Silca Phone Wallet: Quick Review- by Grannygear
I have been on the lookout for a jersey pocket sized ‘stuff’ bag…as in my stuff…for road and gravel rides where I do not have a hydration pack or bag on my bike somewhere. My go-to pouch has been a Lezyne Caddy sack that I have had for ages. It really is just water proof fabric in a roll top bag with a Velcro closure. It is simple and cheap at 10 bucks, but it is really just a sack, so whatever is in there is in the same compartment…no separation of items.
If I could have a bit more organization…more stratification of da’ stuff…that would be nice. After sampling the Silca Premio tire levers, I was cruising the Silca website and the Phone Wallet caught my eye. Could this be what I am looking for in a goodie carrier? Is this cycling’s answer to marsupial bliss? I asked to find out and Silca sent one for me to try. Here is what Silca has to say about it:
The design for this Ultra Premium Waxed Canvas bag began not with the items it would hold, but rather with the pocket it would go in. The SILCA Phone Wallet is sized to the height and width of a standard jersey pocket. This starting point allowed our designers to maximize the available space. This strategy results in a bag sized just perfectly to fill the pocket completely without stretching the jersey fabric or affecting jersey fit, while allowing you to carry so much more than you thought possible, more comfortably than you thought possible.
The Phone Wallet is different from other zippered phone cases in that it contains an INTERNAL DRY BAG. This dry bag takes what would be a Weather Resistant case and increases the phone protection level to fully weatherproof. The dry bag holds phones up to iPhone 7 size (160mm x 80mm x 8mm) with thin case. The Weather Proof compartment of the bag will hold up to iPhone 7+ with case.
Each bag is hand sewn from SILCA’s proprietary Waxed Duck Canvas with reflective quilting, premium weather-resistant YKK zippers, and includes a unique, high strength 3M® reflective tab which wraps over the top of your jersey pocket and attaches to the bag magnetically, adding over 1500 square millimeters of reflective surface to any jersey you own!
Designed to perfectly fit and maximize Jersey pocket storage
Water-proof Dry-bag storage for phone up to iPhone 6/7
Phone screen fully functional through the dry bag material!
Weather-resistant main storage compartment holds phones up to iPhone 6+/7+ size
Internal pockets for cash, credit cards, house key, passport and more
Weather resistant YKK Zipper
High power 3M™ Scotchlite Reflective Strap with magnetic attachment
Weighs in at 144g!
The initial impression when I received it was a bit of surprise at the generous size, but it was designed to be a good but full fit in a center pocket of a cycling jersey (road type three pocket) and that is true…mostly. More on that later. And of course the name PHONE wallet means it should be big enough to fit anything but a ‘phablet’ so it can only be so compact. It also is smart looking. The stitched exterior panels and overall design is one of quality and understated style. I like that
All the storage is inside the Phone Wallet. The strap on the outside was a bit of a mystery to me as to the function. An image on the Silca website showed the Wallet in a jersey pocket with the strap on the outside of the pocket, fastening to the wallet through the jersey fabric with a magnet catch. Oh…OK then. The strap also is reflective. Oh yes…it does not come from Silca with a 20 dollar bill in it despite the images here.
Looking inside, there is a generous sized clear vinyl pouch for the phone on the right side with a slim pouch under the phone section, presumably for the aforementioned passport. On the left are three slots for credit cards or ID and two larger sections behind those for cash money and such. Nothing fat/thick will fit in there well.
I was heading out for a ride, but before I did, I sat with the Silca Phone Wallet and grabbed some items I would typically carry with me to see how it would all fit. Here is what I found.
- The section for the filthy lucre is nice, keeping folding money unfolded and secure. The CC slots are a good snug fit and three slots ought to get it done.
- My iPhone 6S fit in the clear pouch even with the slim case intact but I did find that it was difficult to do as the case and the pouch are both a bit ‘sticky’ and the drag of the case made it a chore to get the phone out. Removing the phone case made it a bit better sticky-wise, but not too much. There is a red sewn-on pull tab to get the opening of the phone pouch to where you can access it. That is handy but I found the pouch was a bit difficult to tuck back in behind itself, especially with long fingered gloves on. It also has a tendency to trap air in there when you close the flap and that makes the pouch pooffier than it needs to be.
- I could easily use the touchscreen while it was in the pouch and I even took a phone call with no issues.
- If you can carry just a simple, single house key, then that will tuck in somewhere or the other but I would not mind if the house key compartment was sealed so it cannot slide out when you are looking at your phone, etc.
- Where does my car key go? Nowhere really. Car keys are kind of fat these days and now with the keyless fobs, even more so. I never found an arrangement that made me happy to put my single car key in there and close the case without a big bulge and pressure on the phone. I actually set off my car alarm doing this when the pressure hit the ‘panic button’. This is a big minus in my mind as I often ride from my car.
