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Thread: Recommendation for Massage Therapist: Synapse 19 or 25?

  1. #1
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    Recommendation for Massage Therapist: Synapse 19 or 25?

    Hey Everyone!

    I've been considering buying a Tom Bihn bag for about a year now... being unable to try it out in person makes me nervous but I have a few trustworthy friends who swear by you guys so I may finally make the jump. Not to mention my current messenger bag situation is totally wrecking my back.

    After checking out all of the options, I've narrowed my first TB purchase to a Synapse... though unsure of which one. Despite the (very cool!) video and a few reviews, I'd love the input of some of you current owners!

    My situation... I'm a Massage Therapist in NYC who works for a few companies as well as my own private practice. Because of this, I may need to carry an extra change of clothes/uniform as well as sheet sets for my own clientele. Add to that, a water bottle (love the pocket on the Synapse for that!), lotion bottle/holster, a tablet (Nexus 7), a notebook or two, a textbook, and sneakers/workout clothes.

    That'd probably be the bag on one of my busiest days. On an amazingly packed day, I'd be carrying 3-4 twin sheet sets in addition.

    I know the Synapse can hold pretty much everything, but I don't want the push the 19 to its limits. Also, living in a city, I like to be as compact as possible and if I'm having a slower day, I don't want the 25 to be needlessly bulky.

    I feel like the number of sheets would be a deal breaker, what would the limit with the stuff above be for a 19? 2 sets?

    I'm also 6 feet and about 160lbs. Any advice on which would fit better on my frame would be great too! And please tell me they're comfortable even when packed up (with just the two main straps... I'm in NYC and definitely don't want to appear to be a backpacking tourist )... My shoulders are definitely feeling it these days.

    What do you guys think? Any words of wisdom would be great. I only have the budget for one bag now, otherwise I would have just snagged both and switched them out depending on the load of the day .

    Thanks!!
    -g

  2. #2
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    I think you would struggle using the S19 for one of your busy days. The most restrictive items would be the sneakers, followed by the textbook (I'm picturing a decent thick university size type textbook), and because of these I'd recommend the S25.

    What's your average day like? Another option might be to get an S19 to cater for most days, and use a duffel or equivalent as an overflow bag on the busier days.

  3. #3
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    Hey blusquid!

    I was planning on putting up my post then crashing, but of course I got sucked into searching through the forums and it looks like the S25 is probably going to be the one, if only because of my size. But would still love extra input, especially concerning sheets.

    In terms of typical days... they really run the gamut... for example...

    A slow day just working at one of the other companies:
    - Uniform (T-shirt and Slacks)
    - Sneakers and Gym Clothes (Extra shirt and pants)
    - Water Bottle (Klean Kanteen Original)
    - Nexus 7
    - 2 Notebooks
    - 2 Books (Probably half of what you're thinking in terms of textbooks for each)
    - Lotion Bottle and Holster

    On a very busy day:
    - All of the above EXCEPT sneakers... plus...
    - 3-4 sets of twin sized sheets (one pillow case, one fitted, one flat)

    A medium day would be the same as the busy day, except 1-2 sets of sheets...

    I just want to know, if on a slower day, would I look ridiculous with the 25? I hear the trick is to use as much of the front pockets as possible.

    Thanks!
    -g

  4. #4
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    Sheet sets are amazingly bulky. I agree that a 2-bag system might be better. But I would recommend an S25 given your height and load, and carry your sheets in a small duffel. On your heaviest days, the S 25 will not handle your whole load.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  5. #5
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    monkeylady,

    Yikes thanks, good to know. The main point of the bag was to combine the two. Right now, I do have a backpack that I got at an Army Navy store which can hold my heaviest day (without the sneakers again), but the thing is just ugly and has just one huge pocket. I used to get angry at school for giving us the worst possible duffel to carry our sheets in (the strap was the thinnest thing you ever saw).

    With all that said, are you agreeing that an S25 would still look decent on a very light day? Say I'm not even heading to work and just want to carry a book and notebook or two, a water bottle, and a tablet?

    -g

  6. #6
    Registered User monkeylady's Avatar
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    It would look just fine with that load. Frankly, it's such a beautiful pack, it looks great empty.
    The stockpile keeps growing...I'm in serious trouble.

