Tom Bihn Synapse 25 Backpack Review
After returning my Synapse 19 purely because it was not large enough for my everyday carry I was back in the search for another new EDC bag. I loved everything about the Synapse 19 it was just not large enough. With that in mind, I was obviously eyeing the Synapse 25 as it is the same exact pack except 6 more liters of space. However for some reason, I decided to explore more packs and companies and possibly try to find a pack that I liked even more then the Synapse before I purchased the 25. After the Mystery Ranch Street Fighter, Madden 20L Daypack, and a few others I was still drawn to the Synapse. I have a video review of the Street Fighter on youtube right now but the main reason I decided against this pack was that the shoulder straps were just overkill for an EDC pack. I love my 3DAP from Mystery Ranch and one of the major reasons being the straps, which are the same on both packs. The more weight you throw in the pack the comfier it becomes, although I am not ever really loading my EDC or school bag for that much weight. The Madden which I have a review of up on Youtube as well was a great simple pack although I ended up missing the organization of the Synapse. So after a couple of months and more searching, I decided to pull the trigger on a black Synapse 25.
Many of the things I said on my Synapse 19 review can be said for this pack as well. So if I repeat myself to bad. Starting out about Tom Bihn. Tom Bihn was founded in 1972 by Tom Bihn. Tom has been making and designing bags since the age of 10. Needless to say, he knows what he is doing and it shows. When I found Tom Bihn and learned that all their products are handmade in the U.S., backed by a lifetime guarantee, and made with the best materials, I was in. Like I have said before it is rare to find a company like Tom Bihn in today’s world.
I had originally gone with the color Coyote on my Synapse 19 and enjoyed the color however, I really wanted an EDC pack that could blend in and not stand out as I will be carrying my laptop, DSLR, and many other items I would like to hang on to. So, I opted with the black color option.
The great thing about this pack is that it is built from the same tough, abrasion resistant, badass 1000D Cordura as most of the Goruck packs. I had almost no experience with this fabric before my first Goruck pack and I am now addicted. Not only was the Synapse pack built with the Cordura but accompanied by #8 Water Tight YKK zippers, and padded EVAZOTE Foam shoulder straps. The Straps of this pack are made from EVAZOTE foam. These straps come with all of the essential additions that were not included on the various Goruck packs I have had. The straps come paired with a sternum strap and a removable waist strap. The foam is the perfect thickness so that I can comfortably carry a heavier load but not too big so that on a light load they sit abnormally. This is a much-overlooked aspect of a backpack and in my eyes, one of the most important parts. The addition of the waist strap and the option to have it be completely removable is brilliant. There are many bag companies right now making their daypacks with a waist strap that can be tucked behind into the lumber area of the pack however, I feel that this adds unnecessary bulk at a major contact point of a backpack. I know when I am going to need a waist strap for the day and I would rather have the option of leaving it at home when I know a hike is not in my daily plan.
The pack itself does not scream “Tactial!” Like many of the other day packs I have looked into and I love that it about the bag. I will be using this bag for EDC including school, day hikes, dog park trips, dog walks, mall trips, and whatever else I do day to day. The last thing I want to do is carry around a huge tactical pack built like a tank all day. (That is what my 3DAP is for.) I wanted a good, clean looking backpack that had an elegant but built to be abused and used feel to it. Some of the packs you see around especially in big name retail stores now days look like a bunch of belts strapped to a sack, which I doubt can be very practical and I just cannot see myself dealing with that day to day. Just the look of this pack had me hooked, let alone the use of grade A materials.
If you look at any well used, beaten, abused backpack and find the first thing that broke or went wrong I can almost guarantee it was the zipper. It is very easy to cut costs and throw a cheap foreign zipper onto your bag and make more profit. Most average consumers won’t be able to tell the difference, or could care about the difference because they got it for half the price right? I would rather have one bag for 10 years then 5 bags for 2 years a piece. Your bag gains character as it journeys with you. A well used bag is more then just another piece of gear but a companion, and the last thing I want my companion doing is giving up after 2 years together. That being said the addition to not only top tier YKK zippers but YKK zippers lined with Aquagaurd to further protect your various items swallowed by your companion. You can feel the quality in each and every zip and know that nothing is going to stop the little guys from doing their very important job.
The first thing one could notice is about the Synapse 19 is the various pockets shaping the bag. The main compartment is big enough to fit my DSLR, a rain jacket, a water bottle, towel for the dogs, and a few snacks while I'm on my hikes with room to spare.
The top front pocket is technically a water bottle pocket that runs down the whole length of the bag and can fit a normal sized Nalgene with ease. I find this pocket to be better to house my keys, wallet, headphones, knife, gum, other grab and go items.
Underneath this front pocket is a smaller pocket that can also be used for my smaller items that may overflow from the first front pocket.
On each side of the pack there are side pockets that are taller then they are wide. Here I can store my phone and its chargers and other chargers for my camera. On the other side I use it to store my external Hard-drive and my External battery charger. And even a spare grab and go lens for my camera.
The last pocket is on the bottom of the pack and a perfect size for anything durable enough to sit on the bottom. I have used this pocket for my GoPro hero 4 in a case and my Mechanix gloves. On the bottom of this pocket there is an attachment point for a bike light.
Who this backpack suits
- Anyone looking for a quality built backpack made here in the U.S. with a lifetime guarntee
- A student, photographer, or person looking for a well-organized compartment based pack
- Someone who does not need a bombproof laptop compartment
- Someone needing a well-rounded EDC or daypack that can be used in almost any scenario
Who this backpack does not suit
- Someone looking for a hiking or overnight pack
- Someone wanting a cheap backpack for a low cost
The Tom Bihn Synapse is a high quality, hand made, U.S. built daypack that will undoubtedly stand up to whatever I throw at it and continue to accompany me on my various adventures to come. I am loving the extra 6 liters of space for my EDC. I am 5’10 185 not a small guy but not huge either. The 19 just felt too small almost like a pack more built for women. The 25 fits my build perfect and I am looking forward to carrying every day.