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Which Backpack - million dollar question

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  • MtnMan
    replied
    I've been looking at backpacks for some time, and still haven't made up my mind or committed any funds (money is really tight now) for a new one. So I'm in the same boat as Hasib.

    Bottom line is that if you're looking at dedicated backpacks on the Tom Bihn web-site, your choices are the Synapse, the Smart Alec and the Brain Bag. The Ruk's Sack is currently unavailable, so that's off the table for now at least.

    Another possibility would be the ultra-expensive Airborne C-Ruck backpack from Red Oxx. Lots of room and a wide-open mouth on that specimen. There's also a smaller version of it called the Roadster Mini-Ruck. Both are more targeted for the outdoorsy, hiker/hunter types. As far as finding a backpack that is not "ugly", that's a very subjective consideration. If you want a hyper-stylish backpack, Timbuk2 has some colorful offerings on their web-site.

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  • hasib
    replied
    Initially, I was excited about Brain Bag. Looking at some pictures, it looked ugly.

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  • MagicTiki
    replied
    If compact size and easy access are the key issues, I'd go with the synapse. For pure carrying capacity and flexibility, however, I wold go Brain Bag.

    I have the Brain Bag, and it's my go-to bag for travel. While it still has the top-loading issue that you dislike, the two compartment system enables you to organize your stuff in such a way that you can keep the "quick access" materials in one compartment.

    When I travel that's what I will typically do. I'll keep the change of clothes, light jacket, etc. in one compartment and the books, magazines, laptop, etc. in the other.

    It is much bigger than the synapse, but you never know when you will need the size. And, as stated here, the cinch straps allow you to adjust the bulk to fit the load.

    Leave a comment:


  • hasib
    replied
    @gmanedit - thanks a lot for your input. I really appreciate it.

    @notmensa - thank you! From what you said, the keyword to me was 'structured packing'. This is what my need is. In my last Europe trip, there were many times, I found myself sitting in a rail station and taking out all my stuff as the macpac I had has narrow so I wasn't able to see all my stuff. I had to take out ..it was so frustrating.

    I loved the way Smart Alec look. But with front opening, I will have similar experience I think....Synapse looks near about perfect with only issue is that it's 19 lt.

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  • gmanedit
    replied
    Hi, Hasib.

    "a t-shirt or two, couple of socks, laptop, camera, and maybe maybe a jeans": I put in a small MacBook, a T-shirt, a pair of socks, and a pair of jeans. It was a tight fit. Jeans are bulky.

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  • notmensa
    replied
    Photo of Synapse & Smart Alec together

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/veganchai/4077544873/

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  • notmensa
    replied
    Hasib, did you ever see a backpack called the "cane toad"? It was around years ago, from Kathmandu. 35L. The Smart Alec is very similar to that. I've not seen anything like it in the shops for many years, and it's quite different from the Macpac day packs.

    Anyway, the Smart Alec opens like a cane toad (or other large frog) mouth. In a good way.
    The opening is much larger than in a normal top-loading pack because the lid is slightly angled from back to front. As a result, the opening is huge. The solar lining really helps as well. I used the zip pockets in the 'lid' to hold small items that would otherwise get lost. Overall, I found the Smart Alec great when I needed to carry lots of gear, like here, but not so great for my daily commute with much less stuff. I ended up trading it with another Australian customer who had a ..er.. Synapse surplus.

    Synapse wins hands down for 'structured' packing. It makes very efficient use of the 19L. Here is a photo of the Synapse and a packing list. It wasn't full. In terms of packing, I put my pencil case, umbrella and computer cables in the lower front pocket. Camera & ipod go in one side pocket, sunscreen (not shown) and small hard drive are in the other side pocket. The rest goes in the main compartment. Most days I also add a 'handbag' which is approximately the size of a Small Cafe Bag. It's tight, but isn't straining the zips at all.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers,
    Em

    Leave a comment:


  • hasib
    replied
    As you said, Smart Alec is top opening backpack which means I won't be able to see all my stuff - THIS IS THE REASON for me not to buy it. Or else, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

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  • gmanedit
    replied
    I haven't carried my laptop in it yet. I'm on my way out the door now. When I get back, I'll try to fit everything in.

    Be aware that with any top-opening backpack, so far as I know, you won't be able to see all of your stuff without moving it around. Stuff sits on top of other stuff.

    The Smart Alec is a great bag. As Shiva said, it is not a narrow opening.

    Leave a comment:


  • hasib
    replied
    @gmanedit - I liked the Synapse. This is close to my need I guess. Quick question, do think 19 lt is enough to carry, laptop, couple of t-shirts and pants, camera (not big one), passpot, change water bottle...

    Leave a comment:


  • hasib
    replied
    @gmanedit - thanks bro.

    I loved Smart Alec when I saw it. But the narrow opening kinda killed my interest. I'm in Sydney. If I was in the Seatle area, I would visit the store to check it out before buying it.

    Leave a comment:


  • gmanedit
    replied
    hasib, the lightweight packing cube goes into the backpack, to keep things separated. I use one for exercise clothes.

    For walking around the city, I'd say the Smart Alec or even the Synapse.

    Leave a comment:


  • hasib
    replied
    Guys, you are great. Thanks for prompt reply.

    Let me reply your question first. About Camera, not that big one. Canon powershot G10.

    About the accessories, I don't like the adding more (i.e. packing tube) in addition to my backpack. I just want one backpack which can hold my stuff. But I would definitely get cordura, speaking of which, for passport, which size I should get - medium?

    About my india trip, I'm going for a month. And backpack is not the only luggage. I will use the backpack all the time with me while touring cities during day with my luggage in my hotel room. Since I stay on the streets whole day, I like to carry those items mentioned.

    About narrow opening, as mentioned, I loved the macpac but because of narrow opening, I had trouble taking out stuff -- I mean not juge but it's annoying (in my last trip in Europe).

    Shiva, don't you think it's an issue that..not just taking out..but also trying to have a quick look at what's inside your backpack.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shiva
    replied
    Hasib:

    The Smart Alec does not have a narrow opening by any means. It does not zip out all the way down, but it opens wide and is cavernous! It holds more than you can imagine, and I like the fact that you can't access zippers easily....so safer. I think it is a handy pack for travel in India.

    Leave a comment:


  • gmanedit
    replied
    How long is your trip to India going to be? Are a T-shirt, socks, and pair of jeans going to be the only clothes you're taking? Is the backpack going to be your sole piece of luggage?

    As maverick said, everything you've specified (with the possible exception of the camera) will fit in the Smart Alec. It has pockets, and also you can use pouches for quick retrieval, along with clip-on straps. I keep my sunglasses case and a flashlight clipped to o-rings so I can pull them out instead of having to fish around.

    Also take a look at the Brain Bag. Fully loaded, it might be a "mini size boat," but compression straps reduce the front-to-back depth to its contents. It is 18 inches top to bottom; the Smart Alec is 18 1/2.

    Leave a comment:

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