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Synapse 19

Regular price $190.00
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  • Black/Ultraviolet
  • Black/Island
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  • Nordic Halcyon/Iberian
  • Nordic Halcyon/Northwest Sky
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  • Original Halcyon/Iberian
  • Coyote/Northwest Sky
  • Nordic Halcyon/Wasabi
  • Black Halcyon/Wasabi
  • Black Halcyon/Northwest Sky
  • Black Halcyon/Iberian
Add 1" Padded Hip Belt: Add a Size of Cache: Add Freudian Slip: Add Guardian Light: Add Whistle Sternum Strap Half: Add to wishlist
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    You can expect your TOM BIHN bag to give you years of hard service. Our bags are guaranteed to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the bag. That means if something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it at no charge.

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Synapse 19


Ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop exterior — or — 1000 denier Cordura®
200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric lining
Dri-Lex® Aero-Spacer® mesh upper back
400 denier nylon lower back
Closed-cell foam back
EVAZOTE® foam shoulder straps
Tough Duraflex® and Nexus buckles
#8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers


Made in USA
100% finished seams


Dimensions: 16" x 11.4" x 7.9" / 410 x 290 x 200 mm
400d Halcyon®/420d nylon ripstop: 1 lb 7 oz / 650 grams
1000d Cordura: 1 lb 8 oz / 695 grams
Volume: 1160 cubic inches / 19 liters (ASTM Standard Measure)
Removable 1" / 25 mm waist strap included
.375" / 10 mm padded and contoured backpack straps with .75" / 20 mm removable sternum strap
Total O-rings: 8 (2 in the main compartment; 1 in the top center pocket, 1 in the small center pocket, 2 in the bottom front pocket; 1 in the left front pocket; 1 in the right front pocket)

People hike, travel, or commute with this versatile pack; where will you take it?

The Synapse 19 is a carefully calculated, supremely organized backpack, designed for day hiking, everyday carry, and ultralight travel. Its graceful, curvilinear exterior may on first blush look like something akin to sculpture, but in truth it is simply the judicious realization of ultimate utility. No mesh pockets clutter the exterior of this bag, nor extraneous straps festoon it; in it, you'll be able to carry more than you would imagine, and no one will be the wiser.

The Synapse 19 is designed to fit people from approximately 5'0" to 6'0" / 1.52 to 1.83m; it's the smaller version of our Synapse 25 (for those 5'6" / 1.68 m or taller or who want a bigger bag — check it out). With 30% less volume, it's ideal for those of us who just don't need to carry as much stuff.

The front of the Synapse 19 is divided into five zippered pockets, all of which zip shut with #8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers:

Though you'd never guess by looking at it, the top center front pocket is deep enough for a 1-liter water bottle (our Lifefactory Water Bottles fit — so should any type of 1-liter or smaller water bottle) or 1-liter hydration bladder. Everyone who has carried a water bottle in a backpack knows how important it is to pack the water bottle wisely so it a) doesn't dig into your back and b) doesn't throw off the weight of the pack. With the water bottle kept in dead center of the Synapse 19, you won't have to worry about either. Removing the water bottle from the Synapse 19 (and replacing it) is a breeze. Note that the water bottle pocket doesn't needlessly continue to the bottom of the bag; that'd be wasted space, plus you'd have to reach farther in to pull your water bottle out. Instead, we took that volume and allocated it to the bottom pocket (where it can serve good instead of evil — see below). Also worth noting: the water bottle pocket has one O-ring. (Yes, we do listen: we're adding O-rings. Just because you asked.)

Below the opening for the bottle pocket is another small zippered pocket, also with one O-ring: it's just deep enough for keys, a wallet, glove liners, or a small camera.

The side pockets are generously sized for sunglasses (in a case or alone), a first aid kit, or even a light Windbreaker-type jacket or down vest compressed in a stuff sack (like our Travel Stuff Sack). The right side pocket has an 200d Halcyon/nylon-lined inner organizational pocket; the left pocket has three pen/pencil slots. Both side zippered pockets feature one O-ring — one comes with an 8" / 200 mm Key Strap.

The bottom front pocket of the Synapse 19 is a great spot for extra clothing or snacks and will easily accommodate a thin wool/fleece sweater, light down jacket and/or Windbreaker-type jacket. If you care to add organization, it's more than big enough for a 3D Organizer Cube (Mesh, Fabric (Halcyon or Parapack), or Clear) or Side Effect; two O-rings are inside this pocket. (Packing advice: tether one of the above-mentioned organizational cubes or Organizer Pouches to the O-rings via a Key Strap.) And because we care about your safety, we've added a 1.5" / 38 mm webbing loop on the exterior bottom of this pocket that's ready to accept the Guardian Light — highly recommended if you ride a bicycle or walk in the dark.

