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Thread: Thin Business Briefcase

  1. #1
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    Thin Business Briefcase

    I have fallen in love with Tom Bihn Bags. The provide just about everything I need for travel, save one thing: A Small Travel Briefcase. I have a Pilot and it just does not pass the site test walking in to a more formal business meeting. The squat shape and the single handle make it out of place. I love having it on the plane and have even packed for a few one night trips in it, but I need something more.

    When searching for something to hold a laptop, iPad, and a few papers and pens I haven't found much out there that fits the bill. There is one bag I found in the apple store. It fits all the needs. It is slim enough to tuck into another bag(aeronaut 45 or BR 22" roller), it has space for an iPad and a Laptop. I just cant buy something that has all that branding and will pale in comparison to my TB bags in every way. I use this merely as an example of the form factor.
    Thule 13 Stravan Deluxe Attache for MacBook Pro/MacBook Air
    A bag with a similar design and function, made with the quality and craftsmanship of TB would be perfect. I have hopes that the checkpoint flyer laptop case may include in the redesign a few pen pockets and maybe an iPad/Tablet pocket. Anyone else out there have a need for something like this?

  2. #2
    Registered User TMerrell's Avatar
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    I use a black TB Zephyr to carry exactly what you described and it is a perfect match with the BR 22" roller. The Zephyr passes the sight test walking into a formal business meeting.


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  3. #3
    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Founder's?

    Founder's Briefcase perhaps? It's got a bit of a retro nostalgic look and charm to it, but I think it looks rather smart in that respect. I could easily see it walking in with me to client meetings on site with the CIOs/CFOs/CEOs/SVPs I regularly deal with.

    I've only had mine for a few hours, but it easily swallowed my 14" not very thin by today's standards ThinkPad T420. Pretty sure an 8" tablet will fit in the other side's zippered pocket. A cased iPad and papers could probably go into the packing wedge.

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    Last edited by itsablur; 08-22-2014 at 10:13 PM.
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

    Want: EVERYTHING.

  4. #4
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    I use the Tom Bihn Cadet in black for this. It holds my 15" MacBook Retina Pro in a Cache which keeps it lighter than a bag that uses a Brain Cell. It is perfect for the laptop, a few papers, & some pens. I keep some daily essentials in an accessory pouch that I move between my EDC bags (Cadet or Smart Alex when carrying a laptop & Co-Pilot or Small Cafe Bag when carrying an iPad). The back pocket of the bag has a zip open flap so you can put it over the handle of a piece of rolling luggage.

    The Cadet is quite thin, so it does limit what else you can put in the bag. I sometimes carry a Zojirushi stainless mug, which is really a bottle, horizontally over the laptop, as it wouldn't fit anywhere else. You could slide in an iPad in a thin case, but it would limit the amount of papers you can carry.

    Cadet - Checkpoint friendly laptop bag in sizes for Apple laptops - TOM BIHN

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    +1 on @TMerrell's suggestion of a Zephyr. The Zephyr is much more traditional formal and I use it in a banking environment. It also keeps its shape when empty and stands up on its own - pluses in the formal environment look IMHO. It has 2 great Poron "automatically ready to use" handles (no floppy handles) and a roller luggage pass-through AND another pocket so you can use the pass-through and still have a pocket for magazines.

    What I like most about the Zephyr is I can put letter-sized paper vertically so I have more room for other bulky items (coffee mug, umbrella, Lunch sometimes). To me, if you are someone who has a lot to carry and wants to do it in as thin or small a package, the Zephyr is it. With the built in 5 sided thick closed-cell foam protection, there is double laptop protection. The padding also prevents "bulging" - important in a corporate environment look. The Zephyr is the smallest Briefcase style bag that I have found that can hold all my EDC internally.

    Now, if you will not need to carry too much and nothing very bulky, the Cadet is good - I believe @uklimey has one and could provide some feedback on that.

    I do not have a Founder's Briefcase but it is very smart-looking and I would use it in a real formal environment if I wanted to make a statement.

    Now, with all that being said ... the Cadet and Zephyr are not available at the moment via the website ... so perhaps contact TB customer service to confirm.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 08-23-2014 at 07:45 PM.
    Zephyr/SA/BB (Black/Black/Steel), S25/TS/WF/A45 (Black/Iberian), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), CP (Black/Steel), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

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    Hmmm...I thought I replied to this post, but I guess not...?

    Anyway, I'm curious if others also feel the Pilot does not look professional enough? I've been considering adding this bag (in Black) to use on light carry days or business trips (along with an S19).

  7. #7
    Registered User heparker's Avatar
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    I have a Navy Pilot and carry it into many, many executive-level meetings and conferences. NO WORRIES! Name:  IMG_1413.jpg
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    carl0 likes this.
    Forrest Green Tri-Star, Navy/Solar PILOT, w/13" MBA cache, Large Shop Bag, various colorful pouches, straps, sacks, 3D mesh, large Dyneema org. cubes and Olive SE. Black Dyneema Daylight BP. As always, more TB stuff on order!

  8. #8
    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl0 View Post
    Anyway, I'm curious if others also feel the Pilot does not look professional enough? I've been considering adding this bag (in Black) to use on light carry days or business trips (along with an S19).
    Probably depends on your line of business, and what your taste level defines as "professional enough". The structure and solid colours of ballistic are more stoic and professional than Dyneema, so that would be a factor too.

