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  1. #1
    mep
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    Using a backpack?

    How do those of you who commute use a backpack? I have always shied away from backpacks because of the awkwardness of putting it on and taking it off. This would seem to be true in the airport or train station or on the bus, because you can't sit down and lean back with your pack on. They would be great if you are hiking the city or countryside but when commuting I wonder. This is the reason that I have always used a shoulder style bag. I am currently using an Ego and Large Cafe bag.

    I ask this question in all seriousness because I am continually drawn to ordering a Synapse. It looks really cool but...

    So, tell me about your backpack experience and alleviate my qualms.

  2. #2
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    hi mep!

    i sometimes take the bus and i take my synapse with me. when the bus isn't too full, i can place the synapse next to me. when the bus is full, i place it in my lap.

    traveling up to philadelphia, i carried the western flyer and synapse - first in the local subway and then in the amtrak train.

    the subway was full at first, so i had both the synapse and western flyer at my feet. once it emptied out, i placed them on their own seat and set up to get a picture.

    on the amtrak, i had the western flyer in the overhead bin and the synapse next to me. but i could certainly have placed it at my feet if the seat next to me was occupied.

    on the new jersey transit train, i had the synapse in my lap and the western flyer on the overhead shelf.

    whether you place a backpack on your lap, at your feet, or in some other storage area, commuting with a backpack is pretty easy. you don't want to keep it on while you're sitting, though - that will definitely not be comfortable.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Synapse good choice

    Mep,

    Like you, I have an Ego and a large Cafe Bag. The EGO is my daily work bag.

    I also have the discontinued Ruck's Sac. This is basically my camera bag.

    On trips, I use the Ruck's Sac and the Large Cafe bag together. The large Cafe Bag allows me to access items I need quickly. The Ruck's sac carries items I may need later, like a jacket, gifts, etc. The camera may also be held in the Cafe Bag if I need quicker access.

    I found that taking the Ruck's Sac off and on wasn't that hard once you get used to it.

    Maverick's suggestions are my same experience with the Ruck's Sac. I can hold the RS in my lap and the Cafe Bag rests next to me.
    Been there. Done that. Can't remember.

  4. #4
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    Does anyone in this forum ever use a Tom Bihn backpack as a dual-purpose daypack? (Carrying your "commuter" items for business/work/personal interest, plus also carrying a change of clothes for a different use later on; maybe commuting to work, followed by an evening at the "Y" or at play in the park)

    If you do, which Bihn backpack do you use, and how do you pack it?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    Does anyone in this forum ever use a Tom Bihn backpack as a dual-purpose daypack? (Carrying your "commuter" items for business/work/personal interest, plus also carrying a change of clothes for a different use later on; maybe commuting to work, followed by an evening at the "Y" or at play in the park)

    If you do, which Bihn backpack do you use, and how do you pack it?
    you can carry a change of clothes in any of the tom bihn bags - it just depends on what else you're carrying.

    to take the smart alec backpack as an example - i had demonstrated this for shiva in a video that you can place a computer in a brain cell, gym clothes in a small packing cube (or a larger packing cube if you're carrying other clothes requiring more space), and a variety of other items (a book, computer accessories, etc.). you can place the shoes under the bungee cords outside.

  6. #6
    mep
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    I guess I am more concerned about the constant on / off process with a backpack. It seems like it would always be slowing you down. Whereas with a shoulder bag you just shift it onto your lap and can leave it on one shoulder or cross body.

    When I have used a backpack on one shoulder, I always felt like it was falling off my shoulder. But I still want a Synapse.
    Last edited by mep; 08-19-2010 at 08:50 PM.

  7. #7
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    I usually carry a backpack the wrong way - using only one of the shoulder straps on my shoulder and hanging onto it with my hand - and it takes me the same half second to take it off and put it on my lap as it takes to put a shoulder bag on my lap.

    However I don't think it would really take that much longer to take off the backpack if I were using both straps, unless I had tightened the shoulder straps all the way.

  8. #8
    Registered User Moose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just View Post
    I usually carry a backpack the wrong way - using only one of the shoulder straps on my shoulder and hanging onto it with my hand - and it takes me the same half second to take it off and put it on my lap as it takes to put a shoulder bag on my lap.

    However I don't think it would really take that much longer to take off the backpack if I were using both straps, unless I had tightened the shoulder straps all the way.
    Like Just I too carry it the "wrong" way. I usually throw one strap over my right shoulder and hold it with my right hand. Getting it on and off is a snap. If I wish to use both straps its a simple matter to slide my left arm into the other strap. My every day "stuff" weighs about 10 pounds. I carry my lunch, an extra pair of shoes, jacket, small purse, a kit with odds and ends and a few other bits. I LOVE my plum Synapse. I found it a bit small. All my stuff is bulky but not heavy. I got an olive Brain bag last week. Its really big but all my stuff fits with room left over. The Brain bag is plenty big enough for several days worth of stuff. I've also got a Timbuk2 Shagg bag on the strap. Great for keys, a bit of money and a credit card if need be. Out of curiousity, how much do other people's everyday bags weigh? I wonder if my 10 pounds is normal or excessive.
    Happy travels,
    Moose

  9. #9
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    Hi, mep.

