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Ultralight as a Lifestyle?

Maxpedition Wallet

Have you ever noticed how the ultralight, minimalist mentality seeps into almost everything that you do? Or maybe it’s that you were always a minimalist and are just now applying that to your passion for backpacking and hiking? Either way you may have noticed this in other things that you do and when you make purchasing decisions.

For example, when I travel for business I am acutely aware of how much I am packing and what I really ‘need’ to take, to the point where I can now carry a small laptop backpack with me for a two-day business trip. That let’s me easily stow it in an overhead compartment on a flight without having to worry about checked any baggage. My work colleagues are often surprised by this (Kim).

All this got me thinking about other ways in which the ultralight/minimal mindset have impacted my everyday life. One very obvious area, and one that I continue to look for improvements with, is my wallet.

I dislike carrying things in my pockets, so having to carry a wallet at all is a nuisance for me. For that reason I have always tried to carry the thinnest wallet that I can get away with. I’ve tried lots of different wallet with vary degrees of success. Right now my favorite is the Maxpedition Micro Wallet.

Maxpedition Inner Pockets

The Micro Wallet measures 4.5 x 3 inches. When opened it offers a single ID window and two card slots. There is a single division running along for bills. When closed the Micro has a small pocket on the back, there is no closure mechanism, no Velcro or anything to keep it closed. Simple! The construction is very strong in Cordura nylon with double stitching along the edges.

Maxpedition Rear Pocket

However, I recently received a business card holder/wallet from Gossamer Gear as part of my Trail Ambassador business card package. To my astonishment the wallet/holder that they included was significantly thinner and lighter than my beloved Maxpedition Micro!

Wallets Compared

The business card holder (it’s not strictly a wallet) that GG sent me was from a company called ALL-ETT. According to their website they are makers of the world’s thinnest wallets and card cases. The card holder I received is made out of incredibly strong but light weight rip-stop nylon. There is also a true wallet style version of this same holder that has a proper ID card window, so I’m now considering getting one of those to replace my Maxpedition wallet.

All-Ett Business Card Holder

The ALL-ETT wallets were a new discovery for me and I have to thank Grant and Dave at Gossamer Gear for sending me one with my business cards. My guess is that there are even more ultralight or minimal wallets out there that I haven’t come across and if you know of one or have one to recommend, please leave a comment below. What other things has the ultralight mentality changed about your everyday lifestyle?

Disclosure: The author owns the Maxpedition Micro Wallet and paid for it using their own funds. Gossamer Gear provided Brian’s Backpacking Blog with a complimentary All-Ett wallet as part of their Trail Ambassador program.

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  • Mike

     I can’t imagine anything lighter than an ALL-ETT with the same functionality.  I have the original.  Another nice thing is that you can just take fewer cards and IDs.  If stores accept my phone number instead of a discount card, I use that instead.

    On a related note, I switched to plain black coffee – just pour and go.  This is especially useful at Starbucks where there are typically lots people waiting for their drinks.  Once you get used to black coffee, then you don’t need to take any sugar or creamer on a backpacking trip.

  • I like the minimal wallet idea, but I don’t know if I could get away with carrying so few cards!  ;) 

  • Consolidate your loyalty cards at (Not my site.)  Works pretty good.  I still carry a lot of stuff, but this is one trick that helps. 

    Mike has a valid suggestion with the phone numbers, but it doesn’t work in many self-serve lines or at the pump.

    I’ve also not been able to find a smart phone app that replaces loyalty cards that works with any reliability–android or iPhone.

  •  I notice the light-weight packing mindset in myself.  It really annoys my wife when we go car-camping with the kids.  I am always saying that we do not NEED certain things, and she harasses me about wanting to live without when we don’t have to.

    In the end, I deffer to her, because… you know… she IS the wife.

  • Interesting post. For me, ultra-lite has been followed for hiking only. I’m afraid I need a bigger wallet in normal home life, and I don’t see that changing. But on the trail, my wallet is as thin as a wisp.

  • bfgreen

    Mike, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes we go minimal just to speed up a process like getting a coffee faster. I’ve done similar things myself.

  • bfgreen

     Maybe it’s time you reduced the number of cards you have :-)

  • bfgreen

    Ken, I love that site! It’s been around for years and I’ve carried a credit card sized laminated printout of my top 6 loyalty barcodes for years too. I’d highly recommend it to everyone! Thanks for reminding me :-)

  • Peter

    This wallet is probably larger than the Gossamer Gear product, but could be thinner while still having more pockets.

    This cuben fiber wallet pouch could only be made lighter by removing a few milligrams of draw cord.

  •  Yes, I believe once you’ve been packing ultralight for all those hikes over the years, it’s inevitable for the minimalist/ultralight mentality to  flow into other areas of life. Personally, I’m a minimalist at heart. I believe that less and lighter baggage reduces the stress–whether in hiking or other areas of life. =)

  • Brian H.

     So True!  I have to make a conscious effort to allow myself some non-ultralight luxuries when we car camp or when I attend a conference. “It’s okay to pack 3 pairs of underwear…” I tell myself

  • I agree, it’s addictive!  All my family and friends were just amazed when my husband and I went on vacation for a week on one meduim sized suitcase and my 40L pack and didn’t check a thing.  And I still felt like I had taken too much.  When I get back from our first backpacking trip I felt so spoiled, why do I have so much stuff!  That’s when the big purge of stuff. (PS you can buy a lot of backpacking stuff if you have a yard sale of all the stuff at home you haven’t used in a while.)

    My only problem with giving out my number to loyalty cards is that any information they get that they can connect to your name/info they use to track how much and what you spend money on.  If that kind of thing bothers you the little key ring is much smaller and lighter than the wallet cards.

  • Brian:  I would be glad to send you a SASE if you want to donate your Micro… for my own minimalism project!

  •  I’ve not used this particular wallet but I do have experience with Maxpedition products and I just wanted to say that I love them. Just by the company name alone I would consider this product. They are known for durability and versatility. 

  • Ultralight/minimalism has permeated every aspect of my life. My wife is pretty much on board too… as long as she is warm, comfortable, and looks nice, she is all about going light both at home and on the trail.

    We thought we were doing really good, but we just moved. It is amazing how a move makes you see just how much crap you have. When backpacking, you are always on the move and so are faced with dealing with your stuff on a daily basis. At home, you are pretty much stationary, so you only have to deal with little bits at any given time. I am trying to go light (and stay light) at home without having to move every six months ;-)

  • bfgreen

    Damien, I know EXACTLY what you mean! I sometimes feel that I could live in a cave with the absolute minimum of possessions. My wife and kids on the other hand are the “hoarders” and like to challenge me with piles of crap to creatively deal with. Over the years we’ve all struck a happy balance, but every once and while I’ll have a binge when they’re not looking and do a super purge. Once you get used to “going light” it’s hard to go back. Great comments, thanks!

  • Matthew Pittman

    Good topic, hadn’t considered it as minimalist, but I’ve got the NYLA wallet from County Comm , for the double ID windows (as I have to show ID *and* employee card when I enter work now), and the wallet lacks room for a lot of other junk that I used to carry (like a library card that I haven’t used in so long that it expired).

  • Chase Mote

    I recently bought a wallet from my local outddors shop, it is called a Swallet, it is avdertised as a wet suit for your money and cards! It holds it all in place, wallet will not ruin if it gets wet and it floats and is very light! Check it out!!

    • Chase, the Swallet looks like a complete copy of the Wojo Wallet or vice versa. I wonder which came first?