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Yasutomo Wa-Ben Wallet Review – The “William Gibson” Wallet

holding ben-wa wallet

A while back I read an interview with one of my favourite authors, William Gibson. He talked about a great many things, but what intrigued me most was a wallet that he mentioned. He described it as being made from a boat sail material called Cuben, and that it was super light and durable. I’ve been trying to find a decent looking ultra-light wallet for years, and this wallet seemed to match that description. After a bit of research, I’m fairly certain I found the wallet that he described in the interview.

The wallet in question is none other than the Wa-Ben wallet from designer Jason Yasutomo. I contacted him after reading the interview, and he was generous enough to provide a sample for me to review. I’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks now, and despite my initial misgivings and bouts of incredible laughter, I’ve changed my tune. Here’s what I like…

What I like about the Wa-Ben wallet

  • It’s unbelievably light. It’s so light that you probably won’t even notice that you’re carrying it, and that’s startled me more than a few times. I’m used to a certain weight, and when I don’t feel it, my initial inclination is to panic. Once you get over that, it’s awesome.
  • The carrying capacity is substantial, especially considering the tiny profile. A person could comfortable fit 12 cards by doubling up in each slot if they were so inclined. I only carry a few cards, but I used the space in behind the card slots to hold my bus pass and the occasional receipt.
  • The Wa-Ben is super tough. It’s made out of a unique sail material called Cuben Fiber. If it’s strong enough to propel a boat forward, I’m fairly certain it will stand the test of time for a wallet.
  • Since the wallet is made of Cuben Fiber and not leather, it won’t rot or corrode from water and mud. I’ve carried many leather wallets over the years, and eventually they get really worn out and grimy. That’s good if you’re using an untanned wallet and want to break it in, but not so much for that expensive black wallet you bought.

Now, I mentioned earlier that I had a good, hearty laugh when I first opened the package. The reason I laughed so hard is because the wallet looked a bit… odd. It reminded me of a rice sack, or perhaps a piece of garbage bag; not exactly the qualities I look for in a wallet. What changed, though, was that I realized how much stuff I could pack into such a tiny wallet.

Wa-Ben Wallet Video Overview

The Ben-Wa wallet is light, durable, and holds a ton of stuff when I need it. I don’t often carry around a lot of cards, so using this wallet allows me to forgo the additional bulk of more traditional leather wallets; it’s kind of nice sometimes. I also ended up growing accustomed to the style, and even kind of liking it. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but I like it a heck of a lot better than the Carbon Bifold Wallet I reviewed a while back.

Overview Photos

Wa-Ben Wallet opened up

Wa-Ben Cash Pockets

yasutomo 2020

holding ben-wa wallet

Though this wallet isn’t for everyone, I highly recommend it for anyone that prefers carrying a light wallet, without having to give up a reasonable amount of storage capacity.

You can order the Wa-Ben Wallet on Yasutomo 2020 for $49.95 USD.

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{ 19 comments… add one }

Chad "Stick" Poindexter 2012/09/06

Great review, and nice wallet. I have been using one of these myself now for about a year and absolutely love it…way more than any of my other wallets I have carried.

As far as the material, I love cuben fiber. I have a number of backpacking items from tents to backpacks to lots of other smaller items which are made from this material (in various yet appropriate weights per sqyd). My favorite color in this material is white, and then black.

Also, the small stuff sack bag that came with it is made of Spinnaker material, not as strong as cuben but has some similar properties and is much less expensive than cuben per sqyd.

Enjoy the wallet!

~Stick~

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Chad 2012/09/06

Awesome, glad you enjoyed it. I still use it as my every day wallet, and yeah, it’s really grown on me. I’ll be interested to see what Yasutomo comes up with next.

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Iqak 2013/03/28

How is the external friction between the wallet and the pants pocket?
Too slick and it’s likely to pop out when you least expect it.
Too sticky and it’s hard to fish out of you pocket when you need to use it.

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Faisal 2013/03/28

I got one of these wallets as well, it’s not too slick or sticky, it’s perfect. I’ve never had it pop out of my pocket, I’ve been using it for about a year now.

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Bob Johnson 2013/03/28

It may seem silly, but is that the Grey version of the wallet? It looks much less see-through and darker than the scant few other pictures online that appear much whiter. Trying to decide what color to get, but there are almost no pictures of anything other than the Standard (white) color so comparison is hard.

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Chad 2013/03/28

It’s actually supposed to be white, but holding it in my hand, yes, it does look very gray.

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Jason 2013/03/30

Hey Chad, if i m correct the one you had should be the Black version! :)

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Chad 2013/03/31

I think you would know best, yes. Thanks for the clarification. :D

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John Hooper 2013/03/29

I just use a plastic ziplock bag. Costs a few cents, carries everything.

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JT 2013/03/29

Ok….this is random, but I heard quite a bit of “crinkling” noises when the reviewer was handling the wallet. Is that the case, and does that occur when it’s in your pocket during walking and sitting on it?

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Chad 2013/03/29

When you first get it, it’s a bit “crinkly”, but that goes away after a few days. The material “softens up” quite a bit.

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Toxteth 2013/03/29

Could you post the dimensions of the wallet? The space around the cards makes me think it’s actually kind of large.

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Chad 2013/03/29

Sure, can do. Closed it’s 4in wide x 2.5in tall.

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Robert Colgan 2013/03/31

Call me clueless, but I cannot find a link to anywhere that actually sells this wallet. Could you please post a link? Thank you.

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Robert Colgan 2013/03/31

Nevermind, I found it. Sorry.

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Chad 2013/03/31

No worries, glad you found it. :)

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Kevin McKenzie 2013/04/03

How does it compare to the All-ett?

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Chad 2013/04/03

I can’t say I’ve tried them. Has anyone else here? Personally I think they look a bit ghetto…

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