So, I promised that I would do a review of the Smart Alec and the Synapse, and here it is. Iíll say right away that I really like both of these bags, and I find them perfect for my different hauling needs. Iíve had the Smart Alec since March (I posted about it here and here); thus, Iíve had much more time to get used to it. However, although I have only had the Synapse for a week (see my jubilation at receiving it here), itís a very intuitive backpack to organize and I foresee many lightweight travels with it.
In the thread on the Smart Alec, I had mentioned that I was somewhat annoyed by my laptop flopping about in the ďrather large and unstructured spaceĒ of the main cargo area. I had thought at the time that Iíd get a Brain Cell because it was that annoying to me, but in the last couple of months I have adapted. I am still unaccustomed to the Steel Dyneema interior and do occasionally have a hard time rooting around for stuff because it is dark. But the Smart Alec can hold so. much. stuff. Itís remarkable. Case in point: 15 books (12 hardback) came into the library for me, and the Smart Alec swallowed them all up with ease. I was already carrying my laptop, some other random books, a jacket, (full) travel coffee cup, water bottle, and lunch on that particular day. I was most impressed that I didnít need to carry anything by hand, and that the shoulder straps supported the load well. Would I have wanted to carry this haul around all day?--No, but it was fine for relatively short walk to my office.
In that same thread, I said ďI could also see some medium (or even large) organizer pouches coming into play to help me keep work things nice and tidy.Ē I ordered two large pouches to go with my Synapse order, and I have to say that they work brilliantly in the Smart Alec (they seem a little too large to work in the Synapse without squishing). In this picture, youíll see a 40-page article, a few loose sheets of paper, a softcover book, and a blue Moleskine Volant notebook (ďgiftsĒ for my student, whom Iím slowly but surely working to death, ha ha). Youíll also see Titus, who is slightly too large to fit in a large Organizer Pouch.
Anyway: the large pouch did a great job of corralling all of this together, which helped me remember to give all of it to her; it also kept the small books and loose sheets of paper from being crushed or pulled under other books. If I had had much more with me, I would have taken the Freudian Slip, but for moderate quantities of paper or groupings of things that need to stay together, the large pouch works a treat.
Now, on to the Synapse, which I have known all along that I would adore. And I do. I love that itís Dyneema both inside and out, and that itís unique-looking for a backpack. Iíve gotten a number of compliments on it, and Iíve only carried it four or five times since Iíve gotten it. I wonít repeat all of the other fine reviews here that comment on its capaciousness; what I will say is that the Synapse is capable of holding my 15Ē MBP (in its third-party, rather low-profile sleeve). Itís a bit of a squeeze at the top, but my laptop fits, and I can still carry quite a few other things, such as these:
I really like that I can carry my big Klean Kanteen with the sport top--especially now that itís summer.
In sum, could I have just made do with one bag? Yes, I think that if I had to have just one bag, the Smart Alec would be fine. But I appreciate having just enough bag to transport my daily haul, no matter how large or small. Some days, thatís the Medium Cafť Bag, and some days, thatís the Smart Alec. But given that I donít always bring my laptop to work, and that I do generally have to haul at least a few books around, I imagine that on many days the Synapse will be my go-to.
I also thought it was time to take another organizer pouch photo. From top to bottom and left to right: Indigo Cordura Large; Black Clear Cordura Large; Black Clear Cordura Medium; Cocoa Clear Cordura Medium; Hemp Organizer Wallet; Steel Cordura Small; Black Ballistic Small; FOT; Steel Dyneema Small; Cayenne Cordura Mini; Black Ballistic Mini; Conifer Cordura Mini; MG; Steel Ballistic Pen/Pencil. (Not pictured: Solar Dyneema Mini, on its way to Iowa as we speak!)