Carbon Fiber was invented in the mid 20th century near Cleveland, Ohio. It has since become a widely used for everything from cars and boats to bicycles and various military applications. It is a highly valuable and extremely strong substance, but is it the best material for a wallet? Find out here.
Carbon fiber is made by treating strands of a substance known as polyacrylonitrile, or less commonly either a specific type of plastic or even a wood byproduct precursor fiber, through processes of oxidation and heating into super-strong, lightweight, and durable carbon fibers. These fibers can be blown into sheets or woven into a fabric that is then treated with resin to harden it into a permanent shape.
Due to its resilience, strength, and lightweight properties, it makes sense as a material for wallets to be made from. Because you definitely want the maximum level of protection you can get for the highly important and sensitive information carried on the cards inside your wallet.
But are they the right choice for your next wallet? Let’s make a list of the different properties they can offer, and you can decide for yourself whether or not a carbon fiber wallet is the right choice to make.
What Makes Them Different From Other Wallets?
If you have ever had to shop for a wallet, you know how many different types of the wallet there are floating around out there, each one with its own unique set of various benefits and setbacks. It is also worth noting that what one man sees as a negative in one particular style or material in a wallet could be the next guy’s main selling point on buying the wallet in question.
Wallets, as with many other things in life, are very personal to the people who carry them. So, let’s just make an even comparison between carbon fiber wallets, metal wallets, and leather wallets. Just simply lay out the facts and let you make the decision on whether or not a carbon fiber wallet would best suit your individual wants and needs.
Carbon Fiber vs. Metal Wallets
While the average carbon fiber and metal wallets may look quite similar, due to them both typically being more minimalist style wallets, there are some notable differences worth discussing.
- Sharpness: metal wallets are sharper than carbon fiber and can produce holes in clothing
- Weight: carbon fiber wallets are much lighter than metal wallets
- Strength: carbon fiber can but up to 18 times stronger than other metals and responds better under pressure
- Rust-proof: carbon fiber is a rust-proof material, unlike most metals
- Temperature resistant: carbon fiber can survive extreme temperatures without warping
- UV-resistant: carbon fiber is also UV resistant, meaning it won't change color or shape in the sun
Both types have qualities that can be seen as both beneficial and detrimental, depending on the person reading this. But, some will prefer one, while some will insist upon the other. So, we digress.
Carbon Fiber vs. Leather Wallets
Carbon fiber and leather almost couldn’t possibly be more opposite materials. Carbon fiber, while made of mostly carbon, is a fully synthetic product produced from chemicals in a factory setting, whereas leather is an organic product made from treating various animal hides through a process known as “tanning.” They are both materials known to be tough and resilient, but they have several major differences between them.
- Flexibility: carbon fiber wallets will retain their shape forever while leather wallets are much more flexible and take on the shape of your pocket over time
- Size: leather wallets tend to be available in much bigger sizes than carbon fiber ones, but because of their flexibility they can fit into more places
- Weight: while leather wallets are bigger, carbon fiber wallets are almost always lighter
- Design: carbon fiber wallets have a unique design that is very different from the appearance of leather, this is an aesthetic choice
- Functionality: carbon fiber wallets will often have more advanced functions like pop-up cards or built in bottle openers, whereas leather wallets tend towards the basic function of holding bills
- Security: carbon fiber wallets are naturally RFID-proof making them much more secure than leather wallets at protecting your personal information
At the end of the day, the choice between a carbon fiber wallet or a leather wallet is going to depend on your daily life and personal choices. But when it comes to durability, resilience, and security, carbon fiber is the obvious winner.
So, What Have We Learned?
Essentially, the wallet you carry is going to be a personal choice based on different factors. Do you want the smallest or lightest wallet possible? Do you prefer having the option of carrying more than just the bare essentials in your wallet? Is added wear on your pants pockets something that you would even consider when deciding on a wallet? For each person, the answers and even the questions will be different.
Carbon fiber also has a very distinct look to it that some may prefer to the other styles. But this is strictly a question of whether or not the look or fashion style of the wallet is a major deciding factor for you—another of the many differences that can be either good or bad, depending upon the person.
But Are They Worth Owning?
The answer to this question is one that will be different for each individual person. It will depend on their preferences in material, weight, functionality, and any other of a host of different considerations you might think over when trying to reach your conclusion. But it is going to be different from one person to the next.
Carbon fiber wallets are still a fairly new type of wallet, and with the way technology constantly changes, it likely won’t be the last new material humankind will turn into a wallet in the search for the optimal material and design. Which, in my opinion, is a fruitless endeavor, as it is such a subjective ideal unique to each individual person. But, I am definitely excited at the nearly endless possibilities in the world of wallet fashion and design advance.
So, take from this what you will. But, do yourself a favor. If you are looking for a wallet, make sure to do your research. You want to be as sure as possible that you are getting a quality wallet, from a reputable retailer, made from materials that will withstand whatever you may throw at it. A wallet can say a lot about the man carrying it. What does yours say about you?
To find out more about different kinds of carbon fiber wallets, read wallet expert Nikolas Hoffman's Definitive Guide for the Best Metal Wallet where he does a deep dive into two of the biggest brands.