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Thread: My Synapse

  1. #1
    Forum Member
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    Dec 2007
    Bainbridge Island, WA
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    My Synapse

    This is the definition of a synapse:noun a junction between two nerve cells, consisting of a minute gap across which impulses pass by diffusion of a neurotransmitter. It is also a bag made by Tom Bihn.

    My Synapse-synapses-jpg

    I got my Synapse five years ago. I was using a Ristretto for my EDC and I traveled with the Brain Bag. I had a MacBook Air and the Ristretto worked great. It fit in my bike basket and carried everything I needed it to. But the Synapse was magical. I could fit more than I ever thought possible in it. And I traveled with it not only to work and short conferences, but internationally on long trips. I have been grateful to it time and again. I have used and abused it. I busted a zipper once (TB fixed this for free even though it was my fault for chronic overpacking).

    On Tuesday, as I was unpacking from my last trip, I discovered a small light in the bottom of the bag. Brief investigation revealed a hole, several actually, likely from where my computer rubs against the fabric, unprotected by a cache. The rip stop was preventing a complete ripping open, but it would be unwise to carry so much so often in something compromised. I made arrangements to go to the factory and get a new Synapse. Maybe a 25L this time, because maybe I could use the space.

    At a glance, I new the 25 wasnít for me. One of the things I love about the 19 is how it fits my frame. Iím not small, but Iím rightly medium, and itís just right for medium (and good for small, and fine for large ó like I said, the bag is magic).

    I decided to replace my bag with another 19. I packed the new 19ís, a black with gray lining, a black with wasabi, a blue with gray. They were all fine, but they all had one problem. They werenít my Synapse. The one Iíve traveled the world with, the one thatís been with me through every single day of these last five years. I couldnít bring myself to do it, not yet. Bigger holes will be required.

    Another customer in the shop recommended I try a patch. I took a Lyft directly to REI and got some gear tape. I hope it will give the bag more chances to be just what I need it to be when I need it: the sliding-under-every-seat, just right on my lap, not too heavy on my back, trusty companion.


    Iíve been a Tom Bihn customer for twelve years. My first bag was the Empire Builder, then I got a Brain Bag, then the Ristretto, then the Aeronaut, Synapse, and Cafe. Like any sort of purchase, you never know which ones are going to be beloved. You canít know at the time. And if youíre not careful, youíll never realize it. I knew I loved my Synapse, but I didn't realize it was beloved until yesterday when I chose something worn out and torn over something new and shiny.

    The things in my life that Iíd never choose to replace ó my red ballcap, my meditation bench, my garden hod, my bicycle ó trigger a cascade of joyful memories, their own synapses. Where some things disappoint over and over, these things reward time and again. They are familiar, trustworthy, capable.

    It feels a little silly to owe so much to a thing, but itís not a thing. Itís the life I live alongside it, the security of knowing the boundaries of its abilities and having those boundaries be more than enough. Itís familiarity in a world that changes every instant and forebodes so much strife and suffering through politics and climate change.

    I donít know what Tom makes of his success and how people adore his bags and go a little nuts over them. But I am sure he understands how rare it is to experience trust in a chaotic world. How junctions between two nerve cells, or the junction between a person and their bag, can spark joy, trust, and confidence instead of fear, disappointment or frustration. He gets it. I just want him to know that, at least in our more reflective moments, we get it, too.

  2. #2
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    May 2003
    The far west
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    Hear, hear. I'm sitting here reading your post while wearing my 10+ year old, repaired 4 times but still falling apart, Made in Europe Dansko sandals. Smilie
    Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

    Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
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    Nov 2016
    New York City
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    Those Tenacious Tape patches really do work. I like the translucent silver patches best as the fabric they are made from matches many pieces of lightweight gear but the black patches are made of a tougher fabric that very nicely suits backpacks.

    I have put those patches on jackets that have seen some hard wear and continue to; they get washed and dried and the patches are still holding as strong as ever. The trick is to make sure that they are cut rounded with no sharp corners. I am certain that your old Synapse 19 will still see wonderful service with a patch applied.

    I am happy to hear that you've enjoyed your Synapse 19 enough to re-invest in another. I resisted for a long time but the Synapse 19 is, as well, my perfect bag.

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