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  1. #1
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    Smart Alec for shorties

    Here's my story: I'm 5 feet tall and want a backpack. The Smart Alec appeals to me. I appreciate the way it lets you organize the content the way you see fit. Problem is, I'm short with a short torso. I know the Synapse would fit, but I like the flexibility of the Smart Alec. I commute by bike, and would load up the backpack with groceries about once a week. I also swim and have to load my post swim damp things in the bag. Does the Smart Alec have a pocket I could fit a wet suit and small towel in, without dampening the rest of my stuff? Is the water bottle pocket big enough to fit and isolate things? How about the pocket in the lid?
    So many questions from a first time poster! I'd appreciate your advice. Many thanks.

  2. #2
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    I have an older Smart Alec, so I don't know how the pockets are organized now, but how about a stuff sack or shop bag for the damp things?

  3. #3
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    gmanedit

    I have an older Smart Alec, so I don't know how the pockets are organized now, but how about a stuff sack or shop bag for the damp things?

    -----
    Thanks for your reply!
    I do put my wet suit and towel in a plastic bag. It would be nice to have a pocket big enough for them. How do you like the Smart Alec?

  4. #4
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    hi rocks!

    welcome to the forum!

    my concern with carrying a damp wetsuit and towel inside the main compartment or in the water bottle pocket of the smart alec is that the smell of chlorine (or of the ocean) would linger. i agree with gmanedit's recommendation of using a shop bag or stuff sack. you can secure either inside a bungee cord.

    i believe that shiva has used the smart alec for carrying groceries, so it is well suited for that purpose (sorry, shiva, if i'm mis-remembering - my memory is going in my old age).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocks View Post
    I do put my wet suit and towel in a plastic bag. It would be nice to have a pocket big enough for them. How do you like the Smart Alec?
    I don't know how much space a wetsuit takes up; I use microfiber towels (e.g., Aquis), which take up very little space compared to the classic terry.

    When I bought the Smart Alec, I had a job, shopped at the greenmarket at lunchtime, and took dance classes at night. The bag was quite handy for "one-bagging" through the day.

    Then we all got laid off. The Synapse came out. Now I use the Synapse for running around town, and a Large Shop Bag for shopping trips. In fact, the Synapse can hold some shopping (but not a week's worth of groceries!), and I keep a small Shop Bag in it for just-in-case.

    Yours is an interesting situation, because of the shopping-by-bike factor. I think you might find the Smart Alec a bit much except when hauling groceries, when it would be just the thing.

    Maverick, I remember Shiva grocery-shopping with the Smart Alec. In the snow? Were there oranges? My mind's going too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by maverick View Post
    my concern with carrying a damp wetsuit and towel inside the main compartment or in the water bottle pocket of the smart alec is that the smell of chlorine (or of the ocean) would linger. i agree with gmanedit's recommendation of using a shop bag or stuff sack. you can secure either inside a bungee cord.
    Do I read you right: Put the damp items in a Dyneema bag and tuck that under the bungee lacing of the Smart Alec? Makes sense!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmanedit View Post
    Do I read you right: Put the damp items in a Dyneema bag and tuck that under the bungee lacing of the Smart Alec? Makes sense!
    yup - that's exactly what was going through my crazy head. thank you for saying it more clearly than i could.

  8. #8
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your input! What I'm hearing is the Smart Alec is pretty big. I normally carry a jacket, a book or two, a few electronic devices (phone, Ipod touch, Nook reader). It's nice to be able to stop at the library, get some groceries, maybe the liquor store, and load up without having to drop stuff off at home between errands.. I use a great messenger bag right now, but that's a strain on my right shoulder. I won't be carrying a big load all the time, but the carrying capacity and flexibility would be nice to have.

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    Found it! http://www.tombihn.com/forums/custom...rocerying.html

    There was a blizzard, and oranges!

    (Is there a search option for images? There should be.)

    Shiva is small—she mentions petite-size clothes—and she carries the Smart Alec.

    Edit: Sorry, tomatoes, not oranges. They look like oranges.
    Last edited by gmanedit; 10-13-2011 at 02:56 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocks View Post
    Thanks for all your input! What I'm hearing is the Smart Alec is pretty big. I normally carry a jacket, a book or two, a few electronic devices (phone, Ipod touch, Nook reader). It's nice to be able to stop at the library, get some groceries, maybe the liquor store, and load up without having to drop stuff off at home between errands.. I use a great messenger bag right now, but that's a strain on my right shoulder. I won't be carrying a big load all the time, but the carrying capacity and flexibility would be nice to have.

    You are the perfect candidate for a Synapse!
    It holds an enormous amount of things but, it is small, it is perfect for what you are carrying.


    I also suggest getting the Large and the Small Shop Bag for grocery shopping by bike.
    Both can be folded and carried in your Synapse then deploy into a nice size Small or really big bag able to swallow half the store Large. (Just kidding, it just felt like it when I first saw the Large Shop Bag.)
    I used to go grocery shopping via bus and I wish the Large Shop Bag had been invented then.

    In my teens, I did all my errands by bike, bungee cords are essential in securing everything in the back rack!

    Do you have a front pannier on your bike? I saw the picture of one that is high and deep enough to carry a Large Cafe Bag with style.

    Edited to say: and a Large Shop Bag with Style.

    (I blame the yummy Azalea pictures for that Freudian Slip)
    Last edited by backpack; 10-13-2011 at 11:13 PM.

  11. #11
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backpack View Post
    You are the perfect candidate for a Synapse!
    It holds an enormous amount of things but, it is small, it is perfect for what you are carrying.


