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Bellroy Note Sleeve Shootout by Zixag

It's no secret we're fans of Bellroy – the approach and care they take in designing a minimal wallet shines throughout the brand. Recently they’ve launched the DE, a refined version of their most iconic wallets. Subtle changes, finer materials. 

Bellroy keeps their upgrades mostly under the hood. And majority of the time, it’ll come down to aesthetics, which is totally fine, can’t go wrong with any of them. 

For those who want to go deeper, we're here today to open up one of our favorites for you today: the Note Sleeve. 

Disclaimer: There are many quality wallets out there. We just feel the Bellroy's blend of product, service, and overall experience currently tops the market, that’s why we’re retailing them. Having said that, we’re doing this writeup independently of Bellroy based on our real world use. 

OK, that's out of the way. So good news is: If you're here to buy a Bellroy wallet, we're here to point you in the right direction.

 

TL;DR

Choose:

V1 if you can utilise all the features (ex: sim cards, larger card stacks).

V2 if you don’t have the above / want a sleeker design.

DE if you care about details. DE Green if you like your leather textured.

 

The basics

Bellroy's process is pretty simple – less layers makes a slimmer wallet. Cards = layer. Cash = layers. Wallet material = layer. Bellroy takes care of the material layers, users handle cash and card layers. So before switching wallets, do yourself a favour, and a quick review of your cards. Leave the non-essentials at home.

On leathers – Bellroy materials vary slightly by color (guide); there’s a difference between a Java and Black. Best way to feel the difference is to get them in your hands. 

On Capacity – Officially, the Note Sleeve handles 4-11+ cards. the “+” really depends on how far you want to stretch your gear. including name-cards, I’ve definitely had more in there, but it’s a difference you’ll feel in your backpocket. 

Note Sleeve v1 Black Java

The Note Sleeve

V1

The Note Sleeve’s been a Zixag Favourite since early days; a squarish design that’ll comfortably slip into most everyday clothing pockets. It’s the jack of all trade; fitting between the Slim Sleeve – for those who prefer cards over cash, and Hide & Seek’s extra capacity & size. 

Feature wise, the Note Sleeve V1 is richest – SIM card slot, covered pocket, largest card capacity. It's also the easiest to get cards out, with a step-up card slot design. Downside of the step-up slot config – low stretch retaining with multiple cards. In a rush I’ve pushed 3 cards into the same slot. It’ll hold, but over time this will stretch out your leather. You may not be able to go back to one-card per slot after a while.

Bellroy Note Sleeve Comparison

Bellroy Note Sleeve v1 Blue steel

Side note: the earliest V1 Blue Steel had a custom blue lining. (If you copped one of those, hold on to them for first edition cred.)


V2

The V2 keeps the shape, strips away features and rearranges the card slots (same amount of slots) – SIM slot is gone, Covered flap shifts to the right. Card stack goes on the left, and individual slots are staggered through the wallet layers on the right. Card slot design shifts from step-up to sideways hockey stick (straight line with a  slight curve). 

The result is a more a balanced wallet under once you start piling on the cards and cash. Under heavy load, the V1 feels thicker than the V2, mainly due to card placement. You won’t be able to force as many cards into the same slot, but that’s better for long term durability. 


The DE

The new arrangement is pretty key to the DE series. Bellroy's Black and Burnt Sienna (brown) utilises a softer fine grain leather, but the Green is a departure from their smooth leathers, instead featuring thick grain texture. 

Bellroy DE Colors

Why this matters

Given the Green's heavier, stiffer grain, V2's balanced structure allows the thicker material to stay as slim as possible, than the V1’s arrangement would.

 

Detailing

The DE is all about details; subtle touches here and there that add up; the corners are rounder, a golden Owl logo replaces the Bellroy logotype in front. Capacity-wise it’s the same. The leather is the cornerstone of the DE, and it does feel finer. Again, something you’d have to pick up to feel.

Straight-edge card slot removes edge stitching, favoring a die-cut treatment and painted edges. 

Fine polyester feels great in hand. So smooth, almost microfiber-ish.

Bellroy DE Note Sleeve round corners

Bellroy Note Sleeve Stitching

Bellroy Note Sleeve Lining

The Verdict

As with everything, it’s really up to your needs and tastes. Those with many cards, the V1 is going to be the most malleable for your needs. If you need a SIM card slot, get this one. If you don’t, the V2 looks and feels more refined, and will pack your cards in less bulk. The Designer Edition is a great gift for yourself or others. I’m personally locked into my Java V1 still, but I’d probably switch to the DE black if I had to pick today; it’s way more refined. Pick the DE green if you like slim wallets, but also want a textured grain. Feels great, looks great, smells great.

Bellroy Note Sleeve Verdict