Cadet or Smart Alec?
I need a new dedicated computer bag to carry my 15" MBP. I'm currently going back and forth between selecting a Smart Alec or a Cadet. I commute by car most of the time, so the walk is relatively short from car to office and up a flight a stairs. However, I also travel 3-4x a year for business and additionally carry an iPad, a few extra cables in a snake charmer, headphones, and some papers/magazine for the trip. Previous experiences with my current bulky messenger bag was that my shoulder was half dead by the time I got to the plane/rental car from lugging around so much stuff. I think part of the problem is that the bag is too big (I'm 5'2") and has too much swing to it.
I like the Cadet's looks and the checkpoint friendly feature. Combined with an absolute strap and that handle, do you think it'd be tolerable when loaded down for darting through an airport? Would it fit everything I listed?
Or am I better off with a Smart Alec?
Seems like you plan to be carrying the same amount. All that would change is the weight of the bag, perhaps.... depending on the weight of your old messenger bag ... also assumes all you want/need to carry will fit in the cadet. If you feel you can manage that weight plus the weight of a bag, then the Cadet would work. It is slim, well balanced in carrying and has a comfortable handle. If you use the Absolute strap, it would help with the perceived weight, but the bag will still swing and knock into you a bit, especially when moving quickly thru an airport.. A Smart Alec would easily swallow what you listed with room for lots more and you would have both hands free. My experiences with both bags (I had a small Cadet) makes me lean toward the Smart Alec. (I never used to like backpacks and am kind of surprised by how much I like the Smart Alec.)
indeed, you would do fine with the cadet or the smart alec on a daily basis.
when you are traveling, the cadet's checkpoint friendly design will make it easier to go through airport security checkpoints. i'm concerned whether everything you describe will fit in the cadet, though. how bulky are the headphones you speak of? and how packed is your snake charmer?
i've traveled with my cadet and simply love it - i've packed my 13" macbook air, files, an ac adapter and travel surge proector in a medium organizer pouch, various cables and adapters in a small organizer pouch, two clear organizer wallets, a verizon mifi card in a mini organizer pouch, pens, a pad, and my iphone with room to spare. i've even packed all of that and a change of clothes for an overnight trip in my cadet.
as rabergnc mentioned, the smart alec will easily hold what you describe.
you mentioned darting through the airport. while the cadet can be worn as a messenger bag, with the shoulder strap across the body - and i highly recommend the absolute strap! - it does not have a waist strap. the smart alec, with the sternum strap and waist strap secured will give you the ability to run through the airport.
returning from india on a recent trip, we had to run (perhaps 1km) through the terminal to the gate because they announced that they were closing the flight. with aeronaut on my back, i felt thankful for the sternum straps and waist strap!
by the way, if it can at all be helped, running to the flight and getting all sweaty before a couple of 8-9 hour flights is not a good idea! :)
getting back to the choice between the cadet and smart alec, if both will hold your gear, it's a question of which form of bag you prefer.
you can use a cache to carry your laptop and slide it out of your smart alec when you go through airport security checkpoints. if you don't put anything into the pockets of a brain cell, you should be able to send your laptop through the x-ray machine inside of that, but understand that it isn't technically what tsa would call checkpoint friendly.
let us know if you have further questions, what you choose to go with, and how it works out for you.
Thank you for all the feedback. Looking more and more at the Cadet, I realize I'd be in for a tight fit once I started adding everything I normally carry...my snake charmer can get bulky between the charger, cables, and lockdown kit. A Smart Alec would allow me to shove my wristlet purse inside and a jacket when needed. My company is really casual, so no one really cares whether I carry a briefcase or a backpack to work.
I try to avoid darting through the airport usually but airlines seem to delight in making people change flights with very little time inbetween.
you should be able to put your wristlet into the side pocket of the smart alec for easy access. and you should also be able to clip it to the o-ring in the accessory pocket of the cadet.
Originally Posted by calel
besides putting your jacket inside of the smart alec, you could also use the bungee cord on your smart alec to secure your jacket.
i applaud companies who recognize that a more comfortable worker is a more productive worker.
Originally Posted by calel
while i am sure that many people are comfortable in a suit and tie, i really appreciate being able to come to work dressed down. right now, i'm wearing a t-shirt, shorts and sandles. when i go up to our headquarters for meetings, i wear business casual. but down here, we're pretty laid back.