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maverick
04-06-2010, 08:01 AM
i carried my steel/solar aeronaut (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0906) and indigo/solar synapse (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0110) on my trip to india. neither was packed to capacity.

in the synapse, i packed:

apple 13" macbook pro in a cache (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0350),
a canon s90 camera in a small padded organizer pouch (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0318),
a couple of books,
a size a4 red 'n black spiral bound notebook,
a few writing instruments,
a pair of sennheiser headphones in a medium organizer pouch (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0317),
a tom bihn organizer wallet (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0319MIW),
other miscellaneous stuff.

Shiva
04-06-2010, 06:22 PM
Hey Maverick: good to know that the synapse will fit A4 size. Folks in india have been asking me and I did not know!
Also: could you take both Aeronaut and Synapse on board the flight? I travel economy--so :)

bluedawg
04-06-2010, 06:34 PM
Shiva, i just returned from a trip and i carried both an aeronaut and a synapse onboard. the aeronaut went above my head and the synapse went under the seat in front of me, no problems. i've travelled that way several times and no one has ever even looked at me twice. :)

Shiva
04-06-2010, 06:39 PM
Hey Bluedawg: you travelled internationally with the aeronaut and the synapse on board? I travel by British Airways and Lufthansa mostly--and BA is quite quite difficult. They allowed only ONE bag--not even my purse. ???

bluedawg
04-06-2010, 06:41 PM
oh, no, i'm sorry-- i didn't realize you were asking about international flights. my trips have all been within the US. whoops!

Shiva
04-06-2010, 06:56 PM
Hey back: that is ok. am relieved to know: or i was gonna pick on big BA!!! Yes: within the US not a problem at all--although with all the increased stuff over carry on, who knows? I am beginning to think we will all soon have to just get on board with a bag, and then go to our destinations and buy everything! Might be cheaper --considering all the bag charges!

maverick
04-06-2010, 11:26 PM
Hey Maverick: good to know that the synapse will fit A4 size. Folks in india have been asking me and I did not know!
Also: could you take both Aeronaut and Synapse on board the flight? I travel economy--so :)

hi shiva,

no fuss at all about carrying the synapse and aeronaut on board, and i too was flying in economy class.

maverick
04-06-2010, 11:29 PM
Hey Bluedawg: you travelled internationally with the aeronaut and the synapse on board? I travel by British Airways and Lufthansa mostly--and BA is quite quite difficult. They allowed only ONE bag--not even my purse. ???

hi shiva,

i know BA was doing that for a while after the liquids issue arose. actually, i don't know if it was just BA or london's heathrow airport. but i believe they eased up on this. i flew BA once with the aeronaut and medium cafe bag, and it was no problem.

keb
04-07-2010, 11:33 AM
I actually flew last summer in France and carried on both the Aeronaut and the Western Flyer. The transAtlantic flight was business class so no worries there but I did have a short hop in France and Air France didn't give me a second look with both getting on board.

Shiva
04-07-2010, 11:58 AM
All: great to know. I think a lot of it is also visual---my small cheap Samsonite is 18inches rollaboard--and it looks diminutive cos it is shaped different. And it holds a ton; ditto the Western Flyer--even fully packed it looks deceptively like a large briefcase. So I can get away with it. That is why I have hesitated about the Tri Star.
Maverick: I like the cafe bag for this reason: even fully packed, the Medium bag looks like a large handbag--I am not sure the new Co-pilot will do that...remains to be seen!

s

addiopolis
04-19-2010, 10:15 AM
I just got my Navy and Solar Synapse in the mail several days ago. I've been using it everyday. I think I like it.

The current contents go something like this:

extra shirt
extra change of clothes for overnight (sometimes)
1-2 books
hand cream
allergy supplements
notebook
dayplanner
water bottle/thermos/bottle of juice or iced tea (one of these usually)
wallet
phone
sunglasses
pens/pencils
chapstick
hairclip
a few groceries (pint of cream, bananas, tofu)
headlamp

all of this really doesn't fill the Synapse, but the nice thing is that the proportions and design of it keep it from feeling as though things are tumbling about in a cave. I love the size, and the dyneema/nylon interior.

