daily as I always had a thin leather one sided knife sheath sewn inside the right outside boot for a boot knife. One good thing about Marine uniforms was they always had dozens of places to hide or add to hide concealed pockets, sleeves, etc., for money, cards, pens, kubitan, knives, etc. Even the double sewn band in the traditional eight point utility and folded corners of the cover were good for small items.

  • miles October 26, 2015, 3:37 pm

    I also bank at the gun friendlywells fargo

  • miles October 26, 2015, 3:35 pm

    I see u bank with the firearm friendly wells fargo .i do also.

  • Andy October 26, 2015, 1:35 pm

    Check out Bellroy wallets, http://www.bellroy.com . I was looking for a slimmest, tough wallet with adequate card and light cash capability. They have a variety of well made, card only, card/cash combo, and organizing wallets, including zip up. I’ve been carrying mine for just over a year and it’s wearing in very nicely and has proved super functional for it’s size.

  • Gordon October 26, 2015, 11:36 am

    About three years ago I was in Office Depot (Max) . I can’t recall what I was looking for but I ended up on the aisle that has credit card/business card holders. I looked at several hoping to find one I could use for a wallet. Shazam! I found two, one black and one brown. Both have the exact same features. On one side outside is a pocket that I use for grocery/Walgreen’s discount cards and a few business cards. Very easy to extract either one. On the inside on one side is a clear plastic windowed pocket where I can put my D.L., car registration, insurance card, and my business credit card. On the other side (left) are three pockets stacked with a little overhang for the next one down. The third (farthest in) I put my paper money folded in half ; the middle pocket carries the most used credit/debit cards (I have three), and on the top pocket some membership cards (military I.D., CWP, card that has all the states tat honor SC permit laws). The wallet has some wear to it but the construction is perfect. No part is even close to coming apart. This is a duel fold and fits well in rear pocket.

  • Patrick October 26, 2015, 10:41 am

    On one side a tool logic credit card sized multitool, the other side a .99 cent Ian Sinclair cardsharp, in between all cards, band aids, a gold coin and a spare car/house key, all held together with a ranger band cut from a bicycle inner tube, another ranger band goes over that to hold cash. Front pocket carry. The best “wallet” I have ever had.

  • James October 26, 2015, 10:39 am

    Burlington – the ties, socks, belts, wallets, section has a plethora of leather bi and tri folds. Some first rate it blocking anti magnetics. All at huge savings. You may not like going in. But your old wallet will like coming out.

  • Big Caitlin Jender October 26, 2015, 10:21 am

    I usually wear out a leather wallet in a matter of months, then my “partner” told me about 4skinwallets.com . I bought one two years ago for 69. 99 and tried to wear it out but it is the toughest thing I have ever had in my pants. 4skinwallets.com uses a great blend to get the longest lasting foreskin wallet you can possibly buy! Worth checking out!

  • CharlieC October 26, 2015, 9:42 am

    I have been carrying a trifold, ballistic nylon, wallet from “Rainbow of California” for at least 30 years. Not the same one for all that time, but the first one lasted for 20 years. For $10, you’ll not find a more versatile, lightweight, easy to carry wallet that has room to spare for anything you’d normally want to place there. I’ve never found anything to replace it with that would be any better, and I couldn’t beat the price.

  • Mathew October 26, 2015, 9:30 am

    I use official Harley Davidson wallets trifold.
    If you aren’t afraid of large wallets that’s the way to go, and talk about organizing LOL. Cash, change,cards,ID, and check book plus more. Real leather ++.

  • Seth October 26, 2015, 9:10 am

    Fishing / Hunting license carry case. Heavy clear vinyl with water proof zip on top. Fits all cards / ID. rear pocket. Cash in front pocket smaller bills on outside ($1-$5-$10-$20 $100. I HATE $50. bills) drivers license in center and 96 cents in change. Light, easy, case is rugged and inexpensive.

  • Ron October 26, 2015, 8:28 am

    Eagle Creek nylon, RFID Bi-Fold Wallet carried in my front pocket. You can’t wear it out and it was only $25.

  • John October 26, 2015, 7:57 am

    Leather and ballistic nylon wallet, RFID Sheilded from Rouge Ind. in Maine. Fantastic wallet !!

  • Martin B October 23, 2015, 5:34 pm

    I just use a Sequel branded cheap leather card folder, with plastic card dividers inside. These wear out after a year or so, and are replaced at $NZ2 a pop. I hardly ever carry cash, EFTPOS is everywhere in NZ, and I don’t have enough space in my folder to keep my credit card, which limits my impulse purchases. I have my Drivers License and my Gun License (we spell them licence because of our British heritage). I would prefer a sturdier solution because the plastic is flimsy and hardly stylish, but the folder itself is a nice leather. It’s the smallest size I can get away with, and I always carry it in a zippered pocket. I keep my keys in the opposite side pocket. My cell phone usually stays at home, because if I’m out enjoying myself I don’t want to spoil it by an interruption from that infernal devise. When I’m out, I’m out, and nobody needs to know where I am. That’s what freedom’s all about, isn’t it?

    • Mongo October 27, 2015, 10:47 pm

      Check out the Col. Littleton front pocket wallet, Lynnville, TN. I like to travel light in the wallet…D.L., CCP, health insurance card, debit card. And it holds cash securely. Hides good in cargo pants side leg pocket, doesn’t print and very sturdy, all leather. You will like it.

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