ALPAKA Zip Pouch Review
The ALPAKA Zip Pouch is well-built with durable materials and has the space to carry more than just cash and cards despite its small size.
- Ample space, even for compact power banks
- Made with durable, water-resistant X-Pac fabric
- Orange liner adds visibility
- Difficult to sort through cards when full
- Front pocket zipper can snag on thin items
- Not as compact as some metal wallets
5.12 in x 3.35 in (13 x 8.5 cm)
X-Pac, Ripstop Nylon, YKK Zippers
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The terms “small” and “compact” sometimes get a bad wrap for being—unfairly—associated with other terms like “flimsy” and “fragile.” To which we say, “Have you ever stepped on a LEGO?” Our point is, with the right materials and design, something small can have just as much of an impact (i.e., functionality) as its bigger counterparts. Case in point: the ALPAKA Zip Pouch.
Now, ALPAKA hasn’t broken the laws of physics and made a wallet (yes, it’s primarily a wallet) that can swallow everything and anything. But because it’s fabric-based and only a smidge bigger than its metal-based peers, it’s more flexible in use. Plus, it uses X-Pac material and Hypalon pulls, which gives it bonus points in the looks department. But now, let’s see what exactly the little Zip Pouch is packing for us.
Materials & Aesthetic
The most striking aesthetic feature on the Zip Pouch has to be the diamond pattern, courtesy of the X-Pac fabric. We’ve seen plenty of travel gear use X-Pac for their outer shell before. In fact, the VX21 here on the Zip Pouch has to be one of the more common flavors of X-Pac out there. Nonetheless, it’s a very eye-catching pattern that makes the pouch stand out even more.
Once you get past the X-Pac fabric, the Zip Pouch looks more like your typical pouch. It’s rectangular in shape with a flat profile. The all-black colorway (Black X-PAC) combined with its overall small size makes for a relatively stealthy wallet. There’s also a Forest Green option at the time of this review if you want something more outdoorsy than urban-y.
The textured finish of the X-Pac fabric gives it some grippy-ness that’s easy to grab onto and nice to hold. It also feels a bit crinkly, similar to ALPAKA’s Elements Tech Case, which also uses VX21. Not that it’s a bad thing; it’s more of an indicator of the fabric’s robustness. Speaking of which, the fabric delivers on that front as well. It’s made of multiple layers: nylon, polyester “X-Ply,” and a waterproof film. The result is a very water-resistant and abrasion-resistant fabric that’s also striking to look at.
The zippers also get Hypalon pulls, which—if you’ve been following our reviews—we’re huge fans of in general. Hypalon’s rubbery texture makes grabbing the zippers much easier, especially during those times when we’re scrambling to get pockets unzipped. The zippers themselves are YKK-branded ones, which is always great to see, even on something this small. They’ve held up pretty well throughout testing, though that’s to be expected of YKK zippers.
Usage & Features
One small and easy-to-miss feature on the outside of the Zip Pouch is the small loop on the left edge. Some bags, wallets, or pouches use these as extra attachment points. On the other hand, ALPAKA’s approach is a bit more focused. This loop makes the Zip Pouch compatible with their HUB accessories, specifically the HUB Keychain. It’s essentially ALPAKA’s take on a keychain that’s easy to release. That said, using a third-party keychain is also an option if you’re not invested in the HUB ecosystem.
Size-wise, the Zip Pouch is fairly small compared to more traditional wallets but not as small as metal wallets. We’re comparing the Zip Pouch to the likes of the Bellroy Flip Case, NOMATIC Wallet, and Trayvax Contour, and it comes out as the largest among the four. Mind you, at least it doesn’t have a large protruding portion like the Grip6 Wallet.
The larger size also comes with another space advantage. Because the Zip Pouch is a fabric-based wallet, it’s a lot more flexible when it comes to what it can store. Whereas rigid wallets are more limited to cards and cash, the Zip Pouch has room for coins, small adapters, and even a compact power bank.
Inside the main compartment, we’re able to fit our Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K alongside six or seven of cards. There’s a partition in the middle to keep things separated, and we use this for better organization. While the zippered opening runs the entire length of the wallet, it’s not quite as wide as we want it to be. Rifling through our cards isn’t that easy, even as we fully stretch out the opening to get a better peek inside. Our technique ends up using one half of the compartment for frequently used cards while the other half is for the least used cards. Fortunately, the inner lining is bright orange ripstop nylon, so accessibility isn’t too bad.
The Zip Pouch also has a separate pocket for smaller accessories and/or cash. We opt to use it for the latter as we typically carry around a dedicated tech pouch for all our small adapters. One thing we notice about this pocket is that cash may get chewed up by the zipper. It’s more likely to happen when the Zip Pouch is fully packed out in the main compartment, causing bills to shuffle up towards the zipper. Thus, we make sure to tri-fold our dollars and make sure they’re deep enough inside the pocket to avoid this. Taller currencies may need more folding, but the general idea is to leave enough headroom.
The Zip Pouch has all the main advantages of a fabric-based wallet despite its relatively small size, primarily volume. Being able to carry a power bank (albeit small) is a reassuring experience, and we’re even able to squeeze in something like the Cold4ged Forkanife alongside it as well. Couple that with the robust X-Pac construction, and it’s a flexible wallet at a fairly compact size.
- Bright orange ripstop liner makes finding items easy
- Not so sure about the main loops also doubling as zipper pulls
- The X-Pac VX21 fabric delivers good structure, especially at this size
- Love the small form and design
- Zipper pulls turned out to be OK in testing
- Primary X-Pac material is awesome
- Can be hard to sort through multiple cards