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  1. #1
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    Question Help me choose between the SY25 and the SN30.

    Hi everyone! This is going to be a long wall of text, but Iíll try and make it as short as I can.

    Iím a university student and Iíve been looking at TB bags to use as EDC for almost a year now: Iíve finally decided to pull the trigger since I also figured that in these hard times great companies like them should be rewarded and helped, even if itís just by purchasing their goods. Anyway, given that I live in Europe this is going to be A LOT of money for a bag for a student (bag itself + shipping + taxes and duties), so I am trying to choose and buy the best possible bag for my needs. My final choice is between the Synapse25 and Synik30, but after spending weeks researching online, reading/watching reviews and lurking the forum I still canít conclusively make up my mind. So Iíve come here asking for your help.

    First of all Iíll go through what I usually carry around as my EDC in uni (and elsewhere) in my current 24l backpack. I typically carry my 15inch notebook; a 9.7inch ipad; at least 2 notepads; at least 1 ďlargeĒ book; 1 book; 1 pouch I use as pencil case; a 1l waterbottle; various bits and pieces such as earphones, napkins, adapters,Ö; my notebook charger and generals tech gear; my wallet and smartphone. Occasionally (but these are rarer occasions) I carry my lunch case, an umbrella or jacket, larger sheet folders. I can fit all of these in my current pack, even if in some occasions it might be some sort of a tight fit, so I figured that anything above 24 should work just fine.

    Alright, now Iíll list pros, cons and questions I have for each of the 2 bags, and hopefully itíll be clear enough so that you can help me.

    Synapse 25

    ē Pros
    - Price. I plan on purchasing the frame, but counting the edgeless straps version the bag costs $50 less than the SN30. This is not a detail.
    - Size. While height and width are basically the same, I do appreciate the SY25 being less deep, itís useful since I heavily use public transport.
    - Overall design. I like the look of the non-clamshell main compartment, the centred TB logo and the general more ďroundedĒ shape of the bag.

    ē Cons (doubts)
    - Lack of frame/frame solution. I kinda dislike having the frame as a separate component of the bag, and I definitely donít like the ďfloppinessĒ of
    the bag without using a frame.
    - Non-padded bottom. I like padding at the bottom of the bag for extra structure, protection and better stability of the bag on the ground.
    - Handle. While itís certainly discreet I donít love the simple handle of the Synapse compared to the Synik.
    - Laptop carry. While I already have a different laptop sleeve, Iím not sure it is compatible with the attachment points of the bag, and I kinda
    dislike having it move around my bag.
    - Back panel. It seems a bit too ďsoftĒ and ďfloppyĒ to me, but it might be due to the images I saw.
    - Colour. This is not really a con, but Iíll write it anyway: I would like a black backpack, but unfortunately TB doesnít seem to produce edgeless
    straps versions of a black Synapse anymore.

    ē Questions
    - How does the frame really work? I get it is mounted to the top, but it its bottom simply free to ďmoveĒ and stick out of the back of the bag into
    the main compartment?
    - Does the lack of padding affect the protection of inside objects? I fear that the thinner and stretchier bottom might damage things like books or
    notepads.
    - Can someone tell me the distance between the attachment points of the rail system for the cache? Iíd like to know if I can use them to secure my own laptop sleeve.

    Synik 30

    ē Pros
    - Laptop compartment. Not much to say, its usefulness speaks for itself (although I do have my own laptop sleeve if needed)
    - Better handle. Idem.
    - Padded bottom. This makes me more comfortable about carrying my stuff and putting the bag on the ground.
    - Integrated frame. See above.
    - I can have it black! In particular, Iíd love to preorder the version with the coyote halcyon interior.

    ē Cons (doubts)
    - Price. The bag is at least $50 more expensive than the Synapse. As said, this is sadly important.
    - Size. Iím really afraid that 30 litres is going to be overkill for my EDC purposes (I donít travel a lot, unfortunately), and that Iíll be carrying
    extra volume that I effectively donít use. Moreover, ití bigger in general, and Iím not the tallest at about 5í10.
    - Unused space. Using the laptop compartment, I fear that the gear in the main compartment is going to ďfloatĒ around the bag, somewhat
    taking damage.
    - General look. I kinda dislike the more ďsquareĒ silhouette of the bag and the TB logo in the lower right corner.

    ē Questions
    - Size and volume. How big is this bag really? Do you think it would be suitable for an EDC setup as mine?
    - Materials. I canít really understand I what material should I go for: I canít decide between ballistic and parapack (I tend to lean towards
    ballistic). Which is stronger? Which one do you prefer and why?

    Sorry for the long post, and thanks for reading through the end. I really hope you can help me make up my mind.

