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  1. #1
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Question 2018 Backpack Purchase: Synapse 25 Guide's Edition vs Guide's Pack ✈️ ⛰ 🎒

    Next July, I'm doing 5 weeks of high-altitude central/south American travel where I'll be meeting a friend to hike up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. There will also be stopovers in Bogota, Lima, and if I can fit it in, Quito. On the way down from the Machu Picchu hike, I'll be in Cusco for at least a week. It's going to be a long, slow travel excursion.

    I have an Aeronaut 30, but I don't think it's the right bag for the Inca Trail. I'll either leave it in Lima or possibly, home. While I will be traveling with a laptop, I'll leave that in Lima when it comes time for hiking.

    The weather will be brisk with a range from about 20˚ to -1˚ (70-30˚F). I'm planning on packing light with layers to stay warm, such as a base layer, a down jacket, a windbreaker shell, and a couple of hat options. I'll also probably want a few denser items, including a pair of jeans, a comfy fleece, flip flops, etc.

    So should I get a Synapse 25 or a Guide's Pack? I'm looking specifically at the Guide's Edition of the Synapse 25, because I'm super-shallow and like how it looks. To my thinking, each bag has its advantages, but I'm wondering what I'm missing here:

    Synapse 25 Guide's Edition pros: More organization; probably better as a day bag for sightseeing; better laptop storage; easier access to stuff; probably counts as a "personal item" when flying.

    Guide's Pack pros: Seems like it would be more water resistant because of the way it closes on top(??); probably a better frame for heavy loads; better outdoorsy pack in general; just seems kind of cool.

    So I have a few questions for the bag experts:

    (1) Do you think the Synapse 25 will fit all of my stuff for 5 weeks of travel? Am I crazy for trying? (2) Which one should I get in general and what am I not thinking about?

    Thanks everyone. Help me pick a bag!

  2. #2
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    No bag recommendations, just a high five for what sounds like an amazing trip!
    Luminary 12 with a MCB Freudian Slip, Daylight Backpack, EDC Side Effect or Side Effect, zippered Large and Small Shopbags, Co-Pilot, Travel Tray, Snake Charmer

  3. #3
    Forum Member Lodd's Avatar
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    Just a bit of opinion on bag size.

    When you say "hiking" the trail, would this mean that you're going to be camping? If you have to bring camping gear, tent, sleeping bag and food, then 25L isn't much. There are some who manage it at reddit/r/ultralight but it's pretty hardcore.

    On the other hand, if you'll have accommodation along the way, then 25L should be plenty since I think you need to care less about wearing the same outfits when you're on the trail. You already mention leaving your laptop, so electronics are light. Toiletries can be slimmed down to just the basics (toothbrush, shower gel/shampoo, etc) and you only have a to pack a few outfit changes.

    In fact, your main weight and volume should be food+water+camping gear. If you are camping, I would aim for 40-50L. If you're not carrying these 3 things, then 10-15L should be enough.

    Hope you have a fun trip!
    Western Flyer Black Ballistic/Island Halcyon

  4. #4
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    What about the Hero's Journey?

  5. #5
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lodd View Post
    Just a bit of opinion on bag size.

    When you say "hiking" the trail, would this mean that you're going to be camping?
    Nope, no camping. I'll be doing day hikes and on the trail, I'll be hiking between hotels on the way.

    If you're not carrying these 3 things, then 10-15L should be enough.

    Hope you have a fun trip!
    Thanks!

  6. #6
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tebnewyork View Post
    What about the Hero's Journey?
    I guess my concern is, it's big? Perhaps bigger than I need?

    I like the design of the removeable shoulder bag though.

  7. #7
    Forum Member Lodd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bouncing View Post
    Nope, no camping. I'll be doing day hikes and on the trail, I'll be hiking between hotels on the way.
    Awesome!

    Then you'll only have to worry about enough food and water for the day hike. I think both bags would be great and it would be more a matter of which one you think looks better. And I'm super-shallow too. I totally choose my bags based on how they look. If not, any old jansport would've been fine instead of a Tom Bihn.

    I think an A30 + S25 would be more than enough for 5 weeks. Then you can leave the A30 in Lima and bring just the S25 on the Inca trail hike. I'm assuming that you'll be leaving this stuff (including laptop) at your friends house?

    Of course, if you want to go a little more hardcore, you can always just pack the S25 into the A30, leaving you only onebag for most of your travel. Then you can pop out the S25 as a daybag.