It's more full if I put a full change of clothes inside, and still more would fit. I look forward to finding out what other packing lists the Synapse will accommodate.

jmart
04-19-2010, 10:42 AM
Hey all,

Well I used to carry my 15" Macbook Pro, but now since buying the iPad I just carry that. So here it is:

- ipad - pocket in main
- Rhodia 5x5 notepad - Pocket in main
- SIGG water bottle - Water bottle pocket
- Tom bin wallet - left pocket
- Tom bin small clear pouch- bottom pocket
- ipad power supply- bottom pocket
- pens - left pocket
- small umbrella - Main
- Blackberry - right pocket
- another smaill 2x4 rhodia
- head phones - small top compartment
- micro fiber cloth - small top
- chap stick - small top
- bluetooth headset - small top
- Lunch main

This bag is my top choice. I also have the brain bag I use when going on trips. The synapse is so light and feels like it is not even ther, I Love this bag!! I would say that this is the perfect iPad bag! The ipad fits so perfect with the apple case in that compartment that is in the main part.

gmich
04-19-2010, 11:33 AM
I agree. The Synapse is a great ipad bag. I ordered the Cache for the iPad and it should arrive today, so I'm hoping it works well to give a little extra protection.

jmart
04-19-2010, 11:54 AM
I agree. The Synapse is a great ipad bag. I ordered the Cache for the iPad and it should arrive today, so I'm hoping it works well to give a little extra protection.

Cool - Take pictures! i want to know if I get that, will it still fit in the small pouch in the main compartment. :)

addiopolis
05-26-2010, 10:45 PM
Today's contents in the Synapse:
2 - 1/2 gallon Mason jars of milk with an empty 25lb bag for black beans wrapped around them.
2 - small bags (partially filled qt size) of arugula
all my regular bits and bobs: hand cream, wallet, phone, chapstick, pens, medium notebook, paperback book, small datebook and such.
Other random stuff such as small tupperware boxes, jar of pine nuts and a can of energy drink.

It was stuffed but workable and I rode my bike home with all of that on my back.

I was very satisfied.

Yay Synapse!

MtnMan
06-01-2010, 12:05 PM
i carried my steel/solar aeronaut (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0906) and indigo/solar synapse (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0110) on my trip to india. neither was packed to capacity.

in the synapse, i packed:

apple 13" macbook pro in a cache (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0350),
a canon s90 camera in a small padded organizer pouch (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0318),
a couple of books,
a size a4 red 'n black spiral bound notebook,
a few writing instruments,
a pair of sennheiser headphones in a medium organizer pouch (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0317),
a tom bihn organizer wallet (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0319MIW),
other miscellaneous stuff.


Hello Maverick,

You mention Sennheiser headphones in your packing list for the Synapse.

Which model of Sennheisers were you using and how well do they fit in that padded pouch?

Getting a new paid of pro headphones is definitely on my to-do list, and I'm thinking about getting some kind of protective pouch to store them in. I'm wondering what kind of fit I should expect.

Thanks,

--The Mountain Man

maverick
06-01-2010, 01:24 PM
Which model of Sennheisers were you using and how well do they fit in that padded pouch?


the headphones are sennheiser hd 25-1 ii's.

the pouch is the ultrasuede sleeve for the kindle (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB1219K), which has the same dimensions as the medium padded organizer pouch (http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/TBP/TB0318) if you prefer to go that route.

bltkmt
07-16-2010, 08:57 AM
I used my Dyneema Synapse in NYC a few days ago with my wife. It was a rainy day, and we spent the day walking around the Village. The Synapse easily swallowed:


both of our rain coats
two compact umbrellas
Sanyo Xacti camera
wallet, keys, Blackberry, etc
two baseball caps to cover rain hair
extra shirt/sweater for my wife
various items picked up during shopping


Great bag, and I love the Dyneema!

Shiva
09-24-2010, 06:34 PM
Here is a recent packing list: I had to go to NYC on work, and I could not believe all that I got into it!
Main compartment held:
1. TWO two inch binders filled with flyers.
2. 15 rolled up cloth totes--fairly thin; but still --cloth totes!
3. A compact CIRCA notebook: 3/4inch circa rings; so not too thin
4. Several program books--about an inch thick
5. two mini pouches clipped on to rings with adapters, chargers, medicines and so on.

Outside pockets had the usual assortment: phones; pens, pencils, keys, assorted paraphernalia.
Water bottle pocket held TWO 16oz water bottles side by side.

Bottom pocket: had two stuffed quarter gallon ziploc bags filled with buttons!