    The Synapse is a great bag. I have no problem getting into or out of the shoulder straps. I also have a Buzz, which I use when I don't have a lot to carry. It has one advantage over the Synapse—if I need to get something out or put something in while I'm walking, I can unbuckle the waist strap and swing the bag around; it's still on my shoulder, so I have both hands free, whereas I have to hold the Synapse with one hand or find someplace to put it down. I bought the Buzz when I realized how often I have to retrieve my reading glasses (what's in this can of cat food? what's my MetroCard balance? what does that price label say?) or a pen and scrap of paper. If you don't need this kind of access, the Synapse is perfect. I don't find commuting with it a problem at all.
    Last edited by gmanedit; 08-20-2010 at 08:21 AM.

  10. #10
    I work at TOM BIHN
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    I use my Synapse

    Quote Originally Posted by MtnMan View Post
    Does anyone in this forum ever use a Tom Bihn backpack as a dual-purpose daypack? (Carrying your "commuter" items for business/work/personal interest, plus also carrying a change of clothes for a different use later on; maybe commuting to work, followed by an evening at the "Y" or at play in the park)

    If you do, which Bihn backpack do you use, and how do you pack it?
    Hey MtnMan! I have been using a Synapse for a while now. I don't always carry clothes in it but when I do this is what I pack:

    1) 13 MacBook
    2) Small Box of lunch
    3) A small change of clothes (Sweat pants or shorts, t-shirt, sock or similar) for the gym or a hike.
    4) A 1 liter water bottle
    5) Sunglasses case, Organizer Wallet, Small umbrella, tea bags, energy bars
    6) And if I am using my bike I add a small air pump just in case

    The only thing I can't fit are my boots if I'm going hiking because they are too big.
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  11. #11
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    I have been trying to convert myself from being a backpack addict to a messenger bag person. It's been tough going but I do like my plum Large Cafe Bag.

    I also have a tendency to carry too much. I accumulate papers like dirt on Pigpen from the Charlie Brown comics. Hence, I find backpacks are more practical and easier for me to use -- but the LCB makes me parse through all of my junk and reject the stuff I really don't need to carry everywhere. But after 20 minutes of carrying a messenger bag (no matter how light it might be), I find I always want to distribute the weight on 2 shoulders.

  12. #12
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    I've never had problems commuting with a backpack. I live in NYC (I suspect so does gmanedit, given his talk about MetroCards, lol), and a lot of people commute with backpacks. I don't have a TB backpack, but I've used a lot of other bags, from small 1000 cu-in bags to 2300 cu-in packs with internal frames and hip belts.

    I usually have no issues leaning back. All New Yorkers lean back onto the doors with their packs. Sitting down is a matter of mastering the slinging maneuver. Loosing the left (or right) shoulder, sling the bag forward, and jam yourself into the seat. Airplane or train travel are similar enough. It's really just a matter of getting used to it.

    Generally speaking, for the same amount of weight, distributing it on both shoulders is better than one. Messenger bags (that is, the traditional black canvas bags) are horrible as they carry way too much weight on one shoulder to be walking with. Everyday shoulder bags are better.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mep View Post
    I guess I am more concerned about the constant on / off process with a backpack. It seems like it would always be slowing you down. Whereas with a shoulder bag you just shift it onto your lap and can leave it on one shoulder or cross body.

    When I have used a backpack on one shoulder, I always felt like it was falling off my shoulder. But I still want a Synapse.
    How often do you need to access your bag? I travel with my synapse as my carry-on and it's really not that big of a deal to take it on and off to access things. It's a nice small backpack so it has a fairly low profile in crowded situations (I hate it when people stand in the metro with huge backpacks on their backs ), plus since it's not bulky that makes accessing it easier.

    I also do take it to school sometimes (I commute) and when I sit, it's really easy to swing it over a shoulder and rest the bag on my lap.

    I would really recommend giving the Synapse a shot. If you have a few items you really, really need to access easily, then I would say pair a backpack with a really small messenger bag for things like your phone and wallet. Women have been pulling off the backpack + purse combination for a while now, and it's a great solution! There are also small pouches you can buy that velcro onto your backpack strap, but I haven't found one I like yet that fits my phone.
    Owner of:
    Imago in Cocoa/Cocoa/Wasabi, Large Cafe Bag in Black/Wasabi, Various organizer pouches, Shop Bag in Steel Dyneema (love it!), Synapse in Steel/Steel (love it too!), and a Medium Cafe Bag in Plum/Wasabi.

  14. #14
    mep
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    Maybe my awkwardness with a backpack comes from the fact that I am 6'3" and pretty broad (ok, overweight) and I feel like I am going to throw my shoulder out putting a backpack on. The Synapse says it works on all sizes of people but I still hesitate.

  15. #15
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    Here's a practical question:

    Sometimes I need to carry a book or two with me when I travel to work or on a road trip. Whether I'm using a backpack or briefcase or any other kind of bag, I find that it tends to put lots of unnecessary wear on the books. It can even ruin books. Has anyone devised a system for carrying books that protects them from getting sloshed around, bent, and ripped?

    Some of the books can be library books or textbooks, but some can be large or small paperbacks as well.

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