August 6, 2019

The new Synik backpack (pre-order opens 08/13)

The Synik 22 Backpack

The Synik 22 Backpack

The Synik — available two sizes: 22 liters or 30 liters — is a variation of the original Synapse 19 / 25 and it was designed by Nik in collaboration with Tom. It includes many of the features some of you have been asking for; we added some additional features as well.

Pre-order opens 08/13 and closes 08/20; sign up on either the Synik 22 or Synik 30 pages to be notified the moment the bags are available for pre-order.

One of our goals is to give you as much information as possible about our bags so that you can make an informed decision as to whether a bag is right for you-- or not. If you buy a bag from us, it will last you quite a long time, so it's important to choose the right one. There's a lot of information about the Synik; we've created the directory below to help you get the answers you need in the most efficient way.

You're always welcome to skip over all of this and, call us at 1-800-729-9607 or 1-206-652-4123, or live chat with your questions.



What’s different / What's the same in the Synik vs. the Synapse in Brief

(click to read more about each difference)

Release Timeline

August 6th
Info release. The following pages and videos are now available:
Synik 22 page
Synik 30 page
Synik FAQ
Videos: Synik 22 features / Synik 30 features / How to Remove the Synik frame

August 13th
Pre-order opens sometime 7:00am - 9:00am Pacific Time / remains open until 08/20 unless either size of Synik sells out. You can sign up on the Synik 22 or 30 pages to be notified the moment pre-order opens.

August 20th
Pre-order closes.

Late October
Pre-order Syniks ship.

Full Descriptions of Differences

Full clamshell AKA panel zipper opening

The main compartment of the Synik can zip fully-open — clamshell or panel-loader style. That means the main compartment zipper (it’s a beefy #10 YKK Aquaguard) zips all the way down and around the bottom edges of the bag.

What’s cool about a clamshell zipper opening? Mainly, you can pack your bag like a suitcase. As in, place it on your bed/table/floor and fully zip it open to arrange everything you’ll be packing. That visual access can make it easier to step back and assess/contemplate what you’re packing and whether you’ve forgotten an item or can pare down the packing list entirely. You get to choose exactly how far to open your bag — you can zip open just the top, or mid-way, or lower, or fully open. And the #10 YKK Aquaguard zipper we use on the Synik prevents the zipper from continuing to open on its own: the waterproof material on the interior of the zipper provides just enough resistance to prevent that. So, you really get to decide how far your bag opens (or doesn’t).

And what’s less than cool? If you don’t secure the stuff in the main compartment, it can fall out when you fully unzip the bag. This, we think, makes clamshell bags less suitable as a hiking pack (you don't want all of your gear splaying out on a narrow trail or tumbling down a scree slope!) See our original Synapse 19 and 25 for the original non-clamshell version of the Synapse.


Removable internal tie-down straps & Padded Bottom

We made two minor yet worthy-of-mention updates to the design because of the clamshell opening: first, we included a set of two removable tie-down straps in the main compartment. So, you know, you can strap down clothes or even a Packing Cube without it falling out if you fully unzip the main compartment and open the bag clamshell-style. Second, we added padding to the bottom of the Synik to protect the zipper sliders and chain on the bottom of the bag; that’s a serious potential wear point and, while we’re always glad to repair bags to keep them in service for longer, it’d be rather silly to avoid an opportunity to prevent the need for repair in the first place.


Two-point access suspended laptop compartment

The Synik features a built-in laptop compartment with minimal padding (less bulk, less weight, less of a bummer it’s there when you don’t carry a laptop).

The compartment is suspended off the bottom of the bag, and that means your laptop is suspended off the bottom of the bag, too. That suspension is much more effective if you use the Synik internal frame: a soft, frameless bag offers nothing from which to suspend the laptop. Worth noting: the bottom of the Synik is padded, so there's that extra peace of mind as well.

The Synik 22 fits laptops up to the size of the 13” MacBook Pro (but not the older MacBook Air); the Synik 30 can fit laptops up to 15” like the MacBook Pro Retina Touchbar or Microsoft Surface Book 2 15".

You can stow (or remove) your laptop from the dedicated laptop compartment of the Synik from two access points: the first is a zippered compartment within the main compartment of the Synik. The second is a zippered exterior side access on the left side of the bag (like the Luminary backpack.) It’s no biggie in practice, but note you’ll need to do a two-point turn to fit the bigger laptops in the exterior side access to the laptop compartment (not necessary if using the internal laptop compartment access).