    I also suggest getting the Large and the Small Shop Bag for grocery shopping by bike.
    Both can be folded and carried in your Synapse then deploy into a nice size Small or really big bag able to swallow half the store Large. (Just kidding, it just felt like it when I first saw the Large Shop Bag.)
    I used to go grocery shopping via bus and I wish the Large Shop Bag had been invented then.

    In my teens, I did all my errands by bike, bungee cords are essential in securing everything in the back rack!

    Do you have a front pannier on your bike? I saw the picture of one that is high and deep enough to carry a Large Cafe Bag with style.
    -----
    Hi backpack! Thanks for your reply. I don't have a front or back bike rack, so everything would go in the bag. I do have a trailer I can use when I know I have to get a lot of stuff done. I'm worried the Synapse is too organized to carry a lot of stuff. That sounds silly, I know.
    ----
    Thanks for the Shiva link!

  12. #12
    Registered User jannilee's Avatar
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    I suggest you read the various TARDIS posts about the Synapse. I seriously considered taking it as my only bag for a weeklong trip to Spain. It does hold an amazing amount of stuff. I have a basket for the front of my bike that comes off and serves as a shopping basket in the grocery store. Don't remember where I got it but it is similar to the Topeak front bicycle basket - very handy!

  13. #13
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    I can't comment too much on how it works for shorter people, because I have the opposite problem in that I'm 6'1" and have a long torso and short legs (relative to my height). But I have a SmartAlec and love it. If anything it is a tiny bit small for me, so I think it will work well for you, but obviously will be quite a bit bigger than the Synapse. I carry a large laptop (15.7" Dell) in a Vertical Brain Cell (size 1, I believe) and a Vertical Freudian Slip, plus a bunch of other stuff. I telecommute and it is my office, so pens, papers, cords, backup drive, etc. It still has room to stuff in a jacket, hat, a narrow, well protected lunch, etc. If you don't have the Brain Cell, you should have a fair amount of room for shopping. But realize the whole bag is only about as big around as canvas grocery bag and about half again as tall.

    Without the Brain Cell the water bottle pocket would easily hold a swimsuit and microfiber towel, but probably not a terry cloth one, I think. I fit an insulated 20oz Klean Kanteen in that pocket even though the Brain Cell and Freudian slip take up much of its room. As for carrying it on my bike, I have an Xtracycle FreeRadical, so cargo is not an issue. I just throw it in and off I pedal.

    I really like the way the Smart Alec looks. It does not have straps and things dangling all over it. Not that I'm against that in the right setting, my hiking and backpacking packs are festooned with straps and that is great. But while carrying it around the city, traveling on a plane, or going in to the office, I prefer the cleaner look of the Smart Alec. I live in Seattle, so no amount of straps, Gore-Tex or polar fleece is really out of place, but still. Of course I had the advantage of going to the factory store and trying them all on before I bought. I have the Black/Steel/Solar combo that no longer seems to be available. I'm really glad I went with the bright lining since this bag only opens at the top, seeing things at the bottom would be much harder with a darker lining, but is easy with the solar.

  14. #14
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    I have both a Smart Alec and a Synapse. The water bottle pocket on the SA is basically sized for a water bottle and not much more, so assuming your wet suit and towel are bigger than a water bottle, I doubt it'll fit in the side pocket. The lid pockets are not very big. Having said that, overall the SA is much bigger than the Synapse as far as carrying capacity. My Synapse is pretty much stuffed most of the time. The reason I prefer carrying the Synapse is the way it hugs or stays close to the back. If you look at the picture of B.G. in the backpack section of the TB website, you see how it sticks out and away from the body. Because the SA basically only has one big carrying section, the bottom section of the bag that's away from the body tends to hang really low. Going back to size, unless your grocery list is small, I really can't see packing too much groceries in a Synapse, although I've never tried and others may have more experience in this area.
    Aeronaut (crimson) with Absolute Strap, Synapse (navy), Smart Alec (black/steel/solar), Shop Bag (solar), cache for MBP, cache for iPad2, and numerous pouches and key straps.

  15. #15
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    Hello all:
    Have not been checking forums for a while..and since my post has been referred to --I thought I should chime in!
    Rocks: I hesitated a lot before I got the Smart Alec. I also own the Synapse.
    Overall, here are my thoughts:
    1. Yes: the smart alec design allows you to dump a whole lot of stuff into it. It carries fine on me and I am 5 feet tall. Having said that, I don't think it carries as well as the Synapse. The bag can not be cinched in---which I think is a problem in design, and I have referred to it before. and the bottom width of the bag is quite a bit--so it does tend to stick out. I have used the bungee cord in front to cinch up the bag, but that is not great.

    2. I find the SA most useful when I have to carry a variety of things: laptop, clothes, shoes, odds and ends--then I dump them all in there. But mostly, I have used this for air travel, car travel etc., rather than about town. Once you load up, it does get quite heavy.

    3. A swimsuit should easily fit in bottle pocket on side. that should not be a problem.

    For day to day running about, like others have said, the Synapse is hands down the winner.
    I have carried some groceries in it, but not voluminous stuff. That is where SA wins: you can carry cereal boxes, bags of chips that sort of thing. What you can carry in synapse is more compact stuff...it is not a volume bag. It is a streamlined bag that can carry a whole lot of stuff--but organized stuff.
    So yesterday, on my trip to Penn, I carried in it 2 1 inch binders, a file of stuff, MacBook air in cache, a small pouch with a lt wt jacket, sunglasses in a big case, assorted pouches, chargers, and it had room to spare. NOTE however that all the stuff was square, rectangular, and not bulky stuff! So I hope that explains the difference.

    s

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