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  1. #1
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    Synapse 25 or Smart Alec?

    Hey, All!

    Now that it's been out for a bit, I was hoping I could tap into some of your experiences for some thoughts on the Synapse 25 vs. the Smart Alec. I currently use the Empire Builder as my primary work bag (which I love), but there are occasions when I need a backpack for the job (usually it's because I need a *bit* more room for the day's agenda, or my lovely back is acting up). Typical loadout is a Lenovo Thinkpad 420, iPad, assorted notebooks, lunch, camel back water bottle, snake charmer for chargers & such, and a couple of organizer pouches for keeping essentials.

    I have a Brain Bag that I love for the flexibility, but I find it can be a bit unwieldy sometimes with the size of the beastie. Having looked at the Synapse & Smart Alec, I think that the 25-26 L size is spot on for my needs. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts/comparisons on the use of either of these bags as the EDC work bag. I'm thinking either would do great double-duty for casual use.

    Thank you for your thoughts in advance!

    --Bob
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  2. #2
    Registered User Tizi's Avatar
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    I just went through the same process: Synapse 25 vs Smart Alec. I decided on the Synapse mostly because I have the 19 version and use it as an EDC (works great for this). I also think the Synapse has more organization at the "standard" level (before having to buy the additional attachments - top and bottom pouches for the SA). In the end, I actually liked the looks of the 25 better and the clam shell design.

    I ended up with the Steel Dyneema/Steel combination. It looks super good!
    Last edited by Tizi; 07-23-2013 at 08:37 AM.
    Black/Steel TS, Black/Steel Aeronaut, Black/Black/Steel Brain Bag, Black/Steel Co-Pilot, Black/Steel Pilot, Black/Steel Synapse 19, Black Dyneema/Wasabi Synapse 19, Black/Steel Cadet 11, Black/Steel Imago, Black Dyneema/Wasabi MCB, Navy/Cayenne and Black/Solar SCB, Black/Wasabi and Navy/Iberian SE and many pouches in various sizes. Tom Bihnaholic.

  3. #3
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    Similar reasons why I went with the S25 in streel dyneema/steel as well over the SA. Having the built in organization on S25 without having to purchase the additional modular pouches. I also like how the S25 looks when not fully loaded. No regrets so far.


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  4. #4
    Registered User Ms. Ferret's Avatar
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    I have the Smart Alec and use it as my everyday work bag. I carry an ID when my load is lighter (just the laptop), but these days I'm generally commuting longer distances via walking/buses/ferries and carrying more stuff everywhere, which gets a bit uncomfortable with the ID. One shoulder good, two shoulders better.

    I'd suggest the SA because it has attachment points for a Brain Cell -- I'm not sure how the Synapse 25 works with chunkier non-Apple laptops, and since I depend on my laptop for work (and don't feel like paying my company if something happens to it) I'd rather carry it in a Brain Cell vs. a Cache with Rails. You may feel differently if your bag doesn't get banged around on public transportation like mine does.

    I suppose you could carry a Brain Cell loose in a Synapse 25 -- I'm not sure if it will feel as light if the Brain Cell is bouncing around vs. being held rigidly though. My laptop carries very well in the SA + Brain Cell -- embarrassingly, I often find myself double-checking that it's still in there because the bag feels too light when it's on my back.

    Your loadout sounds similar to mine:
    • I use a vertical Brain Cell for my fat 14" Dell work laptop. Nook HD rides alongside it if I'm not carrying it in my purse -- the rigidity of the Brain Cell means I don't have to worry about impacting it by accident if I whack my bag into a bus pole or lean on it too hard.
    • I have a Snake Charmer for my laptop charger/large cables/headset. There's a pouch pocket on the inside front of the bag that will hold it, but honestly I usually just toss it into the main compartment.
    • My insulated Klean Kanteen for ferry coffee rides in one of the side pockets, along with a small Organizer Pouch for smaller cables (USB->MicroUSB, USB->iPod) and some pens.
    • There are a couple of zip pockets in the interior of the top of the SA. I use these for things I don't access often but like having around (flat pack duct tape, playing cards, extra earbud tips, moleskin, shoe grips in the winter, etc.). It seems to get a bit harder to close/open the main bag if I stuff too much into this area.
    • There is still plenty of room in the main compartment for lunch/extra clothes. I don't tend to carry a lot of other things daily (and I have a ton of organizer pouches in any case) so I don't really miss the extra organization a Synapse would provide for work.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

    Ms Ferret, that's a good point about chunky laptops. My work laptop is a bit hefty and clunky. How about getting quick access T your stuff? I have heard good and bad arguments about the SA's top/lid loading feature for quick access to your stuff, but it seems that the storage space is more flexible/versatile.

