When I first entered the tornado of Tom Bihn products I went with the Synapse 25 in Black 1000D Cordura back when that was a material they were producing the Synapse in. I had nothing but great things to say about the pack in my initial review you can check that out here TOM BIHN SYNAPSE 25 REVIEW
The only problem I ever have with Cordura is my dog's (Lab) hair all over it no matter what I tried to do. When I moved that pack on a few months later I realized Tom Bihn had come out with a lighter weight Ballistic nylon and I decided to give that a try. I had always been interested in the Halcyon fabric that Bihn offered as well so I threw that one into the cart along with the ballistic.
I wanted to give my thoughts on each of the fabrics and explain why I kept the one I did.
Ill cut to the chase and say I kept the Halcyon Synapse 25 and the decision was made as soon as I took the pack out of the box. I have nothing against the Ballistic nylon and it did do really well shedding the dog hair, much better than the Cordura version I had before. However, it came down to the flexibility and ease of use on the Halcyon. If you have ever had a Bihn bag before you know the zippers on these things are gigantic (one of my favorite features) but at first they take some getting use to and a short break in period. The zippers on the Ballistic were much harder to pull than the ones on the Halcyon and I could notice the difference.
Per the Tom Bihn website, the Halcyon material has the same great tear resistance as the Ballistic just falls behind on the abrasion resistance. For me, I know this material will be plenty strong as it will be my EDC back and occasional day hiking pack. The stitching from BIHN is also top notch and normally in any bag that or the zippers will be the first thing to fail not the fabric, even with much cheaper fabric. The Halcyon is also a "Ripstop" material which means if you do somehow get a tear in the bag the tear will not lengthen.
Both materials also did very well when raining. I honestly could not tell a difference between the two as each let no water in for a quick 15-minute walk around the block. Both bags have the normal Tom Bihn #10 YKK Aquaguard zippers which is the main combatant against water getting into your pack.
The weight of both bags was also one of the first things I noticed. After using the Ballistic version was not heavy by any means for the couple days I carried it, however, as soon as I picked up the Halcyon pack it did feel much lighter.
I also noticed that the Halcyon pack was much easier to utilize each pocket and main compartment. This also made packing the bag with the lighter/ more movable fabric easier as well.
Overall, both bags are great and really come down to prefernce I just wanted to give a few quick thoughts on the reasoning behind why I decided to stay with the Halcyon Synapse 25. Hope if you are in the same situation I was in this can help!