The best Tom Bihn bag, ever! When I wear my scrumptious UV, I feel like the little girl I used to be .
It is fun and gorgeous. I just love it!
Every time I see the Synapse on the forums here I cannot help to think of what an amazing backpack it is. The pictures of it simply reek of quality. One of these days I will break down--but I'm trying to hold off until the Camera Insert gets released as well as picking up a travel piece (Aeronaut or Tri-Star) to replace this not so great REI bag I picked up last year in a pinch. (A different "premium" USA bag company failed to get me a bag I ordered with 2nd day Air on time--it went back after I returned from my trip.)
Thanks for the great advice Lani! I have the same questions as Shiva regarding the shirts and soap. Fortunately, we stayed in a house that had laundry facilities, so I washed clothes every day.
misterN...give in to the Synapse. Even my husband, who doesn't typically notice such things commented on how good the Synapse's looked on our crew. Add to the good looks, they are light, well organized and hold plenty and...the children didn't mind carrying them one bit!
Safe, non-toxic, biodegradable laundry powder | Charlie's Soap). Don't worry about any of their newer fancier products (I mean, you can get them, but their hallmark product is their laundry soap). Just check out their regular powder laundry soap. It has no dyes or perfumes, and all you need is one tablespoon for a full load of laundry. I kid you not; the stuff is fantastic. It's what a lot of parents use to launder baby diapers, so you know the stuff's good.
The price is at least comparable to, if not cheaper than your regular brand laundry detergents. But it's run by a small mom-and-pop company. With all the kids in your household, if you get a big bucket of Charlie's Soap powdered laundry soap, you will have enough to last you until the last one goes off to college.
I *LOVE* Charlie's Soap. We used to go to Costco to buy those humongous bottles of Tide, but we gave that up a few years ago and now only use Charlie's Soap at home.
OK now onto clothing:
I window shopped around online quite a bit (does that make it "Windows shopping"? lol). For the T-shirts, I wound up buying them directly from Smartwool.com. I've loved their thin socks, so I thought I'd give them a try. The one I got is Women's Nts Microweight Tee - Women's but I think they also have a long-sleeve version. At $65, it's NOT cheap, but I was able to just take ONE of those and it worked out great. Since I wasn't sweating, I discovered that I could wear it for a few days straight without it smelling (thanks to wool). Looks like they have a long-sleeve version for kids ($50 though -- ouch!).
Those shirts also look sporty, but my suggestion is to get the one in black. You can't see the darts stitching, so it just looks like a fitted shirt.
For my midlayer, I struck gold at REI.com. They have a really cute merino wool hoodie for only $85 (REI Merino Hoodie - Women's - Free Shipping at REI.com). That's like half the price of something similar from the big brands like NorthFace. This one turned out to be fantastic. It rolled into the size of a water bottle if I wanted to just stash it away but keep it handy during the day.
If you need another layer (of plush), you might want to look at the Ascent Polartec Packaway Fleece Jacket from LL Bean (Ascent Polartec Packaway Fleece Jacket: Jackets and Parkas at L.L.Bean). On our road trip, we swung through Freeport, Maine to visit Mecca... er... I mean, the LL Bean flagship store (open 24 hours!!!! It was crazy!!!!). I generally like LL Bean stuff, but I've ordered some duds in the past, so I spent most of my time actually touching their merchandise, getting a feel for softness, thickness, etc. -- it's the one thing I can't do when I'm shopping online, so it was a real treat.
Anyway, that fleece jacket is called a jacket but it's a great layer to wear right under your windbreaker/rain jacket etc. and it is as soft as a kitten. Plus, it scrunches down into nothing so it won't take up a look of room. And who can resist having something as soft as a purring kitten next to you?
On the days when it got a little nippy, I wore the Smartwool undershirt/T-shirt under a regular shirt, then wore the merino wool hoodie. When going outside, I added a merino wool Buff (Merino Wool Buff - PlanetBuff.com), gloves, and a jacket, and I was all set. Now granted, it wasn't 20 below. I grew up in Hawaii and currently live in California, so anything below 50 is cold to me. lol
I totally second Smartwool. Also, if you're into it, they make by far the best toe socks I've tried: the toe pockets conform to each digit very well, and the midsole doesn't bunch. This is invaluable when wearing FiveFingers.
Thanks for all the great information. Smartwool.com is bookmarked and Charlie's soap is very intriguing. I too buy laundry soap in bulk at Sam"s Club. As you might imagine, laundry is non-stop at Camp Milem. I think my next clothing purchase will be a wool top. i've looked at them through another company, but haven't yet made that investment.
Speaking of investments, congrats on your new Synapse! I like the Dyneema and plan to get the plum for our youngest daughter when she needs an upgrade in backpacks. I think you'll love your little bag and am looking forward to your review. Keep the fantastic info coming!
thank you for the detailed response. Will look up Charlie's Soap. Yes: Smartwool is great; I do have their socks, and yes: they are expensive.
Silk alternatives are great for 50s temps, but i find them not so great when it is really really cold!
Lani, I'm not sure how to tag you in this post, but wanted to follow up and let you know that I've become a big Chatlie's Soap and Smartwool fan, largely because of your recommendations. Christmas gifts this year were Smartwool socks and Tom Bihn travel trays. Recipients loved them and so do I. As i type, I'm wearing a Smartwool tee shirt. With 5 children, I do A LOT of laundry in a front load washer. The Charlie's soap has completely removed the musty smell from the machine as well as the lingering smell in towels. I no longer have to use bleach to get towels to smell good. Also, whites seem brighter.
Thanks again for the great input. Tom Bihn fans have great taste, are knowledgeable and are happy to share their helpful little hints that make life easier!