A wallet is a great accessory to have and I especially love how organized they make me feel. Cards, cash, family, photos all in the right place. But buying such a valuable accessory requires a careful selection you will not regret in terms of the leather used. I did some search and I am glad to share my findings with you on the best leather for wallets.
So, which leather is best for wallets? The best leather for a wallet is Kangaroo leather because it is strong and more flexible compared to all other leathers. Kangaroo leather also called K-leather when thinned still retains a lot more durability making it the best suit for leather wallets.
I bet some curiosity has been sparked and you might want to know a bit more about kangaroo leather, the type of kangaroo leather to go for, type of tanning to look out for, and some cons to using kangaroo leather.
While kangaroo leather is the best for wallets, you can also find some detailed examples of other types of leather for wallets you may like to consider in the absence of kangaroo leather or otherwise. Keep reading to find out more.
Details on Kangaroo Leather for Wallets
I have known throughout my years of working with leather that you can get leather from virtually every animal with skin, however little did I know Kangaroo leather will merit as the best among a whole lot of leather.
The generic cattle, goat, sheep, among a few other exotic types of leather like alligators especially calf or lambskin first came to mind when I wondered on this topic.
So, What is Kangaroo leather? Kangaroo leather is a light-weight but very durable leather from the kangaroos reserved for food and its hides.
Kangaroo leather is so durable it still retains about 30% to 60% tensile strength even after it has been split to 20% of original thickness, unlike calf that will only retain 1% – 4% of the original strength.
Kangaroo leather is 10 times stronger than cowhide and 50% stronger than goatskin.
Generally, Kangaroos are protected by law from hunting and only a few species termed as pests are allowed to be hunted. These specific species of kangaroos are a small fraction of the total large size but have a large population.
Kangaroos are not specially bred but in their ecosystem, they do not have a lot of at the enemies and as such their numbers have increased leading to them being legally hunted.
Commercial hunters are allowed by law to hunt them regardless of countless criticisms from the wildlife community on the policy.
It is a game for food due to its low-fat content and highly exported from Australia. Also, due to the abundance of kangaroos, in Australia, its meat is often processed into food for dogs.
In many countries around the world, kangaroo leather is considered an exotic leather, however, in Australia, there is an abundance of kangaroos making it seem like any other leather on the market. Kangaroo leather is used to produce a variety of goods due to its unique structure that allows it to be thinned out but still retaining is durability.
“In truth, kangaroos are to Australia like deer are in North America, where they outnumber humans two-to-one — many consider them pests and they’re far from rare”
I bet that might make you feel somewhat better about getting some kangaroo leather wallets and contributing to controlling their population.
Kangaroo leather apart from wallets is also widely used to produce shoes, motorbike protective gear, football boots, military boots, whips, and other fashion accessories.
Kangaroo leather is tanned both chrome-tanned and vegetable-tanned varieties. Chrome-tanning is a very quick and easy way to turn raw leather hides and skins into leather.
Chrome-tanning, however, makes use of chemicals like the chromium salts in the tanning process. Although chrome-tanning is super popular and there is a high percent chance your kangaroo leather will come chrome-tanned, it is highly environmentally not friendly.
On the other hand, vegetable tanning is also a sure way of tanning raw animal skins or hides into the leather using plant extracts like tree backs, fruits, etc. It is an environmentally friendly way of treating leather but can take between 2 to 3 months to complete, unlike chrome-tanning which can be completed in hours.
What makes Kangaroo Leather Durable and Best for Wallets?
From a structural viewpoint, Kangaroo hides have high uniformity in the orientation of its fiber bundles. Kangaroo hides have their bundles parallel with the skin on the grain side unlike that of the cowhide fiber bundles which angles at 90 degrees.
The hides have no sweat glands and erector pili muscles but have their elastin evenly distributed throughout the skin thickness.
This structural uniformity is entirely responsible for both the tensile strength of the entire leather and how much strength it still retains even in splits.
What type of kangaroo leather is Best for Wallets?
There has been much talk of the two best types of leather in general in terms of grains or grade. There has constantly been the mention of full-grain and top-grain leather and I can not overemphasize that.
So for the type of kangaroo leather best for leather wallets, I will suggest either full-grain or top-grain kangaroo leather and it will give you the best outcome in durability, naturalness, style, and feel you will most desire.
