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  1. #1
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Almost ready for S25, but just read (older) negative review. Still true?

    Hi all,
    I'm just about ready to order a Synapse 25, mostly as an everyday work bag---also for some travel. Reading various reviews--most are glowing, of course. One however pointed out something I had read on the forums as well---that the back mesh can really absorb sweat and can be hard to clean/destink.

    Also the negative review (link below--and I'm just looking at his review not his political philosophy) commented on how the zippers start to look pretty ratty after a relatively short time. I believe that TB does the zippers differently now and so this may be a moot point. Am I right?

    Finally, who among you has really given the S25 hard use over an extended period? Has it really held up? $200 is a pricey pack and I just want to get some real-world long-term feedback. I've been thrilled with my co-pilot and side effect and just want to check in with you all about your experiences with the Synapse.

    Why I stopped using the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 –Libertarian Prepper


    Nathan (Colorado)
    Last edited by Colorado; 03-18-2017 at 04:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    0 Thread(s)
    I have had my Synapse 25 for almost four years now. I've used it as an everyday work bag, travel bag and day bag while traveling. I love the bag and would not hesitate to buy one again.

    The mesh back does make my lower back sweat quite a bit when it's hot outside, but I've never noticed a bad smell coming from the back.

    I have the older version where the zipper water protection is on the outside out the bag. It definitely has ripped up, but I haven't had any issues with water getting into my bag. The new bags have this water protection on the inside so it shouldn't be an issue.

    I just recently sent my bag in for repair because the zipper stitching started coming apart on the main zipper. Tom Bihn fixed it free of charge. That's one of the reasons I bought the bag. Any issues and TB will take care of it.

    Hope this helps.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Synapse 25 Black/Wasabi Cordova, Pilot Navy/Northwest Sky Ballistic Nylon, Co-Pilot Black/Wasabi Halcyon, Aeronaut 45 Black/Wasabi Ballistic Nylon

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator Ilkyway's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    GMT +1 Germany, North
    0 Thread(s)
    The heat is on the back is discussed a lot. I have had a lot of different backpacks some with very nifty (though also substantial in material and thickness) ventilating systems. For me it is always the same: the airflow how ever handled under the backpack is slower than everywhere else on the torso and therefor my bag gets sweaty on hot days or if I walk fast and far. I do not feel that this is particularly worth on TB bags it is just what it is.

    The other issue about the zippers is more a cosmetical thing but that one is fixed: todays zippers are reversed: the waterprotection bit is now on the inside of the bag. The funktionality has not changed but the optic has.

    Hope this helps
    “Ankh-Morpork people considered that spelling was a sort of optional extra. They believed in it in the same way they believed in punctuation; it didn't matter where you put it so long as it was there.”

    By Sir Terence David John Pratchett from The Truth

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Toronto, Canada (GMT+5)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado View Post
    Hi all,
    ...that the back mesh can really absorb sweat and can be hard to clean/destink.
    IMHO, this applies to a certain extent to all backpacks and is a good / bad thing - good that it wicks water away from your body when you are hot and sweating, bad that it may have odor issues (like sneakers or gym clothes). I have read of some people with this issue but I personally have not had an issue. If you require a high airflow backpack, I would suggest also looking at backpacks with air channel grooves perhaps. The Brain Bag has some groove too. Another note - vinegar and baking soda are good to get rid of lingering odor (e.g you put arm and hammer baking soda in your fridge to get rid of odors).

    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado View Post
    ... the zippers start to look pretty ratty after a relatively short time. I believe that TB does the zippers differently now and so this may be a moot point. Am I right?
    You are correct that the zippers were "flipped" a few years ago. I have used the old and new styles of zippers. The old style has lasted for me with no problems and does not get ratty - just keep them from drying out (use Armor all or 303 - which I use). If abused, I would say the rubber in the old zippers may peel or a bit of the edge may come off and hot high humidity does not help - think about what conditions would shorten the lifespan of rubber. I like the old zippers better because of their "stealth" look - hard to see the zipper. The new zippers do not have this issue so you should have to worry about this if you buy a new / newer one.

