Full disclosure: Rogue Industries did send me this wallet for the purpose of reviewing it. My opinions, however, remain unbiased and the following is exactly how I’d review it in any other circumstance.
Okay, so what do we have here? It’s a front wallet with a patented curve that better fits the cut of the pocket. The advantages to carrying your wallet in the front include but are not limited to theft deterrence, spine issues and simple convenience. On those fronts, it seems like a good wallet for the job. I chose mine in charcoal black premium cow leather ($40) but there are plenty of different animals and styles to choose from, including non-animal things like ballistic nylon and stainless steel. They all appear to be the same shape so this review will be more about how that works than the actual leather itself. We can assume it’ll compare to other leather products and is a material we’re all familiar with, unlike my previous Tyvek Slimfold wallet.
Speaking of the Slimfold, this might be the only time ever that someone has gone to such a slim wallet as the Rogue Maine and called the experience “clunky” by relative standards. The photo above shows the thickness difference, and it’s not too bad but I have been spoiled by the carefree weightlessness of the paper fiber material. You’ll also notice how beat up it is – no huge surprise there. So, for normal people who want reliability for more than 6 months, something a little beefier is required. For men who have even bulkier wallets than that: seriously, get something – anything – lighter. Especially if you’re a back pocket type, your body will thank me.
It’s made by Rogue Industries, a company out of Portland, Maine, USA where the aptly-named Maine Rogue is manufactured. As a Canadian I don’t understand the OORAH Made in America patriotism thing, but I do appreciate small companies filled with passionate people and well-made things, so wherever you hail from read this page and understand that they’re cool folks who believe in their product.
The minimalists amongst us will appreciate that there are no logos adorning the outside. It’s the same on both sides: clean, black leather. There’s a nice embossed text logo on the card slot area with a small tag sewn inside the cash hold but that’s it for branding. The curve is nice not only for it’s unique style but because you always know which side is the top, and instinctively know how to open it. One thing about the Slimfold was even after months of use, it was very easy to open upside down because of the featureless symmetry. It’s those sorts of affordances that make for intuitive, good design. The main reason for the curve, of course, is for the front pocket and it fits well. I’m a slim person and my hipster pants are on the tighter side so it felt a little wide for me, but I’m definitely in the minority. Given the material it will probably soften over time and become less of a rigid flat surface on your thigh (unlike the glass smartphone bulge). Other, bigger guys that tried front-pocketing it had no problem and no bulge. It does fit quite nicely in cargo shorts, I noticed. The curve allows for it to sit deeper in the pocket which feels more secure with the wider, more vertical pocket openings that things do slide out of all too easily when sitting.
There is a slightly shorter Weekender wallet that I’d be curious to try as well, since I don’t need a ton of card / cash space. If you are looking for massive card space, there are options for you too, but again, I’d try just scaling back first. The Original is slim enough to use as a back pocket wallet if you prefer (I would in dress pants) and while it is noticeable to sit on, it’s not a burden or anything. For those sizing down from a Costanza wallet, it’ll be a welcome reprieve regardless of how it’s worn.
RFID blocking is going to become an increasingly important feature of wallets, and the Maine has it built in already. Basically, smartphones with NFC (Near Field Communication) can read credit cards with tap-to-pay ability (like PayPass etc.), which means if a criminal can get their phone close enough to your cards, they can skim the information and effectively digitally steal your credit card. Obviously, this is bad. The good news is you can block these sorts of communications and prevent these sorts of thefts if you have an RFID blocking wallet. I found a simple app and with my phone did a number of very unscientific tests, but it seems to work. The naked card was easily read, both the Slimfold and my other leather wallets failed to keep my information secret and with the card tucked in the Rogue, it couldn’t get a reading. I’m no Mythbusters, but I’d call this confirmed.
The card slots are firm in the beginning as to be expected but work in over the first couple days. I haven’t felt like anything is going to fall out yet, anyway. There are three card slots on the left side and then an open pocket on either side, with the right having a clear plastic for your license which has a thumb slot for easy ID removal. I’m carrying five cards and a few bills and it all fits easily enough. The pocket behind the slots on the left is empty with that configuration, and could probably fit another two cards if you didn’t mind that they don’t have individual organization. A couple of personal business cards would be perfect here. One tiny gripe is that the middle card in the slots, for whatever reason, sits slightly too low and can get stuck hidden behind the front-most card. It might just be that the front slot has to relax a bit and expand to allow the card to sit lower, or that the middle slot needs it’s bottom sewn a little higher. Not a big deal, just a curiosity.
It might just be the bigger dimensions of Canadian bills, but I did notice the corners stick out of the curve ever so slightly which could be a little bothersome to the more OCD of us. It is a more spatially minimal wallet so the people who like to keep file cabinets worth of receipts and rolodex worth of business cards are not going to have the space for them here but again, it’s probably in your best interest to downsize anyway. Not having space is a great way to not fill up space.
Conclusion: If you’re a guy who has difficulty finding 29” waist pants, you can still enjoy the elegant, durable design and RFID blocking technology but know that it might look funny in the front pocket of your slimmer jeans. There are shorter versions available, so maybe look into those. If you’re normal sized, the Rogue is a great way to switch to front wearing and avoid theft and back pains. It’s reasonably priced, comes in a ton of materials and seems really well made. You’ll be supporting local business and cool people. Win-win.
And hey, father’s day is next weekend…