Chances are that you landed on this page because you’re considering buying the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder wallet, but you’re still not quite sure whether it’s the right wallet for you. You’ve read the Amazon reviews, you’ve watched the YouTube videos, but there’s still something you’re not sure about. Well, if it’s any consolation, I’ve had a similar journey with a variety of slim metal wallets.
I’ve owned more than a few and had more than a few sent my way. When Ekster offered to send me the Aluminum Cardholder wallet, I jumped at the chance for two reasons. The first was that I wanted to compare it directly to one of its primary competitors, the Ridge Wallet, another slim metal wallet that I had reviewed and has been my everyday carry wallet for a while now. The second reason was that I wanted to see whether the Ekster wallet overcame my one annoyance with the Ridge wallet, thus replacing it as my everyday carry.
But if you’re here for a quick and honest answer to the question of – should I buy the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder, the simple and honest answer is yes. Definitely yes.
The Ekster Aluminum Cardholder
First of all, let’s begin with the fact that this is an incredibly slim wallet. Compared to traditional leather bifold or trifold wallets, the Ekster Aluminum cardholder has all those bulky, pant bulge-inducing wallets beat hands down. But how does it compare to other competitive aluminum wallets?
Here’s a breakdown of dimensions, all of which are WITHOUT any cards inside them
- Ekster Aluminum Cardholder – 7.37 mm
- The Ridge Aluminum Wallet – 6 mm
- Armour Supply Co Wallet – 6.1 mm
- Secrid Cardprotector Wallet – 7.6 mm
- Fidelo Minimalist Wallet for Men – 6.35 mm
So while not the thinnest aluminum and minimalist wallet on the market, the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder is still in the same range as competitive products. And you’ve probably guessed what the slight extra thickness in this wallet is caused by, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Made of space-grade aluminum and CNC’d from a single piece of aluminum, the Ekster has a major advantage over its competitors in both stiffness and the complete lack of needing a screwdriver to make adjustments to your metal wallet. The 6061-T6 aluminum alloy the Ekster wallet is constructed out of is a precipitation-hardened metal that contains magnesium and silicon. All this to say that its tensile strength exceeds the strength of stainless steel in many cases. It’s no wonder that it is often used to make aircraft structures such as wings and fuselages. This aluminum alloy is also often used to make yacht and boating parts, scuba tanks, flashlights, bicycle frames and has the added benefit of superior corrosion resistance.
The Aluminum Cardholder’s primary feature is its trigger mechanism, located at the bottom of the wallet. This trigger button is easily activated with the push of one finger. Upon activation, the wallet pushes out all the cards contained within in a pleasant layered structure, with one card being taller than the next by about a quarter of an inch. This “fanning” of the cards that you store in the wallet allows for quick and easy access to a maximum of six (non-embossed) cards contained within.
As it is made of aluminum, the wallet naturally blocks any intrusive RFID signals from would-be thieves, and the expandable aluminum backplate is an amazing place to store additional cards. I tried to jam 20 cards in there, and while that was starting to strain the credulity of how I should be using this particular wallet and certainly defeating the idea of a slim-wallet, I was nevertheless impressed with its ability to hold that many cards at once. So if you’re looking for something slim but has plenty of expandability, the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder is a great choice.
At an additional cost of $42, this wallet also comes with an optional tracker card. While I can’t comment too much about this particular gadget as I was not sent it for review, I will say that it’s a nice feature to have as an option to help retrieve your wallet if you happen to have it go missing.
There was a time when most people didn’t care about the packaging that their consumer products arrived in. That all changed when a little company called Apple started to put other consumer brands to shame. Since that time, it seems many lifestyle brands suddenly care about their packaging in several ways.
The Ekster Aluminum Cardholder arrives in a silky feeling, black slide box nearly as slim as the wallet itself. The black packaging is adorned with glossy letters and art on the front that shines brightly at just the right angle of reflection from a primary light source. Additionally, the wallet comes with a variety of sample cards. They’re all designed to either teach you more about how the wallet works or induce you to enter their giveaways, scan a QR code to get a manual, or even use a special code to give a friend 10% off on their Ekster purchase. All pretty slick marketing, if you ask me. And if you think it’s a waste of paper, don’t worry; Ekster prints these cards on 100% recycled material.
The Ekster Aluminum Cardholder is an extremely handsome wallet. There are a few logo marks in a few places, but they’re relatively restrained in their placement and prominence. The expandable band and backplate are completely removable, thus allowing you to turn with a blank slate of aluminum that is just as aesthetically pleasing, if not more. Overall it’s a sleek and clean presentation. If you find that you like the daily affordances of this wallet, you’ll be happy to know that it comes in five different colours, including green ore, redwood, space grey, matte black and the midnight blue that I was sent (pictured above).
