Gear Review: Radix One Slim Wallet

One of the best things about Kickstarter (and the internet in general) is that if you have a super specific need that is not being filled by the market, you can get together with other people that share that need and make something beautiful happen. In the past, Kickstarter has experienced high profile problems with large projects meeting their funding goals, but never ultimately material. Suffice it to say, in an ecosystem that relies on a constant stream of both backers and projects, this is not a good thing.

This all begs the question – can you remove the risk of non-fulfillment from Kickstarter without removing what makes it great – specific niche products, or moonshots that wouldn’t get the time of day at any mainstream manufacturer?

Yet Another Kickstarter Wallet

One segment that definitely appears to have hooked into the Kickstarter ecosystem with consistent result appears to be wallets. There are currently over 900 active wallet Kickstarters, and of course a novelty Tumblr to make fun of the trend. If you think about it, though, it makes sense – People go to Kickstarter to find value, whether it be through monetary savings or the coolness of being an early adopter. Wallets are design heavy but relatively easy to manufacture, and the cost is not so high as to detract from the “impulse buy” segment. Plus, it’s a classic example of creating a need you didn’t have – how often do you worry about optimizing what’s in your pockets (EDC enthusiasts, please avert your eyes)?

I was recently in the market for a new wallet and being a habitual front pocket wallet user, bulk (or lack thereof) was of utmost importance. I had always been vaguely aware of the Kickstarter wallet market/phenomenon. Through Amazon, I ended up buying one of the older, tried and true players in the slim wallet market – the Radix One Slim Wallet. Researching my purchases as I do, I was dismayed to find little to no critical commentary on this product (other than Amazon reviews)

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A Simple Solution

The basic premise of the Radix One Slim Wallet is this – In an increasingly digital world, it is already a very rare occasion that we use cash. Additionally, cardless methods of payment, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, LG Pay (seriously guys, is this the best you can do?) are increasing in popularity. This being the case, when not get rid of the biggest space waster in most wallets – the partitions in between each card? Make it easy to access the one or two cards that you use the most, and slightly harder to access the less used ones. Anything else, question if you actually need to carry it on yourself.

It accomplishes this by sandwiching the cards between two pieces of injection molded plastic (high startup cost to produce the tooling, a very low cost to produce after that) and keeping it together under elastic tension provided by a silicone band. Silicone is more resilient to wear than rubber or elastic, which tend to stretch, and can be produced in a variety of textures. In many cases, it is even a standard part, although I do not believe that to be the case with the band that is provided with the wallet.

Fit and Finish

There are notches built into the center portion of each plastic piece. These help the user to grip cards and remove them. Indeed, using the purchase provided by these notches, there are two points of egress for your most used cards, one on the “front” of the wallet (there is little functional difference between front and back), and another on the back. I store my most used card in the front, and my driver license/ID in the back.

In between those two cards are a number of other cards that I have less occasion to use, and an RFID key card for my office. The plastic panels do not block RFID signals, although a common feature on these Kickstarter wallets is RFID blocking, due to the security implications. The plastic panels are finished with a smooth matte surface, and the channel in which the silicone band lies is polished, presumably to increase grip. It is clear that a lot of thought went into the design.

I am unsure whether the polished center channel is indeed a necessity, although I do notice that the finish renders more conspicuous the country-of-origin markings (China in this case), which are concealed beneath the silicone band. There are identical markings on both panels, which reveal that both sides are likely produced of the same mold; there are no different “front” and “rear” panels. The interior-facing side of the panels are also of a polished finish, and are nearly exactly the size of a standard credit card.

Functionality

The storage metaphor for this product is the stacking of cards on top of one another, between the two plastic panels, which are held in tension by the silicone band. The non-logo (or rear) side of the silicone band has a bump that can be used to easily expose space between the top of the plastic panel and the band, which I used to store cash, rolled into fourths. The silicone band was likely molded as one piece, so this is likely a designed feature, and not the result of joining the ends of a single silicone strip.

On a daily basis, I carry seven unique pieces of plastic with me, as well as a small amount of cash. The wallet is more than able to contend with their bulk, and I do not find that the silicone band is under any undue stress. Removing an individual card is fairly easy if that card be on the outside of the stack. Regardless, I find the best technique is to actually slightly fan out the cards immediately adjacent to your desired card when trying removing one. This is much easier than specifically picking out that card, and realigning the stack is easily done with one hand.

Picking out cards in the center of the stack is somewhat trickier, but the same technique is still effective. In a pinch, the whole stack may be ejected by pressing a finger into both of the notches on one side of the stack. This is also a useful technique for getting are cards in the middle.

Thoughts and Suggestions

Overall, I am impressed with the functionality of this product. It certainly performs as described, and it encourages me to change my behavior to carry less non-essential things. Over the few weeks that I’ve had this, I have already come to the realization that several loyalty and insurance-based cards are of no use to me in my day-to-day life, and thus I do not need to have them with me every day. Indeed, the relative complication of removing the outermost cards also leads me to use cardless methods of payment (Samsung Pay in particular) more often than I might otherwise do.

The difficulty of removing interior cards, while minor, appears to be a function of the form factor. So long as cards are stacked in a parallel orientation it seems unlikely that this friction can be solved. It also seems that the plastic panels are a little thicker than they need to be, from a structural perspective. From an eyeball’s glance, they are about 1.5 – 1.7 times thicker than a standard credit card. I suspect that this additional height is meant to allow the silicone band to lie flush with the surface on the “front” of the wallet. This is indispensable from a presentation perspective, while in turn violating the spirit of a slim wallet.

The alternative to thinning the plastic might be to replace with another material altogether. Numerous Kickstarter wallets are constructed from metals, which I do not think would be pleasant to keep in my pocket for any period of time. Additionally, metals tend to block RFID, which is a vital use case for some users. I do not, at the time, have a suggestion for how to change the design to make its base thickness smaller.

3 Responses to “Gear Review: Radix One Slim Wallet

  • Now this is what I call a thorough review! Thanks for the detail, I could almost feel the wallet in my hand. If anything I could only ask for some more pictures.

  • How does it fare against ROCO Minimalist Aluminum Slim?

  • Purchased this wallet due to this review. Was going to go with a ridge wallet but this was much more economical and if I like the minimalist aspect I will upgrade. Thank you for the review and analysis. Very concise and cogent in regard to how it works and materials used.

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