The James Brand Gatecliff Review

Since it holds a passport or a notebook and pen, The James Brand Gatecliff's thoughtful features make it a good addition to your everyday carry and travel kit.

Our Verdict

7.1 /10
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  • Construction feels very well-made and durable
  • Sleek and minimal aesthetic
  • Can fit a wide array of bills, notes, and documents


  • Weatherproof coating on zippers makes them slightly less smooth and easy to use
  • You can carry a notebook or passport, but not both
  • Minimal and straightforward internal organization

Technical Details

  • Weight (oz)

    4.4 oz (124.7 g)

  • Dimensions

    6.3 in x 4.8 in x 0.8 in (16 x 12.2 x 2 cm)

  • Notable Materials

    CORDURA®, Microfiber, Unbranded Zippers

  • Manufacturing Country



  • Warranty Information

    TJB's Limited Lifetime Warranty

Buying Options


Full Review

The James Brand Gatecliff notebook sleeve offers versatile function in a sleek and stylish design. Its exterior is made of durable CORDURA® fabric, ensuring long-lasting use without compromising aesthetics. The soft, plush microfiber interior provides excellent protection for its contents, keeping them safe, secure, and scratch-free. The fully welded construction and PU-coated water-resistant zippers make the sleeve durable and water-resistant, which we find a huge comfort when traveling.

The James Brand Gatecliff Full Interior Empty
The James Brand Gatecliff | Combining a minimalist exterior with a soft-plush interior makes this a joy to use.

The smooth and sleek exterior feels pleasant to the touch, while the felt interior is soft and comfortable. The Gatecliff comes with a TJB notebook, a pen loop, two card slots, and a larger slip pocket, allowing for customization to meet a variety of use cases. In our tests, it excels as a notebook, passport holder, and standalone wallet, making it a reliable and versatile companion.

The Rundown

We were fortunate to try out three different use cases in one week-long trip to Italy, where the Gatecliff acted as a handy notebook, a travel organizer, and a wallet. While the Gatecliff is made of a resistant CORDURA® fabric and utilizes a fully welded construction ensuring a stitch-free design for both wear and water resistance, we would like to note that because of this construction, there is some light fraying at some of the edges. This did not impact our use at all but is just something to keep in mind for the long term. This specific type of fraying is usually just a cosmetic side-effect of the unique construction.

In the current digital age of clouds and libraries, sometimes it’s nice to simply jot things down with the tactile feel of pen and paper. While this isn’t everyone’s first choice, it’s still nice to have the option. The Gatecliff notebook provides a compact and convenient solution, with its included TJB notebook and dedicated slip pocket to keep everything organized. The notebook’s rugged materials and durable construction protect your analog notes, and it’s convenient to have everything included and readily accessible with just one zip.

The James Brand Gatecliff Zipper Pull
The James Brand Gatecliff | One PU coated zip provides ample protection for the contents inside.

While it is most convenient to have tickets and boarding passes easily accessible in an app or by a phone, physical passports are still required when entering or leaving the country. Therefore, it is important to ensure that this vital document stays safe and secure. The Gatecliff makes it super easy to replace the included notebook with a passport, providing quick access even when thrown into the depths of a backpack, thanks to its unique tactile feeling. The unique construction and use of CORDURA® fabric provide a smooth feeling that we found easy to recognize at the bottom of a bag. With just one quick zip, the passport is readily available and slides effortlessly in and out of the sleeve. A bonus is the dedicated pocket on the other side, which ensures that all your travel documents stay together, secure, and protected from being jumbled up in a pocket.

The James Brand Gatecliff In Use
The James Brand Gatecliff | Flexible functionality combined with a stylish aesthetic combines the best of both worlds.

We also wanted to find out how the Gatecliff performs as a standalone wallet. With two dedicated card slots and a third slip pocket behind them, the Gatecliff can hold a good amount of bills and change. One feature we particularly appreciated was the size of the slip pocket, which accommodated euros with their slightly different aspect ratio compared to U.S. currency. Slipping in euros was easy, and the zippered enclosure ensured that coins stayed securely in place. The change remained in the dedicated pocket even after being tossed around in a backpack. Overall, the zippered sleeve provides peace of mind by safely storing and securing everything in a busy and turbulent environment.


The Gatecliff notebook sleeve is an excellent travel companion due to its well-designed construction, versatile functionality, and sleek modern aesthetic. Its stylish appearance is subtle and doesn’t draw too much attention, which we appreciate. It weighs only 4.4 oz, or 125 grams, and is fairly lightweight compared to other passport wallets we’ve tested. We love traveling with it, throwing it in a sling, purse, or bag, but slipping it into pants pockets is not the most comfortable. However, we could still get away with it, although it was far from inconspicuous. Overall, the Gatecliff offers a stylish and functional design with thoughtful features, making it a versatile option for organizing and carrying essential items.

Quick Comparison

It’s hard to find a direct competitor to the Gatecliff among standalone wallets, travel document organizers, or even notebook sleeves. The Gatecliff stands out due to its versatility and flexibility. When comparing the Gatecliff to a standard notebook sleeve, it offers a place to store a small notebook and a pen, with extra protection from daily wear and tear and the elements due to its special PU-coated zippers.

The James Brand Gatecliff Comparison
The James Brand Gatecliff | This stands out providing a powerhouse of features with a beautiful aesthetic.

As a passport holder, the Gatecliff provides additional security and protection with the same zipper feature, giving peace of mind as to the safety of its contents. Its sleek and minimal aesthetic also ensures it doesn’t draw unnecessary attention. Lastly, when used as a slightly larger wallet, the Gatecliff is ideal for storing cards, cash (both U.Ss dollars and euros), as well as receipts, tickets, and travel passes. While it may not be the smallest, most compact, or have the most pockets, it offers thoughtful functionality with durable protection in an incredibly stylish form factor.

Usage Timeline

Initial Usage

Condition: Excellent

  • Cordura fabric feels well made, durable with a professional aesthetic
  • Notebook/passport holder is good size with a pen holder
1 Month of Use

Condition: Fine

  • Some light fraying at the edges, but it’s in great shape otherwise
By Morgan White
Created January 31, 2024 • Updated March 11, 2024
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