  7. #7
    Registered User bermudajes's Avatar
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    I wonder if perhaps the Smart Alec would work better for you? Not that I speak from any experience - the only TB backpack I've owned is the S19. And while I bought it and loved it for its design/aesthetics, I never carried that bag when I needed gym shoes because they took up too much space (and I wear a women's size 8).

    With the addition of the modular pockets on days where you're carrying your heaviest load, maybe you'd still be able to carry it all on your back without an extra bag? And on days when you're carrying an average load, you could probably leave the modular pockets at home. Maybe someone with a Smart Alec can comment on whether my idea here is feasible?
    nsh likes this.
    much love for parapack

  8. #8
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    monkeylady, that sounds awesome. I think I might go for it.

    bermudajes, I was considering over bags and looked at the SA, but the design wasn't really my style . I hear that the front bottom pocket on the S25 is decent for sneakers. The sneakers I'd bring are Vivobarefoot Freuds though... so they're minimal and not big at all. The only other would be some Feiyue's which is only a smidgen larger.

    -g

  9. #9
    Registered User bermudajes's Avatar
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    @hapworth - I get it. I bought my S19 because I loved the design and, at the time, I wasn't too keen on the SA. The look and functionality of the SA has grown on me, though, and if I go back to a backpack, that MIGHT be the one. But that's the beauty of TB - so many great choices to suit us all!
    much love for parapack

  10. #10
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    +1 for @monkeylady's comments. The Synapse models keep their shape (ie does not "droop" much) even when empty - IMHO mainly due to the front pocket structure and zippers. The S25 will look decent even when carrying a light load. That is one of the reasons I got my S25. Note that the Dyneema version and perhaps the Parapack version will be less stiff and not keep their shape as much as the Cordura version. Judging from pictures I have seen, it is not too bad but the Dyneema version, IMHO, does show bulges more if you have sharp or oddly shaped objects. For me, the square lattice pattern makes it easier for the eye to notice the bulges.

    I also agree that for your busy day scenario, you probably cannot take 3-4 sets of twin sheets and the rest of your EDC in 1 bag. You might need to get something like the Shop bag to hold the sheet sets. Your Medium day with 1-2 sets of twin sheets might work but I suspect it would be full.

    When I needed to prepare for a hospital stay, I was able to carry my laptop in Brain Cell and 2 days of clothes, night clothes and shoes as well as electronics accessories. As I am a 5'10" guy, my stuff is probably more bulky so I think you are good for all the scenarios except for the busy day.

    BTW - how big are your notebooks / books (dimensions) and the size of your Klean Kanteen Original?

    Also, @bermudajes's suggestion of the SA is great too as you can expand outside as well to carry more load. It is a good vertical gym bag ... but if it is not your style, don't go for it (also, when half empty, you pack things vertically to make sure it keeps it shape well).

    I assume the Brain Bag is also not your style? It will easily do all three scenarios but is a bit more "busy" looking - like a regular backpack.

    Also, thinking laterally, what about a Western Flyer? You will then also have the option to take things briefcase style for those formal clients. It keeps its shape (but you need to like the more boxy shape) and can "stuffed" to accommodate the 3-4 sheets you need to carry.

    Hope this helps
    Cheers!
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  11. #11
    Registered User Janine's Avatar
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    Where are you located, @hapworth? Maybe there's a meetup nearby where you could see both Synapse options in person?
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  12. #12
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    bermudajes - I'll keep that in mind as I'm sure I'll end up purchasing more than one TB bag during my lifetime .

    tpnl - I keep seeing mention of these different materials and I guess I'm a bit confused. Do these match up with the various color combinations? I'm pretty much set on getting the black/wasabi if I get the S25.

    My notebooks are just 80-120 sheet 8.5x11, the usual. The textbooks range greatly from being about the size of two of those notebooks to maybe 4 of those notebooks, if that makes sense.

    I'm just not as comfortable having stuff hanging out of the bag. I'm just a private person .

    I did consider the Brain Bag as my first, but a good friend of mine (who lives on the opposite coast) said it's pretty big and he knows my frame. Maybe in the future, but I want something stylish and sleek the first time around!

    Same with the Western Flyer, another I considered but definitely want something less boxy for now.