Carried it all did all over NYC!

Shiva
03-07-2011, 10:57 PM
I think the Synapse is hands down one of my favorite backpacks. On a recent trip back from a conference out West, this is what I had in it:
Main compartment:
1. 2 x 1.5 inch binder

2. rolled up Dyneema backpack cube
3. hat, gloves, scarf: somewhat bulky
4. 4 pouches with various stuff hanging from the O-rings here
5. an old Kipling pouch that serves as medicine bag
6. 2 paperback books (150 pages each)

Water bottle pocket: had water bottle; banana; and I even managed to squeeze in a small yogurt

Bottom pouch: had 3D organizer with toiletries

Side pocket: two mini pouches with adapters, receipts etc.,
Other side pocket had a leather 3x5 from levenger; a small organizer pouch; assorted pens, pencils etc.,

It went beneath the seat of the Southwest plane.

This time I had to take a roll aboard--long story--all my TB bags are with my cousins who are travelling non stop while they are here on a Fullbright! So all I had was this 21 inch rollaboard. I had the WF large pouch with clothes; a small TB pouch; a pair of sandals; lightweight sneakers; a shawl, a merino wool sweater...all this would have fit into my WF without a problem. Here it fit---but it weighed 28lbs for no good reason. All the clothes were lightweight......and I realized I have forgotten how to wheel things too!!
sigh!

s

Shiva
05-26-2011, 04:44 PM
So, by now, everyone knows that this is my favorite go to bag! Katy will post a picture for me this time!
I am travelling to India--after the longest time, and am so excited to be going home!
Carrying the Synapse as my carry on item---if anyone knows anything about standard "desi" travel, you will know how terribly odd this is (other than Maverick who travels light to India!)...

this is what I have in there:
Main compartment:

An Iberian packing cube shoulder bag with a full change of clothes; socks; underclothes
An old Mountainsmith packing cube (about half cube size) with assorted stuff
A leather pouch with documents
A pouch with Indian currency + other documents
A TB wallet with back up cards, Nokia phone for India
A small organizer pouch with sundry items

Lower pocket: 3D organizer cube with toiletry

Right pocket: mini cork pouch with shuffle, ear buds, and charger
Mini pouch with basic medicines
Small pouch with keys, locks, tissues

And best surprise of all: A big fat paperback (Verghese's tome, Cutting For Stone--close to 400 pages)--guess where? fit perfectly in the water bottle pocket!!!

It took me a while to figure that out--and was I surprised! Amazing.....

ncb4
08-07-2011, 11:11 AM
1567

Last Monday I headed off on a day trip to Athens, Georgia: a peaceful 100-mile drive through farmland and pine woods and cotton fields, and even a national forest. My son graduated from UGA four years ago, so I've got no real reason to go there anymore, but I will find any excuse to make the trip; Athens is a great town, and the state botanical gardens are located there as well. I hit Jittery Joe's for chai and a little "café writing" on my Macbook Air, then walked around the state botanical gardens just a couple of miles outside town, taking photos. (I picked one of the hottest days of the summer to do it: aiyee!) Although I was disappointed to find out that my favorite noodle shop, Doc Chey’s, was closed for remodeling, I ate lunch downtown and people watched before I wandered around the historic North Campus. I thought I’d get there before the first rush of students, but there were already lots of kids there with their parents: the last batch of freshmen for orientation.

On previous trips, I've loaded up my Indigo/Indigo Swift, which can carry my laptop, my camera, my notebooks and pens, toiletries, wallet, phone, iPod Touch, and thermal bottle well. There is something about the Puron handles on those double straps that help the Swift feel comfortable on my shoulder even with a heavy load.

But since I've got a new Indigo Synapse, I decided to try that for my trip today instead. This is how I packed it:

Bottle pocket:

For the morning, I put my 16 oz thermal mug in there. Since I had access to my car, I switched that out after Jittery Joe's with a 16 oz. double-walled thermal water bottle that's a bit smaller, actually.