- How about loose change? I guess it could tuck behind the phone or something…or just leave it in the coffee house tip jar.
So with some cash, a credit card, my single house key, and my phone in there, I suited up and went for a ride on a rainy sort of day. The fit in the center pocket of my jersey was just right and I barely noticed it was there. The jersey is a high falutin’ rain ready deal from Endura, and it kind of feels like you are wearing your mom’s dish washing gloves but it breathes well, fits snug enough to make MAMILs wince in angst, and sheds rain like an otter. I did find that the little magnet-catch strap did not make the connection. Not sure if the pocket was too deep or what, so I just snapped it to the case as is (that has been true ever since….no jersey I have used has accommodated the strap outside the pocket).
It began to rain about an hour into the ride and the Phone Wallet was right in the spray path of the rear wheel. Of course the jersey is rain proof for the most part, but there was still enough moisture to go around and test the Wallet. Except for my upper torso I was soaked to my socks, so after the ride I checked out the Phone Wallet. The phone compartment was certainly able to handle the mild wetting it saw (phone completely dry) although the compartment directly behind the phone pouch was slightly damp. I would suggest that if you are REALLY in the splash zone as far as a riding climate, then maybe a completely water-fast storage would be better, but it seems the general compartment of the Silca Phone Wallet will handle some wetness and of course, the phone would be very good unless you really took a bath with it. In my opinion, it passes the bad weather test.
I have used it several times since then and showed it to some other cyclist friends. To a man (or woman), all have commented on how nice looking it is and how well designed it is inside and nearly as many have commented on how big it is.
Sitting in the coffee shop and dripping dry on the bar stool while enjoying a lovely croissant and a cappuccino, I looked at the Silca Phone Wallet and took stock of my thoughts. I was struck by how good it worked for the coffee run…money here…phone there (checking texts with the phone in the pouch), Credit card stuff here, etc. It sure beats a ziplock bag for style points and the Lezyne Caddy Sack is rather plebeian in contrast. Quite nice actually.
You know where this would be awesome? My recent trip to Italy where we cycled around the Chianti region of Tuscany. I would only need my hotel key or card, passport, cash, credit card, etc. And it sets style points that does not scream ‘American Tourist’ with a ziplock baggie. Ah…Italia!
But there are a couple of things I do struggle with. That car key deal for one. if I rode from the house, then it is fine as I just need a slim door key. But we often drive to another town to ride and then where does that bulky car key go? No satisfactory answer do I find. I wonder if a small pouch on the outside of the Phone Wallet would suffice for a car fob/key…something that could expand at will? Dunno.
Another thing. I do not always need my phone inside a plastic bag. I am in Southern California. Rain rides like the one I experienced that day are really a rare bird. And if I do need to get the phone out to do something with it…take a pic, etc, then it is quite a bit of a fiddle to get it out, especially with a long fingered glove on. However, you really do not need to put the phone into the clear pouch to have it in the Phone Wallet. It does nest fairly well just sitting on top of it, but of course, now there is nothing to keep it from falling out when you unzip. Suggestion: Make the clear pouch removable (it might store behind itself) or maybe give me a strap so the phone tucks into something when it is outside the dry bag.
Then there is this. Depending on your being either a lady person or a guy person, it may not fit in your jersey pocket. My wife tried to fit it into a ladies’ jersey center pocket (sometimes they only have two pockets and no center one) and it was both too tall to sit inside it completely and quite nearly too wide to fit. No bueno. Curious if this was an anomaly, I went to her tall, wooden wardrobe of bike clothes and dove in. I did not find the land of Narnia, but I did find more than a few Rapha and Terry pieces of bike wear. It was able to get the Silca Phone wallet into a pocket some of the time, but it was verrrry snug and some jerseys just said no.
Another lady rider tried it and found it to be too much in that it took a lot of space yet did not carry all she wanted to carry.
However, despite the key fob deal and the phone pouch fumbling, and overlooking the fact that it pretty much eliminates the estrogen contingent from using it with their ladies’ versions of a cycling jersey, I like it. I don’t love it for all things and it is not the end of my search…no rainbow do I see…but it is quite nice, does what they say it does, and does it well. I just wish it did a few things differently. Still, it will stay in my road/gravel gear bag alongside the Lezyne Caddy Sack as it is too nice to not use as the occasion demands.
And it is one stylish and spiffy coffee shop companion. Che figata!
Note- Silca sent over the Phone Wallet for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.
About The Author: Grannygear hails from SoCal and spent most of his cycling days as a mountain biker from the formative years of mountain biking all the way up to the present day. His day job is in the tech sector, but he has spent time writing about off road 4X4’s, 29″ mountain bikes, and cycling in general. Grannygear and Guitar Ted have worked off and on together since 2009 after a chance meeting at Interbike. With gravel cycling on the rise, Grannygear has been exploring how this genre’ works in SoCal and now does guest pieces for RidingGravel.com in his spare time.