The Top Hardware Wallets
There are only three that we would recommend buying, and to be honest, best to stick with number one or two.
A good hardware wallet should: have a completely offline private seed generation process; use second screen functionality to protect against keyloggers and hackers trying to steal your wallet password; provide a convenient and user friendly way of transacting. There are three hardware wallets we feel comfortable recommending in descending order: Trezor Ledger Nano S, and Keep Key.
Trezor has been around for many years, and its active developer community continuously strives to improve the product. With an excellent security record, good crypto coverage, and a great UI, Trezor is best in show.
- Trezor was the first hardware wallet developed to store bitcoin securely and conveniently
- The only hardware wallet that is completely open source
- Integrates additional important cryptos which are backed up from the preexisting seed
- Bitcoin Cash
- Ethereum Classic
- Cold Storage
Like runner up Ledger Nano S, the Trezor usb device uses a 100% air-gapped method of seed creation so that your private key never touches that dangerous jungle known as the internet. Sending bitcoin requires confirmation on the device, so without the device you can never send bitcoin from the wallet (you need to restore from seed if the device is lost). There is a similar pin code function on the trezor to the ledger, with a few differences. The ledger resets after three mistypes – with the Trezor there is an increasing delay with every mistaken pin code, which quickly becomes hours and then days until you can try again. We prefer the Trezor method, as if you screw up a few times you needn’t necessarily re-input the seed. Additionally, the Trezor displays your pin randomized in a dialpad format, and then you point and click to the corresponding places on the blank corresponding dialpad on the web wallet – we find this more convenient than inputting the pin directly on the device, which can be difficult for the fat fingered among us.
While the Trezor is 10 euro more expensive and has a few less cryptos supported, trezor has a much longer track record of success. There have never been any security breaches. Additionally, every single aspect of the trezor is open source (and ripped off by quite a few competitors), including firmware updates. This means that every update, every change, is scrutinized by multiple developers, which not only keeps the trezor core devs honest, it is an excellent QA method. Ledger’s firmware updates are not open source.
Ledger Nano S
Ledger wallet is an affordable, if imperfect, bitcoin hardware storage solution.
- Ledger offers more Cryptocurrencies than Trezor
- Is a bit cheaper than Trezor
- Unlike Trezor it's firmware is not open source
- Bitcoin Cash
- Cold Storage
The Ledger Nano is one of the top three bitcoin hardware wallets, along with Trezor and KeepKey. While we personally use a Trezor and are have a soft spot for the developers and company, who we see as quality old-school bitcoin trailblazer types, there is a good argument that the Ledger Nano S is best in class.
It manages properly all of the most important aspects of a hardware wallet device – the private key is generated on the usb screen so there is an airgap disconnect between the seed and any computer. The pin code to access the web wallet is input on the connected usb device – inputting it incorrectly three times wipes the device clean, requiring you to reinstall the seed – also done on the device. Sending bitcoin from the wallet requires confirmation from the device. The ledger is so secure, you can actually access your ledger wallet on a malware infected computer and your bitcoin will still be secure.
The security aspects above are the minimum standard required for any hardware wallet worth buying. The Ledger Nano S has a few additional aspects that might make it preferable. First, it is 10 euro cheaper than the Trezor (and 60 euro cheaper than keepkey). Second, the device is encased in steel, which seems more robust than the trezor which is hard plastic. And third, it stores more cryptocurrencies than either of its competitors, which might be important to some.
With a number of additional cool add ons you can buy from the ledger store, like a steel private key printer thing, and a connector for Android.
KeepKey is basically a clone of Trezor, but more beautiful - and a good deal more expensive.
- KeepKey took Trezor's source code and stuck it in a much more attractive casing
- The KeepKey is much more expensive
- The developer community behind it is much smaller than Ledger or Trezor
- Cold Storage
KeepKey checks the security boxes – the private key is generated on the USB device, entirely offline, the pin is input on the device to access the web wallet, and transactions must be confirmed on the device as well. Like Trezor it is entirely open source. That is probably because KeepKey itself ripped off the Trezor code.
Keep Key has one small advantage and two disadvantages, one of which we see as a deal breaker. The advantage is the sleek, beautiful design of the product. If a Trezor is a dependable old Volvo, Keep Key is a Beemer. On the other hand you pay a good deal more for a beemer than an old Volvo – about 60 euro as it happens – which is a lot of money for something you do not need to use all that often, and that you really should not be showing off to friends and acquaintances anyway.
More importantly, a trip to Key Keep’s Github page show that the developer community is much, much less active than is the case with either Trezor or Ledger. This is a very important consideration. Trezor commits frequent firmware updates which improve their product, and Keep Key really is just a Trezor clone in fancy packaging. For our money, we go for the original, which has demonstrated their commitment to the product and integrity, not the rip off which has not really demonstrated the same.