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Synapse 19

Regular price $210.00
  • Black 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
  • Black 525 Ballistic/Island 200 Halcyon
  • Black 525 Ballistic/Wasabi 200 Halcyon
  • Cloud 525 Ballistic/Island 200 Halcyon
  • Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Island 200 Halcyon
  • Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Solaris 200 Halcyon
  • Ursa 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
  • Coyote 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
  • Wilderness 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
  • Black 400 Halcyon/Island 200 Halcyon
  • Black 400 Halcyon/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
  • Taiga 400 Halcyon/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon
Add a Size of Cache: Add Freudian Slip:
  • Everything you buy from us here at TOM BIHN is satisfaction guaranteed. We’ve been in business for over 30 years and we stand behind what we make.

    If something goes wrong and it's our fault, we'll fix it for free. Repairs due to normal wear and tear or due to other things that are not our fault will be performed, when possible, at a reasonable charge right here in our Seattle factory where your bag was made. Defects in materials or workmanship are uncommon and almost always evident while the product is still new. Keep in mind that bags and packs are often subject to extreme wear in everyday use: do not expect them to last forever. Only true love lasts forever! You can expect a TOM BIHN product to give years and years of hard service.

    Face Masks
    Our masks are satisfaction guaranteed. Please if you're happy with your mask *or* there's something that doesn't work for you. We want to hear from you!

  • Our bags and face masks are designed and cut & sewn right here in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

    That allows us to be control freaks in the best way possible; we have direct control and oversight of the quality of our materials, our products, and the jobs and working environment that we help create. It also offers us a unique spontaneity: when we have an idea for a new product or accessory, we can design it, figure out how to build it, add it to our website and be ready to ship it out our front door all within just a few weeks. How cool is that?

    Intrigued? You can more about the unusual way we do business on our Company Philosophy page.


bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified Ultralight 400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop
— or —
bluesign® certified 525 denier High-Tenacity 2x2 Ballistic exterior
bluesign® and OEKO-TEX® certified 200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric lining
Spacer Mesh upper back
bluesign® certified 210 denier High-Tenacity 2x2 Ballistic nylon lower back
Closed-cell foam back
Edgeless EV50 1/2” / 12mm shoulder straps (EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® foam)
Duraflex®, Nexus, and Woojin buckles and related components
#8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers


Sewn in USA with globally sourced materials
100% finished seams


Dimensions: 11.4" (w) x 16" (h) x 7.9" (d) / 290 (w) x 410 (h) x 200 (d) mm
400d Halcyon/420d nylon ripstop: 1 lb 9 oz / 708 grams
525d Ballistic: 1 lb 11 oz / 752 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
What's Included:
1x 8-inch Black Webbing Snaphook/Snaphook Key Strap
1x Black Zipper Pulls w/ Plastic Ends (8-Pack)
1x Sternum Strap Assembly
1x Gatekeeper Waist 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.

It features our beloved Edgeless 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 (and most people who have worn these straps) find that this increases comfort. Yet the straps aren’t too soft: the 1/2” thick EVAZOTE® OEKO-TEX® certified foam means the strap is robust enough to carry a heavy load.

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 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 a 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 (also known as rail 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 or tablet 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 device — 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 device 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 or tablet 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 tablet) in the Synapse 19. Note that the "checkpoint-friendly" functionality will only work for one of two devices — you'll need to remove the second laptop at the airport security checkpoint.

In addition to the Cache, the rails loops can also tether the optional Synapse 19 Internal Frame—you can even secure the frame and a Cache to the same set of rail loops. A clever “T” bar holds the loops in place relative to the frame, allowing the lower edge of the internal frame to float freely; in all of our testing, we’ve found this isn’t much of an issue as the bag’s contents tend to keep this lower extreme in place. The frame is constructed of die-cut .060” thick High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), with a nylon webbing sleeve sewn down the center that encases a removable 1” /25mm wide 6061 aluminum stay. We’ve bent the stay to a generic spinal curve but we recommend you re-bend and/or adjust the curvature to best fit your own back (video instruction here). Some folks swear by internal frames and others find them superfluous. For more on internal frames—how they differ from "frame sheets" and the pros and cons of using one—see our Guide To Backpack Frames.

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.

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. More on external fabric options for the Synapse 19 are below in the Choosing an Exterior fabric section.

The back panel of the Synapse 19 is padded with 1/4", high quality, closed-cell foam with an exterior of Spacer mesh and 210 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 for maximum comfort. 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 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.

Choosing an Exterior Fabric

You like choices and we like to give you choices! That's why the Synapse 19 is typically available* in three different exterior fabrics. Our Materials Glossary explains each fabric in great detail, but here are some quick facts that may help you decide which to choose. And we're always here if you have questions:

400d Halcyon
Weave: plain weave with 1/4” / 6mm ripstop
Fibers: 400 denier type 6 filament nylon (base fabric); 420 denier ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene ripstop grid
Coating: light urethane
Made in: Japan

Choose this fabric if:
  • You want a lighter weight alternative to traditional nylon fabrics that has remarkable tear strength and good abrasion resistance.
  • You're looking for a fabric with a modern, "technical" appearance.
  • You have pets: 400d Halcyon doesn't collect pet hair, reducing your monthly lint roller costs.

525d High Tenacity Ballistic Nylon
Weave: 2x2 “ballistic” weave
Fibers: 525 denier type 6,6 (high tenacity) filament nylon, twisted
Coating: heavy urethane
Made in: South Korea with Canadian yarn

Choose this fabric if:
  • You want your bag to be soft and supple yet tough as nails.
  • You want a fabric that's stately enough to be at home at work, the mountains, or a nice hotel.
  • You don't want your bag to collect pet hair or abrade your clothing.

1000 denier Cordura®
Weave: plain weave
Fibers: 1000 denier type 6,6 texturized nylon, discontinuous surface fibers that mask surface damage caused by abrasion
Coating: medium urethane
Made in: U.S.A.

Choose this fabric if:
  • You want a durable, canvas-like, natural-feeling fabric, and don't mind the slightly rough texture.
  • You appreciate that it's been the outdoor industry's go-to, classic pack fabric for the past four decades.
  • You don't care about your bag collecting pet hair or lint.

*There may be times when one of the exterior fabrics mentioned here isn't available. Even with our best efforts, the demand for our bags occasionally outpaces our production capabilities: at times, some products, color combinations, or fabrics might be temporarily unavailable or "In Production." See the In Production color combinations as a guide to what our factory crew is making and what will be available next.

Customer Reviews

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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

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).

Laptop Measurements Diagram

2. Compare Those Measurements To These

Size Interior Width Interior Height Interior Thickness
10A (10.5" iPad Pro)9.76" / 248mm6.61" / 168mm0.31-0.78" / 8-20mm
10B (iPad or 9.7" iPad Pro)9.33" / 237mm6.46" / 164mm0.31-0.78" / 8-20mm
11A (11" iPad Pro)9.87" / 250mm7.25" / 184mm0.31-0.78" / 8-20mm
12A (12" Macbook)10.94" / 278mm7.51" / 191mm0.31-0.78" / 8-20mm

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