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  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Jul 2019
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    Initial Impressions of the Synik 30 (with much, much more to come)

    Before getting started, just a quick explanation of this review and the further review material to come. I received the Synik 30 to try out as my office EDC and primary travel bag. After breaking in the bag for just a few days, I got called on assignment out of the country and quickly had to throw some things together and leave. So, I will be updating this less-than-comprehensive review with additional photos and thoughts in the coming days/weeks (internet access permitting) as I use the bag more and more. I will also provide a more comprehensive review following my return Stateside in October.


    TL; DR: The Synik 30 is a near-unbeatable EDC or travel bag with the perfect balance of size, space, and organization. The additions of the full clamshell opening, the suspended laptop compartment, the internal frame, and the luggage passthrough Ė along with Tom Bihnís legendary attention to detail, thoughtfulness, and quality Ė make this bag incredibly hard to beat.

    Why I chose the Synik 30

    After carrying Goruck for years while working and traveling abroad, I returned to the United States and found myself really wanting a bag that was equally as well made and durable, but with better organization and more appropriate aesthetics Ė while the Goruck work might work in field offices and on missions, I think most will admit it looks out of place in a professional office setting. At the same time, I didnít want something that sacrificed durability and utility for pure aesthetics, as field work and travel are still a large part of my profession.

    Familiar with Tom Bihnís quality and dedication to thoughtful design and construction, I targeted the Synapse 25 as a top candidate to fill this new role after countless hours poring over research, reviews, and forum posts. Although I had settled on the Synapse 25 as the best option, my only reservations centered around the lack of a full clamshell design (which I had become very accustomed to and fond of) and a dedicated laptop compartment.

    Enter the Synik 30.


    As most are familiar with the Synapse, Iím generally only touching upon the new features of the Synik, largely skipping over Tom Bihn basics and the tried-and-true design itself (o-rings, the various fabric choices, o-rings, internal water bottle storage, o-rings, etc.).

    The Synik checks all the boxes for me, boasting everything the Synapse had to offer with the following much-needed additions:
    • Full clamshell opening
    • Two-point access suspended laptop compartment
    • Edgeless EV50 Ĺí shoulder straps
    • Integrated (removeable) internal frame with aluminum half-stay
    • Rolling luggage handle pass-through
    • Padded false bottom

    As far as pure aesthetics go, the Synik appears to be largely unchanged from the Synapse, apart from the updated grab handle, the beefier YKK #10 main compartment zipper, the updated shoulder straps, and the label being moved to lower right corner. I went with the 525d ballistic/200d Halcyon in Black/Northwest Sky and while I find it a bit on the stiff side at the moment, I am more than pleased with the look and feel of the bag and look forward to seeing how it settles in. Assuaging on of my initial concerns, I find the fabric and colorway to be formal enough in a professional setting, but not out of place during casual overnighters or even camping trips.

    As others have pointed out, the Synik does have a slightly wider profile. While those used to carrying a Synapse might feel a discernable difference in form factor, I find that the bag looks and feels proportional and comfortable, even half packed, and that the bag never feels or appears to wide on me.

    The addition of a full clamshell opening and dedicated laptop compartment are the greatest selling points of the Synik over the Synapse and similar bags in my opinion. In addition, and as youíd expect from Tom Bihn, incorporating these features into the design was very well executed: the addition of the padded false bottom and suspension of the laptop compartment protects both the zippers and the laptop from damage from drops; the two-point access of the laptop compartment is a great addition, allowing for quick removal both at the airport and the office (during my recent departure, thee Synik made moving through airport security a breeze: I simply slid out my tablet cache, attached via the TB rail system, and slipped my laptop out of the side/back access point). Itís obvious that not only did Tom Bihn react to consumersí desire for these features, they did so in a well-planned manner, not sacrificing the overall functionality of the bag or just throwing in these features as an afterthought.