    All the best.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the Forums @alBnc ! Thanks for delurking - hopefully folks can chime in... note that the pre-order for the current batch of Syniks closes on the 15th. That's a very organized and thought out list you have - I'm sure others have some of the same concerns, so it's helpful.

    I'm on the shorter side torso-wise, so I have the Synapse 19 and Synik 22 vs the larger sizes, so other folks will more appropriately speak to those sizes for your specific pack out.

    FWIW style/feature wise, I generally prefer the S19 to the SN22 due to it's lighter weight, cost, & simplicity. I have a padded laptop sleeve & don't find it a hassle to not have an integrated sleeve. The clamshell is fine, but not a driver for me. For my Synapses, I usually have a framesheet in there, but not always... I like the bit of extra rigidity. If you commonly carrying large laptops or books closest to your back, you may not also want the framesheet. The actual back of the packs are not rigid material, but I think of it more as formfitting/formable vs floppy. Smilie

    Once filled with my stuff, I don't find the S vs SN aesthetics to be different enough to be a driver either. The Guide's Edition vs the regular editions are noticeably different in appearance... that's why I replaced my SN22 with a GE SN22 - mostly because it's gorgeous. TB hasn't offered a GE edition of the S19.

    I like the bit of extra front to back depth on the SN22...as with most TB bags, they tend to collapse back when under filled, so that part isn't obtrusive. On the other hand, if you stuff a Synik or Synapse, they tend to take on the appearance of a turtle on your back.

    Since I have a padded laptop sleeve and don't generally sling my bag around or abuse it, I've not required a padded bottom, though it's a nice-to-have.

    With regards to colours & straps... TB has previously stated that Black is the most popular colour and Edgeless straps are becoming the norm...I think what you're seeing is that TB stopped making new bags due to the pandemic mandatory shutdown in Seattle and they're only now in the process of starting back up. So if you do decided on a Black ballistic S25 and want Edgeless, just wait a bit and it will be made.

    Overall, in addition to what advice the group will present, perhaps what may help you is prioritization of your need-to-haves vs wants... not all features are equally important in how you use your EDC, so that may help make your final decision.

    Best of luck and of course let us know what you end up deciding!
    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...

  3. #3
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Hi @alBnc and another welcome!

    You really picked a difficult question to start with! In addition to what @G42 already mentioned, I have both the S25 (in the Deep Blue Guides Edition) and the SN30 (in Navy Parapack). I am 6'. I am using the SN30 for EDC continuously since I received it end of July 2019. Before that I used the S25 GE and I still use it on days when I need less stuff.

    To me the question which of the two bags to choose mainly boils down to three points: 1) If you carry a laptop every day that would pull me towards the SN30 simply because the laptop compartment keeps that device safely out of the way. 2) I appreciate the 5 l of extra space since at some days I go shopping on my way back from work so to have some extra space for my produce, bread or whatever I need is great. On other days I need my gym stuff and again the extra spaces is quite welcome. 3) I like the integrated framesheet much more than the additional framesheet in the S25. Wheter or not you need a framesheet anyway is another difficult question. It might sound weird but I like it a lot in the SN30 but not so much in the S25. So if you're leaning towards a framesheet I would again recommend the SN30 rather than the S25.

    However, If you fancy a more unobtrusive bag that is lighter and a bit slimmer I would go for the S25 as the padding (which is great in terms of protection) of the SN30 makes its appearance a bit beefier. The organizational features of both bags are the same except for the internal tie down straps in the SN30 which I think are most useful when you travel with some clothes inside the bag (which I understand you don't do a lot).

    Regarding the fabric: I am a dedicated Parapack lover because the look and feel is amazing! However, the Ballistic is a bit more sturdy but both materials will last you.

    Let us know which one you choose and if you have any additional questions don't hesitate to ask as there is a lot of knowledge and wisdom in this forum!
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!) Smilie Rainbow Cheers
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  4. #4
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    Thank you @G42 for your welcome and reply!

    That's some useful insight even though you have more experience with the smaller backpacks, and you are definitely right about finding the proper balance between need-to-haves and wants: that's precisely the hardest part of the choice process for me. In short, I'd say that the main aspects holding me back from purchasing the Synik are price and its bigger structure, because otherwise it seems to check basically all of my boxes. I've only got a question about the SN frame.

    For my Synapses, I usually have a framesheet in there, but not always... I like the bit of extra rigidity. If you commonly carrying large laptops or books closest to your back, you may not also want the framesheet.
    When you have both the framesheet and a laptop in the main compartment, does the bottom of the frame "push" against the laptop - or any other object there? By my understanding the way the frame is attached it is kinda "hanged" to the back panel of the bag, with its bottom free to move.

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    Thank you @bartleby , deeply appreciated!

