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Thread: Packing the main compartment of the Synapse 25

  1. #1
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    Packing the main compartment of the Synapse 25

    So after a month or so of ogling Tom Bihn bags online and much indecision between the Synapse 25 and Smart Alec, I went in to the Seattle store and ended up picking up a beautiful Black/Iberian Synapse 25. Love the color combination, love the build quality, love the organization of the pockets, but I'm having a hard time packing the main compartment. I'm planning on mainly using this backpack as a bag for graduate school and will be walking 1.5 - 2 miles each way to classes, so it has to feel comfortable on my back (and I'm hoping it will stand up to Seattle weather too!). I tested packing, and here's what I have.

    Bottom pocket: rain jacket,
    Water bottle pocket: water bottle, rolled up reusable shopping bag,
    Left pocket: pens, small notebook, chapstick,
    Right pocket: phone, sunglasses in case,
    Small front pocket: bag of mixed nuts.

    That all seems perfect, but it leaves the following things for the main compartment:
    • 2 - 3 notebooks (large Moleskine Cahiers - so they're pretty slim)
    • 2 - 3 textbooks
    • long zip wallet
    • sweater/sweatshirt
    • Kindle
    • 15" laptop (it's an ultrabook so it's not too heavy/thick) - will only sometimes have this
    • laptop charger and cords (when I have the laptop)
    • lunch - also only sometimes


    My problem is that when I have the laptop (not in the cache or anything, I have a lightly padded case for it) in the main compartment against my back, the top hits at a really uncomfortable spot right where my shoulder blades jut out when walking (maybe this is because I'm short (5'4)? Maybe the cache would put it in a better position?). My first time carrying it out like this, I had to change the positioning and put it in the elastic pocket after just one block. But this left some weird lumpy spots with the sweatshirt I had in there that still made the bag feel not so great against my back. And I'd like to have my notebooks, Kindle, and wallet in that elastic pocket. The textbooks might help as something flat against the back (still waiting for them to arrive), but I'm feeling kind of nervous because I'm more the kind of person who wants to throw things in the bag and go without worrying about positioning everything perfectly. I'm also hoping to use the bag for day hikes when the main compartment wouldn't have anything flat in it to go against my back - and ideally, I'd like to use it for my one bag for 2 - 3 day trips as well, and I have no idea how I'd get things to fit comfortably in there for that. Are there some obvious tricks I'm missing to packing it? Any suggestions for how to arrange things?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaireJ View Post
    My problem is that when I have the laptop (not in the cache or anything, I have a lightly padded case for it) in the main compartment against my back, the top hits at a really uncomfortable spot right where my shoulder blades jut out when walking (maybe this is because I'm short (5'4)? Maybe the cache would put it in a better position?). My first time carrying it out like this, I had to change the positioning and put it in the elastic pocket after just one block. But this left some weird lumpy spots with the sweatshirt I had in there that still made the bag feel not so great against my back. And I'd like to have my notebooks, Kindle, and wallet in that elastic pocket. Are there some obvious tricks I'm missing to packing it? Any suggestions for how to arrange things?
    You might find using the cache with rails to hold your laptop in the Synapse 25 more comfortable. In the Synapse 19, I think you wouldn't have this issue with either the 15" or 13" MacBooks, because the main compartment's length is sized to match these. The Synapse 25 is longer, so I don't know where the end of the laptop would hit if it's carried right against your back, which is the most comfortable place I've found to place the laptop. I carry a 13" MacBook or MacBook Air in my Synapse(s), and I'm the same height you are. Most of the time I use my original Synapse (19, which is large enough for everything, and very comfortable). Recently, I've been using the Synapse 25, because of traveling with more contents. I have my laptop in the cache with rails. This suspends the laptop at a comfortable placement against my back, and also makes sliding it out for airport security very easy, while keeping it attached to the bag. I don't really miss the cache with rails design on my Synapse 19, since this bag is usually packed with less space so that there's not much difference between pulling out vs sliding out the cache. Also, while I use the vertical cache for my 13" MacBook Pro, I use the horizontal cache (with rails) from the Cadet for my 13" MacBook Air. (This has a different design from the Cache with rails for the Synapses, and there are just a pair of gate keeper clips at the bottom of the bag that can be clipped onto the rails of the Cadet or removed. I switch this into the Imago or other horizontally oriented bags.)

    I've found things to be very comfortable using the cache with rails in the Synapse 25, but I haven't tried carrying a 15" MacBook in that bag. The cache with rails design for the Synapse suspends each laptop cache so that the top of the laptop is just a few inches from the top of the bag. This allows you to carry the laptop high against your back, which is more comfortable.
    Darcy likes this.

  3. #3
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Beau's Avatar
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    Hey ClaireJ--
    I'm guessing that your textbooks have arrived by now, so maybe they helped, but if you're still having some issues getting the comfort level with your Synapse 25 just right we'd be glad to help you find a nice packing configuration at the factory showroom. Maybe you could swing by with your daily paraphernalia and somebody here could help you out with that. You could even see if the Cache with Rails would be of help, like moriond suggested. Give us a call (800-729-9607) or send us an email (emailus@tombihn.com) and we'll see if we can arrange something.

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    Wow, just checked back here (I've been quite busy with school) and saw this comment - thanks for the offer, Beau! I've actually come to love the Synapse, and my solution to the main compartment problem has been to put things in the elastic pocket in there. I try not to carry too much as a general rule, and this has been just fine with my notebooks and occasionally laptop and/or textbooks.

    I'm planning on trying to use it as my only bag when I fly home for the holidays for five nights, so that'll be a new challenge - I'll be coming into the showroom at some point after my classes end in December to test out some accessories (packing cube backpack, here I come!) since I think that will help me make the best use of the main compartment for clothes.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Moose's Avatar
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    I'm planning on trying to use it as my only bag when I fly home for the holidays for five nights, so that'll be a new challenge - I'll be coming into the showroom at some point after my classes end in December to test out some accessories (packing cube backpack, here I come!) since I think that will help me make the best use of the main compartment for clothes.[/QUOTE]

    Hi Claire, you can do five days in the 25 only. I packed mine for about that time frame earlier this year. The trip bombed but packing for it went well. I can't post a link but I did put up some pictures of how I did it and what it looked like. Please take pictures its really helpful to see what others pack and how they pack it.
    Moose
    SE in olive, plum S19, SE, pouches and Field Journal. uv S19, Shop Bag, Yarn Sack and organizer Pouches. Synapse25 in steel/uv. Medium Cafe Bag, Western Flyer, SE, Swift & Kit in black. Absolute Strap, steel Kit and small dyneema Pouch, wrist straps, kiwi Swift, Citizen Canine & Kit. Abergine Tri Star, Kit and SE. Wasibi & uv Organizer Cube Pouches, July 4th pouch, December 2011 & 2012 Mystery Gift, 2013 parapack mystery gift and last but not least I'm proud FOT.

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