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  1. #1
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    Replacing a 20-year-old backpack with a Synik 22 (first ever Tom Bihn experience)

    The last time I purchased a laptop backpack (for my PowerBook G3 Wallstreet) was the summer of 1999. After lots of research I finally ordered the first-generation Spire Zoom unsighted, for which I paid $126.50. It turned out to be ideal in almost every single way, and has been used practically daily.

    It is still in absolutely perfect working order, but it had started to look a little dingy already a decade ago, and the fabric is feeling a little thin. I made a few attempts to replace it, but Spire had updated the Zoom with a newer revision that I did not like the look of at all, and it seems the company has since gone out of business altogether. I haven't come across any reasonable alternatives.

    I was given a Thule Vea 17l for work which I tried to use for several weeks.

    I won't go into why I detest it so much, but it is safe to say it is a total disgrace to backpacks. I do have to point out one thing about it though. The "smooth, reliable access" description is total BS as it is impossible to tug at the pullers without catching the fabric in the zipper.

    I had heard Tom Bihn mentioned several times on podcasts, and the Synapse/Synik specifically on Do By Friday (episode 145) and the Accidental Tech Podcast (episode 270). The hosts of these shows have been proven to have nearly identical taste to mine for everything from Cars, tech and hygiene products to music, movies and tv shows.

    I do not get excited about purchasing new things very often, but when I do I will spend a lot of time researching every option to come to a decision. This was such a time.

    I received lots of useful input in this thread (regarding choice of Halcyon or Ballistic for internal organization) that I started here on the forum.

    I'm still kicking myself for not ordering at least one item in Cloud Ballistic and one in Island Halcyon just to be able to see them in person. I really like the pattern, structure and sheen of the one Northwest Sky Halcyon item did order.

    Here's the worthless Thule Vea 17, my new Synik 22 (Nebulous Grey 525 Ballistic/Dawn 210 Ballistic) and my trusty 20-year-old Spire Zoom.



    My initial impressions are that the build quality is excellent, I really like the color choice I made and I like the storage layout. I have of course not been able to compare what I ordered to other color options, but I am definitely happy with Nebulous Grey and Dawn.



    It is comfortable to carry, so I took off the waist and sternum straps, I do not think they will be necessary for the way I intend to carry the bag.

    The only gripe I have is that the laptop compartment seems over-engineered. This is a solved problem. The Spire bag is practically the same size and can fit two or three 15" laptops in a padded compartment secured by a drawstring, in a separate "work section" with its own zipper at the top. This section will also fit a large book or binder in front of the padded compartment. To do this in the Synik 22 I would need to use the main compartment and provide the padding, suspension and sectioning myself.

    I can see that this bag will be too small to carry work and gym stuff comfortably at the same time. I knew this was probably the case going in, but still wanted to try.



    With a full large Aeronaut 30 Packing Cube and the go pack (details below) the only usable spaces left are the side pockets.



    I may well add a Synik 30 if it turns out I need to, but I've managed with a single backpack the size of a Synik 22 for two decades, and do not want the added complexity, so I really hope I can make it work. (I am the type of person who would easily switch to a smaller laptop and use shorts instead of sweatpants at the gym just to be able to use the bag I prefer.)

    I haven't actually used the backpack outdoors yet, so I'll add a post once I've figured out how to pack it correctly for daily use.

    My plan was to use the bottom compartment and a Small Snake Charmer for a "tech and emergency go pack" inspired by the Casey Liss Go Pack.

    I already see an issue with this setup as the items I have chosen do not fill the Snake Charmer, and the fit into the bottom compartment is pretty tight. Depending on how often I need access I might go back to using two smaller bags. (I have previously used the storage pouches my microfiber towels came in for this.)



    The tech side is for dongles and charging, containing a 65W charger (3 USB-A, 1 USB-C), a short power cable, a PowerCore 10000 PD Powerbank, a USB-C with Thunderbolt cable, USB-C to Lightning, USB-C to Micro-B, USB-C to Mini-B, USB-A to Lightning, USB-A to Micro-B, USB-A to Mini-B, USB-C to USB-A, Lightning to 3.5 mm, a 3.5 mm cable, Lightning to HDMI+Lightning, a short HDMI cable and a thumb drive.





