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New EDC Bag: A Cadet Review

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    New EDC Bag: A Cadet Review

    Howdy from the Finger Lakes! I recently acquired a Wilderness Cadet as an EDC replacement for my Wilderness Synapse 19. Due to a lack of content in the forums about the Cadet, I thought I'd do a review of how it works with my loadout and personal preferences.

    Basic summary: The Cadet works really well with my preference for easy access built-in organization, sturdy carry handles, a rigid and protective structure that stands up on its own, and general tendency toward flat-packing instead of carrying lots of 3D objects.

    First thoughts: the bag is beautiful, slick, and professional looking, while maintaining a smart casual look. Also, Wilderness is an amazing color on this bag! My biggest initial surprise was how much I love having a #10 YKK zipper on the main compartment. The only other bag I have like that is my Western Flyer, and I guess I never realized how much I enjoy that zipper. The zipper is tight enough not to open on its own, but loose enough to not be challenging to open and close. I also love how beefy and strong it looks and feels.

    Here's the bag loaded up and closed:

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    The foam padding on the front, back, and bottom of this bag give it a tremendous amount of structure. Even way under-packed the Cadet stands up on its own with ease. My biggest complaint about the Synapse 19 was how it refused to do anything but fall forward onto its face. The more I used that bag, the more that aspect of its structure irritated me.

    So, I bounce around a lot between my house, my workplace, and my girlfriend's place. Since I'm always on the move, I like to have my essentials all packed and organized in a thoughtful way. I've also been going to work throughout the pandemic as beverage manufacturers are considered essential, and there's simply no way I can work remotely.

    Now let's get into the organization of this bag:

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    From left to right there's:
    -Pens and sharpies
    -Clear organizer pouch full of tea
    -Tide pen and hand sanitizer
    -Cleaner and microfiber towel for my glasses
    -Grass Super Mini Ghose Whale full of Tums
    -The blue bit sticking up in the middle is a medium Hero Clip

    I like that there's a bit of depth to this compartment, so I can store things outside of the pockets in the bottom of this section. If I need to throw something small in my bag while on the go, this compartment is a perfect dumping spot.

    The small quick access pocket on the front contains a spare mask (V3) and an organizer pouch with small booboo kit:

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    The quick access pocket is pretty slick, and it's a great spot for my spare mask and FAK. Those are the things I won't need very often, but when I do I'll need to grab them quickly. The one downside to filling that pocket is it means you can't fold the front of the bag in half for easy viewing of the whole front compartment. Not a big deal, but it makes me want to not use the pocket in the first place.

    Next up is the main compartment:

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    In here we'll start with the stuff behind the Freudian Slip:

    -The one main oddball 3D object I have is on the left, my Carter Everywhere Mug. I've never been a water bottles person, but when I'm going to work I always bring coffee. I drive to work, so I have no issue carrying the coffee by hand, but it's nice to be able to slide it into the bag and not worry about it.

    -Next to that is a Size 3 TSS in Grass that houses my lunch box, which is from ECO Lunch Box:

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    -To the right of that is my personal journal, book I'm reading for fun, and book I'm reading for work, plus my Microsoft Surface Go in a UAG case.

    In front of all of that is a Western Flyer Freudian Slip housing all of the electronics stuff:

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    The top zippered pockets contain:
    -Wireless Microsoft mouse
    -60W Aukey power brick (for cell phone and a Bluetooth speaker at work)
    -USB-C to A cable
    -USB-C to C cable

    Left to right on the bottom are:
    -Bellroy Notebook Cover with 3.5"x5.5" notebook used for work notes and to-do lists
    -Surface Go charging brick
    -Super Mini Ghost Whale containing thumb drives and memory cards

    The FS back pocket has a folder full of some of the endless paperwork I'm trying to catch up on (huzzah!):

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    And lastly, in the slip pocket on the rear of the bag, I have a magazine from our trade organization and a thin rigid mouse pad:

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    This back pocket is really nice for storage and easy access to magazines, folders, or other slim things I need to carry and grab quickly. The bottom of the pocket unzips to allow it to slide over the handles of rolling luggage, if that's something you care about.

