Getaway Gear: Ekster’s Parliament Wallet is as Safe as it is Stylish

Does the slimmest smart wallet on the market live up to its increasingly positive reputation? Yes, very much so.

ekster parliament wallet
The Parliament smart wallet has a James Bond vibe in both style and functionality.Ekster

If it seems like I’m obsessed with James Bond, what with it being my ultimate travel dream to visit everywhere a 007 movie has ever filmed, that’s a critique I’m willing to accept. After all, regardless of the scenario, he travels with the ultimate style and sophistication, and if I could rock a black turtleneck like Daniel Craig, well, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. At the very least, though, I’d be thrilled to fill my bags with gear that feels like it was designed by Q.

That's really the best way to describe the latest Parliament smart wallet from Ekster, a company founded in 2015 by three Dutch men who have excelled at generating buzz with their unique products. But buzzing doesn't always lead us to honey. So, as my previous minimalist wallet recently expired, I was in the market for a new wallet and decided to find out what makes Ekster such a popular name among travelers.

What Do We Look for in a Wallet?

When you spend more time in airports and hotel rooms than your office, a wallet takes on a new meaning. With my passport serving as my primary ID, and tucked away in a secret pouch in my backpack, I need a wallet that will hold several credit cards, a little cash and my hotel room key. I prefer a minimalist design that sits well in my front pocket without creating a bulge or moving around too much.

I’m not a stickler for design or bells and whistles in a wallet. I have a Ron Swanson perspective in this regard: a wallet is a wallet. It holds a few things and that’s it. No one should be walking around with a filing cabinet in his back pocket like George Costanza. (My apologies for merging three pop culture references in one wallet review; I promise I’ll stick to one moving forward.)

What Would James Bond Think?

My first impression of the Parliament was that the “trigger” made it seem a little silly. It felt like an extra feature that is simply there for people to show off a little, but once you use the wallet the trigger makes perfect sense. Bouncing from destination to destination, hotel to hotel, and everywhere else in between, the last thing I want is to be fumbling with my wallet in front of strangers who can see how much cash I’m holding or how many cards I’m carrying.

Instead, a click of the trigger ejects each card and hotel key from the slot—five cards fit snuggly—and they’re fanned out just enough so I can quickly identify which card I need, grab it, and push the rest back down. If that seems overly protective, then I am guilty as charged. But better safe than sorry… is the phrase that I should have tattooed on my forehead by now.

What Makes a Wallet So "Smart"?

A couple things, actually. For starters, the Parliament features RFID protection, so anyone scared of electronic pickpockets can rest easy knowing that these Bond villains will come up empty. (Some people argue that RFID protection is just a gimmick, while others swear by it. I say, whatever makes you sleep easier is worth a few extra dollars.)

Additionally, the wallet comes with a solar-powered Crowd-GPS tracker, so if your wallet vanishes, the Chipolo app can help you track it down. I thought I’d lost mine in Turks and Caicos recently and my panic was real. Needless to say, I felt both silly and relieved when the app told me it was still with me, and sure enough it was at the bottom of a backpack pocket I’d checked at least four times. Funny how that happens.

Three hours in the sunlight will power the tracker for up to two months, and it can also be used with Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.

How Well Does It Hold Up?

Gadgets aside, durability remains the crucial factor for any wallet. My last wallet last six years, so the replacement needs to be just as tough. I wasn’t too keen on having a bifold wallet, but the Parliament’s design makes it surprisingly simple for carrying in the front pocket. It doesn’t move too much, but I always know it’s there, which is comforting.

The wallet also simply looks nice, and the leather holds up well against accidental spills—mine has already had water and margarita wiped from it—so it can easily go from the pool to a nice dinner. And I have a strong feeling that it will be on vacation with me for many years of spilled margaritas to come.