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  1. #1
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    All those pockets!! The Synapse 25: To buy or not to buy.

    I am on the fence about the Synapse and, honestly, have been so for quite a while. Sometimes I relish the overabundance of pockets; options are nice. Sometimes though I feel like on any given day 1-4 of them would go entirely unused and I think that is closer to what my reality with the bag would be like.

    Any Synapse owners run the bag with most of the pockets empty? if you fill them all.....what do you put in there? Is my hang up more so that I am not super-hyper-ultra-organized and thus can't envision a use for so many pockets?

    Tips and tricks welcome.

  2. #2
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    My bottom pocket is mostly empty, but I do keep an empty snake charmer there. Also the water bottle pocket is empty most of the time as well.
    I don't notice these pockets being empty. The two side pockets are mostly empty as well and I feel I could consolidate the stuff I have there into one pocket.
    When I travel it's a different story, every pocket is used and occupied.


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  3. #3
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    I guess I just cant comprehend too many pockets?
    Either use them or not I would rather have and not need them than the other way around.

    How do you deal with smaller items that will settle to the bottom of a single compartment and why would yo want to waste time searching for things that are not organized even just a little bit?

    If I don't have pockets then I need to get external ones to organize these things and I would always prefer to carry less fabric by having pockets built in.

  4. #4
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    I have a Synapse 19-- I love the pockets! I can find everything i need fast, without digging. I never wonder whether something is lost because it is buried or in the wrong place. In the front-- smallest pocket has my wallet. Long water bottle pocket usually has a long skinny notebook/planner in it, though obviously it is good for a water bottle. Side pockets have keys, pens, pencil case, glasses in a case, sometimes a mini umbrella, Swiss army knife. Bottom compartment has a 3D organizer with little things-- charger, moisturizer, mints, hand sanitizer, pill case, gum. Sometimes a small bike lock or extra bit of clothing. (Would also be a good place for a windbreaker or squishable jacket instead.) Main compartment has folders, books, sometimes laptop, sometimes clothes. Big open pocket has lunch, headphones. The organization is so good it makes it hard to use other bags. I use it especially for bicycle commuting, but it is great generally.

  5. #5
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    I tend to use my S19 in cold/inclement weather. I love knowing exactly which pocket my lip balm or gloves are in, and I can pull them out without other things falling out at the same time. The bottom pocket, which often stays empty in warm weather, becomes the perfect place to stash a light outer layer (hoodie or rain jacket) or a wet umbrella.

    In warm weather the side pockets may go empty but that's okay. Just means I have more choices about where to put my water bottle (because sometimes I like to put it on the side, go figure) or my phone (I actually like putting it in the water bottle pocket, it's up front but deep enough that a thief would have to work a little more to snag it).

    (I have a Smart Alec but I do not use it as my EDC - thus, it is not in competition with the S19. Smilie The SA is often mentioned as a bag for people who like to just dump everything in one main compartment... I have occasionally used the SA as my daypack when traveling and in that instance I find myself using a lot of pouches and stuff sacks to stay organized. I much prefer the pockets of the Synapse, or in their absence, the pockets of a Freudian Slip inside my backpack.)

  6. #6
    Forum Member daisy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sidiki View Post

    Any Synapse owners run the bag with most of the pockets empty? if you fill them all.....what do you put in there? Is my hang up more so that I am not super-hyper-ultra-organized and thus can't envision a use for so many pockets?
    I have a Synapse19 - which I will admit took me ages to come to love.

    I used it on an over seas trip earlier in the year and absolutely used all the pockets .. I loved being able to find anything I needed easily - even in the dark of a hotel room at night.

    Right now it is set up as a bag with everything I need when away from home for hours at a time while supporting a friend going through some medical issues -

    I currently have a side kick living in the large inside pocket - to provide me with ......










    more pockets ........ :-)
    List under construction ....

  7. #7
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    I take my Synapse 25 to work almost everyday and my pockets are barely used. The bottom pocket, empty. The water bottle pocket, has my notebook. The small front pocket, 3x3 post it pad. Left pocket, some pens, Right pocket, mouse and post it flags. That is pretty much it. I have a bunch of space I could use if I needed it. Like when I have to take it cases of La Croix or Beer or lots of snacks. My Synapse 25 looks great under packed and it’s ready for my ‘need to bring in 3 bottles of wine’ situations.


