Maybe I'm doing something wrong, considering how much everyone loves the Synapse. But, I don't love it. I like the central water bottle pocket. I like the bottom pocket. Heck, even the side pockets are okay. But the main compartment drives me nuts! It's like nothing wants to go in there properly unless I shove it all the way to the bottom. Then it's a matter of, did I get it flattened just right? The o-rings along the back make for uncomfortable carry of pouches, which can get bulked up around the small of my back. I really wish they were on the "inside" part, above the inset pocket.
For school I can fit a naked MBP in, but unless I put it in the pocket, it's a struggle to get it to sit in the bag correctly (as in all the way down but not too far down). But with the laptop in the pocket, putting anything else in the main compartment digs at my back. Put the laptop against my back and I have to fidget the pouch straps attached to the o-ring around so they don't dig into my back. It works, but it's not wonderful. But, for going to/from school, I don't have it on for more than 45 minutes at a time, so it's not that big a deal.
However, I carried the Synapse around pretty constantly during Spring Break without THAT much of a load (spare change of clothes for the kid, 2 very lightweight (Houdini) windbreakers folded into their own pockets, 0-1 water bottle, mini (pouch) first-aid kit, mini (pouch) of coins, medium pouch of passports, (padded) camera in the main compartment, and a few USB cables/chargers. Oh, and a tablet just to provide some flatness to the bp, otherwise it was lumpy and uncomfortable. The outside water bottle compartment sometimes had a water bottle, sometime not. Somehow, this made the bag (1) very full, and (2) really hurt my shoulders and collarbone after 4-6 hours. I kept thinking a bra strap was diggin into me, but no, it was the backpack straps. The bra straps were fine and not near the source of irritation. And yes, I always wear a sternum strap to keep the straps sitting in the right spot under my arms and not chafing my neck or shoulders. Loosening/tightening the strap didn't help once my shoulders were tired. The bag wasn't heavy, so I'm at a loss. I've carried far more for far longer in other packs.
So for you Synapse lovers, what am I missing? How do I activate the TARDIS, as it were? Is there some stupid trick I haven't discovered yet? Or, is the Synapse simply not a good fitting backpack for my frame (I know it took me a VERY long time to find a backpacking pack that didn't drive me batty -- an Osprey Talon 32). If that's the case, would the Smart Alec fit better, or does the SA fit about the same as the Synapse? I'm stumped, but the past week demonstrated to me that as much as I like the organization of the other pockets, the main part and carry of the bag are just not working for me as is right now.
It's sad, but I usually assume that if so many other people adore something, I must be the one doing something wrong. So, any insight/feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!