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View Full Version : Some questions about Synapse 19 for specific use case scenario



rbc3585
04-09-2017, 02:42 AM
Hi everyone!

After doing a lot of research into backpacks and spending a fair amount of time browsing this forum, I've tentatively decided the Synapse 19 sounds like a good fit for me. I have a fairly specific use case scenario, and I live in Australia which will mean horrendous shipping costs, so I want to be sure it will meet my needs. With that in mind, I was hoping you guys could give me some advice.

Firstly, my situation. I'm blind (hence the many questions, as I can't use pictures or comparison videos to get a goode idea of dimensions etc). I use a white cane, which when folded up basically resembles a bundle of sticks slightly more than a foot long. I need a bag with a compartment suitable for stowing this when not in use. Bottle pockets generally work well for this - it sticks out the top so it's easily accessible and the tip which has contact with the ground doesn't touch anything in the bag - but only if they're relatively narrow, deep, and made of strong material so the cane won't poke holes in them over time. Would either the dedicated centre bottle pocket or the side pockets of the Synapse be suitable? And if I use the centre pocket, would the Cane obstruct access to the main compartment?

Secondly, fit and load. I intend to use the Synapse mostly for commuting. I would typically carry either a surface 3 or 13 inch laptop, braille notetaker (slightly narrower and thicker than a large paperback book), cardigan or jumper, waterbottle and occasionally coffee flask, umbrella, battery pack, two phones, some cables, wallet, a few sets of earbuds, keys, snacks and sometimes a takeaway box of food. I'm female, about 5'1, in the vicinity of 105 lbs and have a very narrow frame. As I'm conscious of weight and bulk, is the Synapse 19 overkill for this and should I find a smaller bag? I'm currently using a Topo rover pack, which I find slightly too long at 18 inches. I would occasionally use it for an overnight trip or as a carry-on, but never as my only peace of luggage for extended travel. I looked at the daylight, but the lack of padding in the shoulder straps turned me off.

Thirdly, accessorising. I intend to purchase some extras e.g. organiser pouches, a cache or two, packing cubes etc. Excluding larger items such as the snake charmer and side effect, do the pouches hang vertically or horizontally when clipped to the o-rings? Regarding the cache, how easy is it to take a laptop out of the bag without removing the cache with it? Is there another solution for affixing a sleeve to the bag without using the rail system? Also, are the shoulderstraps of the Synapse wide enough to feasibly sew on some sort of mesh pocket for my phone? Also, does anyone have any ideas for attachable smell proof pouches? I currently keep a tin of mints and a case containing some spare earbuds in the same compartment of my bag, and now the earbuds smell minty haha.

Lastly, styling. I'm currently at university, but I'm wondering how the synapse would go down as an office bag. Which material would be better suited to this? I'm aware this is a matter of opinion/taste, there are probably gendered double standards and the jury's still out on whether it's even acceptable to wear a backpack to work. Using a cane with one hand and carrying a briefcase in the other sounds pretty miserable though, so it would be great to avoid that.

Wow, just realised how many questions that was. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

daisy
04-10-2017, 12:10 AM
Depending on how fat the cane is when folded, I think it would work in the water bottle pocket. I am currently using that pocket for my GoPro with a short selfie stick attached.

I have an older style Synapse 19 which predates the rails for the cache and may have a slightly different strap position than the current model.

I am in Sydney, Australia too and certainly understand the issue of shipping costs for my Tom Bihn addiction.

If you wish, you can send me a Private Message and if we are not too far apart I could bring my Synapse to a cafe somewhere for you to check out.

fae925
04-10-2017, 06:47 AM
I don't have my bag in hand yet, but, I will try to help with what I know.

For your cane, depending on the length of the cane once folded up, it may fit in the water bottle area completely, which I believe is 10-12 inches tall, which would not cause any problems getting into the rest of the bag. Alternatively, you may be able to rest it behind the cache in the main compartment. I can measure pockets for you once my bag comes in to give you accurate numbers if you would like.

