My promotion went through at the beginning of December, so an order for an small Black/Iberian Cadet did as well. ^.^ I'm looking forward to not having all my essentials trapped on my back when the buses get full, as well as a professional looking way of sneaking knitting into meetings at work.
I also threw in a bottle of Nikwax; winter landed with a splash this year.
As a follow up to my first note when i got the Cadet (11 inch model) - For 5 days, I lived with the Cadet on the road, at a professional meeting. I used it to carry my usual complement of travel "stuff". It included an iPad in a case, a folding Bluetooth keyboard, a number of writing implements, an organizer pouch loaded with cables, chargers, a small TB pouch with aspirin, eyedrops in it, a medium pouch with a couple of sets of earphones and a few USB drives, a small pocket sized spiral notebook, eye glasses, sun glasses, gum, a few snacks, as well as a couple of file folders with a few sheets of paper in each ( mostly travel docs and a few professional documents). During the trip (on my way home now), the bag has also had a number of other things crammed into it - receipts, small giveaways and the like. The bag held everything fairly easily but I found it difficult to remove or find specific items at times because it was so full. No issues with TSA - never had to remove the iPad of keyboard.
The Cadet really held most everything I needed it to hold and a wee bit more. That said, I think the Cadet makes a better daily bag for me than a regular travel bag. I always like to have a little more space "just in case" and the smaller Cadet did not have that extra space. (The 13 inch model may well have sufficient room.). I also found it hard to remove items without some things escaping as it was pretty full at times. Again the larger model may have been better for my purposes but would have been way too big for the iPad or 11 inch MB Air.
Since returning from the trip a couple of weeks ago, I have used the Cadet daily and it is perfect for my daily, at home, needs. Overall, I highly recommend the 11 inch Cadet to anyone considering it for a daily bag - and as a travel bag if you have more restraint that I do!!
Received my 13 and 11 Cadets today. Very nice bags. I will attempt a review in another thread, though I'm not great at those. However, here are some initial thoughts. I am an attorney, and, as such, I am a pack rat and a hoarder. I am used to big briefcases. The 11 just seems to small, but I was trying to downsize, which is why I ordered it to test it out. My wife said she thought it too "purse" like and while such things don't bother me much, I quickly became concerned when a single letter sized redweld took up most of the room in the 11. Contrary to my wife's opinion, I don't think the 11 looks purse-like, but it won't be able to carry all of the things I need, or at least *think* I need--like a water bottle and an umbrella. The black/iberian is a really nice combination. This is a sleek looking case and is more "sophisticated" looking in person without looking, well, uptight.
The 13 on the other hand is a big case. Big enough to almost make me wish there were also a 12" option. But at least it is narrow enough to hug close to the body, which is important for my commute on the 4-5-6. I love that it can be carried across the chest, on one shoulder, or by hand, all equally comfortably (and this with the stock strap). I believe this is the keeper. Especially because there may be a 13" MBA in my future. It is roomy without being cavernous. And the build quality is excellent. A few things I noticed: I love the lined phone pocket; great idea. I wish that pocket were a bit bigger, but iPhone fits no problem. The outside pocket is nicely roomy and has multiple useful interior organizer pockets. But it is difficult to open. Noticed this on both bags, but more so on the 13. It seems that the zippers like to get stuck on the lip of an inner seam. Maybe this will loosen up over time? Or maybe it's a defect? Darcy? Anyone? I hope it gets better because it's annoying. Also, I wish the zippers on the outside pocket were the bigger ones, but this probably can be remedied with some zipper pulls. This one is black with steel, which I also love and is better suited to my rather conservative office. I'm reserving judgment on the cache for now. I'm not too confident about these bags standing up on their own reliably, but we'll see. The 13 will hold a lot of stuff (redwelds, water bottle, umbrella, stacks of unopened mail, camera, my son's random toys handed to me on the walk to school). Perhaps I'm not achieving my original goal. So be it; this bag kicks my other bag's butt.
Overall, what I love about Tom Bihn bags, aside from the ridiculous quality and attention to detail, is that they are part of an ecosystem. All of my Bihn pouches and straps and doodads are compatible with this thing and my TriStar and my ID, and my....you get the idea. There is a lot to be said for that.
Here are some things I would offer for consideration for the Cadet 2.0 (Lieutenant?): water bottle holder, which can double as an umbrella holder. See ID. (sorry, lame lawyer pun). Big zippers on the outside pocket, too. A size between the 11 and 13. Possibly feet on the bottom for stability. And perhaps a zippered pocket in the main compartment.
Yikes. More than I meant to say. Typical. I hope my criticisms are taken constructively. These are excellent bags. But it also causes the imagination to think, what if they added this or that? But I also think that's part of owning a Bihn bag--imagining, and actually helping to create, the next iteration. The bottom line is that I'm pretty sure I will enjoy using the 13" Cadet. Which is a lot more than I can say for my current case. And the 11? Well, that will go back and I'm sure it will make someone else very happy.
Finally, Bihn bags often get dinged on price. I don't think that should be the case here. When you look at other bags from other mfrs., there are plenty that are a lot more expensive. It ain't cheap, but it's priced right for the quality and design.
Anyway, thanks for making it through this (if you have!) and I look forward to reading more impressions.
My Cadet finally arrived, slightly delayed because of the adverse weather conditions we are suffering in Scotland.
First impressions: It is beautiful, the cardinal colour is really nice and the 11 size is perfect for my needs. I was also surprised by the size of the phone pocket, it's smaller than I expected but my phone (and most phones I guess) fits nicely and it does make it easier to get it quickly because it doesn't dissapear at the bottom of the pocket.
Overall, I am very pleased with it!
Thanks, everybody, for the kind words! My Cadet arrived last night and it's even more awesome than I realized. The back pocket is also lined in Dyneema, which is a lovely touch, and the zipper is tucked under a little flap, so it's very unobtrusive.
There's also a full-width and nearly full-height Dyneema pocket in the main compartment that in the 11/iPad version is exactly the right size for a letter-sized manila folder. Part of why I wanted the Cadet was to make toting papers around easier, so this really pleases me. I do wish the O-rings weren't right above it, as I'll have to work around them to get papers in and out. (Though with the cache straps on the other side, I guess there aren't a whole lot of other options.)
The hardware is very substantial for a bag of this size, but I like it. The zippers on the main compartment are big enough to grippable with gloves on, though the front pocket ones will need zipper pulls. The D-ring strap attachments mean I have lots of options for straps. Which is mostly hypothetical, I suppose, as needing anything more heavy-duty than the standard strap it comes with probably means I'm doing it wrong. (If I filled it full of hardback books, maybe . . . )
I'm still working how exactly what to carry it in and how to organize everything. It's small enough that I'm going to have to be selective, which is good! I spent too many years working in out of the way places accessed by long, infrequent bus routes and have to remind myself that I no longer need to be prepared for every exigency. It's a beautiful bag (oh, the black/Iberian combination is *so* sexy and sophisticated) and it's going to make my bus commute and work meetings much easier and more efficient.