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  1. #1
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack

    To add to @Cristina's first impressions I report mine here with special reference to the Guide's Pack (GP) which is the older sibling of the Shadow Guide (SG).

    To me, the main difference between the Guide’s Pack and the Shadow Guide V2 boils down to the following: the GP is a hiking backpack that might also be used as an everyday backpack while the SG is an everyday backpack that might also be used for hiking ;)

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-5-jpg

    Here you see them side by side: The most discriminating features of the GP – aside from the color scheme - are the attachment points for side pockets and for lashes on the top and bottom to fix a hiking mattress or a jacket, etc.. Another difference is the material: The SG is made from 525 Ballistic Nylon while the GP is made from Parapack which is a bit softer. The backside also reveals some striking difference:

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-11-jpg

    While both backpanels are padded, the new design on the SG is intended to reduce sweating. I had no time to test this as yet but it looks promising (more information here)! Both packs do have an internal frame, which can be taken out and adjusted to your individual spine curve. The frame on the new SG is much lighter and the built in aluminum stay is less massive compared to that of the GP and is more similar to that of the Synik. Thus, the back of the GP feels stiffer but I don’t know yet whether that really makes a difference in terms of carrying comfort (I’ll find it out!).

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-10-jpg

    Both are top loading backpacks that have a large main compartment with no further interior organization. It closes with a drawstring. Both packs have almost the same size (SG 33 liters, GP 31 liters) which is really huge!

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-13-jpg

    Thus, If you want to stow rather large things e.g. groceries on your way home or your gym stuff, this huge compartment is great. Furthermore, if you enjoy last minute packing where you just throw everything inside and dash off, this comes in handy too. On the other hand, if you carry a lot of small things and you hate searching them or don’t want to dump everything on the table each time you’re looking for your keys you should rather think about a Synapse or Synik because this main compartment here can become a mysterious black hole that seems to swallow everything you put inside (but wait, there is help: you can add interior organization, see below).

    Both packs have a second, smaller top compartment that closes with a zipper. However, while the zipper on the GP is on the outside (it looks away from the person carrying the backpack) it is on the inside on the SG (it looks towards the person carrying the backpack). You can read about the pros and cons of the placement of this zipper here. Personally, I think both solutions have their merits: I like the GP version more for packing and unpacking the bag because when it lies flat on its back you cannot access the top pocket on the SG.



    For everyday use the SG version is probably more suitable as it easier to access the pocket when you hold the pack on the top lash.

    Both solution however, do require some attention as things might fall out of the top pocket if you forget to close the zipper! Thus, the two O-rings in the top pocket are a relief in this regard. They are placed at the top in the top pocket of the SG and at the bottom of the top pocket of the GP.

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-6-jpg

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-7-jpg

    The top pocket on the SG closes with kissing zippers while the one on the GP has only one zipper but a clever detail that I really miss on the SG and that is the rain flap. I hope that the new zippers do their job (they are described to be water resistant) as the zipper on the top pocket is the one that is maximally exposed to rain when you have the bag on your back.

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-12-jpg

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-8-jpg

    A very nice adjustment to me is that on the SG the zipper on the top pocket is longer and thus, opens wider which makes it much easier to stow larger things in the top compartment. To give you an impression how large this compartment is: it swallowed my Patagonia Better Sweater (Size M) without any problems.



    Overall, my feeling is that the top pocket on the SG is bigger than that on the GP (maybe one of the additional 2 liters is hiding here). Two small pockets are placed on the inside of the top cover. These are oriented horizontally, of different size, and covered with Mesh on the GP while the SG has two equally sized pockets that are oriented vertically. I like the new, larger size and the design of these pockets better than the GP version (although Mesh is a great material!). Each of them has an O-ring that are at the top when you turn the flap on the backside i.e. when the backpack is open. Here I clipped two small Ghost Whale Organizers to the O-rings. The GP version has just one O-ring in the bigger pocket.

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-2-jpg

    One obvious difference between the two packs is certainly the laptop compartment on the SG. And it is huge! Here you can see my 13’’ MacBook Pro almost disappearing in that compartment. The zipper is really long and as you can read on the bag page it even swallows some 17’’ laptops (who wants to carry these anyway?).



    Now for those of you who love the design (like me!) but want to have more internal organization (like me!) here are some suggestions: I use a Freudian Slip whenever I can. Thus, I use one here, it is the one that is intended for the Brain Bag. I fix it with a 1’ Gatekeeper clip to the drawstring so it doesn’t move around so much when the pack isn’t fully packed.



    Another addition that I use in my backpacks is a 3D Organizer Cube which I clip to the two O-rings in the main compartment. To me this is great for valuables as it is inside the bag but easy to access.