    So far, this bag has been excellent at carrying all my most important everyday stuff. It carries comfortably with either the padded handles or the Optech Mini shoulder strap I attached to it. I have the strap setup to carry the bag against my back sling-style, and I really like how it sits, but it's also perfectly fine carried crossbody or shoulder-style.

    I'm sure I'll spend time playing around with different organization layouts over time, and what I carry will change at some point, but this looks to be a solid go-to bag for me for the indefinite future.

    Cheers!

    #2
    Great review, good pictures, beautiful color choice. Never realized how much this bag can do. Thanks!
    Go Navy

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks darknova306 - it's been quite some time since the Cadet got some love!
      I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

      Comment


        #4
        Nice review, and nice bag! You're making want a Cadet myself. I like cross-body bags and plan to try a Messenger style Small Cafe bag. But for a briefcase style, this is looking super.

        Your Coyote brown zipper pulls go well with the Wilderness green. And I agree, that beefy #10 YKK main zip looks nice and chunky.

        Great load-out. Let us know if you fine tune it later. Great pictures too. Did you happen to store them on Flickr or another public place for reference? Thanks.

        [edit] Me, I'd get this bag in Burnt Orange :)
        Last edited by jMac; 02-21-2021, 07:50 PM.
        The only thing worse than chips without salsa is salsa without chips!

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jMac View Post
          Nice review, and nice bag! You're making want a Cadet myself. I like cross-body bags and plan to try a Messenger style Small Cafe bag. But for a briefcase style, this is looking super.

          Your Coyote brown zipper pulls go well with the Wilderness green. And I agree, that beefy #10 YKK main zip looks nice and chunky.

          Great load-out. Let us know if you fine tune it later. Great pictures too. Did you happen to store them on Flickr or another public place for reference? Thanks.

          [edit] Me, I'd get this bag in Burnt Orange :)
          Thanks! It really is a nice looking bag. I was honestly super close to ordering it in Burnt Orange, but I just like Wilderness a bit too much.

          I don't have the pictures stored anywhere public. Maybe sometime this week I'll throw them over to Flickr and post a link.

          Comment


            #6
            Great review.

            From the discussion on the other thread and now you have the bag and Freudian Slip in person, what is your opinion of the Freudian Slip or how has opinion changed?

            IIRC you liked the front pockets on your Synapse 19 for organization, do you feel the Cadet with FS is similar or more organized?

            A thought came to mind from your pictures from how you are using the FS. With the forward space in front of pen loops of the front pocket, there could be a TS/WF/EB FS that is the bottom half with just the pen loops to fit into that front part and work in the pocket like an accordion file. Would make great use of the space for tools and carry and allow more room in the main compartment. From my post in the other thread, it fits in the front pocket. Would make a on the g good tool bag.

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            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jMac View Post
              Nice review, and nice bag! You're making want a Cadet myself. I like cross-body bags and plan to try a Messenger style Small Cafe bag. But for a briefcase style, this is looking super.

              Your Coyote brown zipper pulls go well with the Wilderness green. And I agree, that beefy #10 YKK main zip looks nice and chunky.

              Great load-out. Let us know if you fine tune it later. Great pictures too. Did you happen to store them on Flickr or another public place for reference? Thanks.

              [edit] Me, I'd get this bag in Burnt Orange :)
              For a cross between a messenger and briefcase style bag, I like and regularly use The Maker’s Bag. It’s a similar volume to a Cadet (which I don’t have). The Maker’s Bag though is currently not showing in production in many colours.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by BigBadD View Post
                For a cross between a messenger and briefcase style bag, I like and regularly use The Maker’s Bag. It’s a similar volume to a Cadet (which I don’t have). The Maker’s Bag though is currently not showing in production in many colours.
                Good point. I'd actually thought of that briefly last night. To me the main difference would be (besides the big cover flap and style) the extra width at the base of the Maker's Bag. It's pretty wide. It'd carry a lot!