I've seen photos of someone at 5'2, and the bag doesn't look too big. At 16 inches, the bottom the the bag rests right around belly button or top of pant band. The top is about 3 inches lower than top of shoulder. I think size wise, you would be good. The only thing that I have heard is that sometimes, depending on shoulder structure, the sternum strap is needed to make the bag more comfortable or make it feel more secure. Some people with for tapered or rounded shoulders said it felt like a strap could slip off, but didn't.

From what I understand, cache will be vertical hang, and it is constructed with clips that attach to the o rings,which connect around two straps that run vertically the length of the cache, which allows it to slide out of the bag almost like a shelf or a drawer. Then you would just undo the velcro to remove the laptop/component. Alternatively, I assume you would be able to just reach in the bag and open the velcro to remove the laptop. The other pouches, depending on which pocket you are using, will likely hang vertically.

Regarding the cell phone on strap question, I don't see any reason you couldn't attach a small or medium organizer pouch with a clip to the strap as there is a bit of webbing on each strap for the sternum strap to attach and adjust on.

For the styling, I personally like the Halcyon due to it not picking up hair or fuzzies (not that the other fabrics do) but I have 3 dogs... I think the darker the bag (like black halcyon), the less it screams grade school, but that said, I don't see any reason you couldn't use a backpack as an office bag.

Long story short, I think that the S19 is the perfect bag for you. I hope this helps. Let me know if you'd like those measurements or if I can clarify or help more.

Jenett
04-10-2017, 06:59 AM
Hi, Aedifica pointed me at your thread because I've got some knowledge of folding canes (don't use one, am around people who do regularly) and also have a Synapse.

Cane:
In terms of width, the water bottle pocket should work fine for a folding cane as long as the bag itself isn't completely overpacked. The bottle container doesn't go down the full length of the bag (because of the bottom pocket), but the bottles mentioned in the description are 10" so you should just have the top of the cane (last inch or so, because there's a little space at the top of water bottles). It's otherwise quite a secure space for that purpose.

Size:
I'm very broadly built, but the Synapse is a very sleekly designed bag - depending how you stack stuff/how bulky your sweater is, you might be a little tight on space if you're carrying everything on your list, but I don't think you'd find the bag overwhelmingly large at all. It's also very well balanced in my experience, so a little more weight is a lot easier to manage.

Pouches:
The pouches have clips at one corner, so they sort of hang diagonally off that (though more vertically than horizontally). For your phone, you could sew on a pouch, but the side pockets are also quite accessible, and easy to grab a phone out of, or there's a small top pocket (zipper right below the water bottle pocket) that may fit your phone. I use my Synapse for a swimming bag these days, and my waterproof MP3 player, headphones, lap counter fit in there with room to spare.

I know some people who've done things like wrapping the keystrap with different materials (hair elastics, elastics with beads, yarn, etc.) so you can have a tactile check on which pouch is which without pulling all the bags out.

Style:
For office use, some people find the halcyon material a little too casual for work though it would be fine in some offices. If you want something that will transfer to office use, I'd pick one of the more neutral cordura fabrics (black, navy, gray), that goes well with colors you're likely to wear to work. I usually pick black for bags I expect to use at work, because that's my default neutral for clothes.

Interior colour will show to others, but only if you're rummaging in the bag, so pick something that would work well for you (if you're someone where sharp contrast colors would help in the interior, I'd think about what would give a good contrast to things you might need to find in the bottom.)

carrot
04-10-2017, 08:22 AM
I carry a Synapse 19 nearly every day, so perhaps I can offer some helpful thoughts.

With the list that you gave us, it sounds like you would be at the very maximum capacity of the Synapse 19. The Synapse 19 likes to carry a handful of flat, largish items, and a whole lot of small, fist-sized-or-smaller items.

Regarding organization with the Synapse 19: Anything that doesn't pack relatively flat in the main compartment can cause the back panel to bulge and impedes access, so plan on putting your computer, note-taker, and carefully folded cardigan in here. There is a fairly large, elasticized pocket on the inside of the main compartment that is good for stashing small items, however if they stray too far from a flat shape they can take space away from the water bottle pocket.