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  8. #8
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    My S25 is my work/travel bag. I have stuff in all the pockets, but I don't always use them; I like having them just in case. Bottom pocket has extra socks and gloves. Water bottle pocket sometimes has a water bottle; if not, I put 1-2 q-kits in there with various small items like advil, bandaids, hair-ties, vitamins, tea or extra phone charger/small portable battery (if I have a water bottle in there, the q-kits go in the bottom or side pockets). Front pocket has lip balm, eye drops, toothpicks, floss, nail file, solid hand lotion. One side pocket has pens and spare eyeglasses/sunglasses; the other one has tb wallet (not my main wallet), tissues, period products. Main compartment has a long sleeve shirt because I get cold easily, sometimes a scarf and/or jacket, any work papers I need, sometimes a laptop in a cache, nook/kindle (sometimes both), and whatever other work stuff I need.

    It's mostly under-packed this way, especially with no laptop, but I like the extra space. If I'm carrying a small purse, I can stuff it into the main compartment also and just carry 1 bag. I also added a 3d organizer to the top of the main compartment for yet another pocket. I can't remember whose bag hack this is, but you use the key straps to thread it through the webbing at the top. That stuff has more first aid items, from before I had the q-kits and using the water bottle pocket for water bottles, but I've left them there. More recently, I've found I don't really like carrying it with a full water bottle because it gets too heavy for me. I'd rather just carry the bottle in my hand or a shop bag or something else.

    I have a S19 also, and while most of this will fit in it, it's a tight squeeze and makes getting stuff a little more difficult and I have to be more organized about how I pack it. But I also like the S19 for certain (non-work) trips because it makes me not want to carry as much. I love the pockets, even if they're under-used. I don't think I would like just one big main compartment because I would lose everything at the bottom of it (I feel like I have to be MORE organized that way? Whereas the synapse just sort of organizes itself -- I put the same stuff into the same pockets so I remember where they are, which is as organized as I get -- even if I don't use it to its full capacity). For my next trip, I will probably carry the S19 and pop tote as my carry on/personal item, even though they are both the same size, and under-fill them both. or PT and WF. I haven't attempted packing yet.
    Last edited by mangosteen; 12-03-2017 at 12:18 AM.

  9. #9
    Forum Member panda2mama's Avatar
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    The pockets if left empty are not a problem. On the other hand, if and when you have a lot of crap, they are useful.

    For me, I use them as follows whether in S19 or S25:

    Water bottle pocket - 750ml (36oz) Water bottle

    Small pocket in front - Earbuds

    Right pocket - Car keys, security keycard, work pass, mobile phone, chapstick, glasses in box

    Left pocket - Umbrella, powerbank, charging cable, pens

    Bottom pocket - Mini COP with medicine, wallet, tissue, wet wipes

    I don't like to put stuff in bags for organization as that's additional weight.

    Sent from my SM-N920I using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Forum Member Aeon's Avatar
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    I love the Synapse pockets compared to the pocket size/configurations in other bags. They are simply genius. However, I discovered I only get along with the Synapse and its pockets for EDC and loathe them for travel. I tend to carry more things day to day and all the pockets are welcome because I know exactly where things are without having to search for anything. For travel, I pack the Synapse differently than for EDC and suddenly those pocket shapes aren't the best for the more rectilinear packing cubes and organizers I use. I'm often putting cubes and organizers where they fit instead of where I initially want to put them -- so I often forget where I packed them in the first place and wind up frustrated with the bag.

    I sold my S19 a year ago because I barely used it when my S25 was my work EDC of choice. But earlier this year, I decided to get a Smart Alec to see if it would work as a much better work EDC and travel bag (l love my Aeronaut 30 in theory but it's not the 'great' travel bag for me). Once I figured out how to jury-rig the Side Kick (my purse) as a modular pocket, I haven't used my S25 so it's probably going to be sold.

    Ironically, I miss the S19 now. The Smart Alec is too big for non-work EDC and there are times when I need to carry more than what my Side Kick will allow. After trying out and disliking the Luminary, I realized that what I miss most about the S19 is its pocket size and configuration. I'm not a bag-in-bag type organizer, so having my keys, wallet, phone, glasses, umbrella, on the go make up bag, etc. easily accessible without having to open my backpack's main compartment is what I love most about the Synapses. I'm able to achieve that with the Smart Alec + Side Kick combo, too, which is why I don't miss my S25.

    Long live Burnt Orange! Zest! 152!