We wanted to offer you two access points to stow/remove your laptop because it gives you more options. Picture yourself on the airplane with the Synik under the seat in front of you: in this context, using the internal laptop compartment access will allow you to remove your laptop from the bag without pulling the bag all the way out from under the seat. Now, picture yourself at work where you just want to quickly get access to your laptop; this is when you’d unzip the side access to the laptop compartment.

You may be wondering why the internal laptop compartment access closes with a zipper: it’s on the inside after all, so why not leave it open-top? Let’s say you’ve left the main compartment of the bag zipped open and the laptop compartment is open-top; if you put your laptop in the bag through the side access point, you could conceivably push it all the way through and out of the top of the main compartment. The zipper in the internal laptop compartment is a speed bump to remind you not to do that. If you’re not worried about doing that, just leave the laptop compartment zipper unzipped, and it’ll effectively be an open-top laptop compartment.

P.S.: Both the zipper and the slider are plastic and are unlikely to scratch your laptop. Note that the main compartment has a metal zipper that could scratch your laptop, so easy with that one.


Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2” shoulder straps

Conformity is overrated — except, perhaps, when it comes to shoulder straps. The edgelessness of this new strap allows it to more softly conform to your shoulder; we find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren’t too soft: the 1/2” thick foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.

Our new Edgeless EV50 1/2" Shoulder Strap is quite similar to the strap of our Luminary backpack — it differs in that it’s thicker and the contour is adjusted to be more proportionate to a larger backpack.

A new shoulder strap design is a big deal, and we spent a lot of time testing these (and having various people test them for us and provide feedback). While it’s impossible to make a strap (or bag, or world, or whatever) that everyone will unanimously love, our hope is here that we’ve made a strap a lot of people will find pretty darn comfortable.


Included, fully integrated yet removable internal frame with aluminum half-stay

For the Synapse, we came up with a clever way to attach an internal frame to a bag that wasn’t originally designed to accommodate an optional internal frame.

With the Synik, that functionality is seamlessly built-in. Its removable internal frame slides in and out of the back panel through an opening at the top of the panel; you won’t see the frame itself unless you’re adding it or removing it. Some may initially wonder about the opening at the top in which the frame inserts — we did too and thoroughly tested this part of the design and could find no material concern.

The Synik Internal Frame is made of die-cut .055” thick High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a 8-1/4" / 210mm tall and 1/2” / 13mm wide 6061 aluminum stay. Most of our bags have featured a 1” wide aluminum stay; we made a frame with a 1/2” stay to see if it added the same stability but with 1/2 the weight savings. And guess what: it did.

We considered making the internal frame of the Synik optional (as it is with the Synapse) but ultimately decided to include it for various reasons, namely:

While our original hope was that the existing Synapse internal frame could be used with the Synik (so those of you with a Synapse frame wouldn't need to buy a Synik frame) it didn't really work out that way in practice. While you can make the Synapse internal frame work in the Synik, it's a bit kludgy and feels more like a "hack" than something intentional.

The internal frame of the Synik assists in ensuring a laptop stowed in the laptop compartment is suspended off the bottom of the bag and ensures there's a firm barrier between the laptop and a rolling luggage handle that's inserted through the luggage pass-through slot.

That said, because the Synik frame is removable, you can, you know, remove it if you'd rather use the bag without a frame.

Additionally, we have adjusted the curve of the aluminum half-stay. The previous curve worked for most folks but we did get feedback from one person that it didn’t work for them — and we think the new curve will be even more of a universal fit. In our research, we learned that most people don’t adjust the curve of the aluminum stay — they stick with our factory default. So, we wanted to make sure that the factory default curve is as universal to comfort as possible.


Rolling luggage handle pass-through

Some of us use rolling luggage: maybe because we need to pack more formal attire for a work trip, or because it’s more comfortable for us to carry some, but not all, of the weight of our luggage. You guys have been asking us for a backpack with a luggage handle pass-through for quite a while, and you’re probably wondering why we didn’t do this sooner. The answer is: we took our time because we wanted to come up with a solution that worked better than the quick-answer of an elastic strap sewn on to the back of a backpack.

While we wanted to come up with a solution that worked better in function and practice, we didn’t want that solution to add bulk or weight to the bag. It occurred to Nik that there was already an opening at the bottom of the back panel through which the internal frame could be inserted or removed — so what if he added an opening at the top of the back panel? He made a prototype, we tested it, and it worked: the internal frame remained securely in place (popped into its corners on the inside of the bag) and the bag was able to slide over the handle of rolling luggage with the handle popping out of the top opening.

