Results 1 to 12 of 12
Like Tree2Likes
  • 2 Post By adamki

Thread: Smart Alec or Synapse, trying to decide

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3

    Smart Alec or Synapse, trying to decide

    I'm looking at the Smart Alec or Synapse for an EDC and I can't quite decide. My packout is more or less standard, so perhaps someone has advice:

    Macbook Pro 13", though I'm carrying my Nexus 7 more often now
    Large moleskine
    Leaterman Skeletool and sharpener
    Large Levenger notebook where I'll put anything loose leaf
    Sennheiser HD 280 headphones (best you can buy for less than $100)
    phone charger, usb drive and a multi charging cable (phone's usually in my pocket)
    some pens and pencils
    small FAK
    sometimes a book or two or CDs from the library
    a sweater or jacket
    in the winter my shoes (vivobarefoots, so not too bulky)
    sometimes an Olympus E-PL1

    I'm using an Osprey 22 right now and it's fine, but it doesn't seem to fit everything due to the odd long shape sort of cutting off the top few inches of the pack. It also doesn't carry the laptop or books very well as they sit sort of heavy in the bottom and dig into my back. It also doesn't sit correctly, it's floppy and falls over and the back bends when not full. I read that's an issue with the Smart Alec as well.

    So, any thoughts would be appreciated.

    P.S. Any advice on a pouch for my Sennheiser HD 280?

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    27
    One of the Travel Stuff Sacks might be perfect for the headphones. I just received a Size 3 and a Size 2 stuff sacks, I'll try to dig out some full size headphones and see if the #3 works with them.

    The synapse will probably hold all of the stuff you listed, but I don't think there will be room for much more than that
    ~Adam
    ~~~~~~~~
    Bags: Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Super Ego, Buzz, Brain Cell Size 4Z & 6X, {Small Cafe & Synapse - Controlled by Wife!}
    Accessories: Backpack packing cubes (aeronaut, tri-star), Various Packing Cubes, Passport Pouch, Absolute Straps, QAM, Various Other Pouches, Freudian Slip

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    27
    Looks like the size 2 Travel Stuff Sack is perfect for a set of full-size headphones. Sorry for the poor quality photos but you get the idea:

    Name:  IMG_20130301_190601-s.JPG
Views: 687
Size:  969.9 KB

    It's a tight fit, but it works fine.

    Name:  IMG_20130301_190421-s.jpg
Views: 651
Size:  571.1 KB
    Last edited by adamki; 03-01-2013 at 05:31 PM.
    Darcy and cucciasv like this.
    ~Adam
    ~~~~~~~~
    Bags: Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Super Ego, Buzz, Brain Cell Size 4Z & 6X, {Small Cafe & Synapse - Controlled by Wife!}
    Accessories: Backpack packing cubes (aeronaut, tri-star), Various Packing Cubes, Passport Pouch, Absolute Straps, QAM, Various Other Pouches, Freudian Slip

  4. #4
    Registered User PGJohnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    La Jolla, CA
    Posts
    49
    I have the Synapse (Olive/Steel) so I cannot speak for the smart Alec. In it I carry daily the following:

    Main Pocket:
    - Book (usually between 3/4" & 1 1/2")
    - Lenovo x220 (about a 1/2 inch smaller width and length but not as thin as a MB 13")
    - A 6 1/2" x 9" diary/agenda
    - Mini dyneema stuff sack with charger and mouse

    Left Pocket:
    - pencil, ball point roller-ball, felt-tip, a a fat Staedtler high-lighter, ruler
    - Mini dyneema pouch w/ eraser, paper and mini binder clips, pen and lead refills and two jump drives
    - Glasses case

    Right Pocket
    - Two mini pouches (one padded) for my hearing aid and CI batteries and controller)
    - Keys
    - Phone

    Top middle
    - Water bottle or Coffee mug (almost always the latter - need that wake-up juice!)

