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Synapse 19 first impression and plea for advice

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    Synapse 19 first impression and plea for advice

    Just received my first TB bag today -- a S19! First thing was to pack it as an EDC and see how it did.

    1) Loaded my 10x12 laptop in the laptop pouch inside the main compartment. It fit snuggly, but I’m happy with it.
    2) Put my 2” 3-ring binder along with a small daily planner in the main compartment. I could cram in one 2” textbook, but it’s tight. No additional books could fit. There is some empty head room that could be used above the textbook and along one side of the book.
    3) Put my Contigo travel mug in the water bottle pocket. The mug doesn’t slide in easily because it hits the side of the laptop inside the front pouch. Not ideal, but I can live with that.
    4) With the mug in place it was a tight squeeze to get my Logitech wireless presenter and Sony digital voice recorder into the small front pocket. Those 2 small items just fit.
    5) In the left most side pocket (facing the front of the pack) I placed a container of 9 dry erase markers. Probably could have crammed more in there, but that’s what I usually carry.
    6) In the right most side pocket I put my stash of pens and pencils.
    7) The bottom front pocket held my glasses and some small snacks.

    Before I received the bag I imagined throwing in a Freudian Slip to hold my loose papers (I’m a teacher), but that was a pipe dream. I would not have the room for the FS and I can put the papers inside the cover of the 3-ring binder.

    I like the size of the S19 (height and width). I just wish that it could be expanded/contracted with zipper or straps so the inside volume of the main compartment could be adjusted for carrying more/less books and papers. I don’t think I would be happy with the extra height of the S25 and certainly don’t need the height or width of the brain bag. My 30 year old North Face pack is about the same height and width as the S19, but it does have a zipper that allows the interior volume to be expanded as needed. Does anyone know whether there is a TB bag that is not too different size-wise from the S19 but with adjustable interior volume?

    Thanks for your help!

    The product page for the discontinued smart alec says they are coming out with a new design - so maybe waiting to see what that design is and if it will work better. It was the same volume as the S25 but had a very different shape and dimensions.


      I had to return S19 the one time that I tried to buy it, because it doesn't work well with books or book-like objects. I've tried to throw in some suggestions here, where people discuss what they would like to see in a future backpack. TB Synapses are not really for books. They are too shallow (I'm talking about the dimension that is vertical if you lay a pack on its back), but too high (so stuff is really too deep in it unless you put something like a folded windbreaker/sweater/EDC pouch to take up the space in the bottom of the pack.


        Unfortunately, as you just found out, the Synapse 19 is not really designed to accommodate a tremendous amount of width in its main compartment. It likes to carry small things in each of the small zippered pockets and a few flat things in the main.

        Sometimes you will be surprised and fit something that doesn't look like it should fit due to the cleverness and shape but it sounds like you are maxing out the capacity of this bag here. The Synapse bags work perfectly from nearly empty to about 20% underfilled. You can definitely cram more in there when you need to and the quality construction can take it, but it will cause the bag to become more egg-shaped and you cannot get things in and out smoothly the way you would normally.

        Of the current lineup which has a huge, Smart Alec-shaped hole in it, I think that the Synapse 25 really will suit you better. Consider that a packed, but not stuffed S19 will slide right into the main compartment of the S25.

        I finally came to an epiphany about my feelings about the Synapse 25. If it is on my back or on a car seat it is not that big of a bag. However, if you are a train commuter like I am (when I am not on my bicycle) the S25 will fill your whole lap while the S19 will happily perch there. If you don't mind putting your bag on the floor, either S25 or S19 will happily sit mostly upright between your legs.

        Anyway, you might enjoy this thread about the S19 vs. S25 in pictures: https://forums.tombihn.com/photos-vi...ggle-real.html

        Or the official Tom Bihn S19 vs. S25 video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzPGPwjwQvk


          Thanks to all for your responses. I was reassured reading your answers and the links. It makes me feel I'm not alone. I really wanted to love the S19, but I don't. I will keep looking at TB bags and hope to find my match.

          Keep the TB faith!