Note the following:

We recommend making sure that the internal frame is closest to the bag itself and the handle of your rolling luggage is on the outside of the frame. This ensures that there’s a barrier between the laptop compartment and the luggage handle.

There are, of course, different sizes of rolling luggage with different handle lengths. If you’d like to place your Synik 22 over the handle of your rolling luggage, that handle will need to be at least 400mm / 15.75" in length. For the Synik 30, the handle will need to be at least 470 mm / 18.5" length.

So, what’s the solution then if you have rolling luggage with a very thick, wide handle that can't fit through the luggage pass-through on the Synik? There’s two we can offer:

This is admittedly a bit of a hack, but everyone's got what they need for it and it’s free. Okay, here goes: remove the included webbing waist belt off the Synik. Connect the two Gatekeeper clips together: now you’ve got a long strap with a male/female buckle closure. Use that strap and wrap it around the middle of your Synik as it’s on top of the rolling luggage with its back against the handle of the luggage; clip the buckle around the rolling luggage pole. Photo coming soon!

We made a purpose-built version of this strap: it's basically 1-1/2" webbing with a male/female buckle closure and we're calling it a 1-1/2" Side Release Lash Strap. It will be available for purchase for $10. We imagine people would buy this strap if they'd rather not remove the webbing waist belt or want a more elegant/less hack solution. This strap will also work with *any* of our backpacks.

While it's not as elegant as the dual-purpose internal frame/luggage handle slot on the Synik, we do like the following about this strap-around-the-bag solution:

1. The backpack — Synik, Synapse, Guide’s Pack, whatever pack we offer, or even a pack from a different brand — will be secured to the rolling luggage handle in such a way that it won’t spin around or slide off. It feels super sturdy. It still works better than a webbing or elastic band sewn on the back panel of a backpack.

2. It’s a solution that’s not built-in to the bag: it can be used when you need to use it or left at home when you don’t.


Updated grab handle

Does the new handle look familiar? It’s the beloved side grab handle from our Tri-Star travel bag. The depth added to the shell of the Synik gave us the real estate needed to add a more substantial grab handle. Emphasis here on grab, not so much on carry: it’s our position that because the Synik is meant to be carried as a backpack — and a streamlined looking pack at that — the addition of a thick or heavily padded handle would be overkill.


Label moved to lower right corner

This was mostly a change made for our production and shipping/warehouse crew. While our bags are tagged and coded, the ability to visually recognize and identify a bag quickly can improve efficiency and reduce errors. Moving the label to the bottom right corner helps us differentiate the Synik 22 from the Synapse 19 and the Synik 30 from the Synapse 25, and we liked the looks of the label here too.


Waist strap attachment point lowered to work for more people

As with all of our major backpacks, we include adjustable and removable sternum and waist straps with leave-no-trace hardware: if you don't like or don't use your waist or sternum strap, remove them and leave (almost) nothing behind. There's also an optional 1" Padded Hip Belt. Worth noting: we slightly lowered the waist strap attachment point on the Synik so that it better fits a wider range of heights (and tall folks in particular.)


Deeper/thicker main compartment

A deeper/thicker main compartment is a great way to add a little bit of extra room to the bag and let it play better with packing cubes while the clamshell is unzipped all the way. Not only that, it let us make changes like adding the more substantial handle.


A couple more o-rings

With more room comes more opportunities for o-rings! We added two additional o-rings in the main compartment of the Synik 22 and 30 compared to the Synapse 19 and 25.


And here's what we didn't change...

There’s reasons why so many people use and appreciate the original Synapse, and we didn’t want to mess with that.

Front Exterior Organizational Pockets
With the Synapse, Tom set out to design a bag with intuitive organization -- organization that even the less-organized amongst us would use and appreciate, even without thinking about it.

And it’s an abundant amount of organization: the exterior of the bag has five exterior pockets. The pockets are designed and patterned in such a way that they don’t steal space from each other and they look good (not too caved in, not too bulgy) whether full or empty.

The water bottle pocket is intentionally in the center of the bag and is integrated into the design of the other pockets; the former ensures what’s likely to be one of the heavier objects in your bag is balanced in the middle — resulting in a more comfortable carrying experience — and the latter maintains a clean, straight-forward exterior aesthetic.

One thing did change with these pockets, and it already changed with the original Synapse 19 and 25: in early 2019, Tom and Nik came up with a way to construct the Synapse that avoided the creation of two small gaps inside the bottom corners that previously existed for construction purposes. Those gaps didn't cause a problem, but occasionally folks would call to ask why they were there. This was impetus for us to figure out a "solution" -- the problem wasn't with the design or construction, but that we made something that caused a fair number of people to spend a little time out of their day asking "Why?" It took us a little while, but we found that solution.