    Bottom middle:
    - Keys, coins, or whatever small, loose items I have to put away in a hurry (sometimes it is empty)

    Bottom Pocket:
    - right now, light fleece jacket is always there because the temperature from 7 am to 7pm can change by 30 degrees. In the summer it holds my 22 oz water bottle

    I love my backpack. It keeps me organized and it is the most comfortable bag I've ever had. I walk and take public transport everywhere so comfort and security is a big thing for me. I had a great TNF bag I used for years to carry all this (different computer) but they stopped making it by the time it had to be replaced. I spent too much time and money hunting in vain for a bag that didn't leave me sore at the end of the day. The Synapse finally filled that niche.

    I'm a small fellow so the jacket bit that works for me may not work for you However, you can rest assure that you can stuff this bag full and it still be comfortable. On the other the Smart Alec does offer one 440cu.in. more space (a quarter more than the Synapse) and has the modules you can add to the back and the top as well. It also has the option straps or cords on the back. I miss that feature on the Synapse. When I lived in the Pacific Northwest it was a great feature for carrying a raincoat, not so much an issue now that I'm in San Diego, but was a useful feature for other items as well.

    Either way you can be sure you will get a backpack that is well made, comfortable, will last and you will want to use.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3
    Quote Originally Posted by adamki View Post
    Looks like the size 2 Travel Stuff Sack is perfect for a set of full-size headphones. Sorry for the poor quality photos but you get the idea:


    It's a tight fit, but it works fine.
    Thanks for the picture! I caught the lego background...

    I can't quite tell, but when they're in the bag are the ears folded flat or together like in the top picture? I'm looking at the medium padded pouch for them as my headphones flatten out at the ears. The are about 18cmx21.5cm which is pushing the medium, especially once you've opened it for depth of the headphones.

    Might have to just go for the stuff sack.


    Quote Originally Posted by PGJohnson View Post
    I have the Synapse (Olive/Steel) so I cannot speak for the smart Alec. In it I carry daily the following:
    That's looking a bit tight for my stuff based on your packing list (you're not carrying the shoes, camera and headphones). How full is yours? I might have to get it and pack it and see. I suppose I can always return it if I need to go a size larger.

  6. #6
    Registered User zuyzuy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    San Francisco
    Posts
    13

    Smart Alex or Synapse

    Ooops.. My post disappeared, here is another one. If it shows up twice.. I guess I’ll go back and delete one of them.

    I would recommend you the Synapse for sure. Personally I don’t like to look like I wear something “backpack” style. The Synapse has a very small and slim profile and yet fit A LOT OF STUFF!

    I carry the Synapse with Macbook 15”, Headphones Bose Comfort, Charger, Extension Cord, Battery Juicer, First Aid, EDC Items, a shell jacket and a small light umbrella.

    From reading your list, after fitting your Olympus Camera it might be a bit tight. So if you want more than that, you might want to consider an Alec.

    Keep in mind that the Tom Bihn products have a weird phenomena that are referred to in this forum as some kind of “dimensional hole” that allows the bag to fit 30% more than you think.

    My advice to you is buy both bags, fit in what you need and walk around in the living room. Then send back the one you don’t want. (or end up with both!)

    Good Luck!
    Proud owner of: Brain Bag (Saphire), Synapse (Nordic Dyneema) and Aeronaut (Steel Dyneema)

    "What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?" Alan Watts

  7. #7
    Registered User PGJohnson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    La Jolla, CA
    Posts
    49
    That's looking a bit tight for my stuff based on your packing list (you're not carrying the shoes, camera and headphones). How full is yours? I might have to get it and pack it and see. I suppose I can always return it if I need to go a size larger.[/QUOTE]

    You are probably right. I'd go for the Smart Alec. Have you looked at the Brain Bag? I have a friend who has that and she loves it. She has taken it on her travels to Australia and India as well. It was a bit too big for my liking but I'm only 5" 120lbs (cancer as a kid). You might try that and an SA.

    Either way you'll be sure to get a great bag.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    80
    I own both the Synapse and Smart Alec. I just got the Synapse very recently, so I haven't pushed it to its limit yet. I've been using the Smart Alec as an EDC for a couple of months now. I'm going to agree with the majority of folks here and say that while your list of stuff probably could fit into a Synapse, it'd be a tight fit, with little room to spare.

