Brain Bag v. Synapse 25
I am having difficulting deciding between the Brain Bag and Synapse 25.
On a daily basis, I carry to/from work an iPad Mini, sometimes a laptop, sometimes a water bottle, sometimes an umbrella, sometimes a change of clothes, and sometimes fruit/tupperware containers with lunch. Somewhat less frequently I travel and carry a bit more on the plane. I have been using an aging and ratty North Face Borealis. During the winter I also use it to carry lunch/water/layers when cross-country skiiing. It is usually big enough except when I have multiple lunch containers or am traveling. I also have a nice Saddleback leather briefcase that I use during the day for work purposes.
I like the Synapse for its sleek looks (no external compression straps, etc.), it would probably be big enough for most daily use, and it would probably look "professional" enough even to stand in for the leather briefcase when I don't want to lug the briefcase around. On the other hand, the Brain Bag would be larger and more flexible for days when I am carrying more for whatever reason, or traveling. But would it be too big for every day use (my experience with compression straps is that they leave a half-empty bag looking squished)? Does it look "professional" enough?
Perhaps it's not realistic to find a bag that is perfect for all uses, but I'd still like to make an optimal choice. Also in the balance is that most colors of the Synapse are backordered and I have some extensive travel in the near future.
I have yet to find a TB bag that doesn't "professional" if bought in the proper professional color (if male - black for most office settings, maybe steel or dark blue depending on your office) and the Brainbag looks quite professional in black. I (and I emphasize the "I") think that the BB looks too backpack'ish in anything but black.
This is my Brain Bag in Steel, about half full. I use this bag for my every day carry to work, and I also use it to travel. This is with my work laptop in a Brain Cell, my iPad, a Snake Charmer with cables/chargers, and various other small supplies. I think the compression straps do a good job. When I travel, I loosen them up a bit and add a second Brain Cell to carry my personal laptop as well.
I stand corrected - that works perfectly fine in an office setting.
The synapse 25 will pretty much swallow everything you said you want to cary on a day to day basis. For reference my normal day to day carry in my S25 is:
15" rMBP, charger
SLR Camera, and small lens
With all this, i'm only using about 25% of the actual bag space. The large main compartment can easily hold more, though it wouldn't be organized unless I used some smaller bag accessories first.
That said, there are times I wish I had the larger Brain Bag. I can carry my camera and a small lens, but not in an ideal manner. A Brain Bag would let me use a Camera I/O which would be my preferred method of carrying the camera.
Based on YOUR requirements though, I think you will find the S25 more than capable of the task.