                For me, I'm only looking at cross-body bags for EDC, so smaller is usually better. But I also consider a hiking backpack or fannypack, and also consider briefcases for my current 14" laptop. (Turns out, 14" is not a great size. Most bags/sleeves are too small as they're for 13" laptops or too big for 15.6" laptops. My 14" is often just 0.5" - 1" too long for a bag. Don't want a tight squeeze fit. But I plan to replace it with a 10" iPad.)
                The only thing worse than chips without salsa is salsa without chips!

                Comment


                  #9
                  organicfarmer, I'm definitely liking the FS and how it organizes everything. As with all the Freudian Slips I've used in the past, it still takes up space I'd rather not give up, but the organization it provides is worth it.

                  I did like the front pockets of the Synapse for organization. The key difference for me with the Cadet and FS is that everything has a dedicated pocket divided only between two different compartments. In the Synapse I had things in pouches dispersed between five different compartments. I greatly prefer the easy access type of organization that the Cadet with FS offers.

                  Thinking about your suggestion of a short FS for the front compartment, I think that's a wonderful idea! It would make better use of the front compartment's depth and free up space in the main compartment for larger items.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Great pics and review darknova306, many thanks! I don't have a Cadet yet but your review tempts me to rethink my ordering plans, haha! Great color choice too!
                    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!)
                    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by jMac View Post
                      Nice review, and nice bag! You're making want a Cadet myself. I like cross-body bags and plan to try a Messenger style Small Cafe bag. But for a briefcase style, this is looking super.

                      Your Coyote brown zipper pulls go well with the Wilderness green. And I agree, that beefy #10 YKK main zip looks nice and chunky.

                      Great load-out. Let us know if you fine tune it later. Great pictures too. Did you happen to store them on Flickr or another public place for reference? Thanks.

                      [edit] Me, I'd get this bag in Burnt Orange :)
                      I have one in burnt orange and it is *fabulous* [emoji3]

                      Sent from my SM-T713 using Tapatalk

                      Comment


                        #12
                        UPDATE
                        After using this beautiful bag for the better part of a year, I thought I'd update my thoughts on it.

                        This bag has basically been with me everyday: going to work, bouncing between my home and my GF's home, going to nearby cities for medical visits, short day trips, visiting family, doing work at coffee shops, etc. All my useful/important stuff with me, in an organized way, all the time. I'm still extremely happy with it!

                        A few months into using the Cadet, the nylon started loosening up, so I can actually carry more stuff in it without feeling like I'm squeezing it too full. I still carry most of the same stuff from my initial post above, though I've added a few small things to the front admin area. Initially I went back and forth on whether or not to use the WF Freudian Slip, but I finally settled on needing it for extra organization (mainly for charging bricks/cords and laptop peripherals) and to better utilize the vertical space.

                        I would highly recommend this bag if you're looking for cross-body carry and prefer built-in organization over lots of zippered compartments. I even used the main compartment to pack clothes for an overnight trip I had to take in October. Worked perfectly! Definitely take this bag seriously, folks.

                        Cheers!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Its definitely an underrated, not often talked about bag in the line-up. My bf loves his. What sized computer do you use with it?
                          "Not all who wander are lost"
                          "Love people, use things, because the opposite never works" - The Minimalists
                          Synapse 25 in Olive, Aubergine Side Effect, UV A30 PCBP, Sitka PCSB

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by melminimalist View Post
                            Its definitely an underrated, not often talked about bag in the line-up. My bf loves his. What sized computer do you use with it?
                            The computer I use is a Microsoft Surface Go. It's a 10" tablet PC. I love how portable it is, and it's all I need for the things I do in the digital space.

                            Comment

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