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Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack

I’ve often lamented the poor design of most day packs.  I love carrying my stuff on my back so I can have my hands free, but it drives me nuts that the contents of my pack settle into a messy clump in the bottom of the bag.  It’s a waste of space, it’s not comfortable, and it makes finding things frustrating.  But I’ve found a solution: Tom Bihn’s Synapse Backpack.

I love this slim, stylish pack.  In fact, it’s one of the best packs I’ve ever tested.  The Synapse is superbly designed to efficiently and effectively distribute the contents and weight of my pack and keep me completely organized.  The small size is wonderful; I’m much more nimble moving around town and on the trail.

It feels good to wear a more compact pack, and I don’t feel like I’ve lost storage space at all.
The front of the Synapse pack has five zippered storage pockets, all lined with contrast colored material to make finding thing easy.  I’ve used other packs with organization pockets, but the Synapse is a much more thoughtful pack because the pockets have some depth.  So, there’s space to hold things like a mini power strip in the lower pocket, a mini toiletries kit in one of the side pockets, a water bottle in the deep center pocket, and my wallet and camera in the other side pocket (there’s also a special cell phone sleeve in one of the side pockets made out of a soft, fuzzy material).  The pack comes with a removable key lanyard, and most of the pockets have an attachment ring so I can store my keys where I want. The pockets expand outward when filled, so objects don’t dig into my back.  Nice! 

The main compartment of the Synapse pack is just the right size for a sweater and a magazine.  There’s a pouch-like sleeve on one side for a hat and a couple of snack bars or an iPad. The back of the pack is padded, so the Synapse also works well for carrying my 13” MacBook Pro.  The bottom of the pack is also curved and angles away from my lower back, so I get a nice fit and less pack resting on my back.  I really appreciate the removable hip belt.  It’s nice to wear when I’m traveling or hiking and have the pack on for hours at a time, but I like to take it off when I’m just using the pack around town.  Those are just a few of the small details that make the Synapse stand out.

The shoulder straps are adjustable and densely padded, but not cushy, and have an adjustable sternum strap.  I’m 6’ tall and find this pack very comfortable, but I think shorter folks will really enjoy wearing the Synapse. (It’s designed for people 5’-6’ tall.) I really appreciate the weather-resistant zipper covers; it rains all the time here in Seattle so I need a bag that keeps the drizzle out.  The Synapse is made out of thin, tough nylon, and so far it’s held up to use very well.  It still looks brand new after several weeks of use.  I’ve been a fan of Tom Bihn bags for a long time because they use top quality materials and their packs are urban cool and trail tough.  They think of everything but their packs are never fussy or trendy, and there’s no extra material or straps to get in my way because everything I need is inside the pack.  Smart!

At $130, the Synapse is a bit pricey, but it’s solidly made (in Seattle!) and incredibly versatile. I think it’s worth it. Colors: The Synapse pack is available in Conifer, Indigo, Olive, Navy, Steel,  Black, Iberian, and Ultraviolet.  All packs except Steel come with a contrast colored lining.

Bottom Line: A sleek, attractive pack that’s perfect for daily use, travel, and hiking.-E.D. (June 2011)

BUY ONLINE: $130.00, click to shop.


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