The Synapse 19 has one main, back compartment for large, flat items like notebooks or laptops — it closes with a #8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zipper. It has two O-rings for you to attach Organizer Pouches or tether other items. Also inside the main compartment are four unobtrusive webbing loops, two fore and two aft, to which you can secure the optional Cache (available in sizes specifically for every Apple laptop and iPad; PC users, click here to take a look at our Laptop Fit Guide). When you add the Cache, the Synapse 19 becomes a "checkpoint-friendly" laptop backpack. Here's how it works: on the back (or bottom, depending how you look at it) of the Cache are two parallel "rails" of 1" wide lightweight nylon webbing which extend from the top to the bottom. Included (and already attached for your convenience) with the Cache are two Gatekeeper Rail Clips: unclip the side that isn't clipped to the Cache, slip it through the webbing loops in the Synapse 19 main compartment, and flip it shut. Slip the Cache inside the Synapse 19, and pull it back out: you'll see that the Gatekeeper Rail Clips ride the rails of the Cache, allowing you to remove your laptop from the Synapse 19 entirely while it is still encased in the protective Cache. Doing this at the airport security checkpoint means the X-ray machines (and TSA personnel) will have a clear, unobstructed view of your laptop — allowing you to keep your laptop in the Cache and the whole affair securely held together as one unit. (We think that's much better than having to remove your laptop and dump it in one of those buckets.) Many of us will appreciate this functionality on a daily basis as well: the rail system can be a convenient and quick way to remove one's laptop from the bag. And remember, there are four loops of webbing in the top of the main compartment of the Synapse 19: one pair is on the back side, and one pair is on the front side. That means you can choose to have your laptop against your back or against the front of the bag, whichever seems most comfortable or most convenient. Using all four loops, you could even carry two laptops (or one laptop and one iPad) in the Synapse 19. Note that the "checkpoint-friendly" functionality will only work for one of two laptops — you'll need to remove the second laptop at the airport security checkpoint; TSA does not technically consider an iPad or similar tablet a "laptop," but you never know if they'll ask you to remove device #2 anyway.

Also inside the main compartment is an elastic-topped, open-top pocket. Generously sized to fit a book or two or an extra pair of shoes. The open-top pocket will also fit some sizes of Cache, including the 11" Air, iPad, and iPad mini sizes. (If you plan to carry a water bottle in the water bottle pocket and also an iPad or other device in the open-top main compartment pocket, make sure the device is protected with a Cache or a similar protective sleeve: the water bottle pocket is directly in front of the open-top pocket and your device is best protected from your hard water bottle.)

The remainder of the main compartment opens wide — ready to accept whatever larger items you're packing.

The Synapse 19 is available with an exterior of 1000 denier Cordura® or ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop fabric and an interior of 200 denier Japanese Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric (see the color-selection drop-down list for which have a Halcyon/nylon exterior). 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop — a stellar fabric — is made for us in Japan. Its great tear strength and surprising abrasion resistance comes from the grid of white Halcyon® yarns woven approximately every .25″ / 6 mm parallel to both the X and Y axes (the weft and warp), forming the distinctive “ripstop” pattern (the Halcyon® yarns don’t accept dye and hence remain their natural white color). 1000 denier Cordura® is a classic pack fabric: durable, abrasion-resistant, and with a rougher canvas-like look and texture many have come to appreciate.

For the interior of the Synapse 19 we chose 200d Halcyon/nylon because it's ultra-lightweight and ultratough. We've used this fabric for several years now with virtually no complaints or failures; it's been abrasion tested by both our fabric suppliers and our in-house lab. Conclusion? 200d Halcyon/nylon is perhaps a bit of overkill for a lining fabric, and you expect nothing less from us.

The back panel of the Synapse 19 is padded with 1/4", high quality, closed-cell foam with an exterior of Dri-Lex® Aero-Spacer® mesh and 400 denier nylon. This combination of mesh and smooth nylon is designed to provide maximum breathability while still being gentle on your clothing. The contoured backpack straps of the Synapse were custom designed by Tom to fit folks from 5'6" to 6'6" / 1.68 to 1.98 m. We tested the Synapse backpack straps on a wide range of people — all heights, shapes, and sizes — and we think we've come up with straps that work for just about anyone: no small feat! The shoulder straps are padded with .375" / 10 mm EV50 closed-cell foam and feature an underside of ETC knit to keep you cool and comfortable. The Synapse 19 features 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 (a design inspired by nature). At the top of the back of the pack, you'll find a webbing loop: use it to hoist the Synapse 19 up and onto your back or to hang it on a coat hook.

Enough said. Now get one and get out of here.