    Here is a link to a discussion on the zippers and that the issue above is only cosmetic and does not actually impact the performance of the zipper:

    Upside Down Zippers

    It is interesting to note that the review provided in the first post states that Arc'teryx zippers lasted twice as long - the link above from TB indicates that Arc'teryx was involved with creating the zippers TB uses!

    Quote Originally Posted by Colorado View Post
    ... who among you has really given the S25 hard use over an extended period? Has it really held up?
    I do not use my S25 every day but I have found the Cordura version to be extremely durable and I do not have to worry about it in any outside weather conditions. The Cordura denier (1000d) is a very tough fabric that is used in military applications as well. However, like all Cordura, it attracts pet hair, etc so some regular cleaning may be required if you have pets. The Halycon does not have this issue, and is lighter. This is the current version I own. As an EDC, I find it perfect as I am not usually in bad weather conditions / environments.

    In short, I would say that there are a few reviews of the S25 stating issues and many many many more stating that it is fantastic. I would say that this indicates that the backpack is good for most but maybe not for some in certain conditions (e.g. heavy sweat, humid environment)

    Hope this helps
    Last edited by tpnl; 03-20-2017 at 02:28 PM.
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Honolulu, HI
    0 Thread(s)

    Almost ready for S25, but just read (older) negative review. Still true?


    You might want to read Darcy's comments (made with respect to the Hero's Journey, but applicable to other backpacks like the Synapse 25 that use the Drylex AeroSpacer Mesh) about design tradeoffs and the reasons behind their choices:

    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy View Post
    We've done extensive testing (see this blog post; scroll down to the The Swarner 5000 Datalogger) and the Drylex AeroSpacer Mesh we use does help cool and dissipate sweat build-up. That said, it doesn't compete with a truly suspended modern mesh back panel or as you'd find on an old-school external frame pack. The rub with either of those systems is that they suck up a substantial amount of volume to create the airspace between the user and the pack; we've concluded that for the intended use of the Hero's Journey it's not worth that sacrifice. If you're planning on traveling/hiking in hot, humid climates and sweat build-up is a concern, the Hero's Journey may not be the right pack for you. (I personally would carry it in such contexts because I regularly hike with my Synapse and Guide's Pack year-round, including on hot summer days, and don't experience an issue with heat, but as we know YMMV of course
    Take a read, too, of the March 24th, 2015 Blog post titled A Brief History of Backpack Back Panel Fabrics referred to in that post, while you're at it.

    I can't speak about "really [having] given the S25 hard use over an extended periiod", but my Steel 400d Halcyon/Wasabi S25 dates from the very first production batch of this backpack (and the only one for which they used the narrower backpack strap spacing of the earlier Synapse 19 model), and has the old style zipper design. It has been in use as an EDC, and I think the zippers still look pretty good, without having to use @tpnl's method for treating these with Aerospace 303 (post #15) in the thread he linked earlier describing how this was only a cosmetic issue -- you can see the results of his treatment applied to the old zippers.

    The Synapse is my preferred backpack of choice -- my original Synapse (Indigo/Solar) in what is now termed the S19 size also dates from the very first production batch. One or the other of these Synapse models (the Cordura S19 or the Halcyon S25) has served as my EDC over the years. Overall, this is the most comfortable backpack I have carried. (Prior to the Synapse, I carried the Tom Bihn Buzz, or use North Face backpacks if I needed larger capacity).

    One thing that you might do is ask whether there are any Tom Bihn Synapse users in your vicinity who might let you see the bag in person before you buy it. I know that there have been a number of meet-ups across the country, where TB bag owners have brought a selection of their bags/accessories for others to try out. If you're in Colorado (from your forum name -- not a necessary conclusion, since I know @Hawaii doesn't live in that state, but likes to visit here), there are a number of active Tom Bihn Synapse users in your state. (Just off the top of my head, I'd think of @ScottE22, who authored the My first "What's in my bag?" video: Synapse 25 thread). And I know that moderators like @maverick and @Badger have shown off their bags to others during their travels around the country.

    Hope you get enough feedback to make your decision. In my opinion, the Synapse is a great backpack.

    Last edited by moriond; 03-21-2017 at 09:38 PM.

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