Synapse is the perfect bag!
After what felt like torture waiting for the UPS man to come, I finally took ownership of my conifer/steel Synapse and my Cache for the MacBook Air:
My thoughts on the Cache are going in an article for TUAW, the tech/Apple blog I freelance for, so I'm restricting the post to just the Synapse. I tucked my MacBook Air into the Cache and it's very happy in its new home.
The first thing I thought was that the bag was so small -- like me. It also holds a lot -- like me. ^_^
The last backpack I used with any great consistency was an InCase backpack, an earlier model of this one. I never thought that bag was all that big, but it dwarfs the Synapse. It reminds me more of the Jansport bag I used throughout high school and college.
"Oh, I hope I didn't make a mistake," I worried as I stood up the Synapse and grabbed this picture.
I can't get over the gorgeous conifer. These photos are untouched and taken in natural sunlight.
So, the best thing to do was start loading up the bag since as soon as I conducted an interview, I needed to head out. I popped the Cache in the main compartment, toggling whether or not to put it in the pouch or not before deciding against it. Into the main compartment as well went my Kindle, power brick for the MacBook Air, an olive small cordura organizer pouch with various personal sundries, and a folded pair of jeans to change into after I exercised. I also grabbed my normal lunch bag (L.L. Bean tote I picked up in Maine five years ago) and popped it into the Synapse's main compartment and was thrilled to see that it fit in addition to everything else. This means that I can condense the three bags I was carrying for work -- linen/olive Small Cafe Bag, the lunch tote and an exercise bag -- down to just one. I took the lunch bag out since I didn't need it today.
In the front side pockets, I put my small clear organizer wallet on the side with the pen/pencil pouches and used the included key strap on the other pouch for my work ID so I stop forgetting it everywhere I go. I popped my iPhone in the ultrasuede pocket, but it was an extremely tight fit with the Otterbox case I used. After a couple times getting it in and out though, it was much easier.
In the water bottle pouch, I stuck a BPA-free reusable water bottle from Wegmans. I forget what size it is, but nicely fit in the pouch. In the other small pocket next to it, I stuck my headphones since I'm not quite sure where my mini organizer pouch disappeared to. The pocket along the very bottom remained empty at first. After I was done exercising, I put my exercise shorts down there, and they fit just perfectly. If I kept my bundle thin, I could easily keep my exercise clothes there every day, but will most likely pack those in the main compartment, as well as a yarn stuff sack with a knitting project should I want to leave my Swift at home.
The only thing I couldn't figure out where to put was my small handheld Canon. I finally popped it into the small organizer pouch in the main compartment. I'm going to need to get another mini for it.
With all of this in there, the bag doesn't bulk out at all, nor is it heavy. It's perfectly made for my height (hovering between 5'4 and 5'5) and did I mention the conifer is just beautiful? It traveled extremely well and was easy to wear both one-shouldered and with both straps on. You can tell Tom took into account that people would wear just one strap at times, because it was extremely comfortable when I hoisted it on just my right shoulder.
I used the bag throughout the night and was completely sold on it by the end. It was easy to get into the front side pouches when needed and took up far less bulk than my coat (can it please be spring?). I removed the waist straps for now, but will use them during airport hikes.
I think this is the perfect bag for me at this point, just like the Ristretto for iPad was the perfect bag when I had an iPad. I had been torn between the Synapse and the Imago, and looking at the dimensions, they look to take up roughly the same footprint.
My next purchases are going to be a sorely needed 3D clear organizer cube, a couple more organizer pouches and a packing cube (either Western Flyer or Aeronaut) for packing a change of clothes in the Synapse. I think I'm ready for an Aeronaut as well, but we're in the expensive process of immigrating my husband to the U.S. from the U.K., and our spare money is going toward that at the moment. But, given the sad shape of our suitcases, I might need an Aeronaut before I go see him this summer anyhow.
I'll definitely take any more pictures that are wanted.
Another happy owner of the perfect Synapse - black/ultraviolet
I have been using my black/ultraviolet Synapse the last 4 weekends. So in the tradition of new Synapse owners, below is list of what I loaded into the bag and carried around the first day I took my synapse out. I walked 6 hours that day at a local garden with access to potable water. Also attached are photos, taken before I took my first trip out with my Synapse.
Further down is a summary of my experience since (last 4 weekends), wish list and other thoughts about my new bag.
I purchased a Black/Ultraviolet Synapse primarily to use as my day bag for excursions, specifically to carry my Panasonic GH1 and LX5. The former is a new acquisition so I am learning how to use it for my purpose. Along with the Synapse, I also ordered four key straps (two 16-inch and two 8-inch key), 1 small pouch in Iberian, 2 mini organizer wallets and 1 mini pouch in steel. The minis seemed too small for what I wanted to use them for, so I was going to swap them. But I had to test the O-rings on my new bag and of course, could not wait for the replacement pouches. So I loaded the minis with stuff from my wallet. They grew on me, so they are now keepers.
So here we go:
1) Sports towel folded at the bottom to cushion the camera
2) Right side- a non-TB pouch with my LX5 inside. I attached the pouch to a TB 16-in key strap which I clipped to the O-ring on that side of the bag. Made it very convenient to pull out and retrieve the camera.
