We continually tweak many of the subtleties of our bags -- minor design or material changes that we don't consider ground breaking or even that significant but that, nonetheless, we're eager to implement to continually improve our bags. (You know us: we can't leave well enough alone.) Our goal is to share with you as many of these changes as they happen as possible, but, honestly, there's often many going on simultaneously and it can be difficult to communicate about all of them. Almost all of these minor changes end up making our bags more expensive; when it's a significant increase in expense and we need to raise the price of a bag because of the nudge/tweak/change, we will, of course, let you know in advance.
On the Synapses! After some consideration, we decided that the placement of the shoulder straps on the Synapse 19 and the angle of the shoulder straps on the Synapse 25 could use some nudging. The nudging we came up with for both bags were straps closer to fitting our ideal range of "average" or "ordinary" users. Did we hit that mark? We think we did, though perhaps in better fitting a greater majority of people, a few folks ended up with a pack that fit less well, not better. We certainly take such observations to heart, as similar observations were what lead us to change the straps in the first place.
We have definitely considered offering versions of our packs fitted to more a slight or petite stature; we will continue thinking on this one. Personally: I'm about 5'5", 123lbs, with a moderately petite frame, and all versions of the Synapse 19 have fit me great so far. (Side note: when we make a tweak or a change to our shoulder straps, we'll sew 'em to a pack, load said pack up with weight, and ask different staff of varying heights/builds to try the packs on. We then take a good look at where the straps are hitting them (and, of course, ask them about their experience of their comfort.) Then we hit the trail for some long miles of real-world testing.
@bchaplin and others finding the current S19 strap spacing a bit wide,
For all my (older model) Synapse 19 backpacks, dating from the version that was released in the original product announcement over 4 years ago, up through the Nordic/Steel Synapse 19 with "Portable Culture" tag that arrived December 2012, and predated the announcement of the Synapse 25, I can comfortably wear the backpack whether or not I use the Sternum strap. All these models use the close spacing of the backpack straps shown in the pictures I posted earlier in this thread. This is also true for the Steel 400d/Wasabi Dyneema S25 that I preordered at the beginning of April 2013, and that arrived about 2 weeks later. It, too, has the narrower backpack strap spacing.
With the new Nordic/Solar Synapse 25, I need to both shorten the length of the backpack straps and use the Sternum strap to keep the bag in position. I don't have to do this for my earlier model Synapse 19 backpacks that predate the redesign with the cache on rails, etc. Nor do I have to do this with the early model Synapse 25 in Steel 400d/Wasabi Dyneema. This isn't a deal-breaker for me, but it does mean that I'm glad I have the earlier designed Synapse models, as they're more comfortable for me.
@Walker If you want to get a Synapse 19 in Black Cordura with Iberian Dyneema interior, you can probably find one of the older models with closely set straps and a Portable Culture label. You just won't be able to use the newer cache with rails design and the attachment webbing for a Guardian light. @bchaplin doesn't have that option since the introduction date of the Parapack option for the Synapse (November 2013) comes after they changed the strap spacing (May 2013 redesign of the Synapse 19).
FWIW, the issue of backpack strap spacing came up once before in the design of the original Aeronaut, which had a lot of women in the 5'4" and under participating in the original discussion. (This included @eristick who started the request.). At the time the Aeronaut was first released, they also made a model called the Aeronaut Breve, which differed only in the closer placement of the backpack straps. This model was later discontinued. Ypu can read my reply to @marbenais about the Aeronaut Breve strap spacing and view the links in that post. Basically, while I found the straps of the regular Aeronaut reasonably comfortable, I did find the straps on the Breve more comfortable. (I'd still buy an Aeronaut if the Breve were not available, and the demand is greater for the standard model).
I received my Dyneema S19 a week ago and left the next morning for a short holiday in the Scottish Highlands, using the S19 as a companion for my Aeronaut and as a day pack. Before leaving, I removed both waist strap and sternum strap as I have only ever needed these when running or cycling with backpacks from other manufacturers.
To cut a long story short, the S19 is unusable for me without the sternum strap as the shoulder straps become off-the-shoulder straps within yards. I tried every combination of strap length, both long and short, without success. I was reduced to holding onto the straps with my hands to keep them in place. To use the classification above, I am more tank than anything else, a 5' 9" male, 190 lbs with broad shoulders, so if the change was intended to suit me, it has failed.
The bag is superb otherwise (and, of course, the labels are long gone) so I am going to see if I can find a way of keeping the straps fixed near the upper mounting points with webbing. Why no sternum strap? Fine for trekking but not something I care to use in urban surroundings which will be the predominant use.
I have a pretty large collection of Bihn bags which I have used extensively, mostly for business travel, so am not used to being disappointed as they have been universally excellent until now.
Yikes: that's not good, Geoff.
Originally Posted by lumini
Anyone who's not happy with the fit of their new Synapse 19: any chance you could take some photos of yourself wearing the bag so we can see exactly what's going on? Sorry to ask, but it'd really help us figure out what exactly is going on. It'd be awesome if you could send them to me directly - firstname.lastname@example.org - and then we can figure out what to do next from there.
With me, I am 6,2 and about 190 lbs the S19 did the same as lumini reports. But I figured that I am too tall for the S19 and ordered the S25 insted. The S25 fits me much better. I am sorry to say, that my S19 is currently in Berlin with my Aunt because she is petit and I wanted to try and infect her with Tom Bihn. So I can't look if the straps are near together or wider apart.
