Reviewing the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 — epic bag for day pack or for one bag travel. It’s small looking but it packs a TON of space.
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From Their website:
Could be your “the one” backpack for travel, hiking, and every day stuff.
The Synapse 25 is a carefully calculated, supremely organized backpack, designed for day hiking, everyday carry, and ultralight travel. Its graceful, curvilinear exterior may on first blush look like something akin to sculpture, but in truth it is simply the judicious realization of ultimate utility. No mesh pockets clutter the exterior of this bag, nor extraneous straps festoon it; in it, you’ll be able to carry more than you would imagine, and no one will be the wiser.
The Synapse 25 is designed to fit people from approximately 5’6″ to 6’6″ / 1.68 to 1.98 m; it is the new big brother to the original Synapse 19 (for those under 5’6″ / 1.68 m or who want a smaller bag — check it out). With 30% more volume, we hope to satisfy those who love their smaller Synapse but who need to schlep more stuff or are on the tall or big end of the spectrum.
The front of the Synapse 25 is divided into five zippered pockets, all of which zip shut with #8 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zippers:
Though you’d never guess by looking at it, the top center front pocket is deep enough for a 1-liter water bottle (our Lifefactory Water Bottles fit — so should any type of 1-liter or smaller water bottle) or 1-liter hydration bladder (a 2-liter hydration bladder will also fit as long as it’s not overfilled). Everyone who has carried a water bottle in a backpack knows how important it is to pack the water bottle wisely so it a) doesn’t dig into your back and b) doesn’t throw off the weight of the pack. With the water bottle kept in dead center of the Synapse 25, you won’t have to worry about either. Removing the water bottle from the Synapse 25 (and replacing it) is a breeze. Note that the water bottle pocket doesn’t needlessly continue to the bottom of the bag; that’d be wasted space, plus you’d have to reach farther in to pull your water bottle out. Instead, we took that volume and allocated it to the bottom pocket (where it can serve good instead of evil — see below). Also worth noting: the water bottle pocket has one O-ring. (Yes, we do listen: we’re adding O-rings. Just because you asked.)
Below the opening for the bottle pocket is another small zippered pocket, also with one O-ring: it’s just deep enough for keys, a wallet, glove liners, or a small camera.
The side pockets are generously sized for sunglasses (in a case or alone), a first aid kit, or even a light Windbreaker-type jacket or down vest compressed in a stuff sack (like our Travel Stuff Sack). The right side pocket has a small organizational pocket; the left pocket has one pen/pencil slot and two wider slots for multitools/knives or just more pens. Both side zippered pockets feature one O-ring — one comes with an 8″ / 200 mm Key Strap.
The bottom front pocket of the Synapse 25 is a great spot for extra clothing or snacks and will easily accommodate a thin wool/fleece sweater, light down jacket and/or Windbreaker-type jacket. If you care to add organization, it’s more than big enough for a 3D Organizer Cube (Mesh, Halcyon, Parapack, or Clear) or Side Effect; three O-rings are inside this pocket. (Packing advice: tether one of the above-mentioned organizational cubes or Organizer Pouches to the O-rings via a Key Strap.) And because we care about your safety, we’ve added a 1.5″ / 38 mm webbing loop on the exterior bottom of this pocket that’s ready to accept the Guardian Light — highly recommended if you ride a bicycle or walk in the dark.
The Synapse 25 has one main, back compartment for large, flat items like notebooks or laptops — it closes with a #10 YKK Aquaguard® water-repellent zipper. It has two O-rings for you to attach Organizer Pouches or tether other items. Also inside the main compartment are four unobtrusive webbing loops, two fore and two aft, to which you can secure the optional Cache (available in sizes specifically for every Apple laptop and iPad; PC users, click here to take a look at our Laptop Fit Guide). When you add the Cache, the Synapse 25 becomes a “checkpoint-friendly” laptop backpack. Here’s how it works: on the back (or bottom, depending how you look at it) of the Cache are two parallel “rails” of 1″ wide lightweight nylon webbing which extend from the top to the bottom. Included (and already attached for your convenience) with the Cache are two Gatekeeper Rail Clips: unclip the side that isn’t clipped to the Cache, slip it through the webbing loops in the Synapse 25 main compartment, and flip it shut.