Quick Tip: Ziplock bag wallet

Some ideas are so obvious to me for backpacking at this point; I do not realize how the idea may seem like a novelty to others.

Some thoughts off the top of my head are:

  • Sports drink bottles instead of Nalgene bottles
  • Generic fleece beanies for $5 instead of the same one that has a name-brand logo on it for $20.
  • A trash bag liner instead of an expensive, and largely ineffective, pack cover

…and so on.

And one of these items that seem so obvious but may not be to others is a simple Ziplock [1] bag for a wallet.


Seems silly to suggest this idea.

But when there is a market to sell $20 wallets  for hikingor even a $35 cuben fiber wonder,  (!) something ain’t right.

Oh, the Ziplock bag is not stylish or trendy or will get you reward points at REI.  And it will look positively atrocious at your CrossFit Paleo Yoga Class (TM).

A Ziplock bag will not organize business cards, or have a place for photos or store the keycard for your company’s weight room.

But it is fairly waterproof. And will hold your credit and debit cards. And keep your cash handy. Your driving license will be readily available, too.

The brew pub you visit after a long hike will welcome the cash held in your Ziplock bag…I assure you.

The Ziplock bag weighs a mere few grams. And a Ziplock bag is nearly free.

What? You need to organize all your wallet contents better?

You are going hiking. How much do you really need?

Going lightweight backpacking is not about the latest cuben fiber watchamahoosey.

It is about simplicity. Paring down what you need. Taking only the right items for the task at hand.

And a $35 cuben fiber wallet full of lots of crap ain’t it.

Take a Ziplock bag instead.

Even your CrossFit Paleo Yoga Class (TM). pals won’t mind.


[1]. I realize Ziploc is the technical trademarked name. But Ziplock is the more popular colloquial name.  Donut vs Doughnut. 😉



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8 years ago

The primary market for $20.00 backpacking wallets and tiny microfiber towels and pre-packaged first aid kits is very simple – Christmas gifts. I’m admittedly very difficult to shop for – in most areas of life, I need what I have and have what I need – but EVERYONE needs more accessories, right? Water bottles, wallets, tiny candle lanterns, etc… these things are all directly marketed to lay people who don’t know what to get their outdoorsy loved ones for Christmas. And in case your family members ever ask, yes, of course you use that all the time. You just, uh,… Read more »

8 years ago

I use zipper lock bags as wallets all the time, but they are small and easy to lose. I’ve had zipper bags of cash fall out of my pocket when I reached in to get something. I happened to have a name badge carrier on a neck strap that I got at a conference some years ago. This carrier has a little zipper pouch on it that I can put my little zipper lock bags in. As long as this is around my neck, there is little danger of losing it.

8 years ago

I agree completely. 1 credit card, 1 drivers license, 1 20 dollar bill fit very easily on a snack size ziplock. Why would I ever have more than that in my backpack. And if I’m going to the mall (god forbid) I don’t really care about weight.

I hope my family is smart enough to realize that I don’t need a backpacking wallet 🙂

1 year ago

The ziploc probably would get annoying for around town. So I switched to a super-fancy wallet there, one which some people refer to as a “binder clip.” I started using it after losing my previous wallet, and then stuck with it because it just works so damn well. One of the mini-clips is about right for 5-6 cards (license, insurance, a few credit cards to maximize the rewards, etc). Probably not so great if you insist on carrying many photos or a lot of cash around. I got a lifetime supply of various sizes for like $5 from Amazon. The… Read more »