Tiny pocket:

•Neoprene pouch with spare batteries, memory card, remote, and lens cloth for my camera
•Earbuds

Side pocket with pen slots:

•Five pens, four of them Levenger Pocketini pens (I like to write in different color inks)
•Two Moleskine Cahier notebooks
•Packet of Kleenex
Room in here for more

Side pocket with Ultrasuede pouch:

•Plum key strap for car keys
•Sunglasses in internal Ultrasuede pocket
•Mini tin of Altoid mints
Room in here for more

Bottom pocket:

•Detached waist strap from Synapse
•Indigo 3D Clear Organizer Cube with Handle Loop containing all sorts of toiletries. I'm one of those "what if" packers, even with my daily bags, because I've ended up needing all the stuff inside at one time or another, including wet wipes, Band-aids, hand sanitizer, lip balm, artificial tears, comb, brush, hand lotion, and in the summer, a travel bottle of L'Occitane lemon verbena spray. (That is so refreshing to spray on when you're walking around in the steamy heat of a Georgia summer.)

Main compartment:

•13-inch Higher Ground Flak Jacket with my Macbook Air inside.
[Note: This offers excellent protection, but it is kind of bulky. In future I'm going to try carrying the Air in a sleeve, placed inside the large pocket inside the main compartment. But I haven't finished that yet. I'm in the midst of sewing a form-fitting sleeve for my Air out of 3mm industrial grade felt hat offers a surprising among of cushioning with very little bulk, and it's also water-repellent. But I'm still waiting for some Ultrasuede to arrive from Etsy so I can finish the sleeve, so for this trip the Air traveled inside the Flak Jacket.]
•Olympus e620 DSLR with 14-42mm lens attached, wrapped in a cushioned RAPS.
•Attached with key strap to one of the O-rings was my FoT pouch that has my Air's power adapter inside
•Attached with a key strap to the other O-ring in the compartment were a Small Clear Organizer that has spare phone batteries in it, and also a Clear Organizer Wallet with the credit cards that don't fit in my regular wallet
• Tucked down in the large pocket was a large but flat zippered wristlet wallet/purse.

I could definitely squeeze more in the main compartment.

Since this was a day trip with lots of time to sit and rest, and also lots of occasions when I needed to access the bag, I detached the waist strap and wrapped the sternum strap connectors around each of the shoulder straps to tuck away the excess webbing. If I were planning to run through the airport with this on, or go on a hike, I would definitely use both the sternum strap and the waist strap, because it makes it more comfortable to carry a heavy load.

The heat index was 111 degrees, so this was a tough test for my maiden voyage with the Synapse. When it’s that hot, even the lightest bag starts to feel heavy, and every step is an effort. But I truly wasn’t aware of how much my Synapse weighed; this was my first time carrying a load on my back, rather than cross-body or hanging off one shoulder, and it does make a huge difference. You can remain comfortable and rested longer carrying a heavy load if you’re doing so on your back.

One thing I did worry about with a backpack was sweat, but the back panel of the Synapse did a good job of wicking that away from my body. With tropical heat and humidity, nothing is going to keep you from sweating, but when I took off the Synapse, my back was relatively dry. My shoulders were another matter: I had two dark wet stripes on my blouse where the shoulder straps had been. I was actually a bit self-conscious about that when the time came to head back to town from the botanical gardens (where I was the only person crazy enough to be standing out in the noonday sun). And boy, did I think about jumping in the fountain where I photographed the Synapse! But I needn’t have worried too much about my unplanned wet t-shirt ensemble: everybody in town looked just as bedraggled and sweaty as I did.

Two comments about the Synapse. Someone else has already mentioned this on the forum, but it’s easier to pack the main compartment if you fill the bottle pocket first.

Second, I did find that the shoulder straps dug into my underarms a bit. That may be because I haven’t carried a backpack in many years, and I need to get used to it again; or it may be because I didn’t use the sternum strap. I did test the sternum strap once, and it pulls in the straps enough that I didn’t feel that same binding sensation under my arms, so I’ll have to experiment further with this and see what works best.

All in all, this was a great first trip with my lovely new Synapse.

misterN
08-07-2011, 12:56 PM
That's a really great picture, ncb4.

backpack
08-07-2011, 02:17 PM
1567

Last Monday I headed off on a day trip to Athens, Georgia: a peaceful 100-mile drive through farmland and pine woods and cotton fields, and even a national forest. My son graduated from UGA four years ago, so I've got no real reason to go there anymore, but I will find any excuse to make the trip; Athens is a great town, and the state botanical gardens are located there as well. I hit Jittery Joe's for chai and a little "café writing" on my Macbook Air, then walked around the state botanical gardens just a couple of miles outside town, taking photos. (I picked one of the hottest days of the summer to do it: aiyee!) Although I was disappointed to find out that my favorite noodle shop, Doc Chey’s, was closed for remodeling, I ate lunch downtown and people watched before I wandered around the historic North Campus. I thought I’d get there before the first rush of students, but there were already lots of kids there with their parents: the last batch of freshmen for orientation.

On previous trips, I've loaded up my Indigo/Indigo Swift, which can carry my laptop, my camera, my notebooks and pens, toiletries, wallet, phone, iPod Touch, and thermal bottle well. There is something about the Puron handles on those double straps that help the Swift feel comfortable on my shoulder even with a heavy load.

But since I've got a new Indigo Synapse, I decided to try that for my trip today instead. This is how I packed it:

Bottle pocket:

For the morning, I put my 16 oz thermal mug in there. Since I had access to my car, I switched that out after Jittery Joe's with a 16 oz. double-walled thermal water bottle that's a bit smaller, actually.

Tiny pocket:

•Neoprene pouch with spare batteries, memory card, remote, and lens cloth for my camera
•Earbuds

Side pocket with pen slots:

•Five pens, four of them Levenger Pocketini pens (I like to write in different color inks)
•Two Moleskine Cahier notebooks
•Packet of Kleenex
Room in here for more

Side pocket with Ultrasuede pouch:

•Plum key strap for car keys
•Sunglasses in internal Ultrasuede pocket
•Mini tin of Altoid mints
Room in here for more

Bottom pocket:

•Detached waist strap from Synapse
•Indigo 3D Clear Organizer Cube with Handle Loop containing all sorts of toiletries. I'm one of those "what if" packers, even with my daily bags, because I've ended up needing all the stuff inside at one time or another, including wet wipes, Band-aids, hand sanitizer, lip balm, artificial tears, comb, brush, hand lotion, and in the summer, a travel bottle of L'Occitane lemon verbena spray. (That is so refreshing to spray on when you're walking around in the steamy heat of a Georgia summer.)

Main compartment:

•13-inch Higher Ground Flak Jacket with my Macbook Air inside.
[Note: This offers excellent protection, but it is kind of bulky. In future I'm going to try carrying the Air in a sleeve, placed inside the large pocket inside the main compartment. But I haven't finished that yet. I'm in the midst of sewing a form-fitting sleeve for my Air out of 3mm industrial grade felt hat offers a surprising among of cushioning with very little bulk, and it's also water-repellent. But I'm still waiting for some Ultrasuede to arrive from Etsy so I can finish the sleeve, so for this trip the Air traveled inside the Flak Jacket.]
•Olympus e620 DSLR with 14-42mm lens attached, wrapped in a cushioned RAPS.
•Attached with key strap to one of the O-rings was my FoT pouch that has my Air's power adapter inside
•Attached with a key strap to the other O-ring in the compartment were a Small Clear Organizer that has spare phone batteries in it, and also a Clear Organizer Wallet with the credit cards that don't fit in my regular wallet
• Tucked down in the large pocket was a large but flat zippered wristlet wallet/purse.

I could definitely squeeze more in the main compartment.

Since this was a day trip with lots of time to sit and rest, and also lots of occasions when I needed to access the bag, I detached the waist strap and wrapped the sternum strap connectors around each of the shoulder straps to tuck away the excess webbing. If I were planning to run through the airport with this on, or go on a hike, I would definitely use both the sternum strap and the waist strap, because it makes it more comfortable to carry a heavy load.

The heat index was 111 degrees, so this was a tough test for my maiden voyage with the Synapse. When it’s that hot, even the lightest bag starts to feel heavy, and every step is an effort. But I truly wasn’t aware of how much my Synapse weighed; this was my first time carrying a load on my back, rather than cross-body or hanging off one shoulder, and it does make a huge difference. You can remain comfortable and rested longer carrying a heavy load if you’re doing so on your back.

One thing I did worry about with a backpack was sweat, but the back panel of the Synapse did a good job of wicking that away from my body. With tropical heat and humidity, nothing is going to keep you from sweating, but when I took off the Synapse, my back was relatively dry. My shoulders were another matter: I had two dark wet stripes on my blouse where the shoulder straps had been. I was actually a bit self-conscious about that when the time came to head back to town from the botanical gardens (where I was the only person crazy enough to be standing out in the noonday sun). And boy, did I think about jumping in the fountain where I photographed the Synapse! But I needn’t have worried too much about my unplanned wet t-shirt ensemble: everybody in town looked just as bedraggled and sweaty as I did.

Two comments about the Synapse. Someone else has already mentioned this on the forum, but it’s easier to pack the main compartment if you fill the bottle pocket first.

Second, I did find that the shoulder straps dug into my underarms a bit. That may be because I haven’t carried a backpack in many years, and I need to get used to it again; or it may be because I didn’t use the sternum strap. I did test the sternum strap once, and it pulls in the straps enough that I didn’t feel that same binding sensation under my arms, so I’ll have to experiment further with this and see what works best.

All in all, this was a great first trip with my lovely new Synapse.

The key to optimum comfort with TB backpacks is to experiment with straps length and sternum strap placement when the backpack is fully packed.

ncb4
08-07-2011, 02:43 PM
The key to optimum comfort with TB backpacks is to experiment with straps length and sternum strap placement when the backpack is fully packed.

Thanks, aptly-named @backpack. I did play around very briefly with strap length, and I did find that they were more comfortable when I lengthened them. But I was also trying to keep the weight of pack up, because I've read that many people wear their backpacks too low, and this causes extra strain. I need to play around and find the happy medium, I think.

ncb4
08-07-2011, 02:44 PM
That's a really great picture, ncb4.

Aw, thank you, misterN!

dgrls
08-08-2011, 07:15 AM
1567

Second, I did find that the shoulder straps dug into my underarms a bit. That may be because I haven’t carried a backpack in many years, and I need to get used to it again; or it may be because I didn’t use the sternum strap. I did test the sternum strap once, and it pulls in the straps enough that I didn’t feel that same binding sensation under my arms, so I’ll have to experiment further with this and see what works best.



I have a fabulous steel/steel dyneema snapse that I have never been able to carry due to the shoulder straps issue, too. No matter how I adjust the straps, I can't get them comfortable; they're either cutting off circulation or pinching a nerve (not sure which). Must be my body type or middle age that's the problem! I probably need to sell or trade it for a non-backpack bag so I can try out some other wonderful Tom Bihn bag. I've been extremely happy with all the rest of my other TB bags and accessories.:)

dwright17
11-20-2011, 04:29 PM
Hi Everyone -

I've been a Tom Bihn fan for about 6 months now, having purchased a Western Flyer, 2 Co-Pilots, a small cafe bag, several pouches, and a Synapse. I finally decided to take some time to post about my newest purchase, the indigo Synapse. Brian graciously helped me decide how to spend my birthday money last week, and we agreed the Synapse would be the best all-around bag for me. I'm absolutely thrilled with it! Here's what I carried yesterday on my first trip with it:

Main compartment:
- A pair of tennis shoes (womens size 6)
- A pair of heavyweight fleece sweatpants
- A tank top
- An extra pair of socks
- A 3D organizer cube with toiletries
- Several papers in the pocket on the back

Top zippered compartment:
- Business card and gift certificate

Water bottle pocket:
- Stainless steel 1 liter water bottle

Bottom zippered pocket:
- Wallet attached a key strap
- Checkbook

Side pen pocket:
- Flashlight attached to a key strap
- 2 Clif bars

Side phone pocket:
- Snack bag of trail mix
- Keys attached a key strap
- iPhone in ultrasuede pocket

Of course, there was a lot of room to spare.

I'm only 5 feet tall, and many bags look huge on me and feel pretty heavy, but not this bag. The Synapse felt light as a feather as I carried it around all day. I've never felt straps that comfortable, and they actually fit my narrow shoulders! I just bought a MacBook Air 13" today (another thrilling moment!), and it will fit into the Synapse perfectly. Bags, and gadgets - what a great week!

firewatch
12-03-2011, 01:49 PM
Hello! I recently bought my first Tom Bihn bag: an olive/solar Synapse. I purchased it to take on a four-week trip to China. It was the only bag I took with me, which was a big change in my packing habits. I used to carry an old school-size backpack on short trips, and rolling luggage on long trips. The old backpack made my back feel awful, and rolling suitcases don’t mesh well with staircases. It was definitely time to try something new, and I was inspired by online articles and blogs to pack as little as possible.

