View Full Version : Synapse 25

03-16-2014, 01:09 PM
I have to say that I am a luggage hound. I am always on the look for bags that will fit my particular needs, as well as my frame. I found Tom Bihn bags on the onebag.com website, and have purchased a Tristar, which is nice, but I really needed something smaller for a solo trip to Hawaii for a conference. I would be visiting three islands, with hopes of overnight camping on one of them using my camping hammock, so the bag needed to be big enough to get me through ten days of travel (including hiking and camping) on three islands with just me. I contacted customer service because I had read great things about the Synapse 19. Someone suggested I try a Synapse 25 for 10 days' worth of gear, so I went with that. I have not been sorry.

Typically when our family of 4 travels, we do "carryons only" anyway, so attempting to travel light is nothing new. But this was a real adventure for me in trying to make it 10 days with only my Synapse 25 and an LL Bean nylon tote as my "personal item." Packing the Synapse was easy, once I figured out where I wanted each parcel to go. I tend to use packing cubes so that I can keep track of my clothing more easily (sorry to say they weren't Tom B). I love the organizational possibilities, and the balance of the bag with the water bottle pocket in the middle. It is rather like the wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia - much bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. I got it in the Dyneema blend to shave off a few ounces of weight.

I had a great trip and although I didn't use my camping stuff (mailed it home after my camping opportunities had passed), there was plenty of space for my hammock, rain fly, bug net, ropes and stakes, as well as my clothing, water bottles, toiletries and other small necessary camping items, plus a Bluetooth keyboard and my Kindle Fire in place of a laptop, and all the electronics accessories needed for that and my phone (split between the Synapse and my tote bag). The pack never felt too heavy (even when I had loaded it with 20 pounds of stuff). I am 5' 3" and about #120 and I didn't find it too big for me. It fit beautifully under the seat even on the smallest commercial flights.

Fast forward a few months when I took a short trip for a conference in Atlanta. My packing needs were very different but I took the same two bags and it worked great. Since I was going to be sitting in lecture for 30 hours, I brought along my chain maille jump rings and pliers to "process" the rings for my jewelry business - something I often do when I have to sit and listen for long periods of time. (It helps me to listen better if keep my hands busy.) So I had three 1/2 gallon zipper freezer bags full of aluminum rings packed along with my clothing, and it wasn't as warm in Atlanta in February as it can be, so I had some warmer clothing as well.

So far I've only taken two trips with my Synapse 25 but I look forward to many more. I have friends traveling to Israel in the summer and I've offered to loan the bag to them, and I plan to take it on our family vacation this year. I think I'll have to make more travel opportunities for myself so that I can use the bag more. I highly recommend it, and the Tom Bihn customer service people for their advice. I wish I got a commission for advertising the bag, because I tell so many people about it. :)

03-16-2014, 11:11 PM
Wow. That's quite a travel-luggage review for an EDC-style backpack!

ScottE22 posted a neat road-warrior's demo video on the Synapse 25 (http://forums.tombihn.com/photos-videos/6905-my-first-whats-my-bag-video-synapse-25-a.html) over in the Photos & Videos sub-forum a while back. He made his S25 into a mobile office and sometimes-travel sack. Looks as amazing and your review reads.

What do you use for your internal packing cubes/sacks/containers, particularly for clothes and 3-1-1 items, etc.? Do you use the S25's o-rings for anything?

03-17-2014, 03:35 AM
Ok, ten days in a S25? I'm doing something wrong. Might it be possible for you to out together a packing list for the10 day trip? I want to figure out what I'm packing too much of. Sounds like a great trip. Were the bags of jump rings heavy? What packing cubes did you use? So many questions. :)

03-17-2014, 07:11 AM
Ok, ten days in a S25? I'm doing something wrong. Might it be possible for you to out together a packing list for the10 day trip? I want to figure out what I'm packing too much of. Sounds like a great trip. Were the bags of jump rings heavy? What packing cubes did you use? So many questions. :)

I've done 2 weeks in a Synapse 25. Probably though my small feet/size helps.

03-17-2014, 09:22 AM
I've done 8 days in a Synapse 25 with an Imago as personal carry. Since this was a car trip, I could organize more idiosyncratically to meet my own needs as opposed to airport conditions. That said I devoted my S25 totally to clothing and personal hygiene items....and I am well upholstered. And I say, if you can pack for 7-8 days, it's as good as packing for forever. My main caveat....this was summer. So most clothing was lightweight and we had a washer and dryer at our destination. But because this was to the Oregon coast, even in August we needed wool layers, a packable primaloft jacket, and rain gear. I did use the PCSB for packing (and since then I've purchased two more as I prefer the ability to stack them inside the S25 AND colorcode the contents) and then as an EDC because it handled my usual daily kit plus could easily accommodate my wind shell. All this being said, the key for me on this trip was my success in limiting myself on the nonclothing gear. I only took phone, Ipad mini, and chargers. Mr Monkeylady was happy to assume photography duties and he toted his binoculars. Now that I own a Pilot, a more gear-intensive trip is possible with the S25 continuing to serve for clothing only.

03-17-2014, 04:17 PM
The best I've done is about a week in an S25 with no other bags. I even managed to get my SE in there. I must learn to do better.

03-18-2014, 12:02 PM
I just did five weeks in Australia with a Synapse 25 and a Side Effect. It was very hot and we had access to washing machine most of the time. I am a slimish female and don't dress up much so it was perfect for a small bunch of clothes. Including what I wore the list was 4 bottoms, 5 tops, 3 socks, 6 undies, 2 bras, one warm flannel shirt, one swim suit and sarong, one cap. I wore good airated Timberland walking shoes and packed flip flops. Just took the iPad mini, loaded with books and it was fine for the happy snaps I like to take. I took some nice but small gifts and brought back as much Lucas Papaw as I could fit in the 3-1-1 bag as gifts. We were visiting family so could borrow a beach towel from them. Otherwise I would have bought one there and left it, as the beaches are simply gorgeous.

I could have done with one less bottom but it all fit and weighed 6.9 kilos - Cathay Pacific has a limit of 7 kilos but they were not checking any that I saw. The S25 and side effect worked great.

03-21-2014, 08:45 AM
Me too me too! I would love to see your packing list!

My S25 had to enjoy a 10-day business trip wherein I was able to manage 1 clean top per day, 4 trousers, flip flops, extra strappy semi-casual sandals, loads of underwear, probably 5 extra shirts including ones I slept in, 3 board shorts for lounging (lightweight!), all toiletries in small sizes that passed thru carry-on, all the usual chargers for biz laptop, ipod, fon, my handy capsule speakers, fak, hydroflask water bottle, and other miscellaneous crap like flashlights and such :)

To be fair, my biz laptop was on a slim briefcase-y bag where I also put my fons, wallets, etc. I didn't have any extra tote/bag with me anymore.

I too was amazed how much I was able to pack inside. I'll try to find that photo in comparison to my companions' pack.

03-21-2014, 12:42 PM
You guys rock. Wow. I aspire to the minimalistic bar you've set!