The Tom Bihn Cadet is the best briefcase I’ve ever used. The reason it’s so great is that it’s slim. Most briefcases are far too fat for my tastes. While this means you can’t always carry as much as you might expect you should be able to after owning almost any other briefcase on the market, it will force you to cut back on what you carry and possibly reevaluate what you’re carrying to work on a daily basis. If you’re only looking to carry your laptop, a few files and some basic essentials — you can’t beat the Cadet.
So what’s the build of the Cadet like? It’s rather minimalist. There are three zippered compartments and one open pocket (that unzips to slide over rolling luggage handles). That’s it. It makes for a slim and minimalist-looking profile. Starting with the front of the bag, there’s a small softly-lined and zippered compartment that’s just big enough for an iPhone 6(s) even in one of Apple’s leather cases. Although designed when when the iPhone 5 was the current iPhone, the Cadet’s front pocket just fits.
Above that is a much larger zippered compartment that runs the length of the bag. Inside you’ll find the expected organizational features of Tom Bihn’s other bags. There are open pockets that will fit a Field Notes, some pens and pencils and other small but handy items. You’ll also find two O-rings that you can use to clip in organizer pouches. Nothing surprising, but it’s just what you need and nothing else.
Lastly, in the main zippered compartment, you’ll find the original Cache system. Instead of the rails being on the Cache like the current iteration of Tom Bihn bags with “rails”, the rails are sewn into the lining of the bag itself. I find this older style to be worse than the current implementation, but to my knowledge, the Cadet still uses its original configuration to this day. (Mine is a few years old.) There is a divider inside this compartment to help you organize some documents and more O-rings for attaching organizers.
Something that I’m unsatisfied with is the back pocket that unzips to slide over rolled luggage. I’d rather have a slightly thicker bag that had another zippered pocket (like the Daylight Briefcase) or no pocket at all. When Tom Bihn’s thing seems to be “give me no rolled luggage or give me death” it seems weird to make these accommodations to the evil rollers out there. Even with that though, I still think that There’s not another bag in the Tom Bihn product line that is as good as the Cadet for carrying a laptop and keeping the load you carry to a minimum.