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  1. #1
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    Question Questions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25

    I've been searching for months for an EDC bag and I'm confident I've finally found the one. I've never owned a Tom Bihn product before and, admittedly, I initially disliked the design. However, after a lot of research and time to simmer, I've finally seen the light. I just have a few questions before pulling the trigger on the (currently out-of-stock) black 525 ballistic/island 200 halcyon Synapse 25.

    1. Does the bag stand on its own?
    2. Does the 15B laptop cache touch the bottom of the pack when hooked in on the main compartment (on the side closest to the water bottle pocket) or does it hang freely?
    3. Can I fit a Dell AC adapter next to the Spiff Kit in the bottom pocket?
    4. Will the main compartments space be reduced if I put a 32 oz. Nalgene in the water bottle pocket?
    5. I'd like the black halcyon exterior, island halcyon interior model, but it's not in production. Any telling when it'll be available?


    Lastly, it would be a huge help if pictures could be shared that show the interior of the main compartment with a laptop that's closest to the water bottle area. I'm requesting this because I've read the cache can be a bit clunky: https://www.carryology.com/bags/road...hn-synapse-25/.

    I'm really excited about this bag; I've signed up for an email alert when the model I want becomes available! I look forward to your responses and thank you in advance for any information provided.
    Last edited by PacificPaul; 08-17-2018 at 04:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    1. A S25 wonít really stand upright in the same way as a briefcase. You can make it more likely to stand upright by stuffing the lower outside pocket, but even then, it falls over very easily.
    2. I have an older cache for my surface book, which is a large 15 inch laptop, and the cache is shorter than the pack.
    3. I donít have a spiff kit to test but the bottom pocket is huge. I canít imagine the two not fitting.
    4. Yes. Anything in the water bottle pocket will cut room inside.
    5. Not sure but thatís a nice color combo.

    Iím traveling and donít have my backpack so canít take pictures now.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    1. A S25 won’t really stand upright in the same way as a briefcase. You can make it more likely to stand upright by stuffing the lower outside pocket, but even then, it falls over very easily.
    2. I have an older cache for my surface book, which is a large 15 inch laptop, and the cache is shorter than the pack.
    3. I don’t have a spiff kit to test but the bottom pocket is huge. I can’t imagine the two not fitting.
    4. Yes. Anything in the water bottle pocket will cut room inside.
    5. Not sure but that’s a nice color combo.

    I’m traveling and don’t have my backpack so can’t take pictures now.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks for the information! This is very helpful.

    What material is your bag made of? I've read that the ballistic and cordura bags can stand on their own because they're quite tough, especially when they're packed, although I can't recall where I came across this information.

  4. #4
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    I have a ballistic S25. If you pack it right, it can stand on its own if you put it down carefully. However, I would be grossly exaggerating if I told you it stands on its own in a way similar to a briefcase.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    I have a ballistic S25. If you pack it right, it can stand on its own if you put it down carefully. However, I would be grossly exaggerating if I told you it stands on its own in a way similar to a briefcase.
    Thanks! Would you be kind enough to take pictures requested in my OP when you return from your travels?

  6. #6
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    Using the frame sheet helps the bag stand, especially if you put things in the lower pocket. I have halcyon but I would expect the ballistic ones to be a bit more rigid.

  7. #7
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    Ok, I snapped a few pictures for you. I do not have a cache, I just use a sleeve for my computer but for the pictures I just put it in loose. It's about 15 x 10 and there is plenty of room around it, as you can see. My 32oz nalgene is in the bottle pocket. Because of the shape of the bag kind of coming in at the top it can be a little awkward and the water bottle will press into whatever is in the main compartment. If the bag is packed full, like for one bag travel, it can be difficult to get anything out of the water bottle pocket with the main compartment closed. For every day use though, it will likely be fine. I would definitely use this with my computer against the frame sheet, then something softer, up against the water bottle pocket.

    I have the S19 in ballistic, and I don't think it would stand up on it's own at all, it will lean ok but with the shape of the bag I don't think it will work.

    Questions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-bag-option-1-png

    Front view with this configuration and some props put into the bottom pocket, which is probably 50% full. The side pockets are empty, but have full use of space.
    Questions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-bag-front-o1-png

    This has my computer up against the water bottle pocket. This would press the bottle into my computer when closed, so I would not recommend doing it like this.
    Questions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-bag-option-2-png

    Hope that helps!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slaynie View Post
    Ok, I snapped a few pictures for you. I do not have a cache, I just use a sleeve for my computer but for the pictures I just put it in loose. It's about 15 x 10 and there is plenty of room around it, as you can see. My 32oz nalgene is in the bottle pocket. Because of the shape of the bag kind of coming in at the top it can be a little awkward and the water bottle will press into whatever is in the main compartment. If the bag is packed full, like for one bag travel, it can be difficult to get anything out of the water bottle pocket with the main compartment closed. For every day use though, it will likely be fine. I would definitely use this with my computer against the frame sheet, then something softer, up against the water bottle pocket.

    I have the S19 in ballistic, and I don't think it would stand up on it's own at all, it will lean ok but with the shape of the bag I don't think it will work.

    Front view with this configuration and some props put into the bottom pocket, which is probably 50% full. The side pockets are empty, but have full use of space.

    This has my computer up against the water bottle pocket. This would press the bottle into my computer when closed, so I would not recommend doing it like this.

    Hope that helps!
    Thanks for taking the time to snap some pictures and answer my questions. I definitely found your response helpful!

    This video along with Amy G's comment suggests that the frame sheet will make the backpack self-standing. I'll definitely be purchasing the frame sheet because this is an important feature for me (it leaves less of a footprint, pockets are easier to access, etc.)