    As far as comfort is concerned, I find the Synik to be a treat to carry. Although I cannot make a comparison to the Synapse, the new EV50 seamless shoulder straps look and feel fantastic, even after carrying the bag for extended periods and regardless of how overpacked it may be. Coming from Goruck, this was a major concern of mine, however, while I can say that Goruck straps definitely provide more padding, I found the Synik to be much more comfortable to carry and appreciated the right amount of give and flexibility they provide overall. While, yes, I will admit that when carrying heavier loads (40+ lbs.) for extended periods of time, my shoulders do feel much more fatigue with the Synik than with the Goruck, I would gladly sacrifice this rare inconvenience for what I would consider a better overall experience, both in terms of general comfort and overall aesthetics.

    The addition of the included internal frame is also noticeable, especially on workdays when the Synik isnít packed to its fullest yet remains comfortable and holds its form. Similarly, the modification/stitched channels on the back panel help with air movement and keeping your back dry.

    Although I rarely use hip belts with a bag this size, the included waist strap as well as the padded waist belt provide great options for those who prefer the added support.


    One of the most significant concerns I had with the Synik was regarding the size. I needed a bag large enough to contain various EDC loadouts and facilitate personal and professional travel, while not being so large that it would seem out of place half-packed in a professional setting.

    While I was initially torn between the 22 and the 30, I am glad that I settled on the 30 as I find it to be the right balance to ensure that both roles are covered. With that said, I did carry a 34L Goruck GR2 as my primary travel backpack (and even occasionally to work when I was carrying additional camera or other equipment), which many would rightfully consider quite large, so YMMV. With that said, the Synik carries surprisingly close to the body and has a much lower profile than I had expected, even fully packed, especially compared to the GR2.

    For reference, photos show the Synik with the following loadout. Keep in mind, Iím 6í0 and 180 lbs. with a fairly ďnormalĒ build.

    Initial Impressions of the Synik 30 (with much, much more to come)-synik-30-back-side-jpg

    Main Compartment
    • Laptop (Dell Inspiron 13 5000)
    • TB Cache (iPad and Logitech Keys To Go keyboard)
    • TB Spiff Kit
    • TB Size 2 Travel Stuff Sack (Marmot rain jacket)
    • Repel Travel Umbrella
    • Packing Cube Shoulder Bag w/ strap (textbook, large Moleskin, Medium TB Mesh Organizer Pouch with pens, pencils, etc.)
    • File folder organizer

    Top Center Pocket
    • 16 oz. Klean Kanteen TKWide bottle

    Small Center Pocket
    • O-Ring: hand sanitizer
    • Wallet

    Left Side Pocket
    • O-Ring: Mini TB Padded Organizer Pouch (SSD)
    • TB Pen Wrap
    • Small Moleskine
    • Fisher Cap-O-Matic
    • Coast HX5 flashlight
    • Travel chopsticks/spoon

    Right Side Pocket
    • O-Ring: Medium TB Q-Kit (headphones, cables, etc.)
    • Anker battery pack
    • Glasses case

    Bottom Pocket
    • TB Snake Charmer (laptop charger and mouse, rechargeable batteries, Black Diamond headlamp, Pelican SD case, backup earbuds, external hard drive(s), various cables and chargers)

    Organization & Versatility

    Coming from Goruck, which is essentially a massive 1000D rectangle strapped to your back Ė great for longer travel with packing cubes, horrible for easy access and organization Ė I was looking for something that provided accessibility and organization for EDC items, while not diminishing the ability to pack efficiently for longer trips. I have to admit that after using the Synik for just a couple of weeks, I am a convert to the built-in organization in Tom Bihnís packs and am impressed with the size and form factor.

