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  1. #1
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    Just received a Synapse 19 - Some first impressions and questions

    So I just received a grey/red (iberian?) Synapse 19 after years of hemming and hawwing.

    A few things struck me right away that aren't readily noticeable:

    - This thing is SMALL! It's almost like a child's size backpack! I was expecting compact but I was taken aback by just how small it is.
    - The nylon shell material is slightly thicker and far rougher than I thought it would be. It's like military style nylon/canvas.
    - The zippers are almost comically large and quite stiff. I guess it's necessary for the waterproofing, but nobody mentions this in all the reviews I've seen.
    - Despite being so small it fits everything that was in my old bag much better, aside from my old 15" laptop.
    - The interior fit and finish is amazing. Having a light contrasty color makes a world of difference.

    So now some questions:

    - How much larger is the Synapse 25 compared to the 19? Is it enormous, or more like a typical medium size backpack?
    - Is the Halcyon exterior material more like the interior in terms of feel and thickness? If so I may go that route, the default nylon feels a little "eagle creek" to me.
    - Has anybody modified the top handle? Like folding it over and stitching it or putting neoprene or something around it would make it far a nicer handle to handle IMO.

    Would be sweet if they made a Synapse 22. Just large enough to fit a slim 15" laptop, with straps that can be tuck away into the back panel. I have the same problem with apple - you either get 13" or 15", when right in the middle is probably the perfect size. Would also love to see bags with the halcyon material in grey, or does that exist already?

  2. #2
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    Well, now I am worried that the 19 is not going to be big enough despite my research.... Mine should be here in a few days.

    RE: the top handle - I am planning on taking paracord around mine.

  3. #3
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    > How much larger is the Synapse 25 compared to the 19? Is it enormous, or more like a typical medium size backpack?

    I think the S25 is pretty big. The best way I can describe the difference in size between the S25 and the S19 is that the S19, packed a little more than half full, easily slips into the main compartment for the S25 with room to spare and no bulging into the outer pockets. The bottom "chin" compartment is also much, much taller.

    > Is the Halcyon exterior material more like the interior in terms of feel and thickness? If so I may go that route, the default nylon feels a little "eagle creek" to me.

    Halcyon exterior is 400D instead of 210D of the interior, so it is a little thicker and a little stiffer, but not incredibly so. It's a lot less stiff than Cordura. I'm personally a very big fan of Cordura, which does soften up and relaxes a little over time but still retains a nice shape.

    > Would be sweet if they made a Synapse 22. Just large enough to fit a slim 15" laptop, [...]

    For what it's worth, I've squeezed my work machine, a 15" Macbook Pro Retina into my S19 a few times. It fits pretty easily bare and just a bit of a squeeze with a thin slip case, but I don't and wouldn't carry it regularly like this.

  4. #4
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    I had a Synapse 19 (in Cordura) and after a few trips I decided it was too small. Then I ordered a Synapse 25 (in Halcyon) and it's perfect for my needs. I also think the fabric made a big difference. The Cordura fabric was way too stiff and Halycon is more flexible. Hope this helps.

  5. #5
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    Welcome to the forums @TSA,

    Quote Originally Posted by TSA View Post
    So I just received a grey/red (iberian?) Synapse 19 after years of hemming and hawwing.

    A few things struck me right away that aren't readily noticeable:

    - This thing is SMALL! It's almost like a child's size backpack! I was expecting compact but I was taken aback by just how small it is.
    - The nylon shell material is slightly thicker and far rougher than I thought it would be. It's like military style nylon/canvas.
    - The zippers are almost comically large and quite stiff. I guess it's necessary for the waterproofing, but nobody mentions this in all the reviews I've seen.
    - Despite being so small it fits everything that was in my old bag much better, aside from my old 15" laptop.
    - The interior fit and finish is amazing. Having a light contrasty color makes a world of difference.

    So now some questions:

    - How much larger is the Synapse 25 compared to the 19? Is it enormous, or more like a typical medium size backpack?
    - Is the Halcyon exterior material more like the interior in terms of feel and thickness? If so I may go that route, the default nylon feels a little "eagle creek" to me.
    - Has anybody modified the top handle? Like folding it over and stitching it or putting neoprene or something around it would make it far a nicer handle to handle IMO.

    Would be sweet if they made a Synapse 22. Just large enough to fit a slim 15" laptop, with straps that can be tuck away into the back panel. I have the same problem with apple - you either get 13" or 15", when right in the middle is probably the perfect size. Would also love to see bags with the halcyon material in grey, or does that exist already?
    I'm going to embed/quote a post I made from a much older thread, because it contains reference videos and pictures that answer some of your questions. The comparison of materials (400d Dyneema -- now called 400d Halcyon -- in contrast to your Grey Cordura with Iberian Halcyon interior Synapse) was made before the new dark grid Black and Nordic Halcyon options were available, so the worn backpack in Halcyon in what is now called "(original) Steel 400d Halcyon"-- a color that is no longer available -- will look different from the cuurent "Black Halcyon" option. In that earlier discussion thread, which was titled Synapse 25 vs 19 pics for a shorter person?, the person started off by stating his height (5'7"), so I looked for a comparison picture of the bag worn by someone of approximately that height (@maverick is 5'8"). I don't know your height for answering in more detail, but the embedded video has a general comparison section at the end.

    One way to see which size laptops the bags were designed for is to use the drop-down menus on the product pages for ordering the Synapse 19 or Synapse 25 and looking at the options for adding a vertical cache, even if you don't plan on carrying your laptop in one of these. The sizes of the cache indicate the various laptops these were designed to hold, although current cache sizes fit more closely to the line of Mac laptops. The original Synapse (now called Synapse 19), was designed to hold 13" Mac laptops, although it was possible to insert a 15" MacBook Pro in (it was tight). As @carrot mentions, you could carry a current 15" Retina MacBook Pro in one more easily, but It wasn't designed for this.

    Halcyon exteriors for the Synapse backpack are closer to the feel of the interior 200d Iberian Halcyon lining. The heavier weight of the 400d (where the "d" stand for the Denier weight of the fibers used) Halcyon makes it feels more substantial and fabric-like to the hand than the lighter 200d Halcyon, and the thicker fibers can take on a more lustrous tone. They did make a few earlier Synapses in the S19 size out of 200d Halcyon/Dyneema, but adopted the 400d weight fabrics for greater durability on the outside of bags.

    There are a couple of solutions for modifying the handle, and I'll link threads and pictures at the end. One is to use a Paracord weave around the webbing, such as @Ilkyway uses. A second is to use a Neoprene handle wrap such as suggested by @celtical. I'll add these later.

    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    Hi @bintobeen,

    Welcome to the forums. Have you taken a look at the Synapse 19 vs. Synapse 25 YouTube video? As well as showing different items that can be packed into each size Synapse, roughly the last 25 seconds of the video shows how the bag is worn with straps, and then there are comparison lineups of people with a range of different (labeled) heights, shown in a line, and seen from different viewing angles, wearing each of the two size bags.



    Beyond that, there was a recent picture posted by @maverick of a chance meeting in Washington DC's Union Station with another person wearing a Synapse 19. @maverick is 5'8" tall, wearing a black Synapse 25, and is standing beside a person (whose height I don't know) who is wearing a Steel Dyneema/Solar Synapse 19. That's a good view of both bags being worn, and encompasses the two materials you were asking about. I'll also embed the picture, but there are some comments in the linked post.



    Hope that will get discussion started. (I have the Synapse in both materials, and both sizes, and find them equally usable.(

    moriond
    From @ilkyway's Synapse 25 and what I did to it thread:




    Some other pictures from that linked thread (read the posts in the link for details) by @chrisc983:
    Just received a Synapse 19 - Some first impressions and questions-ytytese5-jpg
    Just received a Synapse 19 - Some first impressions and questions-a6ymepet-jpg

    The thread contains link to parent discussion threads, and also a post where i embedded the video of how to do the Cobra stitch used for these handle mods (given by @Spydermann in an earlier reference).

    I'm excerpting part of my reply in an old Ultrasuede Shoulder Strap Wrap for S25 One hand carry? to reference the handle wraps. The quoted section picture shows one of these wrapped around the webbing loop of a Synapse19 in Black Halcyon. Other items to the right of the Synapse were inserted to give forum readers who are familiar with other Tom Bihn accessory pouches and their sizes a sense of scale. Again, go read the original linked threads for more detailed information on the discussion.

    (Starting excerpt -- multiple quote levels don't preserve quoted portions within a quote)
    If you want something that you can wrap around the webbing loop, try the COSMOS neoprene padded handle wraps recommended by @celtical. I recently mentioned them in this post (#23) in a thread discussing ways to cope with scratchy handle materials in some recent Swifts. That post showed pictures of these handle wraps used with the Swift handles, the Synapse 19 webbing loop, and the webbing handles of the Field Journal Notebook, to give some example:

    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    @jess, I don't think that the material is Cordura. My guess that it is pack cloth that was reinforced. (See @adalangdon's response in this thread). One solution that I posted up on Ravelry, but which doesn't seem to have gotten a lot of attention, is to use the neoprene handle wraps @celtical originally recommended that were mentioned recently in this post.

    The COSMOS neoprene padded handle wraps are short enough at 5.3”/275 mm to work as padded grab handle wraps for the Cafe Bags, Synapses, Daylight Backpacks, etc. as well as for the webbing handles of the Daylight Briefcase. I’ll add that this will also work as a strap wrap for the Swift, although I’ve never had to use one for my Swift or Little Swift.


    Here’s a picture of the COSMOS neoprene padded handle wrap around a Swift, with the unwrapped handle wrap shown to the right.


    Demo photos showing that this wrap is soft and flexible enough to work with many other webbing handle loop uses -- such as for a Synapse or for a Field Journal Notebook. Again, an unwrapped handle wrap is shown in the upper right. It’s a little longer than the length of a Mini organizer pouch or clear organizer wallet. A size #4 Knitting Tool Pouch is slightly larger, but better approximates the unwrapped size.

    On the Swift, it’s the fact that the padded portions of the handle are under the wrap that makes the wrapped section look straight -- not the fact that the handle wrap lacks softness and flexibility. The usual issue with finding a good handle wrap to use for these purposes is that they’re too long and/or too stiff to work well. So, while I can’t give you a “feel” of the wrap in these pictures, I can show instances where it is really flexible.

    If you read the original post I linked, there are links to other colors of handle wraps, or you can search for them yourself. Black should work for most purposes.

    HTH

    moriond
    Those padded neoprene handle wraps can also be used around the webbing loops at the top of Cafe Bags. If you want a post that gives the original citation to @celtical's recommendation, and which links to other colors of handle wraps (beside the basic black version I linked above), but without pictures, you can also read my post #7 in the Synapse 25 handle hack thread. You can also follow the links in adjacent posts in that thread, e.g., to find pictures of @Ilkyway's Synapse 25 and what I did to it thread, which contains many more pictures and links in later posts to different ways of adding Paracord Cobra wraps around the handle (and tying different cord pulls). @nealopp also had a picture of how the Cobra weave could be used around the handles of other travel bags.

    ETA: Both colors of Synapses shown with modified Paracord handles above -- the original Steel 400d Halcyon used by @chris983 (also shown worn by the woman standing to the right of @maverick in the picture), and the original Nordic 400d Halcyon used by @Ilkyway -- have been retired, and are no longer available. The original Steel 400d Halcyon approximates your request for "halcyon material in grey", but with the white grid. (Dyneema as originally manufactured is white in color and difficult to dye). Putting in dark grid halcyon makes a big change in the perceived color of the fabric: original Nordic (with white grid) and new Nordic Halcyon (with the dark grid) have the same background color but look really different.
    Last edited by moriond; 04-06-2017 at 03:25 PM.

  6. #6
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    My first S25 was in black cordura, then came the S19 and S25 in halcyon.

    I much prefer the halcyon, it's smoother and lighter, with a less coarse feel, yet it still holds its shape well, and should be quite durable.

    The S19 is a bit too small as a 1 bag carry on travel bag, and it doesn't fit as comfortably or well as the S25 when fully packed. The S25 is a lot roomier, especially the bottom pocket, but not enormous, and even when not fully packed is still useful, comfortable and not ungainly at all.

    As to the zippers, if you use the zip cords that come with the bags to attach to the zipper pulls, it makes pulling the zippers easier.

    Enjoy your bag!
    Last edited by moriond; 04-06-2017 at 03:23 PM.

  7. #7
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    Halcyon is only available in original (black with white grid), black (black with dark grey grid), and nordic (blue). Would love to see a red blend halcyon, or other colours besides black and blue!

  8. #8
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    I have a S19 and don't like it at all. I feel like it doesn't hold much.

    Then I got the Daylight backpack (which is actually smaller) and it holds a TON.

    Contributing factors to this:
    1) Big gaping space versus many many pockets and nooks. It turns out I prefer cubes and stuff sacks to pockets.
    2) Daylight backpack is Halycon and more "stuffable" in my opinion whereas S19 is Cordura.

    I've kept the S19 so far but I suspect I'll list it on Craigslist and buy the S25. Or possibly the Smart Alec. I love backpacks but I just don't think the S19 is my jam.

    I think that's one of the reasons I love this forum so much. I'm very "meh" about the S19 and other people adore it. I, on the other hand, can't believe how much I love the Daylight backpack. I love it so much I bought a second one and it'll be arriving at my house tomorrow.

    If you don't love what you have keep trying. Once you find something that clicks for you you'll honestly wonder how you ever lived without it.
    Last edited by TRD; 04-06-2017 at 07:28 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsie View Post
    Halcyon is only available in original (black with white grid), black (black with dark grey grid), and nordic (blue). Would love to see a red blend halcyon, or other colours besides black and blue!
    Red Blend Halcyon would be amazing! <3 <3 <3

  10. #10
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    I'm glad to read this thread as I think now the S19 might be too small to be my only travel bag, especially if I have to layer it up and bring 1 larger jacket for a colder trip. Thank you for sharing! The search for my perfect backpack continues.

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    WOW! So much great info here, it's going to take me awhile to go through all this! I will say though that the bag has really grown on me in the last week or so. So much so that I'm considering ordering a Synapse 25 to replace my North Face Overhaul 40 for single bag travel. After using the 19 I feel like it'll hold everything better in a much more compact form factor, maybe even with room to spare.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fae925 View Post
    Well, now I am worried that the 19 is not going to be big enough despite my research.... Mine should be here in a few days.

    RE: the top handle - I am planning on taking paracord around mine.
    Well that was my first thought too when I first unpacked it, but this thing easily swallows everything I had in my previous, much larger bag, and everything's much easier to get at and see, and carry around.

  13. #13
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    This is all REALLY helpful, thanks moriond! If I decide to keep it or get another one in Halcyon you bet I'm going to pimp the hell out of the zippers and top handle. The top handle is actually the only thing to really bother me every time I use it. Was also considering the Nordic Halcyon with grey or red interior so it's good to see actual pictures of it because the blue on the website looks more navy. Hard for me to decide between the blue and the black Halcyon though.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsie View Post
    Halcyon is only available in original (black with white grid), black (black with dark grey grid), and nordic (blue). Would love to see a red blend halcyon, or other colours besides black and blue!
    Would also love to see a Camo Halcyon. Or some patterns or special designs. Accent colors, etc. Get crazy with it and have an online configurator like Nike ID. People are willing to pay a premium for cool colors and designs guys, understanding there's less demand and therefore the materials cost more.

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    I ordered both and while I really, really wanted the 19 to work for me, I went with the 25. Mainly because I loaded both, and the 25 just carried weight better on my back if that makes sense. I'm 5'7 and it felt like my muscles would fatigue quicker with the 19. I ordered both in halcyon and kept the 25.

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