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Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag

*Est. $170
August 2012
by ConsumerSearch

  • Extremely high build quality
  • Water-repellent zippers
  • Innovative Cache sleeve slides out for checkpoints
  • Super-tough nylon
  • Small

The Tom Binh Cadet Laptop Bag is consistently identified by reviewers as the highest-quality bag they've seen, with incredibly durable materials, a poke-resistant high-contrast interior lining, splash-proof zippers, sturdy padded handles and high-quality hardware. A padded sleeve cradles your laptop (up to 15.4 inches) inside the bag and clips to two straps of nylon inside, allowing the laptop to slip out for airport checkpoints without removing it. Options add up fast for this bag, and many reviewers comment on both the high price and how much they like the optional Absolute Strap (*Est. $30).

Durability: Best-in-class materials, construction and sturdiness.

The bag itself is made from heavyweight ballistic nylon, the YKK Aquaguard zippers are water resistant, and the interior linings are poke and tear resistant. Reviewers report using the bag for years and having it look exactly like new.

Comfort: The padded handles are simple but comfortable, reviewers say; the strap gets mixed reviews.

Reviews compliment the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag on its simply constructed padded handles and the comfort of the padded bag itself. They split somewhat on the bag's included strap and the optional Absolute Strap (*Est. $30), with some calling the latter the most comfortable strap they've experienced and others saying it's not as good as that of equivalent Tumi models.

Appearance: Clean, classic styling that harkens back to an earlier era.

The Cadet Laptop Bag won't break ground in styling, but it does have a classic, clean look, reviewers say, with one oft-quoted review suggesting it would look at home in the hand of James Bond.

Warranty: A limited lifetime warranty, but you're not going to need it.

Tom Bihn stands behind their bags, but from the reports from reviewers and users, that's not frequently necessary. Those who do deal with the company's customer support say it's a pleasant experience.

Features: One of the best-made bags on the market, but small and relatively expensive.

This is not a stuff-everything-in-it bag, reviewers warn, but if you can live with that and the price, it's likely to be the last bag you have to buy at its size.

Bottom Line: A classy, high-priced addition to any road warrior's ensemble.

Tom Bihn laptop bags inspire ardent loyalty in many reviewers, thanks to what they describe as top-notch production, materials and details. The included Cache laptop sleeve, which clips into the Cadet Laptop Bag and slides out for airport security checks, receives high praise, as does the bag's assortment of interior compartments, splash-proof zippers and svelte design. The high price and relatively small size are the only drawbacks critics note.

Our Sources


Matthew Panzarino at rhapsodizes about the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag's construction, "magnificent" comfortable strap, rugged details, materials and travel-friendly features. "A combination of absolutely premium materials and visible care in craftsmanship should make the Cadet a part of anyone [sic] decision process when shopping for a compact laptop bag," Matthew Panzarino writes.

Review: Untittled, Matthew Panzarino, Nov. 8, 2011


Andy Jacobs of writes an extremely positive review of the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag, which he feels combines "understated style, smart functionality, and durability." He finds the heavy-duty ballistic nylon used in the bag to be relatively soft and supple, while feeling solid and protective in combination with the closed-cell foam that cradles the laptop itself. The bag also comes with the Cadet Cache, a sleeve designed to clip inside. The price of the Tom Bihn Cadet is high, but the quality and features are top-notch, he writes.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag Review, Andy Jacobs, Jan. 20, 2012


Steven Sande reviews the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag for, noting that the exterior nylon is tough stuff: "Another Bihn bag that I own has been literally dragged, dropped, and stepped on for five years, yet looks like it was just delivered from the factory." He likes the splash-proof zippers, padded handles and optional Absolute Shoulder Strap, as well as the multitude of pockets. The price is high, he notes.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop / iPad Bag Organizes Your Belongings in Style, Steven Sande, Jan. 16, 2012


Jeff Mac praises the TSA-friendly nature of the clipped-in laptop Cache sleeve inside the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag and the bag's many thoughtful features: poke-resistant interior fabric, a multitude of well-placed pockets, an exterior pocket that unzips at the bottom to make a band that can slip over the handle of a roller bag, and so on. "The Cadet has that combination of looks and brains that would make Bond smile and raise an eyebrow," he says.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet Review, Jeff Mac, Nov. 28, 2011


"Tom Bihn's Cadet Messenger bag takes all of the struggles you may have had trying to find the perfect bag and throws them right out the window. Once you get your hands on one you will never want to buy another bag again," writes Alan Galloway in this photo-heavy, detailed review. He likes the included laptop Cache sleeve, the many small-item slots in external pockets and the optional accessories, awarding a perfect 5-star rating and a Must Have designation.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet Messenger Bag Review, Alan Galloway, July 13, 2012


The Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag is a "sleek, stylish, no-nonsense, mini-brief," reviewer "Frank II" writes, praising its high-quality materials, ultrasuede-lined front compartment, Cache laptop sleeve and interior pockets. It's pricey, the review notes.

Review: Gear Review: Tom Bihn Cadet, "Frank II", Dec. 11, 2011


The Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag is "tiny," Tony Sculimbrene writes. "If you can do the bag limbo in terms of contents (how low can you go) you will be amply rewarded by buying the Cadet. It is slim, beautiful, tough, and easy to use." He awards an overall score of 18 out of 20, dinging it a bit for its size but praising its extreme durability and high-contrast interior fabric.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet, Tony Sculimbrene, Jan. 25, 2012

8. gives the Tom Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag high marks for "stupendous" quality, its design, its TSA-checkpoint friendliness and its extreme durability. The downside? Price, they say, but you get what you pay for. The bag is also on the small side. "The product of a crazed subset of the species that is hellbent on producing bags that are cleverly designed and ridiculously well made," they write. "The thing is gorgeous."

Review: Review: Tom Bihn Cadet -- A Daily Bag for the Digital Age, "Kevin", Dec. 6, 2011


"A streamlined bag as attractive as your Mac," writes Susie Ochs of the Tim Bihn Cadet Laptop Bag, awarding the bag a perfect 5-star score and an Editors' Choice. "The Cadet is dripping with quality, but doesn't come cheap." She likes the construction, materials, Cache sleeve system and details like the splash-proof zippers.

Review: Tom Bihn Cadet Review, Susie Ochs, April 20, 2012


"The ultimate laptop bag, the best I've ever used," "SoldierKnowsBest" raves in this detailed video review, praising the bag's organization, rugged construction and design. He also points out it's one of the most expensive laptop cases he's ever seen. "I've used a lot of bags and I must say, this is the best one out of the bunch due to its durability, organization, and functionality."

Review: Ultimate Laptop Bag: Checkpoint Flyer (Tom Bihn), "SoldierKnowsBest", March 30, 2011

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