The Deck of Many Things | Illustration by Volkan Baga
Sleeving up your Magic cards is an absolute necessity. It helps to protect your valuable cardboard, but it also makes shuffling much easier. It also helps prevent issues with marked cards, either because you’re playing with double-sided cards or because some of your cards are older, leading to natural defects like faded ink or scuffed edges.
Adding an inner sleeve takes this to the next level. It doubles the protection while giving your deck a hefty edge to strike fear into your opponents. Double sleeving your decks is the surest way to keep them safe from minor accidents, so let’s look at the best inner sleeves for Magic!
The best overall inner sleeves are Dragon Shield’s Perfect Fit Inner Sleeves. They’re slim and barely noticeable while providing excellent protection. It takes a fair amount of force to tear them. So much that it has to be somewhat intentional.
They’re offered in clear and smoky. The clear ones aren’t noticeable once they’re in the sleeve, but they do make the card slightly larger. There’s no obstruction of the card, and they slide in and out easily for cards you need to remove them from the sleeve to flip them over.
Faerie Guidemother | Illustration by Mila Pesic
There are a few things to look for when getting inner sleeves. You don’t want them to be too bulky to start. Adding the inner sleeves already extends your outer sleeves. A bulky inner sleeve makes shuffling harder and increases stress on the outer sleeves.
You want an inner sleeve that comes in and out of the outer sleeve smoothly, another point towards a narrower one. This is important for decks with lots of double-faced cards so you’re not struggling with them mid-game, but also relevant if you want to switch sleeves or have an outer sleeve tear and need replacement.
They should also be clear. You can’t let the inner sleeve obstruct the face of the actual card; besides muddling the text, many players use the art of a card to help determine what it is. Thinness, mobility, and clarity are the most important elements of an inner sleeve.
Consider your deck box before going for inner sleeves. Many deck boxes are designed to hold sleeved cards, but not necessarily double-sleeved cards. A box designed to hold 100-sleeved cards will only fit 60-80 double-sleeved cards, so make sure your box can handle the increased bulk.
The “Cadillac” of Inner Sleeves
Some of the best sleeves you can buy are Dragon Shield's resealable sleeves. They offer fantastic protection, though they cost a little more per sleeve. It’s the same material as the previously recommended Dragon Shields but with extra protection.
This extra protection comes from the extended flap at the top of the card, designed to be wrapped over the top of the card and tucked into the back of the sleeve. While traditional inner sleeves have an open side, these protect all four sides of the card.
Sleeving a deck with these takes considerably longer and is a bit more expensive, but the payoff is extra protection all the way around. This sleeve can be a little bulky since you’re tucking in extra material.
Best Budget Inner Sleeve
For the best budget option, TitanShield Protectors takes the cake. You can get 200 of them for about $8 on Amazon, which is close to what you’ll pay for 100 or so sleeves from other brands.
200 sleeves are the perfect count to sleeve up two Commander decks or two, 75-card decks for other Constructed formats, like Standard and Pioneer. The TitanShields feel a little flimsier than the Dragon Shield but offer great protection at a good price.
- DOUBLE SLEEVE: Inner sleeves protectors (a.k.a. Perfect Fits) for trading cards
All the other sleeve options we’ve looked at are top loaders, like most outer sleeves. I usually put my cards in the inner sleeve bottom up, then put the seam down my sleeves, but there’s another option: Sideloaders.
This side-loading inner sleeve from PRO-Fit lets you slip your cards in from the side, and then put them in the outer sleeve so the open seam is safely against the longer side. It’s great for players who prefer this orientation and can be a bit easier to keep cards safe.
- PRO-Fit inner sleeves in a side-loading format - insert your card from the long side of the sleeve
- Sized to fit standard (Magic) size gaming cards
- Made with archival-safe, polypropylene film
- Fits inside a standard size Deck Protector sleeve
- 100 sleeves per pack
Custom Inner Sleeves
Most custom inner sleeves you’ll find are alter sleeves. These often aren’t designed to go over an entire deck; you’ll get alter sleeves for specific cards meant to change the appearance of the original card.
Alter Sleeves are a great option for this. The sleeves cost $6 apiece, with many options working to extend the original art of the card or add a new border. Some altered sleeves involve entirely new art. These inner sleeves are designed with the original card as the background.
When getting alter sleeves, you’ll need to double-sleeve the entire deck; if only two of your cards are double-sleeved with alters, those would be marked cards as they’d be noticeably thicker than the other cards in your deck.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner | Illustration by Greg Opalinski
Inner sleeves are one of the best ways to keep your Magic decks safe. It can make shuffling trickier as it bulks up the deck, but the protection far outweighs the downsides. The last thing you want is to spend a ton of time and money finding the perfect cards for your Commander deck, only for your best cards to get wrecked by a split sleeve.
Dragon Shield’s Perfect Fit inner sleeves are the ideal product, striking a balance between quality, quantity, and price. If that’s not your style, there are plenty of other great sleeves on the market, even some to truly customize your deck!
Do you double-sleeve your Commander decks? What’s your inner sleeve of choice? Let me know in the comments or in the Draftsim Discord!
Stay safe, and protect your sleeves!
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