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  1. #1
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    Synapse Pockets Question

    I will be honest, I am not crazy about some parts of the Synapse bags and the new Synik doesn't fix any of that for me, but I keep coming back to Tom Bihn because I believe in the product and the company. I need something that is purely just a backpack for one bag travel and at 5'3" the Synapse is the only option TB has in my size. I guess I'm trying to talk myself into the cost and a few pockets that I'm not sure I have any use for because the rest of it is so perfect. So help me out.

    I can pack a full, but not stuffed, original EC medium and small packing cube for clothes in winter for a 10 day trip. All toiletries fit in an XS EC cube. I always take a Kindle Basic, Pixel 3, earbuds, minimal wallet, two charging cords and a wall plug with two inputs. I sometimes add my 12" x 8.5" laptop with sleeve and it's USBC charging cord and brick, some light papers, and a second pair of flats the biggest being a Keds style pair. Sometimes a water bottle is added.

    I do not like an overstuffed bag. Though I am trying to get to a one bag travel system and I want a pack that can be used as a day bag, I'd rather use a packable day pack or purse and go with a bigger bag to keep my seams from feeling tight and strained.

    Question #1: Could I fit the two packing cubes in the main pocket of the 19 and is there any of the outside pockets that would fit my Kindle?

    Question #2: Can I fit the packing cubes and a small daypack, like the L12 in the main pocket of the 25?

    Question #3: Will I be able to use the outer pockets with this type of stuff or will I always feel like they are underutilized?

    Talk me into loving this bag over something from North Face that has the single organization panel and big cavernous main compartment.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    Sounds like you may need the smart alec. They come up for sale occasionally on eBay, also TB website has a sign up for in case they decide to do a limit run of new smart alecs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "Not all who wander are lost"
    "Love people, use things, because the opposite never works" - The Minimalists
    Synapse 25 in Olive, Aubergine Side Effect, UV A30 PCBP, Sitka PCSB

  3. #3
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    I agree with @melminimalist that a SA may suit you better.... the new Synik 22 might work better than you think though, I will try to mock up your load and see.
    I'm 5' 4" so I get the concerns with size.

    The interesting thing about the Synapse/Syniks (if you haven't tried them in person) is that when they aren't packed full, they sort of collapse on themselves into that teardrop shape and don't look awkward or too large like some packs do. It's only when they're super stuffed do you get the turtle impression...
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  4. #4
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    Greetings,
    I'll answer what I can and suggest that you call the wonderful folks at Tom Bihn customer service. I have a Synapse25 and it fits more than you listed.

    1. I put one or two packing cubes and my tablet in the main compartment. I also tuck a Side Kick on top of everything in there. I'm still using the Eagle Creek Specter Compression Cube size small or a Tom Bihn Packing Cube Shoulder Bag. The Eagle Creek medium cube will fit both vertically and horizontally.

    2. If someone doesn't answer this, call customer service.

    3. The pockets can hold a water bottle, all your cords and gadget accessories, and much more. I can fit a camera, my toiletry kit, snacks, my repair kit, a laundry kit, a small notebook, a flashlight, a pen, and more.

    I keep my tablet in the Side Kick or in the interior slip pocket of the main compartment. I use the Side Kick as my seat bag when I'm flying. I've never tried to put a tablet in any of the exterior pockets. The bottom exterior pocket will hold a tablet, but I prefer keeping it elsewhere myself.

    The return policy is excellent and allows for you to test pack your items in the bag. I highly recommend it. elisa

    PS - Check out the One Bag website. It has lots of ideas to help with one-bag travel. I've adopted many of the packing tips and can now travel easily with one bag.
    https://www.onebag.com

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by melminimalist View Post
    Sounds like you may need the smart alec. They come up for sale occasionally on eBay, also TB website has a sign up for in case they decide to do a limit run of new smart alecs.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Mel, I am really glad you responded because, having watched your YT vids, I feel like we have similar travel styles. I rewatched your video on the Smart Alec and S25 and I really think you are right. Honestly, It hits each of my needs and wants that I didn't even mention here. I love that the pockets are not so exposed and it looks like you can swing that around and get into them easy while traveling as well as get into them on the plane really well. I have one question, do you think I would have 6 to 6.5 inches of space with something like an L12 packed along the backside of the pack as well? Thinking about two medium EC packing cubes. If it can do that, it would be pretty much perfect.

  6. #6
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    @travelgearjunkie absolutely, in fact I debated putting an s19 behind at one point. However, I have that space because I use an a30 packing cube backpack as my large packing cube (itís the size of a large A30 cube) this leave space due to the curvature of the smart alec. Iíll do a pack and take pics to show you. I have large snake charmer sitting on top. Ultimately I do not add a bag simply because my packing cube turns into a backpack at my destination thus negating the need for additional bag. Instead, I pack my extra shoes into shoe bags and put them in the curve space. With the release of the synik I am going to order one to try, curiosity if nothing else, I will also be ordering a laundry stuff sack to try in that space for colder weather travel when additional sandal shoes arenít needed. I promise I am working on new videos to add to YT, I had surgery recently and itís put me behind. So glad I could help. One more thing, the reason smart alec popped into my head is I am only 5ft 125lbs and the smart alec fits the best for my smaller stature, at 5ft 3, this would probably fit you well too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    "Not all who wander are lost"
    "Love people, use things, because the opposite never works" - The Minimalists
    Synapse 25 in Olive, Aubergine Side Effect, UV A30 PCBP, Sitka PCSB