For the sternum strap: I did not like those eahter at first. But the grew on me. When I overpacked (what happens frequently) they help me to bear the load much better. I do not like the look (in an urban environment that counts for me) so I carry a loop scarf to hide the strap behind.
I just got a Synapse 25 and I have found that it sits really well on my back when the back panel is not completly flat.
When I put my laptop on the back wall, it makes the back of the backpack more rigid and flat and not as comfortable for me with the shoulder straps. I found that if put something at the bottom between my laptop and the back wall, it allows the back of the backpack to better conform to the 'small' of my lower back. It then feels fantastic. For example, I put the Parapack Lead's Pockets at the bottom between my laptop and the back wall of the backpack. This makes the back wall conform more naturally to the curvature of my back (I do not have the best posture ;)).
I think that the Synapse 25 (and probably the 19) are much more "ergonomic" and work best when you can make it conform to your back structure.
Hope this helps
@tpnl It probably makes a difference that you're using the Synapse 25 with a larger laptop (15" size, I think, and I assume with the cache with rails). I'm not sure whether all the people reporting their experiences with the Synapse 19 are carrying laptops with the bag when they report issues with the fit. The Synapse 19 is designed for use as a general urban daypack, so it is also being used for multiple functions that don't involve carrying a laptop (probably more so than with the Synapse 25). I only have to think of all the people who decided to use this bag as a conveniently sized bag for visiting Disney World with children in tow.
Originally Posted by tpnl
I do find that when I shorten the straps, the fit is much better, as the bag sits closer to my back. The only things I removed from the bag today were my touque and my glasses from the bottom front pocket. Otherwise, this is how my regular load sits. (Apologies for the shower curtain, my son was busy with homework and my husband is away) :p
With shorter straps, I do not need to close the sternum strap.
Thanks, everyone for your feedback on the straps… we're doing some further testing and assessment and will share what we come up with soon.
This is one of those tricky things to figure out: the new strap space definitely does work better for some people, and we realize we probably can't come up with something that'll be perfect for everyone, so it's a matter of figuring out what the best option is for most people. And, maybe that's the way the straps are spaced now, or it's the way they were before, or it's a new way.
We'll keep you posted!
I just got my new black cordura/iberian Synapse 19 today (first TB purchase!!) and I too noticed the straps are quite widely spaced compared to other packs that I have used in the past. I am 5'7" and have what I assumed were normal-width shoulders, but I was surprised how far to the outside of my shoulders they sat. (They do feel more normally spaced when the sternum strap draws them in another inch or so.) Without the sternum strap, it felt like they were so wide that they were cutting into the insides of my arms a little. I actually worried that they might rub blisters as my arms swing against the straps. I don't have the sensation that they'll work their way completely off my shoulders; they're snug, just very widely spaced.
I just took a 15-minute test walk with the pack pretty loaded (about 10-12 lbs) down to the end of my street, without the sternum strap. I could feel them rubbing against the upper insides of my arms, but it's not as uncomfortable as I thought it might be. I do wish they were placed about an inch closer though-- I do think it would be more comfortable. The way they are now, I would not categorize this pack as "comfortable" in the same way my 12-yr-old Camelback Hawg is.
I have not taken the tags off yet, but I suspect I'll keep this pack despite the less-than-optimal strap placement. I also think I need to do another couple of test walks to make a more informed decision. I have no doubt this was a carefully researched design change, so I'm willing to give TB the benefit of the doubt until I've run this bag through a few more tests.
On a positive note, I was SHOCKED at how tiny this bag looked when I pulled it out of the box. It looked like a miniature hobbit bag compared to my Ebags TLS Weekender Convertible Mother Lode Jr, which I've been using as my daily computer-hauling bag for a 17-inch Macbook Pro and a 13-inch Samsung. I absolutely LOVE the diminutive size of the Synapse 19. It looks so unassuming, especially in black. I promptly filled it up with my samsung, wacom tablet, chargers, Galaxy Note 2, a bulky sweatshirt, a 1-inch thick stack of papers, my wallet and keys, headphones, a bunch of small personal items, an inflatable travel pillow, and it still has space to fill. Wow! I'm impressed! And it still looks diminutive even when all that stuff is crammed in.
I did notice that packing the side pockets full diminishes the space in the large middle water bottle pocket. I think I might need to experiment with where I put all my stuff.
I do have one question: what is the funny plastic hook thing on the left strap below the sternum strap? It's kind of an S-shape and has an open end. It looks like it should clip to something, but I have no idea what.
That hook is for a camelbak tube. Which to me is strange because there's no opening to put the tube through. To use the pack with a camelbak I assume you would just put the bladder in and not close the zip pocket all the way.
Just received my (first) synapse the other day, too.
Concerning you last question, that funny plastic hook is a Hydration Clip used to anchor a water tube (You can use a water "bladder" that is put in the backpack and is connected to a tube that goes near your mouth routed through the Hydration Clip so you can easily sip water). There is a picture of it in the parts section of the website.
I use this clip to wrap my earbuds when I want the temporary spot to place them.
Hope this helps
Oh, thanks. It does seem a little funny to have a hydration clip on this particular bag which doesn't seem to be ideal for hydration packs. But it is a nice extra i suppose. I sort of wish it was removable.
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Originally Posted by Amy
The hydration clip is removable--if you look at the back of the clip (the side that is closest to the backpack) you can see two little slits--just like on the sternum strap. If you just wiggle the strap through the slits the clip comes right off, and then can be put back on in the event that you decide that you want it on there for some reason.
Oh, thanks for that! I will take it off for now. Much appreciated.
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