View Full Version : Which smaller day bag to use with Synapse 25 for city travel?

10-17-2018, 09:43 AM
Hi all,

Long-time lurker, first time poster! I am about to order the Synapse 25 after scrolling through forums and reviews for hours. Before I hit "check-out" I hope to order more accessories now since there is no free shipping with TB.

Question is: What is the best smaller day pack to use in conjunction with Synapse 25 for international travel?

For context:
- I am a petite 5'4" 120lb woman who hopes to travel in Japan for three weeks out of just the S25 in Spring.
- I do not consider myself particularly strong, and would like to unload the pack at safe shelters along the way, and transition into a smaller pack. (I am considering ordering the hip belt and frame to help with my weight concerns.)
- I prefer *small* backpack or hip bag over a shoulder bag for convenience. I plan to carry phone, coin purse, wallet, passport, and maybe some extra room for snacks or small goodies along the way. I imagine I would want to carry a water bottle with me (unless water fountains are not a thing there?...Ireland shocked me when I realized they did not have them!)
- I want the bag to either pack up super small and be clipped to my S25, or do double duty use as a packing cube in the S25.

This is my second ever trip, and I feel extremely inexperienced with traveling light but I am committed to the prospect!

Do you think it is the most efficient to use this bag as a packing cube, or would that do more harm in packing efficiently than good? Am I wrong to not consider the TB shoulder bags, or would the cross body annoyance be negligible? (I don't have the best back, so I like even distribution of weight when I can...even 15 lbs in S25 make me wary!)

Part of me thinks I should take the "small pack clipped to the bag" route so I am not constantly shifting items from one bag to the other as we travel around. I like TB but am happy for non-TB recs as well.

Thoughts are most appreciated! I hope I didn't make this post seem too unfocused :)

10-17-2018, 12:29 PM
I'd recommend either the Daylight backpack or the Travel Cubelet - I feel like the things you listed would fit nicely in the Travel Cubelet, and it could fit inside the S25, but it wouldn't have much room for anything else if you wanted to bring around a jacket or purchase things throughout the day. If you think you'd need more than the Travel Cubelet, I think the Daylight Backpack is your best bet because it's small, light, and compact. It can tuck away inside your S25 in a breeze!

10-17-2018, 12:57 PM
Hi @Kintsugi,

Welcome to the forums. Have you seen @Cristina's hack for attaching a Side Effect to the padded hip belt of the Synapse 25?
It's post #16 in the 1.5 Single gatekeeper or alternatives thread that she started

There were also her pictures in an earlier post, that shows sizes and arrangements of the Side Effect before padded hip belt for the Side Effect was an option to support the SE.

I've ended up using a Side Kick (Black 400d Halcyon/Island), but I carry it on its shoulder strap. The extra height of the bag means that it isn't as comfortable to carry around your waist, unless there is some way of dropping it lower down so that the top part of the bag rides lower (hence @Cristina's interest in whether they still sold 1'5" Single Gatekeeper clips so that the webbing loops of the Side Effect could ride lower around the bottom of the Gatekeeper clip attachment points). There is actually another waist belt option for carrying the Side Kick separately that I forgot to mention to @Cristina -- the waist belt for the Citizen Canine is 1.5" width Coyote webbing, and ends with 1.5" double Gatekeeper clips sewn to the end. Although it's only listed in the drop down menu on the Citizen Canine's product page for adding on as an accessory, you can purchase it separately if you contact the Tom Bihn customer service folks directly. But, it still may be more comfortable to carry the Side Effect around your waist than the Side Kick.

However, the Side Kick definitely has more room and organization that the Side Effect if you are only going to carry one of these around with you as a day bag. And the Halcyon version fits easily into the bottom pocket of the Synapse 25 (another @Cristina picture). I did see a skinny water bottle that would fit into the Side Kick just last night (a Japanese brand).

HTH to get some discussion started.


