Here we are, back to wallets. Another minimal, thin, elastic-binding money dumpster. The Snapback Slim. There are nearly as many wallet projects on Kickstarter1 as there are accessories for iOS devices. And this is probably a good thing. Look what Google Reader's death did to the RSS services market -- we have more options than you can add feeds to. But not everyone uses an RSS reader; everyone I know uses a wallet.
While I respect the mission for a slimmer, more minimal wallet (I did, after all, review Supr's Slim wallet), I was at first apprehensive with Nick Augeri's approach to the same market of minimized, "hardly-anything-there" design. He was kind enough to send me his wallet for early testing and impressions, and I happily gave it a try. After having spent more than half a year with Supr's Slim, I certainly have a similar product with which to compare.
Snapback Slim's Design
The Supr Slim was ordinarily designed (it's a stitched piece of eslastic with an "X" branded onto it), so it's welcome to see that the Snapback Slim has more panache. The Floridian creator calls it a "slim wallet [that] can handle your cards, cash and receipts", and as you can imagine, it'll hold all those items with the added benefit of separating them -- something the Slim and other cards-only wallets can't do. I know, it's like going backwards to go forwards with wallet design, but bear with me. From just looking at it, you'll notice the Snapback's biggest improvement in design over Supr's simple elastic body is the colored strap attached to its side for wrapping around the wallet itself (measuring 2.5cm in width against the entire wallet's 5cm x 8.5cm size). This, strangely enough, is exactly what I found the design of Supr's needed after a few months of use, especially after having seen the recently successful Kickstarter project for Capsule. And so I did actually modify it with a Field Notes rubber band, which separates my cash and creates friction for any wannabe Apollo Robbins pickpocket. While the Snapback Slim's money band doesn't offer any friction, it does add a useful feature to the political problem of separation between money and card. Its wide strap grips enough surface area to hold contents tightly, regardless of how many cards you have in the main hold. It even doubles as a connected wristband or loop (for a keychain or bag). This is fantastic.
The only slight annoyance I have with the design of the Snapback Slim's design is the inseam of the elastic band. Whereas Supr slyly hid it by splitting and situating it in the middle of the body, Snackback Slim positioned it on its side. In loading the wallet with cards, the creator calls it a "safety tab," but I'd regard it as more of a misplaced stub. Once you have a couple cards inside the wallet it isn't much of a problem, although I have found its placement causes a bit of resistance extracting and depositing a card on the side that the safety tab rests. If anything, I recommend using the clean side to keep your most used card.
Initial Impressions in Daily Use
I've only just begun to use the Snapback Slim Wallet, so of course I'll update this review in a few months to weigh in on the longer term durability of its build, but as of now, the wallet's elastic material feels crisply taut, sturdily adhering to any number of cards you load into it. It also feels strong enough to reassure against any uncertainty regarding sewing quality. And the product is manufactured in the USA. Hurrah.
While material is important, my bigger concern with elastic-band wallets is the lack of reinforcement for stored items. While I haven't sat awkwardly or violently enough to irrevocably bend my cards, it's still a possibility with any of these kinds of wallets. If you wear it in your front pocket, of course, there are no worries about this (just this). The elastic used for this wallet seems durable, but I'm no materials expert. My other elastic wallet has lasted in perfectly good shape for over seven months, and still flexes perfectly with the number of items held -- the most negative aspect of slim, leather-bound wallets. Perhaps the only risk of bending or crippling your cards is if you only pack one or two in there -- with at least four or five, the wallet as a whole seems more than sturdy enough to ward against mishaps.
Using the additional colored band to store loose cash has been more than helpful. I only ever have a single bill or two at a time (until I break that twenty with a cup of coffee), and so my time with the Snapback Slim has mostly been with a $20 bill and a couple singles, all folded together into fourths. This method tucks the bills neatly under the colored band and they sit flush with the height of the wallet itself. It looks neato.
The Kickstarter Project
There are few things I appreciate about the way Nick Augeri set up his Kickstarter project for the Snapback Slim.
- Detailed production schedule post-project success with risks and challenges
- Pricing and reward tiers are practical and efficient
Tracing the history of a product’s development helps put the final product into context. The creator shares how the wallet evolved from an iteration with a much smaller, secondary elastic band, to several versions of a thicker, wider one. It’s a good thing he went with wider, because the Field Notes rubberband I jerry-rigged on my other wallet is way too small to securely hold cash without it flopping about. It also appears that he had tested out different material lengths, likely testing the elasticity of having a different number of cards inside. With this kind of backstory, the Snapback Slim’s quality is reinforced to prospective investors.
Likewise, providing a comprehensive post-project schedule of how he plans on handling production and delivery gauges the complexity of the product, the thought and resources behind manufacturers, and risks associated therein. There have been several Kickstarter projects that stumbled after enormously successful investment runs, and Nick Augeri acknowledges that he has established a close relationship with his manufacturer to assure a speedy run of the now-completed and tested product. I know Kickstarter requires a delivery date for submission of any project, so at least he’s kind enough to warn against a few weeks’ delay if indeed there is a higher quantity ordered than hedged against.
Finally, the pricing and reward tiers are straightforward. You’re investing in a product line, not a series of distractions (for both you and the creator). I’ve never been swayed to invest in a higher tier to spend an evening at a fancy dinner with the creator, or to wear a t-shirt that says I backed a project, or to don a few branded stickers on my notebook. I’m investing in your product because I want to see that product line successfully manufactured and sold, along with owning one myself. Snapback Slim’s sane four options for investment should be the standard moving forward.
Elasticity in the Year of Wallets
Does the Snapback Slim set itself apart? I won't hold back from comparing it to Supr's Slim wallet or the British elastic wallet, Flip, but I'll do so in a progressive way: the Snapback Slim evolves minimized wallet design with the addition of a functional colored strap, improving the thinnest wallet you can own. If that appeals to you, it's an obvious choice to invest in the project on Kickstarter. I wish the best for the Snapback Slim -- it'll round out the Year of Wallets quite well.
Okay, I actually counted. There are more iOS accessories, but there are over 90 wallets that are either currently running as projects or were successfully funded in the past year and a half. ↩