View Full Version : Synapse 19 - another fabric dilemma

10-26-2017, 02:00 PM
Hi everyone,

Now I know there are a few posts concerning this topic in the forum, but as I'm about to make my first Tom Bihn purchase (!!) I'm of course going back and forth about the choice in fabric. I'm a 6'2" guy looking at the Synapse 19 (I don't typically carry my laptop - just my iPad, notebooks, light jacket, water bottle, and lunch) as my EDC for going to work. I would probably add a shopping back inside too in case I need to stop by the store on the way home ;-)

Where I am stuck is whether to get the ballistic nylon or halcyon. Is it more useful to have the 19 in halcyon in case one needs to stuff more in it? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


10-26-2017, 02:12 PM
As a relatively new TB customer I have dealt with this question as well. I have experienced both, and there are a few considerations from my perspective. First is style, I tend to be a little more drawn to the ballistic or cordura as opposed to the halcyon. Second is bag structure. I sort of hate a "floppy" bag and like them to stand up on their own, at least some of the time. This again is a check mark for the heavier fabric. But as you say, another consideration is how much flexibility you have to really stuff it full. IMO the construction of TB bags is such that you can stuff either of them similarly full. The 3D pockets add a lot of "hidden" space in the S19 (which I just bought). Finally, I know its probably in my head but I just feel like the ballistic will last longer and repel weather more than the halcyon. So, as you can see, I am partial to the heavier fabric. I also think you are a taller guy so the extra weight of the ballistic on the S19 probably wont bother you at all. Im just 5'6 with that bag in ballistic and I have no trouble carrying it on long treks. Now, if I was buying an Aeronaut 45 or something to take around Europe, I would likely go for the Halcyon. Good luck!

10-26-2017, 02:26 PM
Thanks for your feedback! I will be heading to Europe next year and will be getting an Aeronaut 45 too ;-) (and maybe a Co-Pilot to carry around!)

The "sturdiness" of the ballistic is what I was first attracted to - but the look of the halcyon is so cool...

10-26-2017, 02:47 PM
Giving your height, look at this video to get an idea how the S19 may look on you. The S19 maybe to small for you. https://vimeo.com/108250716

10-26-2017, 03:09 PM
Thanks for sending the video link wayoflife - that has been something I've been debating as well. I really don't want a "big" bag - and was focusing in on the S19 primarily because it matched up better with what I typically carry everyday. These decisions are hard!

10-26-2017, 05:51 PM
I'm female 5'4" and have the S19 in ballistic because I like a bit of structure to the larger bags... I also like the appearance... the weight difference in the smaller bags is probably not noticeable for most people...I certainly wasn't bothered carrying a full S19 on a 10mi hike (2.5L of water, snacks, med kit, etc).

They are both super durable materials and technically hold the same amount... the halcyon (IMO) is just a bit more flexible for wrapping around odd shaped objects whilst the ballistic is stiffer

Consider it a beauty contest and pick the color you like the best!

10-26-2017, 08:36 PM
I have ordered both the ballistic and halcyon in several different items. I keep going back to halcyon every time. The ballistic is tough and oh so stiff. The S19 is a really well put together bag that isnít floppy at all in halycon. It has enough pockets and zippers that give it good structure. When I first opened the box mine came in, I went... whoa! That is tiny! I was used to like the back to school daypacks, and this is not anything like those, but the pockets are so well thought out and placed, it can hold a ton of stuff and you can find things in it as well. Even if it isnít very full the halycon is not at all floppy.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

10-27-2017, 02:34 AM
I also think the S19 might be a bit too small for you. Just I was also surprised myself at how small the S19 was. I replaced mine with the S25 and although its larger than I prefer, it is a better size for me than the S19.

10-27-2017, 06:58 AM
This is a really personal choice. I prefer ballistic in the exterior fabrics because it is stiff. I just don't like the look of the floppiness of the halcyon fabric, and the fact that you can see the outline of everything you put in the bag. I prefer my bag to be more stealthy as to where I hide my wallet, keys and electronics. Plus, I find the halcyon shop bags I have get scuff marks but my ballistic bags do not. Other people find halcyon works just fine for them.

Personally, I've ordered every bag I own in both halcyon and ballistic, and I always end up sending the halcyon bag back. Also, I just don't like the grid when it's not aligned perfectly.

10-27-2017, 07:48 AM
I am the same hight as you. I would wear a S19 if I did not like the pocket sizes on the S25 better and also like having the extra room.

What I am getting at: maybe it looks small on me but who cares? If not for the above mentioned reasons I would wear it happily enjoying the small footprint.


ETA: I have used mine for a while and am not passing it on permanently in case I want to go back to it.

10-27-2017, 08:32 AM
I think that Halcyon and Ballistic are wonderful fabrics, but Cordura should not be overlooked!

For backpacks that see a lot of use and tough wear, Cordura is a tough fabric that stands the test of time and offer a nice stiffness where the bag will not conform exactly to its contents. I have owned many Cordura bags over the years and I love the drape of the fabric, which dries fast, stretches a little bit to accommodate awkward shapes, and wears very elegantly with abrasion and hard use.

The one real downside to Cordura is that it is very roughly textured and may attract lint or dirt more readily than Halcyon and Ballistic, which are legitimately like Teflon and just bounce off dirt like no other. If you often bring your bags to places that are linty or full of pet hair, you may not want Cordura, but otherwise I think Cordura is a wonderful bag fabric.

I have only had a little bit of experience with Tom Bihn's Ballistic but in my hands it is very stiff and has a lovely texture but definitely does not have any give like Cordura does, which is a huge boon if you are trying to carry just a little bit too much.

10-27-2017, 08:46 AM
thanks to you all for your input on my conundrum! i am beginning to lean towards the S25 primarily because where i live it may be cold in the morning then hot in the afternoon (part of the joys of living near the Rocky Mountains). so having the extra room to stuff my jacket and a pair of shorts would be beneficial.

but generally my S25 will not be packed full. the question is whether the drape of Halcyon (love the Nordic Blue) would be ok. being a former Patagonia fanatic i love my bags to have some colour (i.e., i don't want black in Ballistic for sure - but could be swayed towards Black Halcyon). but the French Blue looks like fun too (thanks for the reminder about Cordura carrot!)

10-27-2017, 02:28 PM
I would order them both and return the one I don't want. I have done that more times than I can count. The hard part is not wanting to keep both of them as they are both so lovely.

10-27-2017, 05:43 PM
Now itís down to Cloud ballistic/UV, Nordic halcyon/Iberian, or Black halycon/Wasabi.... (my better half likes Cloud)

10-27-2017, 08:28 PM
Now it’s down to Cloud ballistic/UV, Nordic halcyon/Iberian, or Black halycon/Wasabi.... (my better half likes Cloud)

order all three, and keep your favorite two (one for you and one for your partner)

10-27-2017, 09:54 PM
Haha Iím sure she would enjoy that ;-)

Iím leaning towards Cloud now too after seeing some other photos of the fabric (darker than what I thought - which is a good thing)

10-28-2017, 11:28 AM
Granted that French Blue is pretty awesome - just wish it was ballistic nylon...

11-02-2017, 09:29 PM
And now it looks like Iím having to wait now for the Nordic/Northwest halycon version... (exactly what I wanted!)