    --Bob
    ----------------
    Bob P.
    Magic Tiki Studios

    Empire Builder (black/steel), Brain Bag (steel), Small Padded Organizer Pouch, Clear Wallet, Soft Cell, Snake Charmer (cayenne) and assorted trimmings.

  6. #6
    Registered User Ms. Ferret's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagicTiki View Post
    Ms Ferret, that's a good point about chunky laptops. My work laptop is a bit hefty and clunky. How about getting quick access T your stuff? I have heard good and bad arguments about the SA's top/lid loading feature for quick access to your stuff, but it seems that the storage space is more flexible/versatile.
    The side pockets are good for stuff you need quickly, like umbrellas or water bottles or sunglasses. The top opening can be a bit stiff, and is awkward to open when you're wearing the bag IMO, so I don't use the main compartment for anything I might want to grab en route (like umbrellas, or water bottles, or sunglasses).

    The storage space is pretty flexible -- I've used my SA for both everyday work and travel. Inside the main compartment there are O-rings that sit on each side (they end up being right next to the top corners of the Brain Cell for me), so if you've already got organizers you can clip them to straps for quicker access (or you could get a Freudian Slip -- I don't need/have one currently, but if I had a lot of papers or small appliances to haul I'd probably pick one up). The SA's main compartment is a bit cavernous if you don't have any existing organization for your stuff, so if you tend to just toss everything in a bag when you travel the Synapse might be easier to find stuff in.

    One of the other selling points for me was having the ability to strap things to the outside of the SA, especially in the Fall/Spring -- I have accessory straps on the lower three loops (holds a rolled-up down jacket or vest), and the included bungee on the top three loops (holds a wadded-up bulky hat or shawl). Both are great for rained-on damp items you don't want to put in the bag next to your computer.

  7. #7
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    I have a Synapse 19 and love it. I bought a Nordic Dyneema SA this year...as it turns out, just before the Synapse 25 was announced. In hindsight, I would have preferred the Synapse 25 (trade, anyone?). The SA is nice, but the cavernous main compartment is not useful for me.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bltkmt View Post
    I have a Synapse 19 and love it. I bought a Nordic Dyneema SA this year...as it turns out, just before the Synapse 25 was announced. In hindsight, I would have preferred the Synapse 25 (trade, anyone?). The SA is nice, but the cavernous main compartment is not useful for me.
    And here's why I'm so glad that there are a variety of bags... I have a Synapse19 and love it. It works perfectly for the half-day hikes that my wife and I do on vacation and for my daily commute with iPad, some loose papers/mail, and other small knick knacks even up to a big book or two. I got a Nordic Dyneema SA shortly after the Synapse25 was announced, and believe me when I say it was a VERY hard decision between it and a Synapse25. But the ultimate deciding factor was, interestingly enough for this conversation, exactly that it had a cavernous main compartment--and the fact that it had the modular pockets was a big bonus. The main compartment is ideal for carrying my work laptop and bulk documents that I often have to carry for work. A Brain Cell plus the equivalent of 2-3 reems of paper fits well and is easy to get in and out of the SA. I also found it worked well as a main carry-on when I needed my laptop and a couple changes of casual clothes in an Aeronaut half packing cube, also because of the cavernous main compartment. The Synapse25 likely would have worked perfectly well for that too, but I found the shape of the SA to be more to my liking for this purpose.

    And as a completely unrelated side issue: bltkmt, how thrilled are you to see that Nordic will be staying afterall? Haven't you accumulated a decent amount of the color? I just have the SA for now, but would love to get the long-rumored Pilot in Nordic.

  9. #9
    Registered User itsablur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bltkmt View Post
    I have a Synapse 19 and love it. I bought a Nordic Dyneema SA this year...as it turns out, just before the Synapse 25 was announced. In hindsight, I would have preferred the Synapse 25 (trade, anyone?). The SA is nice, but the cavernous main compartment is not useful for me.
    Nordic/Nordic/Steel?
    Own: Aeronaut 45 (Navy/Iberian), Aeronaut 30 (Steel/Ultraviolet), Night Flight (Coyote/Steel), Guide's Pack (Steel), Synapse 19 (Olive/Steel), Daylight (Navy), Aeronaut Packing Cube Backpack (Wasabi), Founder's Briefcase (Black), Pilot (Steel 400d/Steel), Co-Pilot (Black/Iberian), Side Effect (Black/Ultraviolet), Travel Tray (Iberian), various cubes, pouches, sacks, and straps

    Want: EVERYTHING.

  10. #10
    Registered User bltkmt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsablur View Post
    Nordic/Nordic/Steel?
    Indeed it is.
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