    I'll also be purchasing the cache. I have used a standard laptop case before and didn't like the process of removing the case, then the laptop, storing the case in my backpack, removing it again when I needed to relocate, etc., etc. I move around a lot, so I need to be able to remove and store my computer quickly.

    This is one reason why I like backpacks like the STM Haven, which is what I use now. I can quickly get to and pack up my laptop; it doesn't get caught on anything, I don't have to shuffle items around, etc.

    I'm hoping that the Synapse 25 (and cache) will also allow me to get to and store my computer quickly.

  9. #9
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    Here are some pictures of my S25 (525 ballistic) with the frame sheet and an older style cache for 15" laptops. I would caution that some of the office worker productivity features you want (stands upright, ease of laptop access with a cache) are achievable but not seamless. The S25 is a nice bag, but I don't think it's optimized for someone traveling from place to place with a big laptop. Some more specific comments:

    I wouldn't take that video too seriously, the S25 doesn't naturally stand upright. If I stuff the outside lower big pocket, then yes, my pack can stand most of the time. If that pocket is empty or not packed full, the bag usually falls over immediately. I think the problem is that most backpacks that can stand are much wider on the bottom than the S25, which helps improve stability. In the attached picture (the last one of four) you can see the taper on the S25 and how the flat portion of the pack, which would be sitting on a floor, is relatively thin.

    I have an older style 4Z cache. If you have a laptop that is swimming inside the cache, you can take out the laptop without the entire cache coming out of the bag. If your laptop fits exactly into a cache, the friction between the laptop and cache means it's difficult to just take out the laptop by itself unless you use two hands, one hand to hold the cache in place and the other to pull out the laptop. Maybe the new style caches are better. If not, Tom Bihn really needs to think of a way to bolt down the cache if a user doesn't want it to pull out with a laptop.

    The S25 can hold a surprisingly large amount of things. One of the attached pictures shows my S25 with a frame sheet, the previously mentioned 4Z cache, and a thin leather laptop briefcase. As others have hinted at, the barrier between the outside pockets and the inside compartment is very thin fabric. This means if you have sharp or oversized things in the outside pockets, they will push into whatever is inside the main compartment and reduce space there. The benefit of this design is that the pack keeps it's shape on the outside very well.

    Questions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-20180820_125519705_ios-jpgQuestions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-20180820_125609334_ios-jpgQuestions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-20180820_125642627_ios-jpgQuestions before purchasing my first Tom Bihn--the Synapse 25-20180820_131647023_ios-jpg
    Last edited by NClens; 08-20-2018 at 07:07 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    Here are some pictures of my S25 (525 ballistic) with the frame sheet and an older style cache for 15" laptops.
    Thanks for sharing this. Your photos definitely capture the size of the main compartment.

    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    I wouldn't take that video too seriously, the S25 doesn't naturally stand upright. If I stuff the outside lower big pocket, then yes, my pack can stand most of the time. If that pocket is empty or not packed full, the bag usually falls over immediately.
    I plan on keeping that lower pocket packed with toiletries, cables, and an AC adapter to charge my laptop. I believe the Snake Charmer can hold some basic bathroom items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) and small cables? I haven't done much research here but I'm unable to decide between this and the Spiff Kit. So I'm hoping I can knock two birds out with one stone by carrying my day-to-day essentials and, in doing so, helping the bag stand. It's not necessary for the bag to stand 100% of the time, but some structure will be appreciated.

    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    If your laptop fits exactly into a cache, the friction between the laptop and cache means it's difficult to just take out the laptop by itself unless you use two hands, one hand to hold the cache in place and the other to pull out the laptop.
    Check out this part of Chase Reeves's review where he inserts his laptop. I plan on removing my laptop in the same way; that is, holding the upper lip of the cache to keep it in place while I slide out my computer.

    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    If not, Tom Bihn really needs to think of a way to bolt down the cache if a user doesn't want it to pull out with a laptop.
    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by NClens View Post
    As others have hinted at, the barrier between the outside pockets and the inside compartment is very thin fabric. This means if you have sharp or oversized things in the outside pockets, they will push into whatever is inside the main compartment and reduce space there.
    Thankfully, I don't think this will be a worry. The side pockets will hold basic items like pens, a small notebook, a flashlight, and an Anker power bank. I am kind of concerned about the water bottle eating up real estate on the main compartment, but it's not a big deal; I can get a smaller one or something.

    Is the frame sheet a worthwhile investment? How would you rate the bag overall? My goal is to have just one bag for work, university life, the occasional hike, weekend trips, and even travels abroad. Due to its versatility, I know that it won't be "the best" in any of these categories, but that's quite alright.

  11. #11
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    The frame sheet works very well, so I think it's worthwhile.

    For $200, the S25 is a great bag. Among the things you listed
    * it's really phenomenal for weekend trips and university life.
    * for work, it's good but this depends on what you're doing. I wouldn't regularly use this bag with a suit or dress shirt, because the straps will wrinkle clothing. Business people in suits and taking cabs everywhere would be better off with a briefcase.
    * for overseas travels, it's a good second bag or a primary bag if you pack light.
    * for hiking, this isn't a great bag in my opinion, mostly because the straps have no padding and have zero venting. Of secondary concern, hiking packs usually at least have cushions with gaps around them that help funnel heat off your back. The S25 has a big foam (i think it's foam) pad with fabric mesh that I think traps heat versus disperses heat. It's so ineffective, I would rather it just be a solid piece with no mesh, because at least if I get dirt on it, it won't get into the holes.

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