Over the last year or two, I’ve checked out quite a variety of wallets. Some have been the more classic leather variety (say, like this one or this one). And I had been a solid believer in a good leather wallet – that is, until I came across the much-more-technical (and compact) Ridge Wallet. If you’re riding the fence somewhere between those two arbitrary fenceposts, then something like the wallets from Ekster may be of interest to you. We wrote about them (from afar) before, and now we’ve gotten a chance to spend some time with the Ekster Parliament Wallet.
Undoubtedly, many will be interested in the tracking capability that the Ekster wallets offer (it’s good enough that FedEx relies on it as well). But before we get into that, let’s talk about the actual wallet itself, as that is what you’ll be seeing and interacting with the most. The Ekster Parliament Wallet is constructed of top grain leather, and is available in one of seven different shades. This is a wallet that – in one sense – is considered a bi-fold wallet, as it does have one fold down the middle (along the long edge). Unlike a traditional billfold, though, you’re not putting the cash (should you still be carrying cash) in a pocket – that’s going into an elastic keeper. This is mounted onto what I believe is the coolest feature of the wallet.
While I do certainly enjoy using my minimalist Ridge, getting out the exact card you want (unless it’s in the front or the back) can take a bit long than you might expect. Ok, sure, 5-8 seconds isn’t that much time. But after you have the 1 second deploy of the Ekster, well, everything else just seems slow. In whatever order you put the cards in (4 embossed, or 4-6 non-embossed cards), they pop out with a simple press of a button. This is slick, and quite a fun party trick at the restaurant. As an added bonus, the metal used to surround this jack-in-the-box feature is RFID blocking, so you’ve got some extra security.
For some folks, carrying 4-6 cards is not nearly enough space. On the inside of the Ekster Parliament Wallet, you’ve got two more pockets inside the flap where you could store extra cards. There’s also another pocket on the back of the wallet that you could use, but if you get the optional tracker, well, that’s where that gets stored. Once you load everything up – particularly when the leather is brand new – you can end up with a rather bulky pocket carry. Of course, the card box won’t shrink any, but the leather flap will certainly break in to conform to what you’ve loaded in, so you could end up in a more compact solution
Now as you can see from the photos, how bulky it ends up being is definitely dependent on how much you decide you want to carry. If I loaded in everything I had in my Ridge Wallet it was significantly bulkier. However, if you’re not carry cash, or fewer cards, your experience will be different. The one thing the ridge can’t do, however, is easily carry the tracking technology that the Ekster Parliament Wallet offers. This comes courtesy of their partner Chipolo, and it is one slick solution.
The Chipolo tracker is slightly larger (and thicker) than a credit card, and features a solar panel and a button on it’s front side. The solar panel is to charge up the internal battery (3 hours of charge gets you about 3 months of usage). The button? Well, that’s for some other interesting tricks. Can’t find your phone? Press the button, and it’ll chirp your phone for you. Or, if you like, it can be used as a remote trigger for a selfie. What people will likely be more interested in is the communication going the other way, from the phone to the wallet / tracker.
Within the Chipolo app, you can actually see where your wallet is – or last was. Think of it sort of like a “Find my Phone” app that you’ve likely used before. In this case, the location beacon relies on the tracker having a bluetooth connection to your device, and your phone’s location services being turned on. With those two pieces, the app will remember where it last saw your wallet. Once you’ve narrowed things down, you can then use your app to “ring” your wallet, giving you audible clues as to which bookshelf the wallet has managed to hide itself under this time around.
This is an interesting proposition, here, what the Ekster Parliament Wallet can offer you with the Chipolo tracker. If you’re the absent-minded sort, this peace of mind could certainly keep you from pulling your hair out. Even without the tracker, the trigger deployment offered on the Ekster Parliament Wallet (and some other models in the lineup) is slick, and I do like the RFID-blocking features that it brings to the party. While I ultimately found the Ekster Parliament Wallet to be just a bit bulkier than I might like, if you’re more used to carrying your wallet in a jacket pocket or satchel, then the $79 Ekster Parliament Wallet (plus another $29 for the tracker) could certainly be a viable option. They do also offer some simpler card-holder options (both with and without the trigger, $69 and $39, respectively) as well as the option to pick up the tracker on it’s own (for $49). In shorty, they’ve got something for just about everyone, I imagine, unless your a pocket curmudgeon like me who’s settled into a solution that works for your daily carry. For everyone else, go on and check out the products over at ekster.com
- Brand & Model: Ekster Parliament Wallet plus Chipolo solar-powered tracker
- Price: $79 + $29 for the tracker card
- Who’s it for? You have a bad habit of misplacing your phone or your wallet – and you always have the other on you
- Would I carry it? While the card deployment is certainly slick, and the tracker card is a cool innovation, it’s just a bit too bulky for how I carry
- What I’d change: The only suggestion I have is to see how it could be slimmed down. Then again, they’ve got options that are just card carriers that would thin it out
- The best thing about it: The trigger for deploying cards is quite excellent.
Specs from Ekster
- Dimensions: 0.4 x 4.1 x 2.5 in (1.1 x 10.5 x 6.5 cm)
- Storage: Stores 10+ cards
- Strap: Multi-purpose, cash storage
- Coins: Keep them in your piggy bank 😉
- Tracker: CardPowered by Chipolo® Technology
- Compatibility: iOS 9/Android 4.4 and above
- Coverage: Worldwide Lost & Found Platform, QR Safety Net
- Range: Up to 200 ft (60 m) with BLE 4.0
- Solar-Powered: 3 hours of charge lasts 2-3 full months
- Ringer: Ring your wallet or phone
- Voice-Activated: Compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri