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  1. #1
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    Synapse 25 vs Smart Alec vs Red Oxx Mini Boss

    Hi fellow form members. Kinda stuck on which next bag to buy. I have owned a A30, A45, as well as a Osprey Farpoint 40. Looking for a bag that can carry just 2-3 days worth of clothes as these days I have no choice to check in a bag as we now travel with a 15 month old. I once had a A45 which I found to big lugging around in airports. The A30 I often found too small for my needs at that time but again these days looking for something smaller. I currently own a TB Ristretto and a Osprey Farpoint 40. But I want to downsize to just one bag as its too much traveling with a infant with a stroller and two bags myself.

    I am really drawn to the Red Oxx Mini boss but as a big fan of TB and having several of their items I am also leaning towards a Synapse 25 or a Smart Alec with upper modular pocket. Here is a list of items I would like to carry. ( this doesn't include my clothes I will be wearing). To note also I am 6'2", 195 lbs slim build.

    1 pair of pants( casual, khul)
    1 pairs of shorts ( casual)
    4 t -shirts
    4 pairs of underwear
    3 pairs of socks

    13" Macbook pro(thule case)
    Ipad ???maybe
    Fuji Xpro2 ( 35 mm f2 and 16mm f1.4 lenses)

    small bag for cables ( much like snake charmer)

    2 of the TB 3D organizer cubes

    Not sure if anyone has any experience with both or all 3, any advice would be great. I hope my wife don't kill me as she says I have too many bags..............lol
    Last edited by skipper; 08-01-2016 at 01:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator Alumni Badger's Avatar
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    No experience with RO but rest assured that you can fit your items with ease into either the Smart Alec or Synapse 25.

    Personally, if I had a small kid, I would want the organization of my bag to be as built-in as possible. The 25 has features that will help you keep your stuff separated and easy to access: I'd definitely suggest putting the clothes into a packing cube or two, and then into the main compartment. The MBP and/or iPad can fit in the main compartment as well. The Snake Charmer can live in the front lower pocket and each side pocket can hold a 3D cube. Then you have the little front pocket and water bottle pocket available for other stuff.

    The SA will hold all your stuff too, and easily, but it's a bit more of a black hole. I do like using both bags, though, depending on exactly what I'm carrying and my mood. Hope this helps!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  3. #3
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    Thank you Badger I do use Eagle creek packing cubes, love them. Just trying to debate on which one. I may have to Order all 3 and send two back.

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    I agree with @Badger that the Synapse 25 (S25) and Smart Alec (SA) could fit all your stuff easily. I am 5'11" for reference and not thin ... Smilie

    For the S25, your clothes and laptop / iPad can fit in the main compartment - everything else in the front pockets. You would still have room for more in the front too. I usually business travel with an S25 as personal item with 2 laptops, accessories and emergency clothes.

    The SA would be the same but more in one compartment. From @bchaplin and @Ilkyway's photos, they really know how to travel with an SA.

    If you are considering a RO, perhaps a Western Flyer (WF) or Empire Builder (EB) may be a good option as well (Note - like @Badger, I have no experience with RO).

    I particularly like the WF option as you can to use it as a backpack which the RO Mini Boss does not have this feature. Also, your MBA in Thule case, while perfectly fine in one of the main compartments, will actually just fit in the backpack strap pocket (I have the same case and just tried it). The WF also has a bit more volume than the RO and you can convert the Annex Clips to work with the cache with rails system for TSA friendliness (or just use a Brain Cell). It also doubles as a descent briefcase for travel if needed. Your iPad may fit in the large front pocket but I am not sure. (edit - see addition info below - iPad does fit)

    The Empire Builder is perhaps also a good option if needing a more briefcase approach. Its built-in padding is excellent and it actually is a great overnight or 1-2 day bag for business and pleasure, IMHO. It is slightly less volume than the RO and a bit heavier (probably the padding) but I think there is more than enough volume. The padding also might make it a good camera bag if you had lot of equipment - though I do not have enough good camera equipment to try.

    Hope this helps
    Cheers!

    Edit: Others have been able to fit the iPad 9.7" in the WF front pocket with a thin case (bulkier cases will add to much to the length of the iPad.

    Ipad pro 9.7 inch in Western Flyer
    Last edited by tpnl; 08-01-2016 at 01:13 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  5. #5
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    All your options look good, but let me suggest the Brain Bag. It carries very compactly when lightly loaded... about the same as the Synapse 25 with the same items inside. This is due to a great design but also the cinch straps on the side. When needed, however, it will let you carry shoes, clothing for a longer trip, even things for your child. I love my Synapse 25, but if I could only choose one, I would take the Brain Bag. Also, while the Red Oxx Mini Boss seems like a great bag, I think the hands free carry of a backpack will be important while traveling with a small child.

  6. #6
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    Thanks everyone I am beginning to rethink that maybe the Red Oxx without the backpack straps would be too heavy after awhile. At least with a Western Flyer or a Brain bag I could throw it over my shoulders while pushing a stroller. I did forget to mention I will have a Fuji mirrorless XPro2 camera with two lenses so I added it to my original post. I was worried that the BB would be too heavy and it seems they don't have it yet in the new lighter material. Thanks everyone.

  7. #7
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    Skipper, for what it's worth, the Brain Bag feels very comfortable while carrying it, even with a pretty full load. And it carries well using both straps or, for shorter distances, slung over one shoulder. Personally I don't think that the weight savings from a lighter material will make the Brain Bag meaningfully easier to carry, and the current materials make for a nice robust bag. Good luck finding the right bag for your travels.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantsteve View Post
    Skipper, for what it's worth, the Brain Bag feels very comfortable while carrying it, even with a pretty full load. And it carries well using both straps or, for shorter distances, slung over one shoulder. Personally I don't think that the weight savings from a lighter material will make the Brain Bag meaningfully easier to carry, and the current materials make for a nice robust bag. Good luck finding the right bag for your travels.
    I could not agree more. I have been commuting for 2 weeks with my new brain bag, and I cannot believe how "easy" it has been to carry heavy loads. It seems lighter with more stuff than my (allegedly) similar sized but lighter, cheap (but nice for the price) high Sierra elite bag holding less stuff. I am happily surprised at how such a large backpack can function so well both packed to the brim with legal client paper files, laptop, iPad Pro, lunch, odds & ends, etc., or only carrying the iPad and a couple small things sinched down.

  9. #9
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    Thanks again everyone, so hard right now to make a decision.I think I was worried about the Brain bag as its a backpack and I heard some stories of some airlines making folks check in large backpacks. When traveling alone it was much easier with my Ristretto and either a small spinner luggage or my Osprey farpoint 40 or my TB A30. Now these days I want just one bag to put on my shoulders while I push a stroller all while my wife carries her backpack and the diaper bag. How people do it with multiple children I will never know......lol. So now its between a Brainbag, Tristar, or a Western Flyer.................decisions decisions.
    Last edited by skipper; 08-01-2016 at 07:29 PM. Reason: mistake

  10. #10
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    Youre so right to debate this. We just got back from our first cross-country trip with our toddler and I am emotionally scarred. Mostly from her sprints across multiple airport terminals (she is very vocal about hating the stroller now, so why bother bringing it? In retrospect, because it's a portable baby lock-up!) but also from trying to run after her while juggling an A30, SCB, DLBP, and my yoga mat. Her father had the diaper and camera bags. If there is a good way to pack for long-haul travel with little ones, please tell me! I wound up checking the A30 on the way back and carried just the DLBP, SCB, and yoga mat through the the airport. What I would do differently next time:

    1. Hire a nanny to watch my child at the airport. J/k. Or am I?
    2. Opt for a large backpack and one small cross-body bag for me, and let her carry her toddler backpack with her soppy, a few snacks, books, and toys.

    So, my ideal backpack in this scenario is the S25, either with the FS or FJN inside. I never carry computers if I can avoid it, so I know I can fit about four days worth of casual clothes in the S25, plus my SE in the bottom, and best of all use the specific pockets to divvy up diapers, squeezies, etc., so I don't have to root through a vacuous jumble of a bag trying to find whatever is needed for the tantrum of the moment (she's getting really good at this Terrible Twos thing). I've tried the Brain Bag before and wasn't a fan; I didn't like how it wouldn't unzip much, making it hard to see/access things, plus I found it very heavy, although the I did have it stocked with multiple computers and textbooks. In general it was very heavy on my (then) 5'6", 130 lb. frame (narrow shoulders didn't help).

    For my cross-body, I'd probably go with the SCB or maybe a CP or MCB, although I'm less experienced with those two. But yeah, this is a tough event to pack for and I definitely like the hands-free backpack option.

  11. #11
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    UptoNoGood you just made my day your too funny. But I totally feel your pain. I prefer wheeled luggage but pushing a baby in a stroller with a backpack will be easier. Some folks told me go with the brain bag. I am 6'2: and 195lbs so hopefully the brain bag will be better than the synapse 25 simply for the extra room and compression straps. But I do like the Tristar but I also think with a young child its easier to have the backpack straps ready to go instead of tucked in. When she turns two we will get her a small backpack also.

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