Double Vision - Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

Double Vision | Illustration by Heonhwa Choe

So you’ve dropped a small fortune on your friendship-destroying Commander deck. You might want to protect your investment when you play with your new soul-crushing deck.

The best way to protect your investment is to double sleeve it. Today I’m going over how to double sleeve your deck, the best products for double sleeving, and some other important questions you may have about the practice.

Let’s dive in!

Best Overall

KMC Sleeves

The best double sleeving products are made by KMC. A close second is Dragon Shield, but you may experience some card slippage from Dragon Shield and will have to readjust your cards from time to time. With KMC you’ll rarely have to readjust your cards thanks to them being an almost perfect fit.

KMC 100 Pochettes Card Barrier Perfect Size Soft Sleeves, 3 Pack/Total 300 Pochettes [Komainu-Dou Original Package], Clear
  • Card sleeves protect cards from dirt, gunk and moisture.
  • High quality card sleeves from KMC, card sleeve manufacturer in Japan, the sleeves to protect your valuable card collections
  • Great for collectible card games.
  • KMC is known for highest quality.
  • Age.Mfg Minimum: 144

Is It Really Necessary to Double Sleeve? Why Do It?

If you want to protect your cards then double sleeving is the best way to go about it. A single sleeve still allows dust and other particles inside, which can damage and even scratch your card. If a sharp piece of dust gets into your single sleeve it can scratch your card up while you’re shuffling, and you’ll only notice long after the damage is done.

Another consideration is humidity, which affects your foil cards in particular. The more layers between your cards and the outside air, the less humidity affects them.

The last consideration for double sleeving your cards is accidents. It isn’t uncommon for players to be eating and drinking around the game table. If you single sleeve your cards then that Code Red Mountain Dew that just spilled all over your expensive Commander deck has already found its way into your sleeve and is now destroying your cards.

With double sleeving your cards are saved because the liquid only gets into the first layer and you can pull the outer sleeve off, saving your precious cards.

How to Double Sleeve the Right Way

There are a couple things to consider when double sleeving. One is the orientation of the inner sleeve and the outer sleeve. It doesn’t do you any good to double sleeve your cards and have the openings of both sleeves in the same direction.

For most double sleeving the outer sleeve will have an opening at the top, which allows you to place the inner sleeve over the card so the opening is at the bottom.

Step 1: Preparation

Make sure to have a very clean surface for your work. Some players also use gloves to handle their cards. I’ll leave that up to you, just remember fingerprints contain oil and can damage some materials.

Step 2: The Inner Sleeve

The first step is getting the inner sleeve on the card. Some players use penny sleeves, but that can be a whole mess and can take way more time than it’s worth. The best practice is to use a perfect fit sleeve for the inner sleeve, nothing else.

Put the inner sleeve on the card with the opening of the sleeve oriented down in relation to the card. Pull it down all the way and then get any air bubbles out. If done correctly, the bottom of the card will be where the sleeve’s opening is.

Step 3: The Outer Sleeve

Next up is the outer sleeve. Most outer sleeves are top-loading, meaning the opening is at the top of the sleeve. Carefully place the inner-sleeved card into the outer sleeve with the bottom of the card going in first.

The inner sleeve may shift when putting the card into the outer sleeve. This is more prone to happening If your inner sleeve isn’t a perfect fit sleeve, so be aware of this. You don’t want any of the cards outside of the inner sleeve when inside of the outer sleeve.

Step 4: Adjust If Needed

Check to make sure the inner sleeve didn’t ride up while you were placing the outer sleeve on. If this happens, carefully shift the card up in the inner sleeve. You can do this by pressing on the top of the inner sleeve while holding the card in place in the outer sleeve.

Step 5: Air Bubbles

The last thing to do is get the air bubbles out. Some suggest a tight deck box and time, while others suggest manually forcing the air out. The manual method is just pressing the air out of the inner sleeve and then pushing it out of the outer sleeve after. Or you could just use a heavy book overnight.

But time is the ultimate solution, so now do this last step 99 more times. Good luck and have fun!

The Best Inner Sleeves for Double Sleeving

KMC Perfect Fit

KMC Perfect Fit

There are lots of perfect fit brands out there, but there are only a few I’d trust with my expensive deck. The top one I trust is KMC’s sleeves. Their perfect fits are some of the best, and they don’t damage your cards like some of the cheaper ones.