    I think that your 3 points really depict the right picture here. As I mentioned above, comparing the two bags it seems that the hypothetical perfect candidate is the SN30, but its price and bigger structure are holding me back. Another big role is played by the framesheet, since I definitely like some rigidity with my back panels: given that you own both solutions would you mind elaborating on why you prefer so much more the SN integrated frame compared to the additional SY one?

    As for materials I really like the ballistic's quality and balance, while on the other hand I'm intrigued by the look of parapack and its sheen. I simply lean towards the balistic because of its general more balanced characteristics.

    Again, thank you.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by alBnc View Post
    When you have both the framesheet and a laptop in the main compartment, does the bottom of the frame "push" against the laptop - or any other object there? By my understanding the way the frame is attached it is kinda "hanged" to the back panel of the bag, with its bottom free to move.
    Yes, the framesheet is just hanging from the upper loop points in the S10 and S25... basically, gravity and your stuff hold it against the back.

    The framesheet doesn't run completely down the length of the bag, so if you had your laptop against it, the laptop rests on the bottom of the bag and the framesheet ends a bit higher up. It doesn't jut out or anything, so it doesn't interfere left/right/sideways with the laptop or anything else most of the time in my experience. If you had small flat stuff at the bottom of the bag, of the exact right size (and no vertical items immediately against the framesheet), then the framesheet could theoretically 'land' on that stuff. Not something that I have experienced.

    Hope that clarifies a bit - sing out with any other questions. Smilie
    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...

  7. #7
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    Welcome AlBnc, Can’t speak to your choice of bags, but considering you’re a student, and finances are important, maybe give a shout out here to see if there’s anyone near you with one of these bags. I think it would help you decide if you could actually see a bag in person.

  8. #8
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    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a quick question about this: " TB hasn't offered a GE edition of the S19"
    Do any of you TB sages out there think this will ever happen?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by labrain View Post
    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a quick question about this: " TB hasn't offered a GE edition of the S19"
    Do any of you TB sages out there think this will ever happen?
    TB has not done a GE of the Synapse 19 and I haven't heard anything that indicates that they're even considering it (though folks have asked) but @Darcy can confirm
    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...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by labrain View Post
    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a quick question about this: " TB hasn't offered a GE edition of the S19"
    Do any of you TB sages out there think this will ever happen?
    I agree with G42 that only Darcy could really confirm or deny, but I'm leaning towards no, because she's already said that this past GE run of the S25 would likely be the last one. Doesn't make much sense to cut one Synapse from the Guide Edition and then start offering another, in my opinion.
    Guide's Edition Synapse 25, Pilot, HLT2

  11. #11
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by labrain View Post
    I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I have a quick question about this: " TB hasn't offered a GE edition of the S19"
    Do any of you TB sages out there think this will ever happen?
    No plans to offer a Guide's Edition S19.
    Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

    Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.

  12. #12
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alBnc View Post
    Another big role is played by the framesheet, since I definitely like some rigidity with my back panels: given that you own both solutions would you mind elaborating on why you prefer so much more the SN integrated frame compared to the additional SY one?
    The S25 was originally designed without a framesheet and although TB found an ingenous solution to add it by hindsight my feeling is that the integrated framesheet of the SN30 works better. My feeling is that I can use the space of the S25 better without the framesheet and that it also carries more comfortable without the frame. I think the major reason why people demanded a framesheet for the S25 was that if you really fill the bag up the backpanel tends to bend outwards, towards your back (so called "reverse turtle effect") and makes carrying the bag less comfortable. But as long as the bag is not stuffed I find that to be less of a problem. On the other hand, when the S25 is not fully packed the framesheet (as it is inside the bag) sometimes tends to get in the way. Thus, after a while I removed it and use it only occasionally. In contrast, since the framesheet in the SN30 is better integrated - and not inside the bag - it feels much more as an integral part of the bag and I never felt the need to pull it out (although that would be possible). But that is just my very personal opinion. You'll find lots of pros and cons regarding the framesheet of the S25 and SN30 here in this forum.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood (and not Corona!) Smilie Rainbow Cheers
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  13. #13
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    Hi @alBnc ,

    You've heard from @bartleby and @G42 . I'll answer your question about the cache webbing spacing:
    - Can someone tell me the distance between the attachment points of the rail system for the cache? I’d like to know if I can use them to secure my own laptop sleeve.
    The attachment points for the rail system are designed for 1" wide webbing straps that are separated by 4" between their edges:

    Help me choose between the SY25 and the SN30.-img_4882-jpg

    (Sorry for the poor quality phone image). I've overlaid a centimeter and an English scale paper ruler on my 13" Retina MacBook Pro vertical cache, with paper placed underneath the webbing rails so that you can see their width. The cache attaches to webbing loops at the top of the main compartment, against the back, via a pair of Gatekeeper Rail Clips that are also separately sold from the Parts Product Page. The bottom of each pair of Rail Clips attaches to the top of each webbing rail, so the cache is suspended, and you could pull the cache out from the bag at airline inspection, but still have it secured to the bag via the rail webbing. If you didn't need to slide the laptop in its cache along the webbing rails, but only suspend it, a small loop of 1" wide webbing could be sewn to the top of your laptop case. Then, you could use a pair of the simpler 1" Single Gatekeeper Clips to attach the webbing loop at the top of your laptop case to the webbing loop for laptop rail caches at the top of the Synapse 25. I note that this item is currently in need of restocking on the Parts page.

    You can see the Blog post and video explaining how the cache with rails works. There's also a similar blog post explaining the Synapse frame sheet If you buy a Synapse 25 and a frame sheet (at the same time), the backpack will arrive with the frame sheet installed.

    I'm in a different category from your usage, because I'm just under 5'4" (161 cm), with a small (female) build. But I do carry the Synapse 25 -- usually, I'm using a 400d Steel (original) Halcyon version from the first production batch of the Synapse 25, and I carry this without a frame sheet. If I decide to opt for using a Synapse 25 with the frame sheet, I'll use Guide's Edition S25 in Deep Blue Ballistic Nylon/Coyote, which is sold with a frame sheet. I have the Synik 30 -- I think that @bartleby and I decided on the same model with Navy Parapack and Steel Parapack lining, but I haven't used this much yet, because most of the time I don't need the extra capacity, which really seems designed for traveling with this bag as luggage rather than, say, going to University. Many people who like the clamshell opening design and the separate built-in laptop compartment will prefer this style. Parapack is somewhat heavier than Ballistic Nylon, but not enough to make a significant difference. It does tend to show scuff marks more readily than Ballistic Nylon, but these wipe away.

    I agree with @bartleby that the built-in frame sheet seems to be a more integrated design, but I haven't had problems using the regular Synapse 25's framesheet. It isn't that Tom Bihn is not making Black Ballistic Synapses with the new edgeless straps, but that the usual production model is to refresh the lineup periodically, when all colors then again become available. What you're seeing is the range of stock that is available since the last production refresh, and with the longer period of enforced halting and shift to mask making, that range of colors is pretty depleted. I see a 400d Black Halcyon Synapse 25 with edgeless straps that would work for me, but you would probably prefer Ballistic Nylon.

    While I think it would be possible for you to wait to purchase a Black Ballistic Synapse 25 from their regular stock refresh, the logistics of waiting for the color (and possibly a cache or other accessory) to all come available to be shipped at one time to Europe may be problematic. The advantage of the preorder system is that you can order exactly the color combination you want -- including a usually larger range of color combinations -- and have anything else added to your order when it comes back into stock before the preorder ships.

    HTH. Good luck!

    P.S. The built in laptop compartment of the Synik is not really designed to hold laptops in their own cases. You can maybe use a minimalist shell, but a thick case might not fit.

  14. #14
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    Alright, thanks again @bartleby for your clarifying words. It really seems that with the Synapse using the framesheet is a matter of weighing pros and cons in terms of use, while with the SN30 it is much more straight forward (which is natural given that it was part of the bag since the beginning of the design process).

    Thank you!
    Last edited by alBnc; 06-16-2020 at 02:51 PM.

  15. #15
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    Wow thank you so much @moriond for your reply! That's a lot deeper than I was hoping for, I massively appreciate that.

    Your image and your clarification made me perfectly understand the way the cache/rail system works, and fortunately enough it seems that my current laptop sleeve can be attached to the loops of the bag - in case I wanted to use the integrated laptop compartment for my tablet, or simply for extra protection.

    It isn't that Tom Bihn is not making Black Ballistic Synapses with the new edgeless straps, but that the usual production model is to refresh the lineup periodically, when all colors then again become available. What you're seeing is the range of stock that is available since the last production refresh, and with the longer period of enforced halting and shift to mask making, that range of colors is pretty depleted. I see a 400d Black Halcyon Synapse 25 with edgeless straps that would work for me, but you would probably prefer Ballistic Nylon.

    While I think it would be possible for you to wait to purchase a Black Ballistic Synapse 25 from their regular stock refresh, the logistics of waiting for the color (and possibly a cache or other accessory) to all come available to be shipped at one time to Europe may be problematic.
    You are definitely right about logistics complication about waiting for all of the items being simultaneously available for shipping to Europe. That's why I ended up placing a pre-order for the SN30, because by my understanding I have time till shipment for possibly changing my mind and getting a refund, in case I preferred opting for the Synapse.

    Then again, thanks a lot!

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