ETA: For pictures of the Daylight Backpack, and also addressing the question of how small it can pack down, see my recent post:
which suggests this bag as an alternative to the packing Cube Backpack for Aeronaut 30. The last picture, and its links, address how small it can pack down (e.g., the halcyon version can be rolled into a Size #1 Travel Stuff Sack; and if you follow the links to the thread that was excerpted from, you'll see size comparisons with other accessories)

10-17-2018, 01:07 PM
@_brianhamilton You just gave me the logical idea that I could always have a super condensed tote rolled up in my cubelet if I needed more storage for on-the-go shopping! I do think the Cubelet looks nice...

@moriond Thank you SO much for the posts. I LOVE how she hacked the Side Effect! They don't have a Halycon in stock right now, so I may need to wait a bit to be able to grab one. I haven't even considered a Side Kick so I'll definitely look at that as well!

Do we know of any other folks who managed that hack? I'm not sure about the logistics since I never seen a bag in person. Would that hack take a lot of fiddling to accomplish?

10-17-2018, 01:12 PM
Does the padded hip belt for the Guide S25 pack work with the regular S25 packs?

10-17-2018, 02:39 PM
Does the padded hip belt for the Guide S25 pack work with the regular S25 packs?


The 1" padded hip belt is this item: https://www.tombihn.com/products/1-padded-hip-belt?variant=32908029831
It comes in either Coyote or Black. Because they've been working through the preorders of the Guides Edition Synapse 25, which uses Coyote trim, there seems to be plenty of Coyote padded hip belts currently in stock, but the black version is currently not available. You can ask customer support when they're likely to be back in stock. Functionally, the padded hip belts are the same, apart from color.

You can also certainly carry another bag or tote inside your Synapse, in the bottom front pocket, or in one of the front zippered side pockets. I often carry a Shop Bag. While the shop bags don't pack up as small as light weight nylon bags, they're very sturdy and have padded handles. I recently posted about being able to carry one around in the pocket of my rain jacket:
While I don't think that is generally going to be the case, it was certain,y very handy for me!

Finally, there are a lot of women in the 5'4" and under category on the forums (including me), so you should get plenty of helpful feedback.


10-17-2018, 06:17 PM
I suggest a halcyon Side Kick - wear it cross body, even though it's not your first choice of carry method... it's a good size to carry what you listed plus a small water bottle (I use a 16oz Nalgene - they are leak proof and relatively inexpensive).
If you think you want to space to carry a light coat/sweater, check out the sizing of the Packing Cube Shoulder Bag... it's bigger than the Side Kick but has less organization. You'd need to add the $6 shoulder strap to carry it.

As @Moriond suggested, the small shop bag (discontinued) or small zip shop bag are great small and versatile bags that also pack small...but you would probably have to hand carry it (fit over shoulder as a tote depends on how you're built).

The various halcyon backpacks from TB seem like they would be too large for what your want to walk around with, unless you don't mind having it be mostly empty..... one option might be the A30 packing cube backpack which has the option of configuring in several ways... check out the photo on the product page where it's in the smallest configuration, carried cross body across the back

Good luck!

10-17-2018, 06:32 PM
I've both the Sidekick and a packing cube shoulder bag as a hip bag/fanny pack. You can use a waist strap at the strap attachment points. They're both very handy bags!

10-18-2018, 12:02 AM
I think the Side Effect or larger Side Kick would be best (or Packing Cube Shoulder Bag if you need lots of extra space).

Possibly the Side Effect as it can be carried with a waist strap or cross body, or hacked onto the S25 waist band or in the S25 outside bottom pocket.

It seems to have a lot of flexible options for you as long as you can fit what you need into it.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

10-18-2018, 07:33 AM
You guys have convinced me to order the SE--thanks all! I will wait for it to come in the Halcyon color I want :3

Thanks again so much for all the amazing information! I will also wait for the black hip belt to come in stock.

10-18-2018, 09:42 AM
I use a Side Effect with a wrist strap for day time trips - holds a lot of stuff and easy to carry.