5 Best Cold Wallets
The past year made crypto investors rethink security — and with billions lost through scandals like the FTX collapse, who could blame them? Whether you’re a novice or a veteran trader, your holdings are only as secure as your private keys, which means your choice of wallet might just be the most important decision you make. Offline storage is the safest option of all, but with so many models now flooding the market, what’s the best cold wallet?
The answer depends on what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to pay. The following is a look at five of the top contenders — and somewhere among them is the perfect cold wallet for you.
What Is a Cold Wallet?
Cold wallets, or hardware wallets, are small, physical devices that secure private keys safely offline. Like all crypto wallets, they don’t actually store crypto. They contain only the secret codes that holders use to access, view and manage their assets.
But unlike “hot” software and exchange wallets, hardware wallets are not connected to the internet and are therefore out of the reach of hackers. Like flash drives, they’re portable devices that let you access your holdings from anywhere, but when not in use, they’re unplugged and tucked safely away. When used correctly, they’re virtually impervious to attacks, which is why hardware wallets are the preferred storage method for crypto veterans.
Many different models have hit the market over the last decade, each with different features, functionality and prices. Here’s a look a the top five cold wallets on the market today.
- Approximate cost: $435
The Ngrave Zero is a tamper-resistant, pocket-sized device with a fingerprint sensor, a camera and a light sensor. One of the newer models, the Zero was billed as “the coldest wallet” when it debuted in 2021, and it continues to earn rave reviews. It was the first cold storage solution to feature Common Criteria EAL7, the highest security certification, and the highly durable device can withstand fire, water, corrosion and extreme temperatures.
Trezor Model T
- Approximate cost: $219
The Trezor company launched the cold wallet revolution when it debuted the Trezor Model One in 2012, which it still sells for $69.
The Model T is the next generation of cold storage, and it stands out as one of the most popular and trusted hardware wallets on the market. It replaces the old monochrome display and dual-button controls with a large color touch-screen display and the ability to make disaster-proof backups of your keys.
Ledger Nano X
- Approximate cost: $149
The Ledger Nano X joins the Trezor Model T as one of the two most trusted hardware wallets in the industry. One of the key differences is that the Nano X doesn’t have a color touch screen, but the trade-off is cost — it’s available for just under $150. Along with affordability, it’s renowned for its military-grade security, simplicity and ease of use.
The recently released Ledger Stax does come with a touch-screen display, but it costs $279. On the other end of the spectrum is the bare-bones Nano S Plus, which competes with the Trezor Model One at $79.
- Approximate cost: $151
BitBox02 is a Swiss-made hardware wallet that combines some of the best features from its top competitors. Its firmware and app are fully open-source, like the Trezor Model T, but it relies on a secure chip like the Ledger Nano X. Its setup is simpler and easier than both, likewise for backup and recovery.
- Approximate cost: $139
Ellipal launched the Titan as “the world’s first 100% air-gapped hardware wallet,” which means it has no connection to the internet or any device that does — no cellular, NFC, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB. Attractively designed and tamper-proof, the Titan supports more than 10,000 coins and tokens. It can be bundled with the Ellipal Mnemonic Metal, an unhackable offline device for backing up your keys.
Is It Worth Getting a Cold Wallet?
As you can see, the industry’s top hardware wallets can be pricey. But if the value of your crypto is greater than the price of the wallet, then cold storage is worth the investment because cold storage all but guarantees your holdings will never be hacked or stolen. Keep in mind that a sub-$100 option like the Model One or Nano S Plus can provide security that’s as rock-solid as its more expensive cousins.
Is a Cold or Hot Wallet Better?
If cost is your primary concern, cold storage is not the better option because you can get a high-quality hot wallet for free. But unlike hardware wallets, software wallets — or hot wallets — are connected to the internet, which means they’re vulnerable to hacking through the device you use to connect or the Wi-Fi signal used to transmit data.
Are Cold Storage Wallets Safe?
Cold storage wallets are the safest option that money can buy, but there is a trade-off. Not only are they more expensive than hot wallets, which are usually free, but they require more setup, they’re more complex, and the responsibility for securing your keys and keeping them private lies solely on you.
Cold storage is the most secure way to safeguard your keys, but the most expensive hardware wallets aren’t always the best. Features designed for aesthetics and convenience, like high-definition touch-screen displays, can jack the price way up without offering any added security. If you’re just starting out and you’re not ready for a major investment, consider a cheaper model that gets high marks for security even if it lacks flair and style.
By Andrew Lisa