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by melminimalist View Post
    @travelgearjunkie absolutely, in fact I debated putting an s19 behind at one point. However, I have that space because I use an a30 packing cube backpack as my large packing cube (itís the size of a large A30 cube) this leave space due to the curvature of the smart alec. Iíll do a pack and take pics to show you. I have large snake charmer sitting on top. Ultimately I do not add a bag simply because my packing cube turns into a backpack at my destination thus negating the need for additional bag. Instead, I pack my extra shoes into shoe bags and put them in the curve space. With the release of the synik I am going to order one to try, curiosity if nothing else, I will also be ordering a laundry stuff sack to try in that space for colder weather travel when additional sandal shoes arenít needed. I promise I am working on new videos to add to YT, I had surgery recently and itís put me behind. So glad I could help. One more thing, the reason smart alec popped into my head is I am only 5ft 125lbs and the smart alec fits the best for my smaller stature, at 5ft 3, this would probably fit you well too.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    The short length of the bag was one of the first things that caught my eye when you mentioned the smart alec. I wish I could use a packing cube as a backpack but my shoulders are not the best and extra padding is really important for me to do an all day. Pictures would be awesome! I would love it if they would do a specialty run but it does look like there's a decent supply fairly regularly on eBay like you said so I should be able to pick one up in a few months or so.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TravelGearJunkie View Post
    I wish I could use a packing cube as a backpack but my shoulders are not the best and extra padding is really important for me to do an all day.
    It's not TB style or quality, but I've had good luck with the LL Bean Stowaway packable daypack
    https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/8667...waway-day-pack

    I only bring/use it for travel and I'm not hauling 20lbs around, but for all day sightseeing, with towel, light jacket, kindle, water bottles, snacks, etc, it works pretty well for me. The straps are more padded than the plain ones on the TB cube line, but not excessive. It also has exterior water bottle pockets, which I prefer when jaunting around...
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TravelGearJunkie View Post
    I would love it if they would do a specialty run but it does look like there's a decent supply fairly regularly on eBay like you said so I should be able to pick one up in a few months or so.
    They seem to come and go on eBay--there are three or four there right now, but I feel like sometimes I go a few months without seeing any. So if you're sure you want one and your budget allows, you might want to buy one of the ones that's there now. (None are mine, so I don't have any ulterior reason for saying this!) But if you're not sure yet or your budget doesn't allow yet, don't despair if it takes a few months before you see another one for sale.

    I too am a big fan of the Smart Alec. I had no interest in that style until a few months after TB retired the design, and then suddenly I realized what an excellent grocery-shopping backpack it would be for me. Now I have two!
    I have a bunch of great bags. Favorite color combos include Aubergine/Island, Navy/Solar, Forest/UV, Original Halcyon/Wasabi, Cloud/Viridian.

    I've fulfilled my dream of palindromic-colored nested bags! Navy/Ultraviolet Pilot with Aubergine/Island Side Effect inside: blue purple purple blue. Forest/UV A45 with Aubergine/Wasabi Co-Pilot inside: green purple purple green.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by aedifica View Post
    They seem to come and go on eBay--there are three or four there right now, but I feel like sometimes I go a few months without seeing any. So if you're sure you want one and your budget allows, you might want to buy one of the ones that's there now. (None are mine, so I don't have any ulterior reason for saying this!) But if you're not sure yet or your budget doesn't allow yet, don't despair if it takes a few months before you see another one for sale.

    I too am a big fan of the Smart Alec. I had no interest in that style until a few months after TB retired the design, and then suddenly I realized what an excellent grocery-shopping backpack it would be for me. Now I have two!
    I've been saving up but we have had a few financial setbacks lately so I'm not ready to buy now, but I have an idea about selling an old pack or two that may get me there in a few weeks and then I can just keep my eyes peeled for the one I want. I am 100% sold on the Smart Alec at this point because it fits absolutely my whole list, big main pocket, light but easily accessible organization pockets, no clunky hip belt (though if I needed I could always get the BB hip belt since there are attachments), doesn't look super hiker technical, good modification possibilities, short torso, 8" or less in the depth for those particular airlines that just have to be that kind of picky, and the best little special add on for me is how hard it would be to open the zippers and get pick-pocketed in a crowd. I'd also like to wait for the fall/Christmas season release time period just to make sure they aren't going to do a special run before I go for it, just in case.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by G42 View Post
    It's not TB style or quality, but I've had good luck with the LL Bean Stowaway packable daypack
    https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/8667...waway-day-pack

    I only bring/use it for travel and I'm not hauling 20lbs around, but for all day sightseeing, with towel, light jacket, kindle, water bottles, snacks, etc, it works pretty well for me. The straps are more padded than the plain ones on the TB cube line, but not excessive. It also has exterior water bottle pockets, which I prefer when jaunting around...
    That does look pretty good! I've seen others with that level of padding but they don't usually pack that small. May have to add that to my Christmas list!

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