No announcement yet.

Deciding between the Pilot vs. Cadet. vs. something else?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Deciding between the Pilot vs. Cadet. vs. something else?

    I never could understand why Tom Bihn had die hard fans, while other companies just had "customers." That changed when I bought a Smart Alec 5 years ago. From there, my descent into TB madness began-- replacing nearly all of my other luggage one piece at a time. My one holdout was my EDC: A Tumi briefcase that's accompanied me for 14 years, four different jobs, and more flying miles than I could begin to count.

    I recently decided I wanted a new travel briefcase that could also serve as EDC... for no really good reason. The Tumi still functions fine. But the older I get, the more I want lighter weight. Enter my inner Pilot vs. Cadet vs. Empire Builder decision. Turns out, it wasn't all that tough a choice: The EB is heavy-- maybe even heavier than my Tumi. The Cadet is slightly bigger than the Pilot and sleek like the Tumi-- but I often find myself carrying things that aren't flat. (Stuffing a fleece or rain shell I wore in one climate away when I land in a warmer place). The deciding factor was halcyon. Can't beat the light weight and the new black fits just about any professional environment.

    Now that I have the Pilot, here are some first impressions that I hope may nudge some of you off the fence one way or another:

    The good:
    • Incredibly light and easy to carry, especially with an Absolute
    • Holds a lot more than you'd think
    • Lots of choices-- cordura, halcyon, and colors galore
    • Water bottle compartmnent comes in handy

    The drawbacks:
    • Not great for carrying papers, since it's soft shell without firm dividers
    • Doesn't hold its shape as well as more conventional EDC bags, especially when packed with unbalanced loads
    • Looks a bit more like luggage than a business brief, if you care about appearances.

    Bottom line: If I were strictly shopping for an office EDC, the Pilot probably wouldn't work as well as the Cadet or even my trusty old Tumi. But when it comes to its intended purpose, travel, the Pilot excels. I plan to give it a go as an EDC. But if it doesn't quite work for that, I might find myself justifying a Cadet as well. Man does not live by one Tom Bihn bag alone.

    Below: The new Pilot next to the faithful Tumi

    Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0775.JPG
Views:	1
Size:	75.2 KB
ID:	312675

    I also needed a briefcase as I travel internationally quite often. I had a backpack that carries all my tech stuff. After talking to CS about the pilot and cadet I found out they had the same cubic inches as my Imago. So I got an Empire Builder. It is around the same CI as my backpack. I have to go to some high-level government meeting where carrying a backpack would not be looked on in a favorable light.


      I think if you had gone ballistic with the Pilot, it would look a bit more professional and hold its shape better. The halcyon version does tend to sag.


        @[email protected], thanks for sharing! The Halcyon is wonderful in a secondary bag because it is so light. I've noticed that with the Co-Pilots and Pilots, exactly how they are packed can make a difference; my Co-Pilot looks better when the pockets are stuffed full of my gloves, scarf and other winter gear, and when the front pockets are balanced out a bit. Some people have commented that these bags look "luggage-y", but frankly they are so useful I don't care. Love the way they stay out of the way on a crowded train, or slip easily under an airline seat.
        All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
        Edmund Burke