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Gear Diary: My Daily Commute with the Tom Bihn Synapse 25

This past week I’ve been commuting into Chicago by train to attend some training.  The days were long and I was going to do a fair amount of walking in the city so I chose the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 as my bag for the week.  The Synapse ended up being the perfect choice due to a lot of the positives that I wrote about in my review of the bag.

For instance, the Synapse (in Black/Iberian) looked right at home among all of the briefcases, messengers and totes being carried by my fellow commuters.  I don’t always care what others think about my carry, but Chicago River North is predominately a business district and so it made sense for my hiking and more tactical looking packs to stay at home this week.

The Synapse’s organization was perfect.  The main compartment held a light jacket, laptop and a couple of notebooks.  If I needed a pen or my small pocket knife then it was right there in the side organizer pocket.  I was constantly in and out of the other side pocket, which held my smartphone and sunglasses.  The bottom front pocket held a snake charmer with my cables.  The top front zippered compartment held my water bottle and a large tote umbrella.  My keys were in the smaller front zippered pocket along with my train pass in a Tom Bihn pocket pouch.  I’m always paranoid about losing my train pass but the pouch attached to the pack via a key strap tethered to an O-Ring gave me peace of mind that the pass would always be there when I needed it.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 with the Pocket Pouch

Tom Bihn Synapse 25 with the Pocket Pouch (on the train)

I’m still amazed that the Synapse 25 only weighs 1.79 lbs.  Ultralight carry in the form a of mid-sized laptop friendly low profile pack really spoils you.  I found myself pitying some of the other people I saw lugging heavier, bulkier setups.  I had to fight the urge to stop them and say, “That looks really painful.  Try this on for size and you might save yourself a few visits to the chiropractor”.

Early on, I had my doubts about the relatively thin EVAZOTE foam shoulder straps on the Synapse but those have been erased with extended carry.  Their contoured design really kept the bag stable and distributed the weight evenly across my shoulders (even without the sternum strap, which I removed this week).  I never suffered any discomfort despite the moderate load out.   

The Synapse 25 taking in the Chicago Skyline

The Synapse 25 taking in the Chicago Skyline

Although I constantly test other products, the Synapse continues to be my personal go-to EDC bag.  I highly recommend that everyone gives one of the Synapse models a try.  Both the Synapse 19 and the Synapse 25 are available from Tom Bihn direct.  Some of the popular color combos are now on back order but Tom Bihn re-stocks a number of times per year so they should be available soon.

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3 Responses so far.

  1. gary says:

    Blaine, did it bother you there there is only one main compartment? And, if you have an ipad and newspapers and something else large they all have to go in there together? Do you think this pack could use another large pocket?

    • Blaine B. says:

      Tom Bihn’s approach is to leave the compartment of his backpacks as open as possible and let the user tailor it to fit their needs. In the case of an iPad, they make a Cache with Rails that you could clip to one side of the compartment to carry it still leaving the elastic pocket and main compartment free for other items. Do I wish that the Synapse had a dedicated padded compartment for a tablet (like the Ristretto)? Yes, that would have been more cost effective.

  2. […] Read the full post by Loaded Pocketz (with more photos). See also: the Synapse 25. […]

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