Tom Bihn Synapse 25 FULL Review (One Bag Travel Legend!)

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.


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.


DASH 80 says:

Weed cookies. Every. Single. Time.

Joshua Mueller says:

This bag will change your life. Literally. You’ll never know how easy carry on luggage or EDCing can be until you get this bag.

gabrielowen says:

fucking o-ring darryl

Christopher Okhravi says:

Intro is on point 🙂 🙂 🙂

yghetr says:

Chase who makes the hygiene bag you pulled out of the bottom?

nima d says:

Could you do a review on goruck gr1 26? One bag travel?

Drewskidelmar says:

Your a trip man LOL! Congrats on your daughter 🙂

Bacano says:

Saw this bag and a bunch of other ones. Ended up getting the GORUCK GR1. Best money spent for an EDC bag.

Briana Campo says:

This is a really great review! Thanks!! And congrats on the baby on the way!

Angus O'Leary says:

Dude I just found your channel right now and I’m dying, this shit is hilarious. I don’t even want a bag this shit is just entertaining.

Jon Matle says:

What’s a brother got to do to get your take on the Aeronaut 30/45 vs the minaal 2.0? I have some purchasing decisions to make.

Jeff Wick says:

Your bag reviews are awesome. Love watching them; very entertaining, plus I’m also obsessed with bags. This is making me seriously consider the Tom Bihn bag! I’m struggling to find something for continuous work travel to China…. Something that can be additional carry-on, single-bag travel, and everyday carry. Sigh, the struggle is real.

Ever considered reviewing Peak Design Everyday Backpack? I’ve considered it (among many) for camera / non-camera everyday carry, and travel. Looks like it could be good for both.

Michael Williams says:

All of your bag reviews need to start with “I’m about to review the shit out of this bag!”  Possibly a future t-shirt logo in the making…

Wendy Ang says:

hey chase just wondering what camera do you bring on your travels? I want to carry a bag this small but not sure if my clothes and camera will fit.

Jeff Wilser says:

Hey Chase – Thanks for the informative, detailed, and wildly entertaining review. Good stuff. I especially loved the real-talk about how this bag forces you to make some Big Choices about Style vs. Function, and how, whether we like it or not, the brands we use do send signals. I do have a specific question for you. The very bottom pocket of the bag, which I think you said you would use for your toiletries — would you feel comfortable putting a DSLR in this pocket, if the DSLR was, itself, enclosed in a small pouch?

Even more specifically, I’m wondering if, when you put the backpack on the ground, the bottom pocket crunches against the ground, or is it somewhat protected? Even more more specifically, I own this mini DSLR camera case, and I’m wondering if it could be safely inserted into the bottom pocket.

Also, I think you mentioned that the laptop isn’t that protected on the bottom. If you use their little sleeve roll-out thingy-majiggy, does that add enough protection? Thanks again for the entertaining review.

Alex serran says:

Can you review the dsptch daypack please? I can’t find any reviews online

Travis Cooper says:

Do you remember what size packing cube you use for this bag? The yellow one? Thanks! Great video!!!

Stephen Elliott says:

love your videos…very informative and entertaining…farpoint 40 review in the future?

Yans D. says:

Chase….stop making my husband want to purchase expensive…quality bags…. hahah. Fine so both of us really enjoy your reviews and find them really useful when deciding what to buy… I have to say we are loving this bag so far. Thanks 🙂

Michael Webber says:

Given how expensive this bag is, thanks for the detailed views and explanations – worth all 26 mins 27 secs of viewing time. It looks less metro in the Black Halcyon than some of the other Bihn fabric/color choices. On that handle thing: I wonder why so many companies don’t do better on the haul handle? I have bags with the fabric strap sewn in half the way you describe, but they aren’t any better for me. With respect to the way it is now, I think it would cut the hand less if sewn on the top panel instead of being sewn into the top panel/back panel seam which twists it to an angle.

Champdrums says:

So this is probably the best review on this bag on Youtube. Incredible video man!

Keep it up!!

Matt Fortune says:

Hey. I was just wondering if you had any suggestions on a bag for me. I’m a teacher who commutes in London and I’m looking for a backpack. I feel in love with the Synapse and the Rickshaw Velo, but when I looked into them it was going to cost up to another $100 in shipping and customs charges to get them to the UK. The price of the bags themselves was fine just can’t bring myself to pay another half of the bags value in fees. Any suggestions that I can purchase here in the UK?

Chris says:

Hey Chase, I absolutely love your reviews. Not only do you pick the right packs to review, but you also make the reviews entertaining to watch, unlike any others I’ve seen so far. As I am about to buy myself a TB Synapse 25 and thinking of which accessories to get, I was wondering if you still remember which packing cube it is that you presented in this video (as it just fits perfectly in the bag)? Keep making these awesome videos!
Cheers from Sydney 😉

lightronv says:

Anyone else get Jesse Pinkman vibes?

Nick Joy says:

Love your channel Chase. So.. ive seen a lot of reviews. Is the Tom Bihn the one?
I am looking for a minimalist pack for travel. Trying to decide between the Minaal and Tom Bihn. I have the Goruck GR2 and love the clamshell and durability, but it is too heavy.

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