KMC 100 Pochettes Card Barrier Perfect Size Soft Sleeves, 3 Pack/Total 300 Pochettes [Komainu-Dou Original Package], Clear
  • Card sleeves protect cards from dirt, gunk and moisture.
  • High quality card sleeves from KMC, card sleeve manufacturer in Japan, the sleeves to protect your valuable card collections
  • Great for collectible card games.
  • KMC is known for highest quality.
  • Age.Mfg Minimum: 144

Dragon Shield

Dragon Shield Inner Sleeves

Dragon Shield is also one of the better ones, though its inner sleeves aren’t as tight as others. This can lead to slippage, and your cards will start to work their way out of the inner sleeve while double sleeving.

5 Packs Dragon Shield Sealable Inner Sleeve Clear Standard Size 100 ct Card Sleeves Value Bundle!
  • 100 inner sleeves per bag. 5 Sealed packs. 500 Sleeves Total.
  • For cards measuring up to 63×88 mm’s (2½”x3½”).
  • PVC-free polypropylene sleeves, no acid. Archival safe.
  • 50 μ quality thickness.
  • No glue or tape! Dragon Shield Sealables create a 100% protective seal by tucking the extra flap behind your cards.

The Best Outer Sleeves for Double Sleeving

Dragon Shield Matte

Dragon Shield Matte Sleeves

One of the best brands for the outer sleeve is Dragon Shield Matte. They work best with KMC Perfect Fits, and this combo ensures your cards are nice and protected for years.

One quick note: make sure to buy extra of both the inner and outer sleeves because while your cards will be protected, it doesn’t mean your sleeves won’t suffer some damage.

5 Packs Dragon Shield Matte Black Standard Size 100 ct Card Sleeves Value Bundle!
  • 100 sleeves per box. 5 Sealed Boxes. 500 Sleeves Total.
  • For cards measuring up to 63×88 mm (2½”x3½”). 120 μ quality thickness.
  • PVC-free polypropylene sleeves, no acid. Archival safe.
  • Box lid has a label for your personal use.
  • Sturdy cardboard box fits 75+ cards including sleeves.

Buying Tips

You have a lot of options when buying inner sleeves. Some inner sleeves are resealable, while others are side-loading instead of top-loading. One thing to keep in mind is if you’re playing in a tournament and have double-faced cards. If you do then your sleeves need to be perfectly opaque so that the back doesn’t show through at all.

When considering inner sleeves, make sure not to go with the cheapest ones you can find. Some perfect fit sleeves can damage your cards (more on that later).

Getting the Right Size

Make sure they are the right size. If they’re too big then the card can slide around and start to come out of the sleeve, which adds wear and tear to the card. If they’re too small then they can damage the corners or edges and ruin the value of your card.

Another problem is the inner sleeve will bend and warp your card if it’s too tight.

Getting the Right Sleeves

The best inner sleeves are KMC Perfect Fits. They’re very high-quality and cut perfectly to fit your card. I’m sure you can find other brands, but I haven’t found anything better than KMC.

You can be a little less discerning when it comes to the outer sleeve. You need to make sure it’s of good quality and won’t fall apart after a few shuffles. Dragon Shield and KMC have some of the best outer sleeves on the market. Both of these brands are great when you’re double sleeving your decks.

Cheap outer sleeves will split when shuffling. This means the transparent layer and the art layer comes undone, separating them over time. Poor quality sleeves also have minor defects from sleeve to sleeve, making them unplayable in tournaments. And they won’t be perfectly opaque in the back, letting you see the back of the card.

How Do You Get Air Out of a Double-Sleeved Card?

Body Double (Jace vs. Vraska) - Illustration by Winona Nelson

Body Double (Jace vs. Vraska) | Illustration by Winona Nelson

Once you double sleeve your cards you’ll find that it has air trapped between the two sleeves. Air sometimes gets back in over time and with play, so you may have to repeat this process more than once. There are a couple of fixes to get rid of the excess air.

Method One: Use Your Hands

The first method is time-consuming, but it works. You have to do this for each individual card. There’s normally air between the inner and outer sleeve, which means you first need to move the air out of the inner sleeve and then remove it from the outer sleeve.

You do this by placing the double-sleeved card on a flat surface. Work the air up with your finger flat on the sleeved card starting at the opening of the outer sleeve until you reach the meeting of the two sleeves. This gets the air out of the inner sleeve. You can use a credit card for this, or some other flat object, but you risk scratching your sleeves.