Interior Banded Open-Top Pocket
Ever-useful, this one stayed exactly as is.

Same Durable Materials + Expert Construction
No bag lasts forever, but choosing the best and most durable materials and taking care not to abuse it (no washing machine or dryer!) can help a quality bag serve most people well (with maybe a repair or two) for up to 10-20 years.

This bag requires significant skill to sew and construct; it’s not just any sewing factory who can pull this off and do it well, it’s ours, and it’s because of the talent of our crew. It helps that both Tom and Nik do their own pattern work and sew the first prototypes; they’re less likely to ask Lisa and Fong (our Sewing Supervisors) for the crazy or impossible when it comes to manufacturing. That said, Lisa and Fong are the experts when it comes to making sure Tom and Nik’s designs can be made in an ongoing practical fashion.



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You'll find answers to questions from "Why is it called the Synik? There’s also a “Nik’s Minimalist Wallet”. Does Nik have a really big head/ego/whatever?" to "Will the Synik 30 look/feel too big to carry as my EDC bag at my work conference?" and "Why did it take you so long to make a pack with a clamshell zipper and a laptop compartment?" over at the Synik Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

Reviews So Far

All Spoken Hands on w/the Synik 30 and a comparison of the Synik 30 vs 22
Pack Hacker first look / full review
Spencer's Synik Unboxing and Spencer's Full Review
Ryan on YouTube as LivingOneHanded
JonC on Dynamic Bento
Jon on (No)Mad Creative
Rosemary Orchard's Full Review
Dan Gold's First Look + Review of the Synik 30
Brooks Review on the 22 and 30
Bemused Backpacker reviews the 30
Chase Reeves review of the 22 and 30

Aloha's Synape 19/Synik 22 compartive review
G42's Aeronaut 30/Synik 30 (and Smart Alec) Comparative Review


Nik, Tom, Darcy

Manufacturing Engineering and Efficiency
Lisa, Fong, Victor, Nik, Tom, Ben, Mike

Manufacturing (Joining)
Sau Ling, Rudi

Manufacturing (Binding)
Zhong, Tao, Tam

Manufacturing (Various Assembly)
Tianying, Victor, Ying, Edelmira

Manufacturing (Various Sewing)
Honguyen, Wing, Ling, Hong Hai, Trung, Xue Xia, Trang, Luming, Chun, Rudi, Zhong, Thuy, Yanhua, Canh, Dau, Sheng, Mo-Fong, Di

Manufacturing (Fabric Cutting)

Manufacturing (Bartacking)
Kieu, Tam, Victor, Long

Manufacturing (Die Cutting)
Ben, Long

Materials Inventory/Ordering

Quality Assurance
Aravelia, Lulu

Project Management (of Design, Testing, Incorporation of Feedback)

Project Management (of Manufacturing)
Lisa, Fong, Mike, Darcy, Nik

Project Management (of shipments to testers/reviewers)
Mike, Kat, Matt, Tim

Pre-Order Management
Matt, Tim, Mike, Kat, Cody, Matthew

Pre-Order Systems
Nik, Darcy

Descriptions + FAQ + Blog Posts

Cody, Matthew


Data Management (Accounting, Manufacturing, Inventory)
Kim, Mike, Nik

Page creation + entering of specs and data

Studio Photos

In Use Photos
Des and David

Features/Overview Videos
Zeke Kamm

Testing and/or Feedback
Everyone listed above as well as our volunteer Forum moderators. There were many others who helped us test the Edgeless shoulder straps and the Synik itself; to that secret group of trusted testers and feedback givers we offer many thanks. (Note: people are asked to test our designs by our invitation only.)


TB Crew - November 19, 2019

@Ben Scheiner Sorry Ben! An idea: if you’d like, you might try selling your current bag on eBay— people have good success with that, as there’s usually people happy to purchase a well-cared for used bag. Hope that helps a little bit.

Ben Scheiner - November 19, 2019

oooo I am soo pissed off – i have a Synapse 2, I just purchased a Tristar …. but his is what I really needed – the Synik 30 … a larger Synapse with a clamshell … truly a one bag lif

Jeff T - November 19, 2019

Can’t wait!! (Seriously I need this bag the day before pre-sale opens up) ;)

Jon de la Vega - November 19, 2019

Can you make it with the synapse zippers with fabric pulls? Is less noisy and looks slicker, as an example, a picture of my 6 years old synapse 25:

Mary Farrell - November 19, 2019

I just keep waiting for less dreary colors and more halcyon choices

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