    As this was to be my primary bag, I needed it to be able to quickly adapt to the roles of EDC office carry to carry-on/travel back and back again. While I can easily load the Synik for the average day at the office, the size of the main compartment is also nearly perfectly laid out for packing cubes (in my case, Eagle Creek XS, S, and M Pack-it Cubes), making it easy to quickly convert the Synik from office EDC to travel onebag. The included (removeable) tie-down straps make the process even easier, reducing the amount of packing cube Tetris you have to play before getting the right fit, and the passthrough is a great addition for those who use rolling luggage.

    Although the center and side pocket organization is less useful when packing the Synik as a travel bag, I find that the outside organization doesnít take too much away from the main compartment, so the sacrifice is minimal. Plus, coming from the GR2, nothing really compares to the utter uselessness of a Goruck front slant pocket.

    Moreover, after unloading the bulk of the aforementioned loadout for a smaller office EDC load, I was incredibly impressed with how the Synik operated at half capacity. With just the Snake Charmer, laptop, tablet, notebooks, and a few miscellaneous items (Q Kit, Pen Wrap, umbrella, glasses, water bottle, etc.), the Synik carried and looked amazing.


    Overall, Iím very impressed with the build quality, thoughtfulness of design, features, and overall aesthetic of the Synik. The 30L strikes a near-perfect balance between being large enough for onebag travel while still not looking out of place half-packed as an office EDC.

    Iíll provide an update on how the Synik is faring in three months, following a two-and-a-half-month mission in the field where the Synik is serving as my EDC office bag as well as my primary travel pack for regional travel and site visits.
    Attached Images Attached Images Initial Impressions of the Synik 30 (with much, much more to come)-synik-30-back-side-jpg 
    Last edited by natemic; 08-13-2019 at 10:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Forum Member Pahs's Avatar
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    Oct 2017
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    Great review. I’m coming from the Goruck GR1 as well, so that was a particularly interesting perspective for me. The Synik tics all my boxes, and I can’t wait to get it. Thanks!

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Jul 2019
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    Did you consider any other bags like the evergoods CPL24, or brown buffalo conceal before deciding on the synik? If so, what made you choose the synik over them?

  4. #4
    Forum Member Pahs's Avatar
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    Oct 2017
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    I suppose you're asking natemic, but here is my reason: I had looked at the Evergoods a while back, but it didn't appeal to me at all. Too similar to the GR1, and I don't want a smaller pack. I'm not familiar with the Buffalo Conceal.

    I got a Side Effect for organisation in my GR1 a couple of years ago, and I just loved the workmanship and attention to detail. This, in addition to a couple of dislikes with the GR1 (practically no organisation, black interior, etc.) made me want to get a Tom Bihn backpack instead. But they didn't have the features I appreciate on the GR1: clamshell, separate laptop compartment, great straps and a frame sheet. The Synik has all those features, as well as much better organisation, nicer material (not a huge fan of cordura), luggage straps and a lighter interior.
    Last edited by Pahs; 08-15-2019 at 12:47 AM.

  5. #5
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    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    0 Thread(s)
    Hey NateMic and Pahs, I’m interested to know why a clamshell in the synik is important to you given that there are so many outer pockets in the design. The outer pockets, for me, seem to negate the need to constantly access the main compartment, or store little bits and pieces that could get lost in there. I’m not sure the tradeoff of extra depth & weight, a potential loss of durability, and extra beefy hard to pull zippers are worth it. I use a Synapse 19 and don’t really see much use in the clamshell for the way I pack. Every other feature looks great, however. How do you use the clamshell?
    Last edited by rishio; 08-15-2019 at 11:04 AM.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Pahs's Avatar
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    Oct 2017
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    To me it is not that I constantly need full access to the main pocket, in fact I rarely open it up all the way, but that the times that I do need it, I have it. If I am packing so much stuff that it is a tight fit I find it is much easier to do that effectively when I can open the pack up all the way. For daily use I mostly just open it halfway, and because of the #10 zipper I am never worried that it will inadvertently open up all the way. But you probably have a point that it is less important with the outer pockets, especially when they are so well designed. On the pack I have now the outer pocket is near useless.

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