Some aluminum wallets are incredibly slippery. It’s as if though the manufacturer forgot that this is an object you’re going to hold, and would rather not fumble all the time by dropping it. The makers of this Ekster wallet realized that fact and added a few ways to keep your wallet in your hands.
- The aluminum surface is smooth yet clearly exhibits some minor level of grip along its ever so slightly textured surface
- The elastic band, with or without the added aluminum backplate, provides additional grip.
Of course, there’s also the question of weight. Without the added elastic and backplate, the wallet is extraordinarily lightweight. Still, the moment you add back those two components, this wallet becomes about twice as heavy as the Ridge aluminum wallet. So at a bit under four ounces, I wouldn’t categorize it as a super lightweight wallet.
As for the feel in my hand, it feels just right. Not too tall, not too thick. Not difficult to operate at all. I’m right-handed, and in my use of this wallet over the past few weeks, I’ve realized that I actually wind up using my pinky finger most often to activate the trigger mechanism that extends the cards inside.
In Practical Use
For most people, the value of a wallet comes down to two factors, the look and feel and how convenient it is. I’ve already covered the design, but I wanted to talk about the experience I’ve had with the Ekster Aluminum Cardholder over the last month or so.
Out of any wallet I’ve ever owned, the Ekster has provided, by far, the fastest access to any of the six cards I decided to stash in there. And even more practical than the speed, the people at Ekster took care to design a mechanism that allows me to fan these cards out without worrying about any of them flying out. In other words, the ejection mechanism is finely tuned enough to push the cards out with enough force so you can easily grab them, but not with so much energy that you’ll be picking them up off the ground. This results from the slightly grooved notches inside the case that slow down the cards as they are pushed out.
The thumb groove on the exterior, expandable backplate, is not as elegant a mechanism as the mechanical trigger but still allows you to access your stashed cards or cash on the back of the wallet fairly easily. And speaking of the backplate and elastic band that keeps said backplate in place, it’s just the right tension to keep everything in place. The added groove on the backplate ensures that the elastic stays in place to a reasonable degree which is also a nice added design touch. I’m not entirely sure how well it will hold up over time. After all, it is elastic, and like almost every elastic, it will get stretched out over time, particularly if you choose to hold a large number of cards on the outside.
As I mentioned earlier, the ejection mechanism’s interior teeth allow for the cards to be fanned out in a very practical way. That is, it’s easy to arrange your cards in a manner that sorts them from most to least used. I found that I wanted my most used cards at the top of the fan, but you may find you want the opposite. I suppose it’s simply a matter of personal choice, but the ability to do this sorting for quick access is a small detail that I appreciate greatly.
Have you ever used an Apple TV remote? Like the new all-glass ones? Yeah, they’re terrible. For one main reason, it’s almost impossible to tell their orientation upon picking them up. Some people have even resorted to sticking elastic bands at the top or bottom of those remotes to help them discern their orientation. No such issues exist in the Ekster wallet, as the ability to feel the plastic ejection mechanism immediately gives you a good idea of the orientation in which you’re holding this aluminum wallet.
Like most aluminum hard-shell wallets of this size and class, the Ekster provides no space or holding mechanism for coins, but that’s what pockets are for, right? I suppose if you were desperate enough, you could stash a few coins underneath the elastic band, but don’t expect that they’ll stay in place very well.
As far as how this card works in practical, day-to-day use, I can see it being my daily driver for years to come. My only gripe, and I still can’t quite decide whether it’s the aesthetics or potential future failure, is the fact that the button trigger is made of plastic. I almost wish there was a slightly more premium version of this wallet that replaced the plastic for aluminum, thus completing the premium look and feel and allaying any fears of future breakdowns due to repeated use.
To be honest, I haven’t had the opportunity to put on a great deal of mileage on this wallet, and thus perhaps my fears over the trigger mechanism are entirely unfounded, in which case, it’s only a small cosmetic gripe.
At its current selling price of $67, the Aluminum Cardholder wallet is a great deal. It’s about $10 cheaper than its primary rival, the Ridge Wallet, and in my opinion, slightly more functional. Yes, that functionality will cost you a bit in weight and size, but in my view, it’s a worthy tradeoff. I do not doubt that if you purchase this wallet, you’ll revel in the quality of its construction, thoughtful but subdued design and have a pocket companion that will last for years, if not decades.