In the bottom "chin" pocket, a small pouch like the Small Snake Charmer works great, as the Snake Charmer is perfect for keeping more small items together. It is a largish, wide pocket without much height, and can hold a surprising amount especially if it is allowed to flex into the space of the other pockets. Some people have carried water bottles in this pocket, although the long, wide zipper encourages you to carry a handful of medium-sized items or a kind of zipper organizer with many small items like cables.

The side pockets are somewhat pear shaped, and each could easily take a Size 1 Travel Stuff Sack, or a small Q-Kit and a flat object like a phone, and would clip into the O-Rings for security, but are not strictly necessary in order to compartmentalize the bag. For reference, a standard 20oz soda bottle or 16oz disposable water bottle fits just fine in each side pocket of the Synapse 19 without bulging into the bottle pocket. These are good places to store a coffee flask or very compact umbrella, but you wouldn't have much space for organizing other small items like phone, wallets, cables. Inside of one side pocket is a patch sewn on to allow you to clip pens or other small cylindrical objects; on the inside of the other side is a patch sewn without compartments that would have fit a small flip-phone of yesteryear - I use it if I want to keep something small like coiled earbuds handy. There is a very small zippered pocket on the front which is good for small items like a few cards, earbuds, chapstick, hand sanitizer.

Just above that pocket is the zippered entryway for a water bottle. For me, I can easily fit a (wide) 32oz Insulated Klean Kanteen Classic, or just barely fit a (tall) 24oz Hydro Flask Standard. My 11" umbrella fits just fine too, but then no water bottle. If the bag is very tightly stuffed, the water bottle pocket loses some volume and no water bottle may fit.

When I use O-Rings in the pockets, I do not use them to dangle items, but rather keep them secured from being separated with the bag. I don't like to clip anything to the O-Rings on the main compartment because they can make the bag carry lopsided on your back and hinder access to larger items.

ilikepie
04-10-2017, 01:08 PM
"Regarding the cache, how easy is it to take a laptop out of the bag without removing the cache with it?"

If I read this correctly, you're talking about how tight is the fit? This turned out to be a problem for me—I had to pull the cache out of the bag and hold on to its bottom while pulling out the laptop, a two-handed operation, which left me having to put the cache back in the bag—and was resolved by a larger cache, from which the laptop just slides out. Call customer service to discuss sizing.

There was at least one forum thread on the subject of "does the cache loosen up over time?" I think the answer is "not really." So go a size up when ordering.

rbc3585
04-11-2017, 06:32 AM
Thank you all so much for the info and suggestions! :)

Hmmm, I had envisioned the organiser pouches quite differently. I assumed the snaphooks were situated along the sides of the pouches, so attaching them would create extra pockets in the bag. I may have to rethink my organisation strategy if this isn't the case. I'd really like to be able to improvise some sort of horizontal zippered pocket within the main compartment of the Synapse, for often accessed, easily misplaced items like lip balm, a hair clip and a small tube of moisturiser. (I usually keep my bag facing away from me when I'm in cramped spaces e.g. full lecture theatres and public transport, to minimise the amount of manoeuvring required to put it back on, so I'd rather keep things I use often in the main compartment closest to me). I've read that attaching a 3d organiser cube or side effect inside the synapse using double carabiners works well for creating more organisational pockets. Can anyone confirm whether either of these is doable while carrying a laptop in a cache? I considered getting a freudian slip to do double duty and just putting my laptop in there, but I'd rather have the flexibility to swap out things as needed.


"Regarding the cache, how easy is it to take a laptop out of the bag without removing the cache with it?"

If I read this correctly, you're talking about how tight is the fit? This turned out to be a problem for me—I had to pull the cache out of the bag and hold on to its bottom while pulling out the laptop, a two-handed operation, which left me having to put the cache back in the bag—and was resolved by a larger cache, from which the laptop just slides out. Call customer service to discuss sizing.

There was at least one forum thread on the subject of "does the cache loosen up over time?" I think the answer is "not really." So go a size up when ordering.

Yeah this helps a lot, thanks!

