Synapse 25 for work
Recently received my Synapse 25 and have mixed feelings. As background, I have had my ID for awhile and love it, but recently wanted to supplement it with a backpack. In short, it is fine but there are three things that make it not the perfect bag I expected. (nb There is not anything wrong with the bag per se nor was it presented unfairly, but rather I realized there were a few things I would have liked better.)
First, it would be great if there was a section in the Synapse like the ID for pens, business cards, etc. beyond the small sections in the side pockets. I loved the side pockets in my ID for glasses, phone, etc., but with the Synapse I am forced to make a choice. It seems like a small section could be placed in the main compartment, bottom zippered area, or adding a separate zippered area added with the "organizer" included in the ID.
Second, I understand the benefit of having the water bottle holder in the middle, however from a practical standpoint it just does not work for me. I often grab smaller disposable bottles of water at airports and cannot take the chance of bottle sweating damaging my other items in the other pockets because of the sewing-related holes in there. In addition, it is more difficult to grab the bottle while walking, etc. with the current location.
Finally, in the main compartment it would have been great to have a separate laptop area. I know I can add the various components, but after trying them they just don't do it for me. Having an area built in where I can just slide my laptop and grab it when I get to work would be great. Does not need to offer perfect protection, but a separate compartment would be great.
Again, my Synapse 25 is a fine bag, and much roomier than I expected, and maybe my issues with it are unique. But, as a professional using the bag for business I know these few changes would make it perfect for me and I expect others as well.
Gordon, I had the same issues/perceptions as you with my S19. Much happier with the SA I got instead, though I still wish it had a laptop pocket against the back too. I used to use the inside pocket on the S19 for my MBP w/o case, but I hated it not being against my back.
I carry my pens and a bunch of other stuff in a non-tb organiser suspended from the o-rings via a keystrap in my Synapse19. That way I can just pull out the whole kit and put it on my desk or whatever. I might just put one pen for quick access in the side pocket.
Originally Posted by GordonGeek
It's only quite recently become obvious to me that the two side pockets and the "water bottle" pocket are in fact a single compartment with fine MESH barriers between the three areas.. Seriously - I would have sworn to you that the sides of the water bottle pocket were dyneema .... even though I've known since day one that I could put my finger through from one area to the adjacent pocket (so clearly not waterproof/resistant)
Originally Posted by GordonGeek
This is not a problem for me... I've not had any leakage problems to date and really like the bag.
It's just interesting how long you can own something and find out a new thing about it....
I own a Smart Alec and would really love to see a laptop pocket too on the back panel. Same with my Synapse 19. This is the one thing I wish were changed and the only thing I miss about other companies' bags. Other than this, solid bags I love.
Originally Posted by GordonGeek
Tom designs bags that can be used in a variety of ways by the highest number of people possible.
This is what the manufacturing process is all about.
Over the decades, Tom and the Crew have listened to customers and added a significant number of accessories so that each person feels that each bag was made for them.
The Synapse 19, originally designed to be a mini Brain Bag, took a life of its own and proved to be perfect for people who took advantage of the minimalist options offered by tablet computing.
While the Synapse 19 is the perfect backpack EDC, many people at school or work still carry a laptop everyday on their commute and found the Synapse 19 a bit small for that.
Tom responded to that concern and designed the Synapse 25 for them, it is perfect for bringing an extended EDC, not only for a laptop (for which the Cache on rails was invented) but a packed lunch for people who have food sensitivities or special diets, change of clothes for people who commute by bike and enough space for people who still have to lug textbooks.
As a bonus, many ultra minimalist travellers showed their around the world packing list for the Synapse 19 then 25.
I have to admit to be floored by the packing skills of the around the world with a Synapse contingent.
Accessories are keys to unlock the endless personalisation of Tom Bihn bags.
Like you, I purchased the Synapse 25 for business use and can echo some of your thoughts. I read every review I could possibly find on the web about the backpack prior to purchasing and 99% of what I read was amazing. Overall, I really like the backpack and would definitely recommend it to anyone. I went with the Cache with Rails and used it at the airport today for the first time. With some practice ahead of time,it worked flawlessly. Very impressed. My only complaint here is that the neoprene cache should be slightly more padded, at least on the bottom, as it is not sufficient enough to protect from anything more than a gentle drop or minor bumps. But concept and function is fantastic.
Water bottle - I always buy water bottles after security when I travel. I knew about the risk of bottle sweating ahead of time. The first bottle I put in there, I made sure that it was not too cold. I even squeezed air out of the bottle and made sure the top was screwed on tight during my flight. It fit into the bottle pocket just fine, however, once I landed, I found that the bottle pocket along with one of the side pockets was unacceptably wet. No signs of leakage, just a ton of sweating as far as I can tell. Thankfully that side only had my sunglasses case and keys in it, but it took most of an afternoon to dry out. I was really disappointed this happened despite my best efforts. My previous backpack had an exterior bottle sleeve that I loved and in the event there was ever a leak it was a non-issue. I have to say I am now paranoid to ever put a water bottle in there again. I'm just lucky it didn't get to my laptop or business documents in the main pocket. And I don't feel like buying an insulated water bottle is a good fix in my situation....I don't always want to have to carry that around. If the dividers between the side pockets and the bottle pocket were made of Dyneema instead of the mesh, I think the problem would be mitigated in a big way. No water got past the Dyneema fabric...just the mesh.
Shoulder straps: I am not using the sternum strap or the waist strap. Does not work for business use. I really like the contour of the shoulder straps, however, my biggest complaint with the backpack is that the shoulder straps dig into my shoulders on each side. They do not lay flat on my shoulders, rather one side of each strap (outside edge) bears all the weight of the pack while the inside edge is almost not touching my shoulder (chest side) at all. This causes the straps to reduce circulation to my arms and overall is just uncomfortable. It could be my body shape or whatever, but I have quite a few backpacks from various manufacturers (from super expensive GoRuck to cheap ones like Jansport) and none have this problem. I am 6’2" 185 lbs. Overall the bag seems to fit perfectly except for the straps. If they were canted inward just slightly the load would be distributed evenly across each shoulder strap and it would be a non issue. Any thoughts on this? Maybe it will stretch over time to fit better?
All that said, the bag is great overall and I plan to keep it and find a way to make it work to my liking. Any thoughts on the above would be greatly appreciated! I am 9/10 on the back right now...the water bottle issue I can work with. The straps could become a bigger issue. Would be 10/10 if this were resolved. Help!