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Design Notes

The concept for Synapse was born out my own personal need: I wanted a daypack that had compartments and pockets that made sense to me. My very first step was, of course, sketching, but I soon realized I needed a medium to render the very unique 3D aspects of this new pack. Using a small wooden artist's sketch mannequin and modeling clay, I eventually came up with the basic shape I wanted to achieve. From there, I derived the very basic 2D pattern pieces that would produce this shape. I experimented with a number of different pocket/compartment combinations.

One of my top design imperatives was to have a dedicated water bottle pocket in the dead center of the bag; my experience with very small and/or lightweight packs was that a full water bottle was often the heaviest or densest thing I'd be carrying, and that having the bottle either drift around inside the main compartment or be contained in a side pocket was quite annoying. Furthermore, I didn't want this bottle pocket to be some extraneous protuberance or afterthought; it needed to be integral to the overall design.

Once I had the concept and the basic pattern parts nailed down, I needed to work with my factory crew on making Synapse manufacturable. I knew that the features I wanted were going to be hard to sew, but I wanted to work with my crew to produce a bag that would be something of an esthetic and utilitarian triumph. More than any other design (so far), Synapse relies upon my factory having the best seamstresses and sewers on the planet. My sewing supervisor and lead seamstress, Lai-Fong, still rolls her eyes when we discuss the Synapse: "Why does it have to be so hard to make?" And then we laugh :)
- Tom

Laptop Fit Guide

want help choosing the right size?

1. Measure Your Laptop

Measure your laptop (or Google its make, model, and the word “dimensions” to find its listed dimensions).
Compare its measurements with the chart to the left (swap the Height and Width when measuring for a Vertical oriented Cache).

2. Compare Those Measurements To These

Size Interior Width Interior Height Interior Thickness
Vertical Size 6Z9.1" / 232mm13" / 330mm1.1" / 28mm
New Vertical 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina 20168.3" / 213mm12" / 305mm0.6" / 15mm
Vertical 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina8.6" / 219mm12.4" / 314mm0.7" / 18mm
Vertical MacBook Air 138.9" / 232mm12.8" / 325mm0.7" / 17mm
Vertical MacBook Air 117.6" / 192mm11.8" / 300mm0.7" / 17mm
Vertical 12-inch MacBook7.9" / 200mm11.6" / 290mm0.5" / 12mm
Vertical Surface Pro 3 or 4 w/ Keyboard7.9" / 201.4mm11.5" / 292mm0.5" / 13mm
Vertical iPad Pro 12.9"8.9" / 225mm12" / 305mm0.4" / 9mm
Vertical iPad Pro 12.9" w/ Keyboard8.9" / 227mm12.1" / 307mm0.6" / 15mm
Vertical iPad Air OR Pro 9.7"6.7" / 170mm9.5" / 240mm0.3" / 8mm
Vertical iPad7.3" / 186mm9.5" / 240mm0.4" / 9mm
Vertical iPad Mini5.3" / 153mm7.9" / 200mm0.3" / 7mm
Vertical 7-inch 1315.2" / 131mm7.8" / 198mm0.4" / 10mm

Build your own organization

your bag already has great built-in organization. that said, you may want to add these optional organizational accessories to further organize and protect what you carry.

visible variant TB0508B

1" Padded Hip Belt

The 1" Padded Hip Belt helps to offset some of the weight of a loaded pack.

visible variant TB0321R


The Cache is a protective laptop or tablet sleeve that's available in many sizes to fit a wide variety of devices.

visible variant TB1833-BN

Freudian Slip

Adds 10 organizational pockets to the Synapse 19, of which there are: two folder pockets (folders/papers fit horizontally), three open-top pockets for small electronics or a notebook, two mesh pockets for bulky items, two pen slots, and a business card slot.

visible variant PT0001R-BA

Guardian Light

Our Guardian DF Lights are rugged, easy to use, and work as either flashing safety beacons or interior bag lights. Made in Canada. Choose Strap-Mount as an exterior bag light and Original Base as an interior bag light (includes a lanyard).

visible variant TB0570-EA

Whistle Sternum Strap Half

Our Whistle Sternum Strap Half features a nearly impossible-to-lose whistle integrated into the male (usually the left) half of the sternum strap buckle used on our backpacks and convertible travel bags. The Whistle Sternum Strap Half replaces just one-half of the standard sternum strap included with the Synapse 19.

Lifetime Guarantee

You can expect your TOM BIHN bag to give you years of hard service. Our bags are guaranteed to be free from defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the bag. That means if something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it at no charge.

Defects in materials or workmanship are uncommon and are most often evident while your bag is still new. Keep in mind that daypacks and briefcases are often subject to serious wear in everyday use. We often see TOM BIHN bags that are still solid and in use after five, ten, fifteen, even twenty or twenty-five years, with minor repairs needed here or there. But remember: only true love lasts forever.

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