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  1. #1
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    Smart Alec Questions (Space, Modules, Lining)

    Hi Tom Binhers!

    I've had the itch to buy some more TB gear and have been looking into a few packs. I'm going on a trip soon and wanted a pack with a little less organizational sections and more of a big opening. I've been looking at the Smart Alec, Brain Bag, and Guide's Pack (I already have a Synapse 25). I was looking at the Smart Alec all weekend, waffling back and forth on pulling the buy trigger on one. Just a few questions.

    1) The Smart Alec is supposed to have 1L of space more than the Synapse 25. Is the extra space noticeable?

    2) I was looking at the Black/Steel Smart Alec, but did not see the optional lower and upper modules in the matching Steel color. Have these modules ever been produced in steel or should I just get the black variants?

    3) The Dyneema/Halcyon has two sides - one feels super smooth to me and another side feels a bit stickier. Does anyone know which side is upwards on the inside of the Smart Alec? I was looking at a review this morning that had pictures of the inside of the bag and was disappointed to see that it looked as if the inside lining on the sides of the Smart Alec was the 'stickier' side. I absolutely love the smoother side of Halcyon/Dyneema but am not as much a fan of the other. I hope this makes sense.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by Cronus; 04-11-2016 at 08:14 AM.

  2. #2
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    I can't answer #1 directly, but my opinion (though not backed up by rigorous experimentation), is that the Smart Alec has more usable area due to the way it is designed. If you compare both backpacks, the bottom of the SA has a sort of "built-in ledge", whereas the Synapse 25 curves outwards from both the top and bottom. After trying both backpacks, I feel that the SA when full keeps basically the same shape, whereas the S25 gets unwieldy when packed full, and one has to be more careful of the placement of the items inside. I personally prefer the SA because of its flexibility, but I use it more as a travel bag (for carry-on) than an EDC.

    On the other hand, the S25 is a lot easier to access while you are on the move, due to the multiple pockets for organization.

    In terms of #3, I'm pretty sure it is the smooth side. I think the other side is only used when the design of the item necessitates showing both the back and front of the material.
    Last edited by bchaplin; 04-11-2016 at 07:41 AM.
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  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cronus View Post
    Hi Tom Binhers!

    ... Just a few questions.

    1) The Smart Alec is supposed to have 1L of space more than the Synapse 25. Is the extra space noticeable?

    2) I was looking at the Black/Steel Smart Alec, but did not see the optional lower and upper modules in the matching Steel color. Have these modules ever been produced in steel or should I just get the black variants?

    3) The Dyneema/Halcyon has two sides - one feels super smooth to me and another side feels a bit stickier. Does anyone know which side is upwards on the inside of the Smart Alec? I was looking at a review this morning that had pictures of the inside of the bag and was disappointed to see that it looked as if the inside lining on the sides of the Smart Alec was the 'stickier' side. I absolutely love the smoother side of Halcyon/Dyneema but am not as much a fan of the other. I hope this makes sense.

    Thanks!

    1) I agree completely with @bchaplin who, as far as I read, has extensively used the SA for travel. The SA in actual use has more "easily usable" space than the S25. You lose a bit more in the corners of the SA front pockets which usually do not get used. Also, the S25 does not do as well as the SA when full (as you may already know). The SA is meant to be fairly full and can look "angry" from @Ilkyway's comment if not filled much (but there are ways to remedy this though positioning of item in the bag).

    2) I would call TB Customer Service to see if they are planning to make modular pocket in Steel in the near future. I do not believe they have stopped making them. However, I think the Black would look good too as it would not break from the 2 color theme.

    3) The interior Dyneema setup is the same as with your S25. I am not too sure of the smooth vs sticky descriptions for the side differences. For me, there is a less colorful side that looks like it has a translucent coating on it (which I think corresponds to your sticky side, IMHO) and a more matte side that is most colorful (which I think corresponds to your smooth side). The matte side is what is shown in the interior of all TB bags. In short, if you like your S25 Dyneema interior setup, the SA is the same.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  4. #4
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    I ended up purchasing a Smart Alec, so I figured I'd follow up my own post in case it helps anyone else who might have similar questions.

    1) I basically agree with @bchaplin and @tpnl. I think the S25 edges out the SA in terms of quick access organizational space. The SA on the other hand, has that single large opening which can fit larger items. Because of the heavier duty bottom(ballistic nylon on the outside, lined with 200d Halcyon) on the SA, it feels like it can better manage a heavier load in the main compartment as well.

    2) I haven't called, but I agree that black would probably also look good. I decided to wait on my purchase of the modular pockets until I have more of a need for the extra space.

    3) My "sticky" description was just awful. It's not sticky at all. In fact, it's probably smoother than the other side. There's basically the front of the Halcyon fabric which is more vivid and colorful as @tpnl points out, and has to me at least, just a wonderful texture to it, and then there's the back which isn't as colorful, and has the translucent coating making it very smooth. I'm not as much of a fan of the back of the fabric, but it's fine. I think if I had it my (probably naive) way, I'd make the bags such that the back side of any of the fabrics (halcyon, ballistic nylon, cordura, etc) was never exposed, and instead it was double lined, but I'm sure there are cost and weight savings reasons why this isn't as practical as I'd like it to be. Anyway, back to my original question. The front and back side of the inside of the bag are lined with the more colorful(front) side of Halcyon, and the sides of the inside of the bag are lined with the smoother(back) side of Halcyon. The side Halcyon is the same lining that separates the side pockets from the interior, so I assume they did this so that the side pockets are entirely lined with the colorful(front) side of the Halcyon. This response felt like a mouthful, but I hope it helps.

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