FoxValleyDame
04-24-2017, 08:28 AM
Lastly, styling. I'm currently at university, but I'm wondering how the synapse would go down as an office bag. Which material would be better suited to this? I'm aware this is a matter of opinion/taste, there are probably gendered double standards and the jury's still out on whether it's even acceptable to wear a backpack to work. Using a cane with one hand and carrying a briefcase in the other sounds pretty miserable though, so it would be great to avoid that.

I'll chime in about the styling. I was really not a fan of the halcyon fabrics for exterior bag materials because I didn't really like the grid pattern of the design. However I recently ordered a shop bag in the black halcyon because I was going to use it to tote things to and from the office, and the black halcyon color would match my work wear the best since I mostly wear blacks and greys. Now that I've been using the black halcyon for a week for work, I have to say that I love it. It definitely can be used in a professional environment, especially because the black halcyon grid pattern is very subtle and even adds a little style. It's also really nice how lightweight the halcyon material is. I think it will quickly become one of my favorite fabrics.

As for using a backpack in a professional environment, I say go for it. I manage a team of people aging from their 20s to their 60s, and some of them carry backpacks. It is perfectly acceptable to me and the other management, and it is perfectly acceptable to their peers. I just wouldn't recommend a backpack to someone in a profession that requires them to bring their bag to client meetings or professional engagements (such as lawyers).

Good luck with your bag decisions, and be sure to let us know what ends up working for you!

rbc3585
04-24-2017, 07:13 PM
I'll chime in about the styling. I was really not a fan of the halcyon fabrics for exterior bag materials because I didn't really like the grid pattern of the design. However I recently ordered a shop bag in the black halcyon because I was going to use it to tote things to and from the office, and the black halcyon color would match my work wear the best since I mostly wear blacks and greys. Now that I've been using the black halcyon for a week for work, I have to say that I love it. It definitely can be used in a professional environment, especially because the black halcyon grid pattern is very subtle and even adds a little style. It's also really nice how lightweight the halcyon material is. I think it will quickly become one of my favorite fabrics.

As for using a backpack in a professional environment, I say go for it. I manage a team of people aging from their 20s to their 60s, and some of them carry backpacks. It is perfectly acceptable to me and the other management, and it is perfectly acceptable to their peers. I just wouldn't recommend a backpack to someone in a profession that requires them to bring their bag to client meetings or professional engagements (such as lawyers).

Good luck with your bag decisions, and be sure to let us know what ends up working for you!

Ha, funnily enough I'm a Law student. My plan is to supplement the S19 with a briefcase or shoulder bag or something with a more professional vibe, should the need arise. I do feel like newer firms/legal startups are a bit less fuddy duddy though (or maybe that's just wishful thinking).

Anyway, my sister is currently in the US, so I ended up ordering a black cordura S19, nordic halcyon SE and some pouches and keystraps for her to bring back so as to avoid the $65 shipping cost. She'll be back tomorrow and I'm excited to check out everything!

I ended up giving the cache a miss, as I was worried about how much bulk it might add to the bag. I found a cheap lightly padded Eagle Creek sleeve with some loops; I'll really only be commuting with the S19 so hopefully it will suffice.

fae925
04-25-2017, 09:09 AM
Glad you decided to order one! Let us know what you think!!

rbc3585
04-26-2017, 06:05 PM
First thoughts

I'm loving how customisable the Synapse is - I've been experimenting with the 3DOC and SE as interior pockets, and sorting all my bits and pieces into organiser pouches. There's nothing small floating around loose in my backpack anymore. I'm amazed by how much such a low profile bag can hold. Also, the Synapse is so comfortable! I stuffed it pretty full and put it on to see how it would feel. The shoulderstraps are the perfect width apart for me, perhaps even a hair too far apart - thank god for the late 2015 change I read about.

The OPs do hold a little less than I anticipated because of the seams around the edges, and because cordura and ballistic nylon are quite stiff. Will have to get some more minis and smalls instead of micros.

Key straps are amazing and I definitely need more of them! I do wish the halcyon ones hadn't been phased out, I'd love some 8 inch ones. Different coloured webbing is pretty useless to me.