    I personally think it looks fine. It looks far better to my eye than the litany of standard issue Targus-like black nylon/pleather laptop bags I'm used to seeing over the years. I take my Pilot to the office (though we're quite casual when no clients are around), but wouldn't bat an eyelash at taking my Steel Dyneema Pilot to a client meeting. I do look forward to changing that for a Founder's Briefcase this week though!

    Do you see backpacks as professional looking?
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

    Want: EVERYTHING.

  9. #9
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    Love all the feedback. I looked at the cadet, even though not in stock, is the closest thing to my needs. I looked into the Zephyr but at 6.5" wide it is too wide for what I am really looking for. I do consulting work and love to take my pilot on my trips along with just one other bag, usually a BR 22" Roller. The Pilot is great for me when I travel. However, when I am meeting with the new client, wearing a business suit, the Pilot is a tad casual. Maybe if the Pilot was black it would blend better. I have no need to carry lunch, a mug or any other items with me. A thin Attache style case would allow me to pack it empty in my Roller and then use it for the more formal settings that I will be in, with finance guys and lawyers. Seems silly to some to have a separate bag just for impressions, but when you are building your own business, every impression counts.

  10. #10
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    @itsablur -- I don't think a backpack is professional looking, although I have taken one to meetings when traveling into NYC. (But it was more to try out my S19 with the cache when I first got it!). If I had the choice of walking into a client meeting with a pilot or a backpack, I think the pilot is way more professional.

    I agree, it depends on the line of work.

    I really just asked because to me, the Pilot in black ballistic looks appropriate for most business situations, and the comment by the OP was the first I had heard otherwise.

  11. #11
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    IMHO, the key phrase I interpret from @bnruane's post is "out of place". I take that to mean that the Pilot is different looking enough from other co-worker's bags (Squat and a single handle) to make it stick out.

    I imagine something hypothetically similar with the TB Ego/Super Ego messenger bag at a courier company where the norm might be Timbuk2 type long and narrow messenger bags even though the TB bag is arguably more rugged/usable – e.g. best 1050d HT ballistic nylon, no awkwardness to open that big flap to get at everything.

    I personally think the Pilot looks great in a professional environment - especially in black or steel ballistic nylon. However, it does look slightly different in design to other bags made by Targus or Victorinox, etc.
    I think it is a good thing to have a more subtly unique look (that's just me) but I can see where a more familiar traditional design would help in an environment to inspire more initial trust and confidence (e.g. banker in suit/ doctor in white lab coat v.s. business casual/golf shirt).

    The Cadet is one of the most regular looking (not out of place) TB bag, IMHO. Here is a link to a review by a lawyer:

    Everyday Commentary: Tom Bihn Cadet Review Update

    I like the final comments that state “It looks more professional than a messenger bag, but not as stuffy as a hard side briefcase”.

    @bnruane's – if a TB Checkpoint flyer works for you, there are a few on ebay and if you want pen pockets, etc, a Horizontal Freudian Slip would give that.
    On your comment that the perfect bag would be good to “tuck into another bag(aeronaut 45 or BR 22" roller”, here is a link to some briefcase in another bag threads:

    Cadet inside a Tri-Star
    Founder's Briefcase in Tristar?
    Tristar and a Day Laptop Bag
    Laptop Briefcase in a Tri-Star

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Zephyr/SA/BB (Black/Black/Steel), S25/TS/WF/A45 (Black/Iberian), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), CP (Black/Steel), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by quattro98 View Post
    I use the Tom Bihn Cadet in black for this. It holds my 15" MacBook Retina Pro in a Cache which keeps it lighter than a bag that uses a Brain Cell. It is perfect for the laptop, a few papers, & some pens. I keep some daily essentials in an accessory pouch that I move between my EDC bags (Cadet or Smart Alex when carrying a laptop & Co-Pilot or Small Cafe Bag when carrying an iPad). The back pocket of the bag has a zip open flap so you can put it over the handle of a piece of rolling luggage.

    The Cadet is quite thin, so it does limit what else you can put in the bag. I sometimes carry a Zojirushi stainless mug, which is really a bottle, horizontally over the laptop, as it wouldn't fit anywhere else. You could slide in an iPad in a thin case, but it would limit the amount of papers you can carry.

    Cadet - Checkpoint friendly laptop bag in sizes for Apple laptops - TOM BIHN
    +1 on the Cadet. Changed my life when I went to this lightweight EDC briefcase. I also use a cache rather than brain cell to keep it thin and light.

    The only time I don't carry this bag is when I fly on business internationally when I just need more space. In those circumstances I use a Western Flyer.

  13. #13
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    Just to add my opinion ...

    It sounds like the Cadet would be the bag for you. Mine is in black ballistic with a wasabi interior; working in pharma where work attire is still a bit 'old school', the Cadet fits in perfectly for any situation including the boardroom. Dyneema would be a total no-go, but the wasabi inside allows a bit of individuality.

    I have a Dell laptop in a 4Z cache, iPad mini in a padded organiser pouch, a few paper files in a clear organiser and a Side Effect for cables, pens, etc. All of these fit easily into the Cadet with little bulge. As per the thread above, the Cadet goes inside a Tri-Star for travel. I use my Cadet every workday either in the UK or Frankfurt or Boston.

    When I purchased my Cadet the Pilot was not yet born so the choice was a no-brainer. But even now I would choose the Cadet. In my opinion the Pilot is a (fantastic) travel bag that CAN be used as a briefcase, but the Cadet IS a briefcase.

  14. #14
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    Have to agree...I have both a Cadet (in Navy) and a Pilot in Dyneema and the Cadet has a "smarter" feel to it, as well as benefitting from a bit more structure.

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