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Thread: Pilot or Cadet?

  1. #1
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    Pilot or Cadet?

    Hello:

    I'm looking to upgrade my work briefcase and cannot decide between the Pilot and Cadet - they have about the same capacity and number of pockets. I'm uncertain if the additional structure of the Pilot is a plus or minus compared to the relatively minimalist Cadet. I typically carry a Lenovo Thinkpad, a paperback book, some work papers and files, and bunch of pens and a pad. Any thoughts on how to decide between the two?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Forum Member readmore's Avatar
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    I use my Cadet more because I like being able to drop my computer in without a sleeve (the bottom is padded), which I'm sure many would warn against but it works for me. However, the lack of water bottle pocket is a big deal, and I only use the Cadet if I'm carrying another bag that can handle my water bottle. I don't trust it in the main pocket with my computer.

    I think the Cadet is more professional looking. The Pilot looks (to me) much more like luggage than a briefcase. But I'm rather small and short so the Pilot looks a bit odd on me, in my opinion.

    For the load you mention, either would do fine, and I think you should decide based on which style you prefer. The Cadet is just more structured and maintains its shape even when empty. The Pilot doesn't flop over or anything, but it just looks empty when it's empty!

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the Forums @nambandan!

    I have a Pilot because I prefer the pocket layout (I think it has more 3D flexibility) and the water bottle pocket... it can be a briefcase and also a piece of luggage. As @readmore said, the Cadet probably looks more like a normal briefcase.

    I'm fairly short (5'4") and if I carry it crossbody, I usually have it against my back and kind of hiked up.

    My work laptop is always in a separate neoprene sleeve, so the lack of padding isn't an issue for me.
    Last edited by G42; 03-23-2019 at 03:46 PM.
    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...

  4. #4
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    I ordered a Cadet and returned it. I prefer the Pilot. The Cadet's structure makes it awfully hard to fit, say, a laptop, cache, and Bose headphones in, which makes it hard to fly with. They will fit, but it bends the structure in an upsetting way.

    The Pilot, which is floppier, gives you more space without being a bigger bag. To my that's a win.

  5. #5
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    Thanks everyone. I was wondering about Readmore's comment that the Cadet looks more professional. Do you think the Pilot would work for formal meetings or do I need the Cadet for appearance?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nambandan View Post
    Thanks everyone. I was wondering about Readmore's comment that the Cadet looks more professional. Do you think the Pilot would work for formal meetings or do I need the Cadet for appearance?
    What type of work environment do you have...? I think your feel for that atmosphere will override anything we might offer...
    I work as an engineer in corporate America and no one has ever blinked at my Pilot or S19 as far as I can tell. Quite frankly, I don't think most people pay any attention.
    To me, the Pilot doesn't look unprofessional so much as it looks a bit less like a traditional briefcase in that the front pocket set up isn't common. You could always wear/carry it with the back facing front if that is of concern to you. Functionality trumps fashion or expectations for me... but I do like how understated the TB bags look.

    ETA: if you're in the US, it's reasonably inexpensive to order both styles and test pack them in your home (check out the FAQ on how to do that properly https://www.tombihn.com/pages/contact-us/#faq38)
    That's what we usually recommend if you're really uncertain of which way to go
    Last edited by G42; 03-24-2019 at 11:03 AM.
    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...

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the idea about testing at home - I hadn't thought of that!

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    I've ordered both the Cadet and the Pilot. Kept the Pilot, returned the Cadet. The Cadet is great for flat items. But I have bulky items, so the Pilot works better for me. Plus, the Cadet is large and flat, which gave me a lot of wasted space at the top and sides. The Cadet looks a bit more like a briefcase, but let's face it. They're both ballistic nylon, so it's not like either one looks like a formal briefcase. They're both casual briefcases. Order both, test pack, and send back the one you don't like.

    P.S. So many people use backpacks as briefcases these days, that I think the Pilot will look more briefcase like in comparison.

  9. #9
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    I've been to countless corporate america sites with either my Pilot or my DLBC, and both fit in anywhere people expect to see a laptop bag. My DLBC is even burnt orange and never gets a second glance. Many people are now using backpacks or messengers, so TB fits right in. Gone are the days of leather briefcases and uniformity, with the only variation being how long it lasted.

  10. #10
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    I love my cadet but use a slim neoprene sleeve that I got from Amazon for my X1 Carbon 14" laptop. With the sleeve's top zipper open, the laptop just drops in which makes it super easy to use. I put the laptop in the "pocket" rather that where the cache would go so I've got a lot more usable space for my lunch kit, power cords and Bose NC headphones when traveling. For me it's the perfect bag.

  11. #11
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAMSTIG View Post
    I love my cadet but use a slim neoprene sleeve that I got from Amazon for my X1 Carbon 14" laptop. With the sleeve's top zipper open, the laptop just drops in which makes it super easy to use. I put the laptop in the "pocket" rather that where the cache would go so I've got a lot more usable space for my lunch kit, power cords and Bose NC headphones when traveling. For me it's the perfect bag.
    What's the sleeve?

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