    The emergency side contains a toothbrush, band-aids, the Merlin Mann nail clippers and other items I expect to need semi-frequently on the go.



    I have maintained a travel packing list for years, my current master list contains 173 items. Before each trip I make a copy of the OmniFocus project and delete all the things I will not need. This is a quick process as I can often delete many full categories, such as "International" containing electrical adapter, local currency and passport, or "Shaving" if it is just an overnight trip.

    Using the Spiff Kit and the clear 3D Organizer Cube I am going to take the go pack and travel list concepts further, having duplicate toiletries and carry-on liquids pre-packed and ready to go. If anyone is interested I'll post more about this once I have acquired everything I need.
    Last edited by Mooose; 01-14-2020 at 03:55 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Member b1gsky's Avatar
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    Good to hear you are happy with your color choice. Smilie

  3. #3
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    Welcome! Always nice to meet someone who has embraced the Bihnion lifestyle. When you travel, are you a one-bagger, or would the synik be paired with a roller?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "Not all who wander are lost"
    "Love people, use things, because the opposite never works" - The Minimalists
    Synapse 25 in Olive, Aubergine Side Effect, UV A30 PCBP, Sitka PCSB

  4. #4
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    I really like the idea of your packing lists in OmniFocus. My packing style is haphazard, where I gather things that I think I'll need over the course of the week leading up to the trip, and then a few days before, cull aggressively until I am comfortable with the packed amount.

    I'm also very interested in the "go pack" concept and have put together a mini one for office and daily supplies for every day use. I also love your pictures and explanations.

    I think that one issue you are running into with the Synapse/Synik is that the front pockets take up a lot of of the total capacity of the bag, and they have specific relatively unflexible dimensions. I've personally found that the best way for me to pack my Synik 22, particularly for travel, is to avoid using too many pouches and just fill the pockets directly. I put a lot of items in there bare, like a camera and camera lens, pack of wipes, rolled up hat, and so on. If you really like using organizers, a simple step up to the Synapse 25 will gain you a lot of extra space in each of the pockets, plus a lot more flexibility in the main compartment. I find it hard to describe how much more space and flexibility the Synapse 25 gains you over the Synik 22, despite only being on paper 3 liters larger.

    Finally, I am very curious about the drawstring compartment on your old bag. Would you show us?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by melminimalist View Post
    Welcome!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by melminimalist View Post
    When you travel, are you a one-bagger, or would the synik be paired with a roller?
    It really depends on the trip. I'll try to one-bag it if I can, but I'm nowhere near religious about it, and I frequently need to carry liquids, dive gear or other items that require a suitcase of some sort. I rarely have another carry-on though, unless I'm traveling with children.

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    I really like the idea of your packing lists in OmniFocus. My packing style is haphazard, where I gather things that I think I'll need over the course of the week leading up to the trip, and then a few days before, cull aggressively until I am comfortable with the packed amount.
    It's a life saver. Here it is with the two shortest categories expanded. I have anxiety about all sorts of things, and worrying about forgetting something before a long or important trip is a major source of it. These lists bring the anxiety to such a low level that I can actually have a good sleep the night before, which I never could before.



    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    If you really like using organizers, a simple step up to the Synapse 25 will gain you a lot of extra space in each of the pockets, plus a lot more flexibility in the main compartment. I find it hard to describe how much more space and flexibility the Synapse 25 gains you over the Synik 22, despite only being on paper 3 liters larger.
    Thanks for the input. The clamshell opening is very valuable to me. I'll start using the Synik and see how it works for me, but will keep this in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by carrot View Post
    Finally, I am very curious about the drawstring compartment on your old bag. Would you show us?
    Sure, here it is.



    Another advantage of this setup is that a binder, book, notebook or folder in the "business section" will sit between the iPad/laptop and the back of the carrier, protecting the electronics from bending.

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mooose View Post
    I have maintained a travel packing list for years, my current master list contains 173 items. Before each trip I make a copy of the OmniFocus project and delete all the things I will not need. This is a quick process as I can often delete many full categories, such as "International" containing electrical adapter, local currency and passport, or "Shaving" if it is just an overnight trip.
    That's just how I do it too! OmniFocus works well for me. I'm glad you like your new Synik!
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian... and now also Seapine/UV!

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

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