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  1. #1
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    Synapse 19 - would it fit these different scenario packing lists?

    After delving deep into backpacks and one-bagging, I've found myself on this forum among what looks to be an amazing community of backpack lovers.

    After really thinking through my own daily essentials, travel requirements, preferences, and watching countless videos, reading reviews and re-reading and re-watching them, I've decided that I'm ready to purchase my first Tom Bihn backpack - the Synapse. As with many on this forum, it seems that there's always a long struggle to find the right fit between the Synapse 19 and 25, and I've now become part of that crowd.

    I'm well aware of the newly announced Synik 22 and 30, and I'm assessing whether I really need a dedicated laptop compartment, which makes me hesitate given the new price point, as well. I'm really attracted to the idea of a flexible bag that the Synapse is, which I could carry during even my vacations when I certainly wouldn't be carrying a laptop or tablet.

    Having read through countless forum posts, I've come to the conclusion that I will just need to test out my experience with both bags and return the other, but I thought I'd make my own forum post to see if I can get some thoughts before I pull the trigger. So my question is: Given the below packing list and my general frame, will the Synapse 19 have the space to comfortably(?) carry me through work, light business travels, and vacations?

    Here are the facts:

    I'm 5'8" and 150~lbs, generally slim/athletic build. For work, I normally carry a:
    • Lunchbox (in a cooler-type container from Costco with measurements: 10.5" x 8.5" x 3.5")
      500mL insulated water bottle
      Paper folder with work docs
      Bluetooth Earphones
      Small notebook
      Pen
      13" laptop (occasionally, not always)
      Keys, chargers, lightning cables, business cards, receipts, wallet
      2 iPhone XR (in case the size matters for the center quick access pocket)
      Light jacket (on the rare occasion I won't be wearing it directly to work)


    For business travel, I tend to be away between 2-4 days, so my carry changes to:
    • A pair of size 8.5 dress shoes
      2-3 oxford shirts
      1 chino pants
      2-3 pairs of underwear/socks (Uniqlo Airism and generally thinner dressy socks)
      Light jacket
      Paper folder with work docs
      Bluetooth Earphones
      Small notebook
      Pen
      13" laptop
      Keys, chargers, lightning cables, business cards, receipts, wallet
      2 iPhone XR (in case the size matters for the center quick access pocket)
      Toiletries (manual razor, toothbrush/paste, 3-1-1)


    For my last vacation, I did pack a bit more due to being in colder climates. Would I be able to fit:
    • Flip flops
      3-4 t-shirts and long sleeves
      1 chino pants
      1 shorts
      1 sweater or hoodie
      1 swimwear
      2-3 pairs of underwear/socks
      Light jacket
      Bluetooth Earphones
      Keys, chargers, lightning cables, wallet
      Toiletries (manual razor, toothbrush/paste, 3-1-1)


    I'm really looking forward to making a decision, and would love your feedback, thank you in advance!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepanda View Post
    As with many on this forum, it seems that there's always a long struggle to find the right fit between the Synapse 19 and 25, and I've now become part of that crowd.
    I’ve got both the S19 and S25 — and have the S22 on order. I know a lot of people travel with the S19 as their 1 bag but I don’t know how they do it because the S19 isn’t deep. Maybe it’s the difference between soft-sided contents and more rigid contents. Or else they have wizarding skills I’m lacking.

    Today, I carried my S19 and slipped my 13” laptop into a sleeve (which is a little thick) and couldn’t fit my lunch into the bag as well. My outer pockets had contents but weren’t overly stuffed.

    On days when I’m carrying both a laptop and a lunch, I favor my S25. There’s still leftover room for me to roll or fold a lightweight jacket into the main compartment as well. And then still have more leftover room.

    One of the reasons I’m excited to try the S22 is because I’m thinking it will be the best of both Synapses. It has the height and width of the S19 but the depth of the S25. That should work great for me. For my EDC, I’m always taking things out while in transit on the train so I tend to prefer to pack more horizontally than vertically.
    Bags - S25 (Mars Red balistic/Northwest sky/halcyon), S19 (Deep blue balistic/Iberian/halcyon). S22 (Aubergine)SCB (Nordic)
    Accessories - including Nik's #4 wallets, ghost whales, Q-kits, pouches, stuff sacks, travel trays.