  11. #11
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    I use a Synapse 25 for both EDC and travel. I find that on any given day the small front pocket will contain the usual small things - tissues, mints, earbuds etc - most of us carry, while pens, a carton of juice and a snack or two will fit in the top left pocket. After that, it depends. I'm usually carrying either a 13" MacBook Pro or a standard iPad, and they'll fit in the main compartment, along with paperwork if I have any. If I need to carry a rain jacket or a fleece or a down jacket, it'll usually go in the front bottom pocket. My travel mug usually goes in the water bottle pocket. That still leaves masses of space in case, as often happens, I need to do some shopping while I'm out and about. You'll find however that when it's underloaded the Synapse lies flat against your back, without sagging, so it still looks good.

    For travel, the Synapse is marvellous. You can put the stuff you might need to lay hands on quickly in the front pockets and keep the main compartment for packing cubes and stuff sacks. That's when the multiplicity of pockets really comes into its own.

    There's another benefit to the Synapses' pocket arrangements, which I don't think anyone has commented on before, and it's that if you use them properly you'll never have the unpleasant experience of finding a layer of detritus accumulating at the bottom of your bag. When I got my Synapse I cleared out my old EDC bag, a North Face Jester, so that I could take it to the charity shop, and when I up-ended it and shook it all manner of grim debris came tumbling out, including no fewer than nine of those little laminated plastic name tags they hand out at conferences and team events. That went back years. Horrible!

    Anyway, my advice is, don't hesitate, and order your Synapse today. I reckon I could manage overnight travel with a S19 but if you think you'd be away for more than a couple of nights the S25 will be a better travel bag, and you'll have far more flexibility over your EDC carry too.

  12. #12
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    I think @aeon and @amallen just summed it up above... it depends on your organizing personality... do you have lots of small items that you routinely carry and putting them in pockets makes sense? Or would you rather create your own organization using pouches & cubes in a large unstructured space?

    I use the S19 or Luminary for EDC to work. I leave certain essentials packed into their respective pockets all the time, so they're ready to go. My set of random checkbooks, financial stuff just migrated to a TC that easily goes back and forth between the two bags.
    FWIW, I pick mostly depending on whether the work laptop is coming home with me on any given day (needs the S19).

    The Luminary is also great for walking around town when I need good organization and hands free... conversely the SK is for when I don't/can't use a backpack style walking around (ie, some museums, lower profile, etc.).

    For travel, I use the A30 or SA because it's more appropriate for the type & size of items I travel with, which mostly are in TB & EagleCreek packing cubes of various sorts. I can also put the SK in one of them or carry it as a second bag.

    If you find yourself frequently searching for things in your bag and that annoys you, the organization of a Synapse or a Freudian Slip in an SA would help solve that, as long as you actually use the features...
    If you're happy with chucking it all into one big space and/or using your own organization pouches/cubes, then pass on the Synapses.

  13. #13
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    I'm also on the fence about whether to order a S25. I would not use it for every day, but for travel, so empty pockets would bug the crap out of me during travel. All available space needs to be used.

    Here's something that hasn't been mentioned. If you wear your backpack every day, are you likely to be pickpocketed? I prefer to have a bag with no accessible zippers on my back, or a bag that I wear in front (cross body SK or SE), so I can keep an eye on my stuff. Hiking or riding a bike, nobody is likely to unzip your backpack while you're walking or biking. Standing on a crowded train or bus, and you could have the person behind you unzip your Synapse and releave your of items. Where you live and how you travel will make a difference.
    Last edited by BWeaves; 12-04-2017 at 04:53 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BWeaves View Post
    If you wear your backpack every day, are you likely to be pickpocketed? I prefer to have a bag with no accessible zippers on my back, or a bag that I wear in front (cross body SK or SE), so I can keep an eye on my stuff.
    I think that's always a legit concern... when I'm going to be in a crowd, I use the smallest size NiteIze S-biner and clip the zippers together on my backpack... they are small enough and fiddly enough that a thief would have to spend time getting into them...
    With that being said, any zipper can be opened with a ballpoint pen, but again, it's a question of how obvious it would be/feel.

  15. #15
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    I don't worry about pickpockets when I'm walking or on my bike.
    On the bus or train, I try to keep my bag in front of me or stand against a wall.

    I also try to arrange my bag so that valuable things like my wallet, keys, and phone are deep enough in the bag to not be an easy target.
    Of course, this being the Bay Area, people would likely just steal your whole bag.

    I've had someone open my non-TB purse like diaper bag and try (unsuccessfully) to get my wallet before, it was just luck that they didn't manage to get it, I moved my bag just as she was trying to get into it. If I was going to wear my bag today, I would probably put my wallet and phone between the frame sheet and the back padding of my backpack.
    Last edited by Kelly S; 12-04-2017 at 08:46 AM. Reason: Clarity?

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