Full-grain in leather terms refers to the outermost part of the skin which is the strongest part of any animal’s skin. This part of the animal’s skin has more interaction with the animal’s environment and will show the hide’s natural patterns and textures together with defects like holes, scratches, bruises, cuts, and insect bites.
Full-grain kangaroo leather wallets will have a lot of character as it will patina beautifully after years of usage. Full-grain leather tends to be more expensive and some people may not well appreciate all the rawness in defects it comes with and may opt for something almost of equal quality but with a better look and feel.
This is where the top-grain layer comes in. Top-grain has the tag, the second strongest quality leather after full-grain. In top-grain leathers, the top section of the raw leather is removed by sanding to take away all imperfections that full-grain comes with. This removes the toughest layer on the hide while giving it a fine uniform finish.
A top-grain kangaroo leather will give your wallet an excellent stain resistance and protection but will however prevent the vintage patina look of most leathers.
The Pros and Cons of Kangaroo Leather for Wallets
The Pros: Durability and Suppleness
Generally, kangaroo leather is lighter but if made thinner, it still remains stronger, and more flexible than goat or cowhide. Kangaroo wallets made from a hide that is just about 1 millimeter in usual thickness will contribute greatly to the overall weight of the finished product.
Compared to cowhide, kangaroo leather wallets usually weigh half as much.
This is possible due to the skin structure of the kangaroo leather where the collagen fibers are highly uniform and parallel to the grain layer.
Kangaroo hide has no sweat glands and pili erector muscles as mentioned before making shaving or splitting an unnecessary activity like that of cowhide or goat hide. It also has low-fat content and a very thin outer grain layer.
Also kangaroo leather is able to stretch uniformly due to elastin evenly distributed throughout the hide.
This makes Kangaroo leather have its natural thinness, suppleness and retaining a lot of durabilities.
1. Develops Patina Quickly
Kangaroo leather may develop patina quicker than you will expect hence making it darker. This, however, may not be a problem to some people but others may want to at least enjoy the look and feel of what they originally might have seen and bought before the patina kicks in after years of use.
This is absolutely subject to your preference as I know many people who like it when their leather items develop character quickly.
2. Creases Easily
The downside to the amazing flexibility kangaroo leather has is the fact that it creases so easily. On top of that, it is not the smoothest leather you would come across as it is very matty and mostly with scares. The new-look you might want on your leather wallet can be gone within a few folds here and there.
On the up-side to this downside, is that although most creases in the leather may leather to crack and peels, the creases on your kangaroo leather will never lead to a crack.
Again this might not be a problem as others won’t mind their wallets having a vintage look from the get-go.
3. Kangaroos are Considered Pets by some people
One side of the spectrum are people who argue that kangaroos are not supposed to be harvested for meat and leather. This has pushed marketers of brands like Copa and Adidas to refer to this type of leather as k-Leather. They also claim the barbaric nature of the culling of kangaroos for food and leather.
At the opposing end is those that claim the population of kangaroos especially in Australia is on the pest level and needs to be controlled by culling. Also, they say kangaroos are not endangered as only a few select species are culled.
The culling process they see regulates the population and at the same time is beneficial as food and kangaroo leather are two giant industries that serve the economy well.
I frankly can not call the shot on this one on who is right or wrong. It is highly subject to what you feel and want. If you generally enjoy and feel comfortable wearing and using leather items, then I am sure you will be more likely to enjoy doing the same with kangaroo leather.
If you find it highly unbearable to go in for kangaroo leather for your wallets, I also research other types that will serve as good alternatives to kangaroo leather.
5 Other Types of Leather for Wallets
1. Pigskin Leather
Pigskin leather is a type of leather made from a pig or a hog. Pig leather is ranked fourth after cow, sheep, and goat leather in the world’s total leather production. You will often find the term Peccary or Berkshire used by marketers in reference to this type of leather.
Industries like shoes or garments usually refer to pigskin leather as Genuine Leather.
Pigskin leather is mostly artificially grained by imprinting grain patterns onto it to give the surface texture and make it nicer.
