Metal wallets are a reliable way to store Bitcoin for a long period of time. These wallets are simple metal plates that hold a seed phrase – a string of words that can be used to recover a Bitcoin address. Typically, metal wallets are used to back up deposit-only addresses that have never been used for payments. Additionally, they can be used to back up active Bitcoin addresses as well.
Most metal wallets share the same basic qualities: they’re designed to withstand fires, floods, extreme pressure, and other harsh conditions. However, not all metal wallets are designed equally. Some are much more durable than others. Some provide better protection against tampering, or feature greater simplicity. With that in mind, here are ten of the best metal wallets on the market today.
Best Engravable Plate: Crypto Key Stack
It’s hard to go wrong with engravable (or stampable) metal plates, as they have no component parts that can be destroyed or displaced. Crypto Key Stack is one of the best wallets in this category: Jameson Lopp, the CTO of CasaHODL, tested the product and found that its engravings are highly legible even after damage. It is affordable as well: Crypto Key Stack’s $45 price tag includes an engraving tool and a 12-word metal plate.
Best Grid Plates: Blockplate and Steelwallet
Grid plates represent seed words in a different way. Each letter is represented by a punched hole instead of a written letter. This system is not easy to read at a glance, but it makes it hard to confuse one word for another. Lopp’s tests have found that both Blockplate and Steelwallet are quite damage-resistant. Both companies charge about $65 for two 12-word plates that provide room for 24 seed words.
Best Metal Rod: Coldbit Passphrase
Metal rods are another variation on engravable wallets. Coldbit Passphrase is one highly affordable wallet of this type. Each rod is approximately $20 and provides enough space for 24-36 words. Coldbit stamp sets cost extra, but any stamp set or engraving tool should work. Lopp’s tests demonstrated that Coldbit Passphrase is very resistant to fire and pressure. However, he did note that the product is vulnerable to corrosion.
Best Keychain: Crypto Keys
Crypto Keys offers an engravable wallet with a unique look: each small plate resembles a “key” and is designed to hold two words. Since this design uses space efficiently, the product is quite affordable. A $28 set includes thirteen double-sided “keys” with room for 24 words, plus a stamp set. A with most other engravable metal plates, Crypto Keys held up extremely well during testing.
Best Insertable Tile Wallet: Simbit
Some metal wallets are not engravable. Instead, they rely on a rail system to hold insertable letter tiles in place. This design, however, does not hold up well during testing. Testing revealed that fire and pressure tend to cause the letters to fall out of place. Lopp did note one exception: the Simbit wallet held up exceptionally well. The $110 product offers enough space for a 24-word passphrase.
Best Capsule Wallet: Quadrat Register
Capsule wallets use stacked tiles to keep their contents in order. This can be a very durable design. Lopp found that Quadrat Register held up better than nearly all other metal wallets. Unfortunately, Quadrat Register is expensive – it costs approximately $330, plus $155 for a protective capsule. This device uses a complicated dot-code system to represent seed words, which is not particularly user-friendly.
Best Tamper-proof Wallet: CypherWheel
Few hardware wallets offer tamper-proof features, and those that do typically make use of basic seals and envelopes. CypherWheel goes one step further. It’s tamper-proof design includes a seal with a security number and the device can be locked with a padlock. Internally, CypherWheel uses slotted insertable tiles. The $200 product held up fairly well during Lopp’s tests, though it was somewhat susceptible to corrosion.
Best Prefab Wallet: Bitkee
Some manufacturers print wallet details directly on their product. Bitkee sells a $40 customizable metal plate featuring laser-engraved private keys, public keys, QR codes, and a logo of your choice. Bitkee’s order form also supports encrypted private keys, which prevent the company from accessing your funds. Like most metal plates, Bitkee is highly resistant to damage, according to test results.
Best Physical Coin: Denarium
Physical Bitcoins, though they are made of metal, are not made to last. Lopp has shown that at least one brand became illegible during testing. However, Denarium coins are a decent choice. Though they do not claim to be durable, they provide redundancy: each coin includes an internal private key, which is duplicated in a QR code. Denarium also offers multisig to prevent the company from accessing your funds. Prices begin at approximately $26.
Best DIY Material: 316L Stainless Steel
It is possible to simply buy a plate of metal and engrave it yourself. Bulletproof Bitcoin suggests that users “order a simple stainless steel or titanium plate from eBay and punch it.” Though titanium has a slightly higher melting point, 316L stainless steel is several times cheaper, making it a good option for investors on a budget.
Metal wallet testing is usually far more intense than any realistic scenario. Lopp subjected metal wallets to temperatures above 2000°F, highly corrosive acid, and direct pressure. Realistically, metal wallets might face 1100°F house fires, moisture and humidity, and possibly damage from building debris.
This means that it is not a good idea to focus on durability to the point of ignoring security threats. Most metal wallets cannot prevent other people from accessing your cryptocurrency. If you lose your wallet, you should move your funds to a new wallet address immediately. Similarly, it is extremely easy to lose small metal wallets, so it is a good idea to keep secondary backups as well.
Finally, compatibility is important. Usually, it is impossible to retrieve a seed phrase if your funds are stored on an exchange. You will need to withdraw your funds to a software wallet or hardware wallet, generate your seed phrase, then engrave it on your metal wallet. You can find wallets that support various standards here – and making a note of your choice will make it easier to restore your funds in the future.
If you intend to hold a sizeable stash of Bitcoin for the ages, then an investment in a doomsday wallet is warranted.
Disclaimer: Crypto Briefing was not paid to endorse any of these products.