Its been a while now since I picked up my Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack (via TomBihn.com) for my laptop and commute to work every day so I thought it was time to share my thoughts on it. One quick note on the photo above, the holder that you see my monthly train ticket in is not a Tom Bihn product, but it is attached using one of the Tom Bihn lanyards attached to the “O” ring inside a pocket on the bag. This American made backpack does have lots of great features and an awesome amount of capacity and storage options though, so we will take a look at below.
One of my favorite things about the Tom Bihn Synapse 225 are the Aquaguard zippers that help keep the bag water resistant to protect any valuable electronics or paperwork stored inside your bag. Although its hard to see them on my backpack because of the black on black coloring, the Auaguard zippers are standard YKK zippers that have a two piece rubber strip that runs over the teeth of the zipper that keeps a protective layer over its teeth to keep rain and liquids out. Oh, and I guess my other favorite thing about the bag that you can see in this picture is that it is actually American made.
As I alluded to in the introduction, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 has a great amount of storage space, including the awesome zipper pocket on the front that is deep enough to hold a water bottle such as my Contigo Autoseal. Although its a no leak water bottle, not everyone has one of these and its nice to be able to keep a water bottle secluded from the other items in your bag. This picture also shows the inside of the bag with the red and white checked Dyneema Iberian red lining of the bag. Dyneema is considered to be one of the worlds strongest materials and is super strong and durable, so knowing the inside of the bag is probably more durable that I will ever need it to be is nice to know.
The next photo shows the more shallow pocket that lives in front of the one that I mentioned which holds my water bottle. This pocket is great for frequently accessed items like a wallet, train pass, or cell phone. In this case I stuck my Anker backup battery in there just to give a perspective on its size, but it measures about 6 inches deep and the opening is about 6.5 inches wide.
One of the accessories I picked up for my backpack was the Double Organier Pouch that is great for storing small accessories. Although you cant see it here, I usually keep my business cards in the clear pocket of the pouch because I feel like its also a good way to help me get the back back if it gets lost, my contact info is all right there. In the second part of the pouch thats not clear and visible I keep an extra stash of cash for emergencies. You can see that the whole thing is attached to another of the strategically placed “O” rings that are sewn into the bag.
On the left side of the bag, there is a vertical zipper up pocket that has some pen loops sewn onto the inside wall that can hold about 5 pens and the rest of the pocket is big enough to hold a decent size pen case or other small accessories.
The right side of the Tom Bihn Snypase 25 has a second similar pocket that zips horizontally and has plenty of space for a large pen case or even some smaller laptop power packs. It also has a pocket sewn onto the inside thats wide enough to hold a small Moleskiene Volant…well it can probably hold about 3-4 of them actually. You can see the capacity of the large pocket itself was plenty big enough for my Nomadic Pencil Case.
Next up is the front bottom pocket on the backpack, this is also the last storage compartment on the outside of the bag, but as you can already see we have not made it to the inside of the bag and it already holds a ton of stuff. I use the bottom front pocket of the bag for my laptops power supply as well as some other items like my Moleskine Shell Case with a sewing kit, band aids, hand sanitize and other small accessories in it with room to spare. I also keep the blue ProTec Electronics Case in it which holds some small charging cables for my phone, a spare USB cable, and an spare Ethernet cable. One thing I will mention is that I’m slightly conflicted about getting the all black backpack because as you can see from the photos it does collect a bit of dust and lint easily. On the flip side, had I picked out a lighter colored backpack I would be afraid that it would show actual dirt a bit more.
Now that we have covered the storage compartments on the outside of the Tom Bihn Snyapse 25, we can take a look inside of the backpack. As a note, the bag is called the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 because it has a storage capacity of 1526 cubic inches or 25 liters. I really like the inside of the bags red lining because it definitely helps to set some contrast when fishing around for items in there to make them easier to see. The pocket you see there is actually big enough to slip my laptop into, but as you can see I picked up one of the sleeves for storing the laptop because the bottom of the bag doesn’t have any padding so you will want to have something like a sleeve to fully protect the laptop.
The backpack is set up to hold two sleeves that Tom Bihn refers to as their Cache system with rails, that are designed to slide out easily to speed up your security checkpoint process when traveling.
Both the laptop and tablet Cache can be affixed to the clips that you see inside the bag via the nylon straps attached to the sleeve itself. Once installed you can simply slide the entire sleeve in and out much more easily to show the nice folks in the TSA line that your laptop is real and that you aren’t a terrorist.
Even with my work laptop and tablet on the inside of the bag, and lots of other small accessories scattered about in the external pockets, the inside of the back still has plenty of room to slip in my Levenger Circa notebook too. It really is astonishing how much you can store in the Tom Bihn Snyapse 25 backpack. Even when all loaded up with everything you have seen here, the straps and weight distribution make it all pretty comfortable and convenient for walking around with it on. I have about a 10-15 minute walk with the bag every day, and even with all of the items that you have just seen being stuffed in the bag, I’ve never felt that it was too heavy to carry around comfortably.
UPDATE: We had a reader comment asking about the straps and carry handle on the bag and I can’t believe I forgot to mention and show this, so I’ve updated the review to include the above photo and some words about it. The carry strap on top of the bag is a nylon strap that measures one inch wide. It doesn’t have any additional padding, just a straight up nylon strap sewn into the top of the bag. As for the shoulder straps, they are about 2.5 inches wide and don’t really have a ton of padding in them, but its certainly an adequate amount as I never experienced any pain from the straps. I think the curved contour of the straps help with the weight distribution too because the strap seems to follow the natural curve of my shoulder and chest. The back surface of the bag has a mesh padded backing that helps to put some space between your back and the bag that helps keep the air flowing and reduce any heat buildup on your back. Although you cant really see the seams and how/where they are sewn into the bag they do seem pretty solid because on the inside of the bag where I’d expect to see some seams from where the strap comes in, I don’t see anything but it feels pretty thick and sturdy in that area. I’ve seen people during my work commute before where the strap was literally ripping out of their bag and for some reason I have a hunch that wont be the case with the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 unless you are carrying 100 lb weights in it every day.
As you can now see for yourself, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack (via TomBihn.com) really does have a massive amount of storage space that you can utilize to make sure you have everything you need to make your commute more tollerable. Like I said, my only issue with this bag is more related to my color choice and the amount of lint that can be seen on the black version. Otherwise though, this backpack is incredibly sturdy, durable and full of space to cart around just about anything you could ever need. I would definitely recommend this as a fantastic option for anyone looking for a backpack for their daily work carrying needs. The color options vary from some bright fun colors to some more subtle and business appropriate colors so you can grab one of these without worrying about the image you will project when wearing a backpack.