July 24, 2019

Information About the TOM BIHN Synik 22 and 30


Updates and Changes

Update 8, 08/01/2019: Here's a link to the in-progress Synik FAQ

Update 7, 7/25/2019: 400d/200d & 525d/210d Synik 30 weights had errors. Errors have been corrected. [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 6, 7/25/2019: Synapse 19 and 25 weights were in the wrong place, moved them from 400 Halcyon to 525 Ballistic/200 Halcyon. [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 5, 7/24/2019: Laptop fit info. [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 4, 7/24/2019: Release timeline. [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 3, 7/24/2019: Full pre-order color list. [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 2, 7/24/2019: So what if you have a roll-aboard with a handle that's too big? [JUMP TO CHANGE]

Update 1, 7/24/2019: We've decided to include the internal frame with the Synik. In addition, we've adjusted the curve of the aluminum half-stay in the internal frame. [JUMP TO CHANGE]



What’s different in the Synik vs. the Synapse in Brief

(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)


Release Timeline

(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

August 6th
Pages for the Synik 22 and 30 go live. Description, specs, videos, photos, etc.

August 13th
Pre-order opens / remains open until 08/20 unless either size of Synik sells out.

August 20th
Pre-order closes.

Late October
Pre-order Syniks ship.



(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

Synik 22: 11.4" x 16.0" x 9.4" / 390mm x 410mm x 240mm (width x height x depth)
Synik 30: 13.4" x 20.0" x 10.8" / 340mm x 508mm x 275mm (width x height x depth)



(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

Note: Weights for the Synik 22 and 30 include the weight of the internal frame (see below) as well as the integrated laptop sleeve. Any Synapse 19 weight includes the weight of a 13C Cache (5.82 oz / 165 grams) and Internal Frame (6.9 oz / 195 grams). Any Synapse 25 weight includes the weight of a 15B Cache (7.41 oz / 210 grams) and Internal Frame (9.6 oz / 272 grams)

400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop exterior / 200d Halcyon lining
Synik 22: 2 lb 7.9 oz / 1130 grams
Synik 30: 2 lb 13.7 oz / 1295 grams Update 7: this weight was wrong. Corrected.

525d Ballistic exterior/ 200d Halcyon lining
Synapse 19: 2 lb 4.5 oz / 1035 grams Update 6: this weight was in 400d Halcyon, should have been here in 525/200.
Synik 22: 2 lb 9.6 oz / 1180 grams
Synapse 25: 2 lb 13.7 oz / 1295 grams Update 6: this weight was in 400d Halcyon, should have been here in 525/200.
Synik 30: 3 lb 0.1 oz / 1365 grams

525d Ballistic exterior/ 210d Ballistic lining
Synik 22: 2 lb 10.0 oz / 1190 grams
Synik 30: 3 lb 0.7 oz / 1380 grams Update 7: this weight in grams was wrong. Corrected.

420d Classic Parapack exterior / 420d Classic Parapack interior lining
Synik 22: 2 lb 10.2 oz / 1195 grams
Synik 30: 3 lb 1.0 oz / 1390 grams

Frame Sheet
Synik 22 & 30: 5.1 oz / 145 grams



(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

Synik 22: 22 Liters / 1340 cubic inches
Synik 30: 30 Liters / 1830 cubic inches


Laptop Fit Information

(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

Synik 22
Maximum device dimensions for both the external and internal laptop compartment access points:
12.35” x 8.65” x 0.75” / 314mm x 220mm x 19mm
Example devices: the 2015 13” MacBook Pro Retina or the 12.9” iPad Pro (with the keyboard case) will fit in the Synik 22 laptop compartment.

Synik 30
Maximum device dimensions for both the external and internal laptop compartment access points:
14.15” x 9.75” x 0.75” / 359mm x 248mm x 19mm
Example devices: the 2015 15” MacBook Pro Retina or the 2019 15” MacBook Pro Touchbar will fit in the Synik 30 laptop compartment.

Now, here’s where it gets a little interesting...
If you’re trying to fit a laptop that’s on the larger end of what’s recommended as fitting in the Synik 22, you may find that — depending on the shape and proportions of the device — one access point works better for your device. For example: taller and thinner large laptops may fit better through the internal laptop compartment access point, whereas more square laptops (like the Surface Book 2) may angle in better through the external laptop compartment access point.



(Added 7/24/2019; Updated Never)

Exterior Materials Choices
Ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop exterior
525 denier 2x2 HT Ballistic exterior
420 denier HT nylon Classic Parapack

Interior Materials Choices
200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop
210 denier Ballistic nylon
420 denier HT Classic Parapack fabric lining

Main Zipper: #10 YKK Aquaguard water-repellent Coil zipper
Other Exterior Zippers: #8 YKK Aquaguard water-repellent Coil zipper
Interior Zipper: #5 YKK Coil zipper

Spacer Mesh Upper Back
Closed-cell foam back
Closed-cell foam bottom
EVAZOTE® EV50 0.5" / 13mm shoulder strap foam

Buckles, Clips, O-rings, Ladder Locks, and Related Components
Duraflex®, Nexus, and Woojin buckles and related components


Full List of Pre-Order Colors

Black 525 Ballistic/NW Sky 200 Halcyon
Black 525 Ballistic/Island 200 Halcyon
Black 525 Ballistic/Cloud 210 Ballistic
Black 525 Ballistic/Coyote 210 Ballistic

Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Island 200 Halcyon
Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Dawn 210 Ballistic
Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Iberian 200 Halcyon
Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Wasabi 200 Halcyon

Deep Blue 525 Ballistic/Iberian 200 Halcyon
Deep Blue 525 Ballistic/Coyote 210 Ballistic

Mars Red 525 Ballistic/NW Sky 200 Halcyon

Aubergine 525 Ballistic/NW Sky 200 Halcyon

Burnt Orange 525 Ballistic/NW Sky 200 Halcyon

Navy Parapack/Steel Parapack

Black Parapack/Steel Parapack

Black 400 Halcyon/NW Sky 200 Halcyon


Full Descriptions of Differences

(Added 7/24/2019, Update 1, 2 7/24/2019)

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.

beginning of update 1

We have decided to include the internal frame with the Synik. You may have seen a previous iteration of the Synik description below in which we stated that the internal frame would be optional. We went back-and-forth on this because we wanted to figure out a way that people could use their Synapse 19 or Synapse 25 internal frames in the Synik 22 and 30 (respectively) so they didn’t have to buy a new frame — and the Synapse frame can kinda work in the Synik, but it’s kludgy, and too kludgy for us to recommend. We also concluded that the internal frame — while still optional — does help the laptop compartment remain suspended and protect any laptop in the compartment from a rolling luggage handle that’s slipped through the passthrough slot.

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. end of update 1


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.

beginning of update 2

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 $5. 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.end of update 2


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.


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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.