Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss a leather product as poor because of a low price, but that’s the notion Albatross is trying to dismiss with their Natural Bifold and other aggressively priced, full grain, vegetable tanned leather goods.
The Albatross Brand was founded in 2013 over a glass of bourbon. A leather maker and industry insider decided to use their combined experience to offer economically priced leather goods without compromises. They achieve this not only with that experience, but also by cutting out typical cost creating factors such as retail sales and advertising designs. They stand behind their products, too: each design is used for six months to a year before release for sale and comes with an impressive three-generation guarantee.
The Bifold is made of 3-4oz full grain, vegetable tanned, USA sourced leather and thick, 3 cord waxed polyester thread. Assembly is done in Mexico, stitched on Campbell sewing machines, and leather is die cut for accuracy.
Construction quality is overall very good, and materials are all top quality. One corner of a card pocket wasn’t set perfectly flush with the rest of the burnished edge, which my finger would occasionally notice, but was overall not an issue. Stitching is uniform and sturdy. Edges are mildly burnished, giving some smoothness but with the grain still showing a bit.
While bifolds are great for holding everything you need, the primary drawback is that they can be quite thick. The Albatross Bifold is designed to be about as thin as a quality leather bifold can be. The 3oz interior leather is very thin (but still more than strong enough for a wallet), and the card pockets are specially designed to allow cards to lay flat. As a result, the closed wallet is noticeably thinner than many other bifolds.
The cash pocket needed a bit of wear-in to be at its best. I rarely use cash, and the new, unfinished leather interior makes sliding in cash a bit tricky. However, the great thing about leather (especially quality veg-tan such as this) is that over time it will wear in and adapt to your usage. The interior slowly starts to smooth out and become easier to insert and remove cash.
The feel of the leather and overall usage of the wallet is highly satisfactory. Card pockets are easy to use, and the hidden pockets are great for some extra cards you don’t use frequently. As a big fan of minimal card wallets, the relatively thin design of the Natural Bifold appealed to me.
I’m a sucker for the natural leather look. The full grain leather used for the Natural Bifold is beautiful. The grain is highly visible, and the patina development is very satisfying.
I eventually decided to use some conditioner to speed up the process a bit…
…then decided to have some fun with a cut-out stencil and tanning.
The edges are gently burnished and the thread is nice and thick. The overall aesthetic is slightly rugged due to the natural coloring and mildly burnished edges, and has a sort of islander feel from the thick stitching. However, the quality of construction and material wouldn’t leave you feeling out of place using this wallet in a formal environment either.
Often if the price of a leather product is low, we would call it a good “entry-level” product, best for those just wanting to wet their feet in the leather world. I suppose you could say that about the Albatross Natural Bifold, but it’s rare to see an entry-level product carry a three-generation guarantee. Despite the low price, this wallet is made with the some of the best, durable materials you could hope for with great construction. You and your great grandkids will enjoy the patina develop over a lifetime. We recommend the Natural Bifold as a Buy It For Life wallet at a fantastic value.