    There are certainly a couple of other possibilities how you can add additional organization as the TB portfolio offers so many little helpers!

    Taken together: I love the new SG but maybe I am biased by my long time enthusiasm for the GP. It is certainly not a backpack for everyone as the handling of a top loader is not as smooth as it is with a Synapse or Synik. But if you love the classic look you can’t go wrong with this one!

    Oh I almost forgot: The carrying comfort is great! My GP is equipped with the “old” version of the shoulder straps which I still find very comfortable. But the new ones on the SG (the same as on the Synik and newer versions of the Synapse) are even better!
    Last edited by bartleby; 10-23-2020 at 01:51 PM.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!) Smilie Rainbow Cheers
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  2. #2
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    Thank you for this review! The videos especially are helpful. You've actually also answered a question I had posted on the review by @Cristina , about suspending a FS in the main compartment for more organization. Your method of attaching it is also simpler than my first thought. It looks like there's a lot loaded into the FS in your video. I'm wondering, when you walk with the backpack on, does the suspended/weighed down FS feel (to put it scientifically) flippy-floppy against your back?
    Last edited by k_p; 10-23-2020 at 01:07 PM.

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Hi @k_p , yes you‘re right! My FS is always quite heavy. But it doesn‘t feel flippy-floppy when I walk. It stays put even if the bag is quite empty otherwise.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!) Smilie Rainbow Cheers
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  4. #4
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    Hi @bartleby ,

    Both you and @Cristina did great reviews; I was going to respond to her post, but your pictures made it clear on some of the comments I wanted to make — and the video demos made it easier to see. First of all, since I’m smaller than either of you — at about 5’3½” or 161 cm I’m waiting for the 23 liter version of SG2 — my impressions on the fit of the SG1 may not be as relevant. But I’ll just state that I think the SG1 followed closely on the design specs of the Guide’s Pack, both in terms of the supporting frame and the design of the top pocket. So I really can’t insert a PCSB or my Icon into the top pocket of the SG1 as @Cristina did without removing stuff and squooshing the bags down to get them to fit. The SG1 top pocket also has the same rain flap design for the zipper that you have on the Guide’s Pack, there are 2 1” webbing loops that would let you use the padded hip belt from your Guide’s Pack. (I think the most recent version of the Guide’s Pack uses two 1½” webbing loops for the hip belt.)

    I found the SG1 backpack straps surprisingly comfortable to wear – perhaps even more than the first version of the Guide’s Edition Synapse 25, if I removed the SG framesheet. With the framesheet in place, (and I suspect with the back laptop pocket of the SG2 33 liter version), I could feel that the fit was more optimized for someone with a broader, flatter back than I have. This might enter into some of the reasons for @Cristina ’s comments about the fit. Of course, if you’re hauling a lot of weight, you need the framesheet in place. I feel more comfortable wearing the latest models of Synapse 25, than the Synik 30 (and the smaller model backpacks like the Synik 22, Luminaries, etc. also fit me better).

    HTH

    moriond

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by bartleby View Post
    Hi @k_p , yes you‘re right! My FS is always quite heavy. But it doesn‘t feel flippy-floppy when I walk. It stays put even if the bag is quite empty otherwise.
    Thanks very much for your assessment!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bartleby View Post
    the GP is a hiking backpack that might also be used as an everyday backpack while the SG is an everyday backpack that might also be used for hiking
    Great review @bartleby ! I love this comparison to the GP, and love the videos, always helpful to see a bag in motion to get a feel for it.

  7. #7
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Today I took the Shadow Guide out for a little hike. I didn't have much to take with me so the bag was way underpacked. I mainly used the top pocket for the things I needed on my way (camera, glasses, wallet, etc.). The main compartment contained just a sweater and a bottle of water. As you can see: with this kind of packing the bag looks very unobtrusive despite its actual size. The carrying comfort is really great (I am 6 ft, 158 lbs).

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-20-jpg

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-21-jpg

    Top Loaders: Shadow Guide and Guide's Pack-sg-22-jpg

    When you mainly use the top pocket and the main compartment is quite empty, the top pocket hangs down almost vertically. This makes it very easy to access the things inside as the zippper is then on the very top of the bag.

    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!) Smilie Rainbow Cheers
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  8. #8
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    Another really helpful set of photos -- thank you!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by k_p View Post
    Another really helpful set of photos -- thank you!
    I agree. It’s not just the still shots that show comparisons, but the video sections that show the way you access the top compartment and what you can put in that makes these posts by @bartleby so useful.

    But really, all the reviews that have taken different tacks on showing comparisons with accessories and sizing for the Shadow Guide have been really great.

    moriond

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