    Edit: Just realized. Do you mean to say you plan to bring only the S25 for all 5 weeks? That would be awesome.
    Last edited by Lodd; 12-11-2017 at 10:48 AM.
    Western Flyer Black Ballistic/Island Halcyon

  8. #8
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    I guess I would decide on which bag based on packing style. I love my S25 and the outside pockets so much I actually resent (just a little) having to put anything in the main compartment at all. I even added a matching Side Effect using 1.5" single gatekeeper clips to the padded hip belt to give myself an extra outside pocket. The Guide's pack would never work for me, it just isn't my style of usage. If you can fit all your stuff in the GES25, go for it! And send us a pic. ;-)


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  9. #9
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    I went to Peru earlier in the summer and only brought the S25 and a shoulder bag for 3 weeks. I did laundry every 3 to 4 days so only brought clothes for that amount of time. There are lots of cheap laundry options in Peru. If you wanna pack light and warm, I'd recommend some merino wool clothing. Just leave extra instructions at the laundry services to hang dry the merino wool stuff. Since you're not camping, you can def do 5 weeks in just the S25.

    The S25 worked great as my luggage backpack. I also used it as a day pack for hikes when I needed to carry things for myself and my partner (we would switch off carrying it). There were times I wish the S25 was a tad bigger as it did get that egg shape after a while of me stuffing it full of souvenirs (shouldn't have bought so much!). It became uncomfortable towards the end, so the guides edition of the S25 with the internal frame would be great.

    My S25 did not fit the requirements of a personal item on Spirit Airlines and on Star Peru unfortunately. So I had to check the bag for those flights. I was worried about the straps getting stuck on things so I put the S25 inside a foldable duffle bag I had packed with me for souvenirs.

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  10. #10
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    I think @cristina has the main point - do you want/need/love the built in organizer pockets of the S25?

    If you can work with the top loading of the GP, I would think it makes more sense...$10 gets you 6L more space. You can always under pack it but know you have room for anything you pick up along the way, messy packing, etc...it's frame is integrated and it's overall more designed for hauling...
    And you can use whatever type of organizer bags/cubes you already own or pay more to get GP pockets (which you can use inside the pack too, you know... moving them outside if you accumulate stuff)

    You have tons of time before the trip, so if you can, get both to test pack and return the one that doesn't set your heart on fire

    Sounds like a great trip - let us know how it works out!

  11. #11
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    When I was hiking the Salkantay trail to machu picchu, i carried a ~20L on the trail. From my experience, easy and quick access (even while walking) to water bottle, lip balm, poncho and headlamp/torch (and of course camera/phone lol) were really important. When it rains, a poncho will cover you and your bag so no need to worry about water getting into bag.

    (I had a 45L bag for the whole trip because souvenirs, but I carried a smaller bag for the trail. My water was distributed over 2-3 water bottles, one bottle could fit into the side pocket. Slippers/comfy slip on shoes to wear around the campsite/hostel were great after a long day's hike. Also, I recommend writing your initials on your towel if you do stay in hostels/campsites.)

  12. #12
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    The guides pack is very enticing, i have spent many an hour watching videos of it, but I would talk the perspective of value between the bags. Specifically, of the two bags, what could you get the must use for over a lifetime ( how long bihn bags are supposed to last)

    The guides pack looks like a great pack for long day hikes and maybe an overnighter but not so great as a day pack around town. The top pocket seems like it would suffice as a quick accessory pocket but I personally prefer something smaller for my day to day. As well as something that isn't just a large open space in the main compartment.

    I wouldn't want to spend that much cash on a bag I only use on rare occasions (unless you are hiking quite a bit). The guides pack is a bit too specialized for me.

    For that reason I would go with the S25 guides. You could use it as a daily carry for years to come. Plus it looks like it would be a great day pack for hikes when the situation calls. I onebag with a s19 and I love that it doubles as my day bag on the trip PLUS my daily carry when I am home. We have been on many planes and I wear it to work and on the weekends constantly. I feel I am really getting maximum value for the purchase, and that offsets the high price for me. Thankfully the tom bihn quality is so good I don't have to baby my bag. I know it will pass all the tests throw at it.

    So basically I would go with the bag that has the most functionality for you. That would help you get the most of your money. Something as well designed as a tom bihn bag shouldn't sit in the closet all the time (in my humble opinion, some who want very specialized bags may disagree) You know your trip and activities better than anyone, but that is how I would go if I were to make the decision.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by edward.dennihy; 12-12-2017 at 08:55 PM.

  13. #13
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    I don't think there's anything wrong with caring about how a bag looks. It's something that you carry with you, something that identifies you. Nothing wrong with caring about that.

  14. #14
    Forum Member bouncing's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone! You gave me a lot to think about.

    After careful consideration, I'm going to get a Synapse 25 in Deep Blue / Coyote. Just gotta lineup when they're back in stock with when I'm at a place to ship it.

    I like that I can use it as a laptop backpack, I think the pocket organization is simpler than the addon things for the Guide's Pack, and I think it'll pass as a "personal item" more easily.

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