Next, move your flat finger to the opening of the outer sleeve, pressing the air out of the sleeved card as you go. This process can be time-consuming, but it works very well.

Method Two: Use a Book

The second method is just to find a heavy book and place a few of your double-sleeved cards underneath. Leave it overnight and the air should be gone by morning. Do this for your whole deck and you should be golden.

How Thick Is a Double-Sleeved Card?

This can vary from the different thicknesses of the inner sleeve and the outer sleeves. A general rule of thumb is to expect your deck to be from 20% to 50% thicker. If you triple sleeve a deck, be prepared for almost double the size of a regular deck.

Another consideration with double sleeving is the width. It not only makes the deck thicker but also wider. Make sure you have a case that can accommodate both a thicker and wider deck.

Do Perfect Fit Sleeves Ruin Cards?

There’s a rumor going around that perfect fit sleeves can damage your cards. This unfortunately has some founding in reality. There are countless stories of players losing value on their cards by using perfect fit sleeves that were too small and damaged the corners and edges of their cards trying to fit them in.

This can vary from brand to brand so your mileage may vary. If you find perfect fit sleeves that fit your cards then you should be fine. They protect from surface scratches and foil card fading, just don’t use any that are too tight.

The brand that works the best is KMC Perfect Fit. They seem to have the most consistent fit and the least chance for damage.

Does Double Sleeving Prevent Curling?

Teferi's Protection | Illustration by Chase Stone

Teferi’s Protection | Illustration by Chase Stone

With the introduction of foil cards in Magic and other trading card games have come a horrible problem, and that’s card curling. You see, they have to add extra material onto the face of the card to get the foil look.

During the manufacturing phase and right after opening, this looks great. But the card will start to curl and look deformed after some time because the two materials have different expansion and contraction characteristics. This means your card curls when the cardboard part of the card expands due to humidity and the foil part stays the same because it doesn’t absorb humidity.

Double sleeving can slow this process down and sometimes make it way less severe. But your cards will eventually curl even with double sleeving.

Some players attest to double sleeving with KMC Perfect Fits, claiming it prevents curling thanks to the lack of air and the tightness of the sleeve. It’ll definitely slow the process, but they’re not perfectly airtight so it will happen over time.

One way to uncurl your cards is to place them under a heavy book to flatten them out. Keep them under for about a week and you should see an improvement.

Does Yu-Gi-Oh! Allow Double Sleeving?

It used to be that Yu-Gi-Oh! didn’t allow double sleeving cards. This was a rule up until about the end of 2020. Unfortunately they still have strict rules when it comes to double sleeving, much worse than any other card game out there.

There are so many restrictions that it would take an entire article to explain. If you want to play Yu-Gi-Oh! competitively I suggest you look up the current rules so you’re in compliance.

Can You Double Sleeve Pokémon Cards?

Pokémon is way more lenient than their Yu-Gi-Oh! counterpart when it comes to sleeves. Just make sure you use the same sleeve combination for every card so that they’re all uniform and don’t look different.

Make sure to look up the rules so you know you’re in compliance when going to a competition.

Is Triple Sleeving a Thing?

When two sleeves just aren’t enough, some players triple sleeve their decks. This sounds extreme, but you might want to protect your investment a little more than just double sleeving if you’re playing with some really expensive cards like dual lands or Demonic Tutor.

When planning to triple sleeve, make sure you find sleeves that go well together because the sizes can be very tight and you could run into the middle sleeve not fitting into the outer sleeve. Shop around and make sure you find ones that fit together well.

One other consideration is the size. A triple-sleeved EDH deck can be enormous, almost one and a half times the size of a double-sleeved deck if not more. This causes trouble with storing and shuffling your deck.

Wrap Up

Double Major (Strixhaven School of Mages) - Illustration by Suzanne Helmigh

Double Major (Strixhaven) | Illustration by Suzanne Helmigh

One of the best ways to protect your premium expensive deck is to double sleeve your cards. This prevents damage from dust and the occasional spills and also helps slow down card curling and other deformations over the years. Make sure to find high-quality sleeves for double sleeving your deck so you ensure your investment is well taken care of in the long run.

I hope this helps you in your double sleeving journey. Feel free to comment below or come chat in the official Draftsim Discord about your experience double sleeving.

If you have any tips or tricks you’ve found in double or even triple sleeving your cards, please share them below!

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