The Very Useful Travel Wallet

I’ve been traveling a bit for the holidays, and every time I get on a plane, I’m reminded of the usefulness of travel wallets. This is especially true for international flights, when you might have multiple plane and train tickets, foreign currencies, important notes to yourself, and various travel documents. Of course, without a wallet, you can stuff all these things into your jacket, but it’s kind of a hassle to fumble through your pockets trying to search for things when you’re in a rush. Plus, I’m always worried that I might have accidentally lost something halfway through my trip. The idea that I could be stuck somewhere without my passport or ticket, possibly in a country where I don’t speak the language, is kind of frightening.

So, it’s nice to have a travel wallet to keep everything in one place, and know that nothing has been lost. Mine is from Chester Mox. It’s made from their “museum calf” leather, which they source from the same tannery that supplies John Lobb. There are two big pockets inside for things such as passports and folded up pieces of paper, and some slots for your ID and credit cards. I really like Chester Mox for their relatively affordable prices on small leather goods, but this one is on the slightly pricey side. However, since everything is made-on-order, you can request the same model in a different material, and they’ll quote you a lower price.

If you’re not deterred by the price on the museum calf wallet, you can also find really nice models from Valextra and Smythson, both of which can be found at Barney’s. Those are cut a bit more like coat wallets, which is useful if you don’t want to fold your travel tickets, but the length also restricts the wallet to the inside of your coat pocket (whereas the Chester Mox one can be slipped into the back pocket of your jeans if necessary). Brooks Brothers also has something with a long interior pocket, and Ettinger has various models made from their signature English bridle leather (a thicker, stiffer material that’s as hardy as it is handsome).

For something more affordable, there’s Tanner Goods and Duluth Pack. Saddleback Leather also has a really interesting design with an RFID shield. It’s sold out at the moment, but given that it’s a staple piece in their line up, it’ll probably be restocked at some point again.

When shopping for one, I encourage you to avoid the ones that are designed to just hold a passport and nothing else. At any international checkpoint, you’ll be asked to take your passport out of your fancy case, which makes having a case kind of pointless. A wallet that holds your passport, documents, tickets, credit cards, and ID, however? Very, very useful.

A Laptop Case Roundup

I’ve been looking for a good laptop case for the last few months. My two briefcases, a Filson 257 and Lotuff English brief, don’t have any cushioning on the bottom, so I need something to protect my computer when I set my bag down. Unfortunately, most cases are made from neoprene or ballistic nylon, and I prefer more natural materials.

Luckily, there are still plenty of good options. On the expensive end, there’s Vaja and Want Les Essentiels. Both companies make exceptionally good products and their cases strike me as a bit smarter designed than most. Unfortunately, they’re also very pricey, and you might end up with something that won’t work with your next laptop purchase. Still, if money were no object for me, I would probably start here.

For slightly more affordable options, I really like Calabrese, Carga, and Ally Capellino. Calabrese is an Italian manufacturer of high-end bags with refined and sophisticated designs. Their laptop sleeve comes in a very beautiful tan leather, as well as dark and light canvas materials. Likewise, Carga has a very nice, simple option made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather, and Ally Capellino’s is made from (what seems to be) a tumble-washed canvas. If you’re a student, you can take a 12% discount at Ally Capellino, which makes theirs a bit more affordable still. 

There are also some really nice contemporary designs by Scandinavian companies such as Mismo, c.dellstrand, P.A.P. Accessories, and wood wood. For something that has more of a traditional sensibility, consider Saddleback Leathers and Restoration Hardware. Saddleback Leathers is known for making very high-quality leather goods, but I suspect Restoration Hardware is using cheaper materials (though, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to handle it). I also like WM J Mills and La Portegna. Their sleeves have handles, which may be convenient if you plan to carry them on their own.

For non-leather materials, consider Hard Graft and Pack & Smooch. They have some felted wool models that don’t look too shabby. Additionally, there are coated canvas sleeves from Incase and McManus, as well as a denim sleeve that came out of an Incase and APC collaboration. Perhaps most affordable of all is Wrappers, where you can buy a basic, no frills linen sleeve for about $30.

Finally, should none of these excited you, try searching Etsy. You have to get through a bit of chaff, but if you put in the work, you can find some decent looking designs. Check out Harlex and Byrd & Belle, for example. 

As for me, I’m hoping that Calabrese will make something for 13” laptops soon. I’m pretty set on that tan leather model