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Thread: Which Tom Bihn bag is best for me?

  1. #1
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    Which Tom Bihn bag is best for me?

    Hey everybody! Thinking about picking up a Tom Bihn bag, and currently wondering which one would be best for me to use. Looking to use it to hold my everyday stuff when I commute by bike to work--here's roughly what it would need to hold:

    • Change of clothes (at least, shorts and a shirt)
    • Pair of shoes
    • Water bottle
    • Boxing gloves
    • Book
    • Decent-sized lunch
    • U-lock
    • Sweatshirt
    • Maaaybe a compact rain jacket?
    • Misc. items (headphones, iPod, wallet, phone, etc.)


    Because I bike, I want the smallest bag possible that could hold this stuff--the bulkier a bag gets, the more it sways and becomes uncomfortable.

    Ideally I would go for the Synapse 25, but do you think it could hold that stuff? How about the Smart Alec (seriously digging the Glowire)? I know for a fact that the Brain Bag could hold everything, but that might be overkill.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Registered User Rocks's Avatar
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    The Synapse 25 or the Smart Alec would work well. I'd say go with whichever bag appeals to you more. I have the Synapse 25 designated as my travel bag. I commute with my Synapse 19, and when I was traveling I commuted on a bike with the 25. Neither sways at all, so don't worry about that. Vicariously, I want you to get the Smart Alec because I want one, but can't justify having 3 Tom Bihn backpacks!
    Last edited by Rocks; 10-17-2013 at 10:32 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for your response. I guess I'd be interested--for people with the Synapse 25 and the Smart Alec, which do you prefer? What are the differences between the two?

  4. #4
    Registered User tpnl's Avatar
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    I do not have a Synapse but I do have a Smart Alec. What I can say from my experience and reading the forum is that the Smart Alec is better than the Synapse at holding bulky items - like you boxing gloves (I have fit a small subwoofer in mine!). That combined with your shoes and Decent sized lunch, I think a Smart Alec may better fit your needs. There is outside Bungee to hold your jacket or sweater if no room inside. Plus, you can buy modular pockets to increase space to almost be as much as a Tristar. If you want more organization, you can get packing cubes or those travel sacks.

    As for differences:
    Synapse 25
    More built in organization

    Smart Alec
    Excellent for bulky items
    Greater Capacity - and even more with modular pocket

    Cheers!

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator Badger's Avatar
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    I'd second tpnl on the Smart Alec for your needs. The water bottle would fit in the side pocket; the lunch, gloves, sweatshirt, and clothes would go in the main compartment (the clothes and shoes could each go in their own Western Flyer small packing cube to keep them separate); the small miscellaneous items could go inside the interior lid zip pockets; and, if need be, you could lash the U-lock to the outside of the bag using the Gate Keeper straps, although I agree that the Glowire is great for its added safety and its coolness component.

    @Rocks: are you sure you can't justify the third backpack? I'm sure we could help you conceive of many, many reasons to get one.
    Rocks likes this.

  6. #6
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    I agree with the suggestion of the Smart Alec given your need to carry bulky items. My own preference would be for the Synapse 25, if biking, both for the more streamlined design, and for the organization of the bag, but you would clearly do better with a Smart Alec to carry shoes and boxing gloves. Cinch the bag when you aren't carrying bulky items to keep the profile down. Here's a recent Smart Alec review that you might find helpful. I'm also a big advocate of having a light color interior to make it easy to find items in bags like the Smart Alec, and this is the first time I've seen pictures with the Solar Dyneema interior that is my favorite color option for maximum contrast. That's because this color option went away, and was not available for any of the current model Smart Alecs until August. I'd recommend either Solar or Wasabi for the interior.

    @Rocks as badger said, I'm sure you'll find many forum enablers to convince you that another backpack is justifiable.

  7. #7
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    Thanks guys, I think at this point I am pretty much set on the Smart Alec in Steel Dyneema and Wasabi. I'm planning on getting it and then seeing if I think I need any of the organization modules; I think packing cubes or travel sacks might be cool for keeping all my gym stuff separate from my work stuff, but I want to just try it out first. We shall see!

  8. #8
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    Also, sorry for double post, but does anyone have any experience bike commuting with the Smart Alec? Mildly concerned about sweaty back syndrome...all bags have it, but some worse than others.


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