The Pros and Cons of Pigskin Leather
It is especially characterized by softness, toughness, flexibility, thinness, and excellent resistance to abrasion making it a perfect fit for leather wallets. Also, Pigskin leather is:
- Able to withstands moisture without stiffening
- Water, oil and stain repellent
- Easy to care and maintain
- Pigskin leather often has scars and other defects due to their free life nature
- Pigskin leather may be only limited to leisurewear because it is light and not too warm
- Pig leather is less tear-resistant Pig leather also has a more cardboard-like haptic.
2. Goatskin Leather
Goatskin leather is leather made by using a combination tanning method to turn goatskins into the leather. Goatskin is ranked 3rd after cow and sheep. It is usually called Morroco Leather or Chevreau. There are over 550 million goats found in many regions of the world.
They’re a special breed of goat that provides high-quality skin for leather, for example, black Bengal breed, native to Bangladesh.
Goatskin leather apart from a wallet is used for the production of clothing, shoes, bags, book covers. Untanned goatskins are also used for drums or parchments of musical instruments like bedug in Indonesia, bodhran in Ireland, etc.
The Pros and Cons of Goatskin Leather
The advantages listed below make goatskin leather ideal for leather wallets
- Goatskin leather is not greasy on the skin and is, therefore, more resistant wear and tear.
- Goatskin leather is supple and fine.
- Goat leather is more valuable compared to sheep leather.
- Goat leather is lighter so results in lightweight products
- Relatively cheap.
- Less durable compared to cowhide leather
3. Lambskin Leather
Lambskin leather is leather from young of a sheep less than a year old. It is lightweight and finely grained leather also known for its soft texture. Lambskin leather has a buttery smooth feel.
Along with lambskin’s softness is a level of fragility. This makes care and maintenance an important aspect of its use to ensure longevity.
It is often used for high-end leather clothing and products like small bags, skirts, leather pants, jackets, purses, belts, hats, shoes, gloves, and wallets.
The Pros and Cons of Lambskin Leather
- Lamb leather is softer and is buttery smooth
- Lamb leather is Lightweight and Supple
- Lamb leather is prone to scratches
- It is also prone to stains and dirt
4. Cowhide Leather
What is Cowhide leather? Cowhide leather is a natural leather that is an unbleached skin and hair from the cattle group. As a by-product of the meat industry, cowhides contribute about 65% of all leather produced.
Cowhide is waterproof natural leather, strong, thick, and durable. It widely used for almost all artifacts. Its characteristics make it the material of choice for wallets.
Apart from being waterproof, cowhide is also resistant to dirt making wallets made from cowhide leather have maximum protection.
The Pros and Cons of Lambskin Leather
- Soft and Smooth Grain
- Thick Hide
- Stronger Leather
- More abrasion resistant
- Not as water-resistant as other leathers like goatskin
5. PU/Faux Leather
PU/Faux leather is basically synthetic leather made mostly from polyurethane hence the name PU. There are other commonly known synthetic materials used for PU/Faux leather like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyester microfibers. It is sometimes marketed in the name of leatherette, vegan leather, and pleather.
In simple terms, PU leather is made by coating a cotton fabric or polyester with a flexible polymer.
Manufacturers begin by mixing a petroleum-based plasticizer into a tub. Next, they add an ultraviolet light stabilizer to protect the leather from sun rays and make it fireproof by a flame retarder solution. It is then mixed and powdered vinyl is added. A coloring agent is added to the mixture at this point.
It is then finished off by giving it stylistic texturing to make it look like natural leather.
PU leathers make great alternatives if you are not into leather from animal skins or hide. PU leather comes in a variety of colors is also used to make good leather wallets that look and last quite a bit.
The Pros and Cons of PU/Faux Leather
- It is not from any animal source
- It comes in a large variety of colors and textures
- It has a regular shape
- Super cheap compared to natural leather
- Edges can fray
- Cracks and fades with time
- Not biodegradable
- The production process is not eco-friendly
Choosing the best leather for wallets is subjective. In this article, I shared with you the best leather for wallets which is kangaroo leather and added an extra 5 of the best leather for wallets. There are a lot of things that influence us when choosing products such as the quality of raw materials, design, and maybe price.
Going by all you have learned from this article and your innate personal preference, go ahead and make that perfect leather wallet choice that will make you happy and satisfied.