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Cadet or used Ego?

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    Cadet or used Ego?

    After my cheap old bag's strap ripped off and the bag took off down an escalator with two MacBook Pro's inside (work & personal. One dented.), I discovered all of the Tom Bihn I've been missing. But now I'm torn on which bag will fit me best. Cadet or Ego.

    I picked up a 4Z brain cell to avoid repeat laptop denting, and thought the Empire Builder was my dream bag, but I'm worried it's too heavy, so I'm looking at the other options now. I'd like to use the brain cell in whatever I get, which appears to be okay with the Cadet even though it won't clip in. I just stumbled upon tpnl's comment back in 2014 that the 4Z BC fits in the Zephyr, after extensive attempts to search if anybody had tried that, so the Zephyr may be an option as well.

    I'm a bus commuter who usually carries a 2010 MacBook Pro, likes to toss loose lunch containers in his bag (about 7" X 7" X 2" and smaller), on rare occasion carries an extra laptop or two loose in the bag, likes small external pockets for random stuff including keys and bus passes, hates flaps that have to be lifted to get the laptop out, is paranoid of open pockets losing stuff unless it's just lunch, and is excited by the bottle pockets on the Ego for stashing an umbrella.

    Will the Cadet be able to hold my lunch containers in addition to the BC (in either compartment)? Is the Ego a better fit, or perhaps too big? Are there any tricks for differentiating a Super Ego from an Ego if the seller isn't sure? Any other thoughts or suggestions?

    Thank you!

    I have carried a Super Ego for a lot of years and it might be my favorite Bihn of all time.......along of course with my Empire Builder and every other Bihn that I have!
    I think you can just get the dimensions of the nags and decide if it is an Ego or Super Ego easily enough?
    Both are I think much bigger than a Cadet?
    I have not had a Cadet but did recently find and buy an Ego!
    The Super is just gargantuan which is exactly what I need for my 17" Mac or 2 or 3 computers together or a 1 or 2 day trip all by itself,it is a bag that just swallows it all but can also be too uch to handle when loaded up.
    I even have an insert that I made for mine that turns it into a Portable Radio Station with 2 Ham Radios!
    So it was easy for me when I stumbled across the Ego to grab it as I try to carry less computer if I can and it will be a much better size for that probably.

    Either bag you get will be great if all of your stuff will fit and I would much rather have too much bag than not enough if I can not be sure.


      If you want to put in the TB Brain Cell and your lunch, I would say it would not fit comfortably in a Cadet. The Brain Cell just takes up most of the space in the main compartment and the front compartment is not meant for things more than say 1" thick. When I use my Cadet and need to bring lunch, I usually use my Thule Case which is a bit thinner. This what the inside of my Cadet looks like with my lunch and Thule case (13" version):

      Both the Zephyr and Ego would work well with your TB Brain Cell and lunch in the main compartment. The Ego would give you the best option of TB Brain Cell, lunch and a few smaller laptops. The Zephyr could do it if the laptops could be put vertically beside your lunch (the Zephyr is tall at about 12.4"). Note that the Zephyr (like the Empire Builder) is padded on all sides except the top (the handle and shoulder strap provide some extra protection there). IMHO, you might be able to use some tough sleeve cases instead of your 4Z Brain Cell to maintain protection but get more space.

      The Empire Builder (EB) and Super Ego would definitely work IMHO - though I do not have a Super Ego.

      The Empire Builder is not too heavy IMHO considering it is beneficially heavier because of the built in padded protection. If your concern is protecting your laptops, the EB is THE excellent choice - the Zephyr if you can find one and do not need that much space. Also, the EB and Zephyr are very much at home in a business environment.

      The Ego might be the lightest to carry your laptop, lunch with options to carry your other laptops. When I use my Ego, I usually put my lunch in the front pocket, laptop in Brain Cell in main compartment with papers. I use Tom Bihn's O-Ring system to clip pouches in the open section under the flap (prevents things falling out). There are also 2 zippered "slash" pockets to get at things without needing to open the flap. I like also that I can carry a thermos and an umbrella outside the bag for easy, handy access. It also great to carry cross-body or if biking. The same benefits apply to the Super Ego.

      As to how to tell an Ego from a Super Ego, the only reliable way if not able to see it in person, is the measurements. The Super Ego is a lot bigger and seems to have a bigger presence based in picture I have seen:

      Ego Dimensions: 15.3" x 13.3" x 6.3" / 390 x 340 x 160 mm

      Super Ego Dimensions: 17" x 14.5" x 6.75" / 435 x 370 x 175 mm

      A funny picture I found was of someone (@thax) fitting a Cadet INTO a Super Ego to show how much bigger it is:

      Here are a few link that may be useful if you have not already seen them:

      15"/13" Black-Iberian Cadet w/ Synapse and Super Ego comparison
      Ego vs Super Ego
      Requesting more reviews of the Ego

      Hope this helps

      Edit: I have all the bags mentioned (Cadet, Zephyr, Ego, Empire Builder) except the Super Ego. If you need me to test/picture anything, let me know.
      Also, if you are looking at other retired TB bags, how about the ID or Checkpoint Flyer?
      Last edited by tpnl; 01-31-2017, 09:05 PM.
      TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!


        Thank you, AVService and tpnl! And thanks for finding some more forum threads that I hadn't found yet. I eliminated the ID and Checkpoint Flyer fairly quickly since they have a flap over the laptop. I'm feeling like the Ego is probably my ideal bag (with the Super Ego being far more space than I need). Now to find one!

        Thanks again,



          I'm going to add a link to one more thread that contains useful pictures and links for the Ego: Benefits of an Ego vs S25 This was a discussion thread that @Jeff A started before ordering his Ego (in the very last round of these bags in November 2015). He also posted some pictures of his Ego when it arrived in the Ego Photo Shoot thread.

          This sounds like a good option for you if you want to access the laptop in Brain Cell in a messenger-style bag without lifting the flap. And by the way, the recently manufactured Egos (since 2013) will have the small webbing loops that allow you to either attach a cache with rails or attach a Brain Cell.




            I think the Ego is the best bag ever. Easy to carry, can fit a packing cure for clothes and everything else for a two day trip. Much easier to get into than a traditional messenger and the most under-rated bag made.
            When in trouble, obfuscate.