3) Middle GH1 with the kit 14-140 mm lens attached; laid at the bottom of the bag with the lens facing up, lens hood reversed.
4) Left side - a non-TB pouch stuffed with 2 battery chargers for the cameras + charger for phone (Samsung Vibrant)
5) Left O-ring I tied the GH1 pancake lens in the pouch it came with to the O-ring.
6) On top of the camera, I put another non-TB pouch with the power cords for the GH1 & Samsung vibrant inside (light load). I did not need these, but I was testing!
7) Large inside pouch pocket- 2 TB organizer wallets.
8) Note: the non-TB pouches I use measure 5-1/2 wide x 3-1/4 high by 2 deep all inches. It has horizontal zipper opening, a zippered outside pocket, minimal padding, a bit thicker padding on the side where the pocket is located. Has a sewn-in webbing to slip a belt through and a tiny loop webbing above it to which a small carabiner is attached. I replaced the carabiners with TB key straps. My LX5 with the strap that came with it fit perfectly in this pouch with spare room on the side or on top where I fold the strap (I choose which side to lay the folded strap). I can put 2 batteries in the front pocket, but I do not do so. Instead I put a piece of cleaning cloth in the pocket.
1) TB small organizer pouch with 2 GH2 batteries, 2 LX5 batteries, zippered clam case for memory cards and card reader. This clam shell measures 3-1/4 x 2-1/8 x 1-1/8 inches. All these items fit perfectly in the small TB pouch.
2) House keys on a TB 16-inch key strap
3) Car keys on a TB 8-inch key strap.
Right pen pocket
2) Flat comb
3) Eyeglasses in a hard case 6-1/4 x 2-1/4 x 1-1/4 inches
4) Phone- Samsung Vibrant in a rubber case
1) Large pair prescription sunglasses in a large hard heavy clam case 6-1/2 x 3 x 2 inches. I REPLACED the red cloth pouch in the picture with this heavy case to balance the weight of the pockets and protect my prescription sunglasses better. If I kept the sunglasses in the cloth pouch, it fits into the right pen pocket with the rest of the stuff already in there.
Water bottle pocket
1) Hydro Flask 21-oz standard mouth water bottle (10-3/4 tall, 2-7/8 diameter) FILLED with cold water. There was plenty of room for snack bars. Note: 2 of my water bottles can fit in the water bottle pocket. But they are heavy. The hydro flask 24 oz narrow mouth (11-1/2 tall) fits the height of the water bottle pocket if the bottom pocket of the bag is not stuffed tight.
Top outside pocket
1) Wired earphones that came with the Samsung Vibrant.
Comments about use and experience so far:
1) With all of the above items, my pack weighed 10 lbs exactly, according to my weighing scale. It was very comfortable to carry the Synapse with the load list above.
2) With all of the above items, the main compartment was less than half-full; bottom and side pockets were about half-full; there was plenty of room for snack bars in the water bottle pocket with a water bottle installed, I would not put anything that could break in the top front pocket.
For those with MFT cameras:
1) the bottle pocket easily swallowed my GH1 with the pancake lens on it. I put it in sideways, then sat it horizontally at the bottom. There is plenty of room, so one can put items at the bottom and sit the GH1 on top. I can only put the GH1 in this pocket on its vertical side, but once inside, I can position it any way I want.
2) I wrapped the Panasonic 14-140 mm lens (lens hood reversed) kept inside the pouch it came it in a sport towel, slid it into the bottle pocket. I also put it in a $1 wine neoprene bag from Target. Either way, the lens fit in the pocket with plenty of room left over.
3) The bottom pocket accommodated the GH1 wearing the pancake lens, sitting upright horizontally, vertically or on its back. Plenty of room left over. But there is no padding.
4) Both side pockets accommodate the GH1 with the pancake lens.
5) Both side pockets accommodate the Panasonic 14-140 mm lens inside the pouch it came with.
6) I do not have other accessories for my camera to try how they will fit.
Wish List for the Synapse:
1) O-rings above the pouch pocket in the main compartment! I do not expect to be carrying a laptop in my Synapse. I LIKE that the pouch goes deep into the bottom of the bag. I will be using the pouch pocket to keep items that I want to keep secure (like my wallet). I put two organizer wallets in that pocket. I FORGOT I put them there spent an hour looking for them! I would appreciate 2 O-rings on that side of the bag to clip smaller pouches to (lashed to TB key straps, of course). No more spending 1 hour looking for my wallet.
2) Add the 2 O-rings and keep the rest of the design the way it is.
In closing, the Synapse is my second TB backpack purchase in 12 or 13 years. TB bags are so well made, they last forever. My first TB bag was a Brain Bag. With it, I purchased a brain cell to fit a 17-inch Dell laptop that weighed a ton. When I received my order, TB included a snake charmer (plum/purple) free. That Brain Bag and its accessories served me well. I gave it away after using it for 6 or 7 years. The current owner is very happy with it. Last time I saw it 2 years ago, it still looked gorgeous, less evidence of wear and tear compared to my year-old book bag at the time.
I am waiting for Tom Bihn to roll out a smaller version of the Brain Bag in the works, I heard! I will be first in line to order one!