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Thread: Synapse is the perfect bag!

  1. #1
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    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.
    Last edited by DQBunny; 03-30-2011 at 12:17 AM.
    Meg
    -----
    Proud owner of a conifer/steel Synapse, indigo/black Swift, a linen/olive Small Cafe Bag, a couple of yarn stuff sacks, a clear organizer wallet and various organizer pouches

  2. #2
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    Very nice review and pictures, I prefer messenger style bags but I am very tempted by the Synapse!

  3. #3
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    Very nice review, and I too love the conifer! I have a Synapse in steel Dyneema and it is the perfect travel daypack for trips (Brain Bag remains my daily EDC bag).
    --------------------------------

  4. #4
    Registered User dorayme's Avatar
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    Thank you Meg for your review and pictures. Would you say the top picture or bottom one is more true to the color of your synapse? On my screen the two are quite different. I love the top one, and if that is the closest one, I can see where in lies your infatuation.
    Congratulations on your hubby immigrating. And I understand the expense. My sister and BIL went through that, my BIL is from Birmingham.
    I really, really like TB Bags!

  5. #5
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Great photos, DQBunny -- I posted them on the blog today!
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  6. #6
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    I have to agree with the positive comments here. I have had a Synapse pretty much since it was introduced and it is, without a doubt, the most versatile bag in my collection. It has traveled cross country by car and plane, has been on the floor and ground in a variety of locations, has taken its fair share of daily use and abuse, and it still looks like it did when it came out of the UPS box. I have a number of TB bags of various style and designs. The Synapse remains my favorite.

    PS - This comes from someone who never, ever like using backpacks!
    Last edited by rabergnc; 03-30-2011 at 11:49 AM. Reason: clarity

  7. #7
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    Great review, Meg! I've had my eye on the Synapse for a while, and this has definitely increased my interest (along with the recent Practical Hacks review).

    I was wondering, since you also have a Small Cafe Bag, if you could tell me how the Small Cafe Bag would fit inside the Synapse. I would love to find a backpack that would fit my netbook, its charger/accessories (in a 3D Clear Organizer Pouch), a notebook or two, a water bottle, a small knitting project, and also my Small Cafe Bag with my regular purse items. Do you have any thoughts on whether the Synapse would fit my needs?

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Darcy!

    Quote Originally Posted by teresapoet View Post
    Great review, Meg! I've had my eye on the Synapse for a while, and this has definitely increased my interest (along with the recent Practical Hacks review).

    I was wondering, since you also have a Small Cafe Bag, if you could tell me how the Small Cafe Bag would fit inside the Synapse. I would love to find a backpack that would fit my netbook, its charger/accessories (in a 3D Clear Organizer Pouch), a notebook or two, a water bottle, a small knitting project, and also my Small Cafe Bag with my regular purse items. Do you have any thoughts on whether the Synapse would fit my needs?
    I don't see why it wouldn't. For my basic work/gym run, I'm just going to leave my Small Cafe Bag at home, but if I was doing other errands or on a trip, I'd stick it in the bag and transfer stuff in and out as needed. When I pack my bag for work, I'll grab another picture of it fully loaded to see if this helps you and since it sounds like you and I would carry a lot of the same things.
    Meg
    -----
    Proud owner of a conifer/steel Synapse, indigo/black Swift, a linen/olive Small Cafe Bag, a couple of yarn stuff sacks, a clear organizer wallet and various organizer pouches

  9. #9
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    Hi @teresapoet

    I've got the Synapse in Dyneema, which I use as my everyday work bag. In the main section of the bag I have no problems fitting my laptop, a plastic folder with A4 documents, an A5 Filofax, and then an Eagle Creek sling purse, sideways, at the top.

    If ever the bag is seriously overloaded (like when I have to add gym shoes), I'll keep the sling purse out and wear it separately. It doesn't happen too often thought - I'm constantly amazed at how much the Synapse manages to fit due to the amazing layout.

    Cheers,
    notmensa

  10. #10
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    I third the opinion that conifer is gorgeous--I have a small cafe bag in that color. To my eye, the first picture is closer to the color than the second. The second is a bit bluer than conifer is in real life.
    Western Flyer (crimsom) with Absolute strap, Zephyr (black), Medium Cafe Bag (steel/olive), Shop Bags (solar, steel), Large Cafe bag (navy/cayenne), Small cafι bag (forest), Tristars (steel/solar and indigo/solar),Aeronaut (steel), Side Effects (old skool black cordura, olive parapack), Imagos (steel, cork, wasabi, and aubergine, hemp, steel), Dyneema Western Flyer (Nordic/Steel) and miscellaneous packing cubes, pouches, etc.

  11. #11
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    Thanks, Meg and notmensa!

    I ordered a Synapse to try it out for myself, and it arrived last Friday. Everything fit a little more snugly than I had hoped, so I'll need to do a little more testing before committing to keeping it (the trick may be to make sure the Small Cafe Bag isn't too stuffed). But it's such a well-designed bag and I really love the Navy/Solar color combination I got it in, so I have a feeling I'll be able to make it work.

  12. #12
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    I, too, have a Navy/Solar Synapse and love the bag and the colors. It's a very striking color combination.

  13. #13
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    Red face 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:

    Main compartment
    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.

    Bottom 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
    1) Pen
    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

    Left pocket
    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!
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    backpack and nsh like this.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by rabergnc View Post
    I have to agree with the positive comments here. I have had a Synapse pretty much since it was introduced and it is, without a doubt, the most versatile bag in my collection. It has traveled cross country by car and plane, has been on the floor and ground in a variety of locations, has taken its fair share of daily use and abuse, and it still looks like it did when it came out of the UPS box. I have a number of TB bags of various style and designs. The Synapse remains my favorite.

    PS - This comes from someone who never, ever like using backpacks!
    Could you post a picture of the bag? I wat to see how they age.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roostertxp View Post
    Could you post a picture of the bag? I wat to see how they age.
    You can't actually tell that the bags have aged. Here's a picture of my Indigo Synapse and Tri-Star from this forum post, both from the first production batches of each product in 2009. The Synapse is my EDC bag, by the way. The only item that finally wore down is the Tom Bihn luggage tag on the Tri-Star, which developed a crack in the plastic two months ago.

    Last edited by moriond; 04-25-2013 at 10:47 PM.

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