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
- 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?