Gadling Gear Review: Zippo Stainless Steel Wallet

Last week we reviewed an excellent backpack from Tumi that featured a pocket that is specially designed to protect against the theft of data via Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. RFID chips are now being incorporated in our credit cards, smartphones, passports and other commonly used items in order to pass information while in close proximity to a device designed to read them. But less-scrupulous people have found a way to hack those chips to gain access to that information, which has added another challenge to keeping our data and identities safe.

Zippo, the company that is so well known for its iconic lighters, has designed a new wallet that is built to protect against RFID theft. The wallet features a stainless steel outer shell that suppresses the signal sent from an RFID chip. This makes it much more difficult for thieves to detect the signal, let alone hack it and obtain access to the data contained within. Considering the fact that so many new credit cards are being issued with these chips, you can see how this could be a very useful feature.

The stainless steel shell doesn’t just serve as an extra layer of protection against high-tech identity theft; however, it also gives this product its own unique look. Zippo’s wallet certainly isn’t like any other that I’ve ever seen and it garnered more than a few comments when I’ve taken it out in public. It has an attractive and distinctive look about it that caught the attention of just about everyone who has spotted it, with most asking where I had gotten it. It has a certain masculine appeal that is uniquely its own and makes it a great gift idea for the man who has everything.Inside, the wallet has enough slots to accommodate up to six credit cards and includes a designated window that specifically allows for quick access to a drivers license or other form of identification. It also has a money pocket, although unlike a traditional wallet, the bills need to be folded in order to make them fit. For my needs, this is plenty of storage capacity, but if you’re one of those people whose wallet is a bit like a mobile office, you may be put off by the minimal amount of space available. There isn’t a lot of room to stuff business cards or receipts for example and if you prefer to carry a lot of cash, it may be tough to squeeze it all into the relatively small bill holder. I’m the type of person who keeps his bills organized in order by ascending value, which allows me to quickly find $1, $5 or $20 bills. But it isn’t possible to do that with this wallet, which I found to be a minor annoyance.

Carrying around a stainless steel wallet also takes a bit of getting use to. Obviously, it is far more rigid than a typical leather wallet and there were times when I’d sit down on a hard surface, only to be reminded of this fact. It definitely has a different feel in your pocket, although after using it for a week or two, it quickly became an afterthought. But the metal outer-shell does provide a level of protection for the contents of the wallet that you don’t get elsewhere and you won’t worry about having one of your credit cards snap when you sit down on it.

The Zippo stainless steel wallet carries a price tag of $49.95, which is actually a very reasonable price for a product like this. I’ve certainly paid more for a traditional leather wallet in the past and those tend to all look alike and offer no form of protection from RFID hacking. This wallet certainly has its own look and appeal, and if you don’t mind its minimalist approach to how much it can carry, you’ll likely be very happy with what Zippo has created here. Unlike leather, the stainless steel outer shell isn’t likely to wear out over time either, which means you’re practically buying a wallet for life. This is a great new spin on a product that most men carry with them every day and I think it’ll be a hit with its intended audience.

[Photo: Zippo]