Wallets & Belts
Hint: It’s not just marketing.
Read the quality details and story behind our wallets at the bottom of this page below the pictures. The leather we use for our wallets and belts is the toughest, densest and longest lasting leather available. And each wallet is sewn with the strongest thread available. Geek out on the details at the bottom of this page. Even the detail of how far away each stitch is on our belts and wallets was considered. To offer a 100 year warranty is easy. To back it up is another story.
Imagine a cow is killed and skinned. Maybe don’t imagine that. But the hide is sent to the tannery and its thick skin is then split, the top half from the bottom. Now the tannery has two hides to sell to wallet and belt makers. The very expensive top half of the hide is called full grain because it has the full amount of grain. They sell it to companies with thick wristed, calloused handed skilled craftsmen like ours. The grain is the top layer of super tough, tight and water resistant fibers that protected the cow and what gives leather its bareknuckle tough reputation. Grain to leather is what shingles are to a roof.
Not Long Lasting Leather Wallets
The super low priced bottom half of the hide has no grain and the fibers are looser. It’s sold to low quality companies somewhere over the sea whose craftsmen have soft little tear stained hands. That leather wallet falls apart because it can’t keep the moisture in or out very well and dries out quickly. The bottom half of the hide is called split or genuine leather and is painted and shined up to look pretty. That’s like a roofer PAINTING pretty shingles on the decking of your roof instead of laying shingles down.
Perforated Pre-Torn Wallets
A sewing machine is actually a perforation machine and every hole is the beginning of a tear in the wallet. If the needle holes are too close together, then the leather will tear like perforated paper. We purposely sew our leather wallets at no more stitches than 7 per inch. Most sew at 9 plus stitches in a single inch. If that hole is in tight fibered leather, it won’t tear. But if there’s a needle tear in a loose fibered leather wallet, then when the leather dries out in those holes the tears will expand.
Wallets sewn with low cost low quality nylon thread fall apart quickly because the thread is made from a whole lot of really short fibers wound together to make a long thread. Those fibers release from eachother with light friction, heat and UV light and the wallet falls apart. Our expensive German thread was engineered for strength and durability. It is made from long continuous filaments of Polyester with no breaks in it. Polyester is the best for thread for leather wallets, but bad for almost everything else. It causes bad sleep in bedding and infertility and skin problems with clothing. I wrote about it here.
Instead of lining our wallets with some shiny pretty nylon fabric that tears, we glue and sew tough smooth pigskin to the back of the already tough and thick full grain leather. Since the pigskin is tougher than the cowskin, our wallets are 2X stronger than most everyone else’s.
The Survival of Our Fittest Leather Wallets is on display here. We designed and launched and discontinued wallets through the years and kept the crowd favorites. And then we designed and launched and discontinued some more and then did it again. and these are the wallets we ended up with. All of them have strong followings, but some have been around longer than others. And so it has gone for 15 years. These are the best of our best wallets. Only the strongest have survived and their great reviews prove it.
This goes for all categories; back pocket bifolds, minimalist front pocket, passport and simple card wallets to bring you our refined and perfected collection of the most popular wallets of our history. All but the Front Pocket ID is lined with a Radio Frequency ID (RFID) blocker. We design and build all of the leather wallets at our own factory. They'll fight over it when you're dead.
The History of Wallets at Saddleback Leather
Back in 2006, I found a small factory to start making my bags because the father and son duo couldn’t keep up with demand. The guy started making just my original leather briefcase, no wallets, that was it. But there was a lot of scrap leather laying around on the cutting room floor that I had already paid for.
He suggested I make some leather wallets or keychains or some other small leather goods to use up all of the really nice quality leather I had already paid for. With a gravelly Mexican accent, I told him, “I don’t need no stinkin’ wallets”. At the time, I wasn’t planning on making this a business. Up until then, I was just selling leather bags on eBay as a side so I could keep working with Young Life. So, it wasn’t important to me to make wallets or do anything else with the scrap.
In 2007, I bought a small front pocket wallet out of a Johnston and Murphy store in the airport that I LOVED. It was a huge deal because the leather wallet fit in my front pocket and I hardly noticed it was there. But after just a few months, it started to fall apart and the plastic on the ID window started to cloud up look ugly. That, along with the owner of the factory continually suggesting to me that I let him make leather wallets for me, I finally gave in.
I redesigned one like the front pocket wallet that I loved so much. I expanded the radius of the corners because I felt the corners on my favorite one were too sharp. I beefed up the wallet in a 4 ways. I used Full Grain leather, which my Johnston and Murphy front pocket wallet was made out of, what appeared to be, Top Grain. I did away with the super thin thread at 9 stitches per inch and used a little thicker Polyetser thread and sewed it at 7 stitches per inch instead. That was a big deal, but not as big of a deal as when I decided to line it with pigskin, which is one of the toughest leathers on the planet. So, now the body of the wallet is twice as strong as it used to be with just the leather.
Lastly, I took out the plastic from the ID window of the wallet. I made the window a tad bit smaller so my driver’s licence wouldn’t fall out and so the edges of the leather wouldn’t lift up when the wallet was overstuffed.
I figured that even if a wallet lasted for one hundred years, but the crappy plastic window was cloudy and dingy yellow, who would be proud of that. And who would compliment a great beautifully patinaed wallet with a low class scrap of plastic on it.
So that’s the story of how Saddleback’s first leather wallet came about. It’s what I wanted for myself. And I absolutely love it to this day. Of course, over the years, I’ve heard feedback from users with out to tweak it to make the wallets even better. And that’s what we do.