Zilfer is the brainchild of Sydney couple Dan and Kat Bessant. Dan happens to be an active member of my home club, Parramatta CC, and it’s great to see locals creating products for fellow cyclists.
The Zilfer phone wallet is a water-resistant wallet designed to carry one’s personal belongings during outdoor activities. While it’s advertised as an ‘Active-Proof’ solution for a range of sports such as sailing and skiing, the wallet’s narrow rectangular shape was clearly made with a cyclist’s jersey pocket in mind. The Bessants designed the Zilfer wallet to be a premium-looking replacement for the humble sandwich bag, which cyclists have relied on to house their valuables throughout the years.
I’ve been using the wallet for about six months after winning it in a photo competition. While it’s not the sort of product I’d usually buy for myself, the Zilfer phone wallet has come in handy, solving a problem I didn’t realise I had.
The Zilfer phone wallet is constructed from a tough polyester fabric that feels light, yet durable. It has a pleasant woven texture on the outside and a smooth, black lining inside the pockets. The build quality seems strong, like you could twist it, tug on it and throw it around without it tearing. It’s certainly survived a few crashes.
The wallet has a bifold design. On the outside, there’s a large water-resistant pocket with a YKK zipper that feels secure and high-quality. On the inside, there are four card slots and two side-pockets.
The Zilfer wallet comes in two neutral colours: black and grey. I haven’t seen the black version, but my grey wallet looks smart and sophisticated. It’s designed to have a premium look-and-feel, and it succeeds in that department. Any corporate executive MAMIL would be proud to pull this out at a cafe stop.
While I personally like the understated tones, the limited colour options will disappoint those who prefer a brighter look. Dan says he’s working on a couple of additional colourways, including rose gold, so keep an eye out for those in the near future.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but in my opinion, the Zilfer wallet ticks all the boxes in terms of aesthetics. The question is, how useful is it?
I use the Zilfer whenever I’m riding my road bike – except when commuting, when I wear a backpack instead. It fits all the small items I’d usually carry on a ride: my mobile phone (a Motorola Moto G), house keys, apartment swipe card, credit card, Cycling Australia licence and a bit of cash. The sleek bundle fits snugly in my jersey pocket, feeling secure but not bulky.
Before acquiring the Zilfer wallet, I used to distribute my valuables between my jersey pockets, using a zipper pocket for my keys and cards. However, some of my jerseys don’t have zipper pockets, leaving me a little anxious about losing a credit card or house key on the road. Now, with all my valuables stored in one wallet, I rest assured knowing that nothing important could fall out without me noticing. It came in handy while travelling in Japan, providing a safe pouch for my hotel room key and convenience store change.
Compared to a Ziplock sandwich bag, the Zilfer wallet is superior in many ways. The separate compartments keep your cards neatly organised, obviating the need to fish around with your fingers. They also stop your keys from scratching your phone. Comfort-wise, the wallet doesn’t leave an icky sweat patch on your back like plastic does.
Zilfer also solves another problem I didn’t know I’d had. Since I live in an apartment building, I have to swipe my access card to enter the front door, then use my door key to unlock my apartment. Upon returning from a ride, I used to fumble in my jersey pockets to find my swipe card (I’ve accidentally swiped my credit card at least once), then fumble around again to find my keys. Sometimes, they’d be a little sticky from a used gel wrapper.
Now I can just whip out the Zilfer wallet, swipe the whole thing against the sensor, then easily find my house keys. The wallet protects my valuables from sticky gel residue. As a bonus, my phone is right there, so I can upload to Strava before I even reach my front door!
Is the Zilfer wallet’s size too limiting? For me, this product has only one function, which is to fill a cycling niche. It doesn’t have enough space to replace my everyday wallet. If you wish to carry bulkier items like a set of car keys, the wallet starts feeling a little stretched for size and becomes a more noticeable weight in your pocket. However, beyond that point, you have to consider whether you really need to carry so many things while riding.
For those with larger smartphones or large aftermarket phone cases, the Zilfer wallet is not big enough. Zilfer’s quoted external dimensions are 172mm x 82mm x 15mm, and its website expressly states that plus-sized iPhones won’t fit. My Moto G comes in at 142mm x 72 mm x 12 mm and it’s already quite snug. Dan says he’s working on a plus-size version of the wallet for release later this year, so owners of large phones will have to wait just a little while.
Also, I don’t actually use the water-resistant zipper pocket for my phone. That’s because I prefer to have quicker access to my phone to take photos during a ride. Nevertheless, the wallet has adequately protected my phone from rain showers and storms.
With their phone wallet, Dan and Kat Bessant have achieved almost exactly what they’ve set out to do. The Zilfer wallet is a smart-looking, durable storage solution for all the personal belongings a road cyclist might need on a ride. Can you live without it? Yes. But it’s definitely made my cycling a little bit more pleasant. When I’m not commuting, I don’t leave for a ride without it.
Unless I cared about impressing someone on a coffee ride, I probably wouldn’t have bought this for myself. But now that I have one, I think many road cyclists would appreciate a Zilfer wallet as a useful, thoughtful gift.
At AU$69.95, it’s not an automatic must-buy, but it’s still on the cheaper end of similar premium cycling wallets. All in all, the Zilfer wallet represents affordable elegance with unexpected practicality.
- Premium look-and-feel
- Solves a problem you didn’t know you had
- Designed by and for the Australian cycling community
- Great gift idea
- Nice to have, but not a necessity
- Not very useful off the bike
- Limited colour and size options, for now
You can purchase the Zilfer phone wallet at zilfer.com.au.