Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tom Bihn Cadet Review Update

After reviewing the Founder's Briefcase recently I decided it was time to update the Cadet review.  Instead of appending a paragraph to the original, I thought I'd do a post on it for a few reasons.  First, I think the update is needs more detail than a paragraph can hold.  Second, I think the Cadet is such a good product that I want to highlight it for readers.  If you need a briefcase start here.  Third, I have a video showing how I use the Cadet and I thought it warranted its own post.

First, here is the video of how I use the Cadet and how I have it configured.

The Cadet is not just a good briefcase, it is my most important work tool.  It makes it possible for me to be a better lawyer and that is worth quite a bit.  It also happens to still look awesome more than two years later, but that's just a very nice bonus.

The Cadet makes me a better lawyer because I can carry less but do more.  The law is, and always will be, an enterprise intimately tied to geography.  In part because of our system of federalism and in part because of the size of the United States, all law is local.  When a big celebrity or wealthy person gets in trouble away from home, their fancy lawyers usually hire the very best local person to handle the case because they know the judges and the laws better than even the fancy lawyer does.  This means that lawyers drive a lot.  I never drive all that far; this isn't long haul trucking, but I do drive a lot.

Two things that I dinged the Cadet on in the original review were Ease of Packing and Straps.

My criticism of the packing ability of the bag centered around the fact that the zipper mouth was small.  I have come to learn that large zipper mouths are, in fact, more of a hassle.  They are prone to unzipping at inopportune times and falling open.  Not only can this NOT happen with the Cadet's zipper, I have come to realize that this thing packs very well.  This is part of the problem with reviewing bags.  There is so much going on, unlike with a knife or a flashlight, that these benefits are hard to see in a short timeframe.  Additionally because I am not a pack rat, but a user, I needed to try a lot more bags before I realized just how ingenious the Bihn Cadet's smaller zipper mouth really was.

Upgrade 1 point.

The second thing I didn't like was how grippy the Absolute strap was.  I was worried that it would take my sports jacket off my shoulder.  That concern was completely unfounded and, in fact, I have come to appreciate the fact that the bag just stays put.  Constantly jerking the bag back into place is bad for you.  It puts a lot of stress on your back and shoulder.  I never do that now.  I am convinced.  The strap here, like the famous Red Oxx strap, is the way to go.  Stay put please.

Upgrade 1 point.

In the two plus years I have had the bag, it has served me incredibly well.  It looks more professional than a messenger bag, but not as stuffy as a hard side briefcase.  It has handled use and abuse exceedingly well, looking virtually new after lots of travel and lots of snow.  I have no hestitation in saying this is the perfect briefcase.  If you need a laptop, it can carry that too, though perhaps not as well as the Founder's Briefcase (though it is close).  But the age of the laptop is ending and in that more mobile, more flexible age, the Cadet rules.

I never understood why sailors loved the ship they served on so much.  It was an object.  But I have come to feel a small bit of that towards the Cadet.  This bag has been with me through many trials, literal and figurative.  It is a well-design tool and it has made me better at my job.  You can't really ask for more from a bag than that.

This is the perfect small briefcase.    

Overall Score: 20 out of 20, PERFECT.


  1. Thanks for the updated review! When I can spare the money, I'm buying this thing.

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  3. Replies
    1. Everyday. And it is still as awesome as ever. I have an update of the parental unit coming soon. Two very long term reviews...both awesome.

    2. Thanks for the reply, Tony. I'm looking at this or the Copilot. I'm wondering how/if you carry water as short of holding a mug, don't see how you'd manage to given the space.

      Looking forward to the long term reviews. Cheers.