  3. #3
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    The S19 sounds like it can handle your daily and vacation needs. You pack light!

    The S19 *might* handle your work travel too. It'll be a tight fit. The shoes give me pause. A paper folder is also going to be tough. The S19 is very round and papers packed inside tend to get curled at the edges.

    Keep in mind that despite the way we talk about Tom Bihn bags, they are fairly compact bags and not the black holes that most people's travel and daily luggage are.

    Right now I do a lot of my travel with the S19. I reluctantly take out the S25 when I need to carry a laptop for a little boost in packing space. I preordered the S22 hoping that I can do away with the S25 altogether. I am 6'0 185# and I just don't like how the S25 sits on my back. When I travel with the S19 I do not bring a change of shoes. There just isn't enough space for both shoes and camera, so I just wear the best shoes for the trip.

    My best friend is the opposite as me. He uses the S25 every single day and has just preordered the S30. The S19 is too small for his taste, though he often carries the S25 "mostly empty."

    Last year I traveled with my SO to France and Thailand on two separate trips. I used the S19 both times. It holds a lot, but at the same time you cannot pack frivolously. We'll be traveling back to SEA again this year, and I'm hoping to take the S22. I won't be carrying a laptop or tablet so the laptop compartment won't be strictly necessary, but last year my SO packed a bag with a laptop compartment and it was great for tucking away documents like passports or maps.

    It might help you if you take a look at some of the nice photos we've got on the forums.

    @nadia posted an excellent rundown of their packing list over here: https://forums.tombihn.com/packing-l...apse-19-a.html

    @invisible posted some great "in progress" packing shots too: https://forums.tombihn.com/packing-l...e-19-rome.html

    Finally, I also did a flat lay of my packing list for Europe. https://forums.tombihn.com/packing-l...king-list.html

  4. #4
    Volunteer Moderator
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    Be sure to measure your torso length and then look at the pack dimensions... your overall height may affect how it looks on you but your torso length affects how it *feels* to carry

    Get a friend and measure
    https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-adv...sting-fit.html
    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...

  5. #5
    Volunteer Moderator aedifica's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Forums, @thepanda! I'm glad you're finding some answers here.
    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.

  6. #6
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    I think an S19 would be cutting it close. Your packing list is a lot like mine -- and you can see how it fits in the S19 and the L15. I think you'd end up stuffing the S19 to capacity, which IMO makes it less comfortable to carry.

    That said, you could use the S19 as a travel bag and just add a tote or crossbody bag.

    It's definitely best to order both, try them, and then you know for sure. But then you'll discover the S19 is perfect for your work load, and the S25 is perfect for your vacation pack, and then you've got to keep them both!
    Last edited by Lia; 08-16-2019 at 02:03 PM.

  7. #7
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    I would go with the s25. So much of the 19 and 25 liters is devoted to the built in storage that the actual main compartment is smaller than you think. I donít take a laptop and Iím only 5ft 130lbs but my stuff for a week of vacation definitely fits better in the s25. The s19. (Even being a minimalist packer) is only good for a long weekend. While I have done a week in the s19 it was a tight squeeze (without a laptop or tablet).


    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

  8. #8
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    Hi everyone, thanks for the welcome and replies and links!

    I have done some work travel with a different backpack that was 18-19L, which did fit my shoes, so I may have to see how comfortable the S19 is when packed and on my back.

    It definitely seems like I will have to do as initially thought and order both the S19 and S25. Depending on those impressions (which I look forward to posting about!) I may consider the S22.

  9. #9
    Forum Member melminimalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thepanda View Post
    Hi everyone, thanks for the welcome and replies and links!

    I have done some work travel with a different backpack that was 18-19L, which did fit my shoes, so I may have to see how comfortable the S19 is when packed and on my back.

    It definitely seems like I will have to do as initially thought and order both the S19 and S25. Depending on those impressions (which I look forward to posting about!) I may consider the S22.
    Get the frame sheets too, you wonít regret it.


    Sent from my iPad 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

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