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  1. #1
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    Feb 2018
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    Is the Synapse 25 the new bag I'm looking for?

    Quick background: I travel a bit on business, roughly ~5 international trips per year. We also go on a few personal vacations per year. Generally speaking I lean heavily towards a carry on only philosophy unless we're going on a beach trip where we'll want to haul along our snorkel gear. My main backpack for business travel is the ebags pro slim backpack and I also have a run of the mill swiss army backpack for general use. I've never had any experience with Tom Bihn and frankly can't even remember how I stumbled upon the site. (Flyertalk forums potentially)

    That brings us to why I'm here today. I'm going on a trip to Scotland next summer and thought it would be nice to find a relatively light pack that I could use for day outings from the airbnb/hotel but also something I could use as a good all around bag. Business trips, day trips, weekend trips, etc. In researching the myriad of options out there I started off settled fully into a $65 bag (Osprey Daylite Plus) and have now transitioned to having the $200 Tom Bihn Synapse 25 in my shopping cart on multiple occasions. Obviously I could have 3 colors of the Osprey for the price of Tom Bihn which is why I'm here for some sage wisdom...

    1) I don't mind spending the money but also having some difficulty taking the plunge for something I can't physically hold/look at ahead of time. How did you get past this?

    2) Synapse 19 or 25. That is the question. I'm 5'11" so assume the 25 would be better but I also want to try to get this one past the personal item police from time to time. Will it fit in the sizer ok if challenged and the bag isn't full? I assume if it's flexible then I can make it work just not sure how rigid it is.

    3) Any experience with this bag in the rain? I don't expect it to hold up in a monsoon but am hoping to hear the interior will stay dry in a light rain. Main reason I'm even looking is because of a trip to Scotland and if you've ever been to Scotland then you know the chance of rain is always present.

    4) Anything else you might want to share would be fantastic. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Forum Member
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    May 2015
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    Canada
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    I have the Synapse 25 in Halcyon and a Large Cafe bag (They no longer make this size) and a Daylight Backpack(Halcyon). I am 6'2" and 200 lbs and with a Packing cube I can fit 2 pairs of pants, 2 shorts, 5 t-shirts,2 dress shirts, 6 pairs of socks and 6 pairs underwear plus what I am wearing and two 3D organizer cubes. I can also fit a Camera and 2 lenses plus my Northface down jacket in the large pocket on the outside. If carry my Large Cafe bag I put my ipad with my 3D organizer cubes, snacks, headphones etc and this makes up more room in my Synapse 25. I have had most all the Tom Bihn bags, A45, A30, Western Flyer, Brian Bag, DL backpack and the Synapse is my favourite then the Western Flyer. I love the Western Flyer because of the professional look but I don't like the water bottle pocket on the outside. For how I pack I seem to fit more in my Synapse 25. I sometimes roll up the DLBP and place it in the bottom of my Synapse 25 so when I get to my destination if I need something smaller than the Synapse 25 and more room than my Large Cafe bag I use this. Myself I like to always have a second small bag especially on flights because when I place my carry on in the overhead compartment I like to have a small bag near me for my ipad, headphones, snacks etc so I don't have to keep getting up while in flight. As for rain I had mine in Ireland with small showers and never had a issue. One could always buy a cheap rain cover on amazon if needed. Hope this is of some help. Scotland is on my next destination maybe this fall. Cheers.

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Feb 2018
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    Skipper: Appreciate the insight. How does the bag feel on your back fully packed the way you described? Sounds like you get quite a bit of weight in there. Also, I assume you are a supporter of the Halcyon over the Ballistic simply based on the fact that both bags you mentioned are Halcyon. Any reason for the preference? I was leaning towards ballistic mainly because I like how the blue looks but am also interested in the black Halcyon pattern so could definitely go either way. Definitely like that the Halcyon is lighter.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2016
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    Hello Glamdring!

    1) Yep - that was a stumbling block. But it is very easy to return (as long as you are in the US) so not really much of a concern. I started with the Tri-Star, and at the time there were not that many similar bags on the market (laptop + 3 days businesstrip clothes etc in one bag), and then added the S25 later.

    2) I have the S25 and I dont find it to big at all. Also I have used it as a personal item on over 10 different airlines by now and never had any issues. It has the advantage of looking smaller than it is. If you take the backplate out and pack in another bag it is somewhat flexible and will fit into the ryan-air personal-item-bin-thingy if not to full and you push it in. I have actually not tried it with the backplate in - I just got it - but I assume it will not fit for RyanAir as nothing larger than a baby squirrel seems to do. (It does not fit without effort as personal item - carryon is fine of course).

    3) Light rain seems to be no issue, I've also been out in heavy rain for shorter periods without any problems. As you pointed out though, it is not waterproof, just very resistant.

    4) Get the frame if you plan to carry heavy loads! Makes a world of difference. (It tends to get a rather oval egg-shape when fully packed without the frame, so makes it much more comfortable on your back. Also when used as an EDC I put groceries and other "non-flat" things in it, and the backplate stops them from poking you in the back).

    I dont have any bag in ballistic, only halcyon, so cant comment on that other than saying I have had no issues with the halcyon and love the feel of it.

    I use the S25 for 2 night business trips and the Tri-Star for longer. If not on a business trip I could live out of the S25 for a week unless it is very cold and I would have to pack sweathers. I prefer the S25 because of the backplate. If the Tri-Star had a back plate and/or compression straps I'd proobaby always use it, as the larger size gives me the option to bring an extra pair of shoes. I do really like the Tri-Star regardless. I am an 5.10 female, and in the S25 I pack for a 2 night business trip a laptop, an 10.5 ipad (both in caches), all the cords and adapters needed, toiletries etc, 2 pair of pants, 3 shirts / tops, 1 light cardigan, workout clothes and very light ballerina slippers. That about fills it to the brim and with the backplate I have no issues carrying it around. If using the tri-star I add another shirt of two and 1 more pair of pants and proper gymshoes. On travel days I probably do approx 5000 steps carrying either backpack during the day on if that gives you an idea. At the end of the day I'm pretty happy to take it off, but then that would be true for any bag! When S25 is used as an EDC, so is not fully loaded but contains only my laptop, ipad and adapters, I could carry it around all day long. Sorry if this was more about the tri-star than you wanted, but using it as a comparison for size to the S25 and to gush about the backplate

  5. #5
    Forum Member
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    All of my other bags except my DLBP were ballistic and my synapse is Halcyon and to be honest I like the lighter weight and look. I did find that the ballistic seems to pick up lint and other dust bunnies where as the halcyon does not. I have a large packing cube so I place that inside so it fits against my back. Like Apresski mentioned these bags will get oval shaped if packed to full but for me I have no interest in the backplate as its just something else to add and take up room. From what people say it seems to work well but for me I am only carrying my Synapse to and from and within the airports. If I were hiking for longer periods of time I would definitely consider it. I usually pack between 12-15 lbs plus another 2-3 pounds in my personal item.

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