    Janine - I didn't know these were a thing! I might just take the plunge but in case I somehow fit in the time, I'm in NYC... which I imagine has to have something like this somewhere .

    Thanks everyone for all of the advice!!

    -g

  13. #13
    jed
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    I just received a Synapse 19 today that I am trying vs. the Ego messenger bag. I agree with the others here - I think that it is going to be on the small side - even for your normal days. I think, depending on the exact size of some of your items, that it would be tight for even your regular days (especially the shoes) and not possible for the days when you have the extra sheets.

    The Synapse 19 is SMALL! I think at 6' tall you'll be better suited to the 25.

  14. #14
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hapworth View Post

    In terms of typical days... they really run the gamut... for example...

    A slow day just working at one of the other companies:
    - Uniform (T-shirt and Slacks)
    - Sneakers and Gym Clothes (Extra shirt and pants)
    - Water Bottle (Klean Kanteen Original)
    - Nexus 7
    - 2 Notebooks
    - 2 Books (Probably half of what you're thinking in terms of textbooks for each)
    - Lotion Bottle and Holster

    On a very busy day:
    - All of the above EXCEPT sneakers... plus...
    - 3-4 sets of twin sized sheets (one pillow case, one fitted, one flat)

    A medium day would be the same as the busy day, except 1-2 sets of sheets...

    I just want to know, if on a slower day, would I look ridiculous with the 25? I hear the trick is to use as much of the front pockets as possible.

    Thanks!
    -g
    I test packed my S25 with you slower day (substituted a similar sized red book for your Nexus 7 and this is how it looks:

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Size:  337.0 KBName:  S25_Inside.jpg
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Size:  419.7 KB

    The clothes and shoes are in 2 Packing Cube Shoulder Bag and put into the main compartment. I actually did not need to use the 2 side pockets or the bottom pocket so I added an extra water bottle just to have something on one of the pockets. For the view inside the S25, I took out the 2 Packing Cubes so you could see their size.

    I also tried adding 2 sets of twin sheets together with your slower day load to simulate your medium busy day and it fit well without making it "blimpy". Putting 4 sets made it look "blimpy" - like the picture on the TB website showing the side view of the S25 fully packed (in comparison to less packed ones). If doing your full busy day load, you may also need to switch to a smaller volume water bottle.

    In summary, IMHO, it looks fine using your slow day carry and can do the medium day well. The full day would be a squeeze but it can be done,

    To answer you question on materials, the color combinations change but Black/Wasabi and Black/Steel seem to be available more than most. If it is a solid color, the material is Cordura. The Dyneema version only comes in Black squares exterior now (used to have Nordic and Steel). There was also a light weight Parapack version but there is no word on whether it will be produced again.


    Hope this Helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 08-20-2014 at 10:29 PM.
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  15. #15
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    jed, Yeah, I've definitely crossed off S19 off my list. If only because of my frame, it seems the 25 would be the best bet. If I'm going to purchase something for carrying less, I might go with a messenger bag (the Ristretto looks pretty sexy! Though I may pick that over the Cafe Bag just so I can replace the Strap. I've been wanting to try out this strap I read about by a camera company. It slips my mind what but it's supposed to be the best. Unless someone can chime in about how amazing the Shoulder Strap can be?). Consider all questions directed towards the S25! Thanks!

    tpnl, Oh my God... I have been on the Internet for a very long time and you win, hands down, for best interaction on a forum ever. Thank you SO MUCH. This is incredibly helpful!

    At the risk of asking for even more... and please don't re-simulate anything. A quick answer is more than enough...

    1. Was it comfortable carrying the full day?

    2. Which material is this bag? I feel like such a TB newb. There seems to be only one type of fabric available for the S25 right now in Black/Wasabi and I want this now! It looks like there's another style but that's on backorder for a few months. Is it worth waiting?

    3. Would you say the packing cubes are required? I know TB is all about quality, but I'm still trying to justify paying so much for a square that zips up!

    4. Any particular reason why you didn't use the front bottom pocket (which I keep hearing raves about)? I keep hearing how that's a good place for sneakers.

    You are seriously the greatest. I still can't believe this post.
    -g
    Last edited by hapworth; 08-20-2014 at 10:38 PM. Reason: Added reply to jed.

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