I'm just over five feet tall, so the Synapse is the perfect size. I'd never owned a backpack with a waist strap before, but I quickly learned the advantage of letting the weight rest in its proper place. When fully packed the weight of the Synapse was a little much for me (yes, I'm weak), but I could walk around for a couple of hours before it became a problem. On most days I was able to leave the majority of my gear behind at the hostel anyway.

In the main compartment I packed my clothes (one spare set and pajamas), a manila folder with my documents, a pair of foam flip-flops, a sarong, and other odds and ends. To pack my clothes I put them in a 12" Loksak and then sealed it while sitting on it to eliminate any extra air (always fun). I still had room for snacks and a sandwich / cup o' ramen.

I didn't bring a water bottle, but I bought ones along the way and there was always room in the water bottle pocket. Normally I use a reusable water bottle, but drinking tap water in China isn't a good idea. I did wish I'd brought a mug or thermos because hot, boiled water was nearly always available.

In the little pocket I packed the couple of cords I needed and a rechargeable battery. The only electronic device I brought with me was a smart phone I could put in my pocket. I filled the side pockets with toiletries, including all-in-one soap. In the bottom pocket I packed a thicker cord to charge the battery, a universal plug adapter (never used it), a glasses case, and my rain jacket in its pouch.

Everything else I brought I either wore or put in my pockets or money belt. Sometimes it was inconvenient to have so little, like when I had to dry my clothes by wearing them. And I missed my laptop. But it was liberating to be so mobile, and I had an awesome trip.

My packed bag at the airport in Chengdu:

1944

Walker
12-03-2011, 02:53 PM
Firewatch, I do believe you hold the record for light packing! Four week trip with only the Synapse! And your bag does not look like it is packed cramp from the photo. Congratulations!

ncb4
12-04-2011, 06:02 AM
Wow, I cannot believe you were able to travel for four weeks in China with just the Synapse. Amazing! TB should offer its own Nobel Prize for that kind of accomplishment.

nukediver
12-04-2011, 09:39 AM
That is just amazing! I will have to remember this every time I pack for a trip.

firewatch
12-04-2011, 08:17 PM
Thanks so much! I actually got the idea here: 2011 Unpacking Video - YouTube (http://youtu.be/bo6_WVoUR1Q)

Badger
12-04-2011, 09:43 PM
I think you've actually done better than the guy in the video in terms of minimalism. Although, I gotta give him props for the Luna sandals.

timothy
12-06-2011, 10:07 AM
Firewatch: In 2005, I took a trip to China (pre Tom Bihn bag), and I think I may have packed even lighter than you did -- but my trip was only half as long ;)
I stayed in rather luxurious hotels, didn't pack much in the way of toiletries therefore (I think it was just toothbrush, razor, shave oil, toothpaste, deodorant), and along with some necessary papers / wallet materials (incl. passport) and all my clothing, everything fit into a (conference promotional giveaway) O'Reilly Publishing backpack that could fit under my airline seat. Cheat: I carried my cheap small-SLR-style camera around my neck at all points, did not bring a case for it. It was nerve wracking at points not to have a computer, but I took this trip between employment and entering grad school, so it was a lot less nerve wracking than it would have otherwise been ;) For my next international travel, I am definitely considering the synapse -- you make a good case for it. Then, my Tri-Star is carry-on friendly, too, and the hidable straps I think make it better if it ever must be treated as baggage.

timothy

gmanedit
12-06-2011, 11:08 AM
Thanks so much! I actually got the idea here: 2011 Unpacking Video - YouTube (http://youtu.be/bo6_WVoUR1Q)

I gave up after three minutes. Did I miss anything?

SusanA
12-06-2011, 11:17 AM
Absolutely amazing! I'm not sure I could do that (although the Synapse is my go to bag for weekend trips) but it's great to know it worked for you.

Lani
12-06-2011, 12:20 PM
Wow Firewatch -- I espouse packing light, and you have my seal of approval!

You should be proud to know that you are among the elite of light packers--I can only think of a small group of people who have managed to travel as lightly as you. Congratulations!

RedBeard
12-06-2011, 12:21 PM
Wow firewatch! I think the only way to pack lighter would be not to pack at all! What did you do for laundry soap while traveling? I notice you don't have any toiletries listed.

JoyR
12-11-2011, 04:54 PM
@Firewatch--yours is one of the most impressive light packing posts I've ever read!

firewatch
12-13-2011, 03:54 PM
Wow thank you again for the compliments! Sorry for the delayed response, I thought I was signed up for email updates but they stopped for some reason, blergh.