    What I will say about the Smart Alec, is that you might need a Vertical Freudian Slip to keep things organized in there. (I say as a person who doesn't actually own a Freudian Slip.) You've got a lot of medium-sized items on your list that might benefit from the structure of the Freudian Slip. You might be able to put all electronic cords in the inner zippered pockets, CDs in the lower inner pocket, and everything else in the main compartment, but it might be rough to have the smaller items just hang out at the bottom of the bag. I almost wrecked the cover of my daily planner book that way, because it was sitting partially squished in the bottom. A Vertical Freudian Slip would help keep things from automatically sinking to the bottom. As for me, I stick my planner in one of the side pockets, and I don't carry much in the way of cords or headphones or notebooks or binders, so I've held off on the Freudian Slip for now.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    27
    Quote Originally Posted by flat_earth View Post
    I can't quite tell, but when they're in the bag are the ears folded flat or together like in the top picture? I'm looking at the medium padded pouch for them as my headphones flatten out at the ears. The are about 18cmx21.5cm which is pushing the medium, especially once you've opened it for depth of the headphones.
    The ear cups don't fold flat on my headphones. They're in the stuff sack just as they are in the first photo.
    ~Adam
    ~~~~~~~~
    Bags: Aeronaut, Tri-Star, Super Ego, Buzz, Brain Cell Size 4Z & 6X, {Small Cafe & Synapse - Controlled by Wife!}
    Accessories: Backpack packing cubes (aeronaut, tri-star), Various Packing Cubes, Passport Pouch, Absolute Straps, QAM, Various Other Pouches, Freudian Slip

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    3
    Quote Originally Posted by PGJohnson View Post
    It was a bit too big for my liking but I'm only 5" 120lbs (cancer as a kid). You might try that and an SA.
    5"? Have you ever seen the movie Spinal Tap?

    I'm taller than that, but I still think the Brain Bag is just too big. I think I'll take the advice of some others and get both and return the one I don't need. I'll wait to get the verticle Freudian Slip until I decide if I'm getting the Smart Alec. I was packing this morning and trying to squeeze my lunch in there too (leaving the camera behind) so I'm thinking larger is probably the way I'll go. Still, I wish is had more structure...

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Tukwila, WA
    Posts
    238
    My Smart Alec sits up nice and tall (I've had it three months), which surprises me every time I go to lean it up against the table leg. The Synapse needs to lean against something (had it a few years, EDC for the most part). Maybe the Smart Alec will loosen up over time, but for now it has plenty of structure!

  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    13
    flat_earth,

    I just received my SA in black/navy/iberian on Wednesday. Over the past few years I have debated several TB bags including the ID, SA, Synapse, and others. I own the ID, which is a really great bag, but my recent job change calls more for a backpack. So I finally took the leap and bought the SA (my ID will be going on Ebay very soon - it's going to be tough to let it go).

    For me, the decision came down to scalability and flexibility. The SA simply appeared to be a better fit for my needs. My main use for the bag is EDC to work with a normal load smaller than the one you describe. However, on occasion I need it to double as a diaper bag or weekend trip bag. You may read on this forum that the Synapse can hold a bunch of stuff and is fairly flexible. I don't doubt this, but I just didn't think the bag would meet my needs. I was told my laptop would be a really tight squeeze, so that indicated that the Synapse just isn't that big. I have a smaller 14" laptop that shouldn't be a tight squeeze in many laptop backpacks. TB is about to release a larger Synapse and I contemplated waiting to see the design. But rumors on the forums state that the new bag will be 20" long, which seems too long to me. I'm 6'1" and the SA feels like the perfect length.

    I can tell you from my limited use of the SA that I definitely made the right decision. I really like this bag so far. The color I chose is really nice, and I was concerned about the navy being too bright and not looking professional enough. The black/navy combo looks great though and it's definitely professional enough for today's business environment. It helped that my second color choice (black/black/wasabi) is on backorder and I didn't want to wait.

    No matter what you choose you'll be getting a great bag. It just depends on how flexible you need the bag to be. With the SA, you can add a Freudian Slip if you prefer more pockets/organization (I don't own a FS). But you can't add larger compartments to the Synapse or scale it easily. The design is what it is.

    Ryan


Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0