Firewatch: In 2005, I took a trip to China (pre Tom Bihn bag), and I think I may have packed even lighter than you did -- but my trip was only half as long ;)
That's terrific! What part(s) of China did you visit? I stayed in one hotel in Hong Kong and I can see how you wouldn't need much, since toiletries and towels and everything (even toothbrush and toothpaste!) are provided.


I gave up after three minutes. Did I miss anything?
Haha I couldn't sit through the whole thing either -- I just didn't want to steal credit for the idea.


Wow firewatch! I think the only way to pack lighter would be not to pack at all! What did you do for laundry soap while traveling? I notice you don't have any toiletries listed.
I used Dr. Bronner's all-in-one soap as my bath soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. I would just put my clothes in the loksak (ziploc bag) with water and a few drops of soap to soak. The results were okay, passable (I hope). I had to rub the soap in sometimes to really wash stuff and it doesn't foam up easily. But it does rinse out quickly. And a little goes a long way so I used maybe an ounce total (but I brought 4oz). My other toiletries were: shower cap, razor, crappy folding travel brush (broke by the end), deodorant, small hair gel, 2 or 3 bandaids, chapstick, small moisturizer, travel toothbrush & toothpaste, floss, 2 pairs of earplugs, one stain remover wipe, a few pepto bismol chewables, a few strips of tongue-dissolving cold medicine, a mini-MSR packtowl, and a lunette cup (great for travel and the environment). I also had a hand sanitizer attached to one of the Synapse zippers, which I was told was very American. I did wish I had more cold medicine with me when I got sick -- the medicine in China is either "herbal" (pills) or traditional.

I'll have to figure out how to squeeze my laptop in for future trips -- yikes.

Shiva
06-14-2012, 07:50 PM
My favorite Synapse wins again for a 10 day summer institute trip: I need to take quite a bit: lots of teaching materials; more clothes than usual since I am staying in the residence halls of a university--it is going to be hot (Dallas, TX!)--and it is going to be hard to do laundry. I have a small carry on. Managed all that. I have been flip flopping between the Smart Alec and Synapse as the second carry on bag. I still think I am amazed at how well the Synapse packs. I put in a 1inch hard binder with stuff; MacBook Air 11 inch in a case; a Rhodia notebook; two pairs of glasses in hard cases. Chargers for Iphone and MBAir in 2 small pouches; 2 mini pouches with money and other assorted cards. A small water bottle in the pocket. And there is room to spare. It all fit in of course in the Smart Alec: but somehow, it does not carry as well. I find that the Smart Alec travels best when it is full: with the vertical organizer, my Backpack packing cube, and the MacBook Air, it is fantastic. Not otherwise. As someone else said, an underpacked Smart Alec is not the same as an overpacked Synapse!!!

LuanNguyen
06-23-2012, 09:18 PM
Hi Everyone,

I just got my Synapse yesterday. I really like the design. However, the side and bottom of the main compartment do not have Dyneema/nylon fabric. I wonder why. It would be looking nicer and holding the bottom better.

What your thoughts?

Thanks,
Luan

LuanNguyen
06-26-2012, 08:03 AM
I moved my question into Synapse question Subject.

dichroic
07-25-2012, 02:10 AM
Am I right in thinking a Synapse will NOT fit a 15" laptop, even in just a Cache? (I have a MacBook Pro at home, Lenovo Thinkpad for work.) I kind of want a Synapse, but this may be a deal breaker for me.

photocat
07-25-2012, 05:30 AM
Am I right in thinking a Synapse will NOT fit a 15" laptop, even in just a Cache? (I have a MacBook Pro at home, Lenovo Thinkpad for work.) I kind of want a Synapse, but this may be a deal breaker for me.

I don't think it will. I have a Synapse (2 actually!) and a 15" work laptop. The laptop fits by itself in the Synapse just fine but I don't think it would work with a cache -- perhaps a thinner, fairly snug neoprene type case it may. I don't use it daily to carry my 15" laptop but when I do, it is fine. It isn't like I go throwing the thing long distances or anything. I suppose if there was some accident like me falling down the stairs or something with it that may be an issue (in more ways than one) but in general use, I find I don't need all of that padding anyway. YMMV :)