The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack provides a stylish, simple way of toting your stuff around. Focusing on big pockets and ring holders, you can upgrade it with a suspended holder for your iPad or laptop, a safety whistle integrated with the chest strap, and a safety light.
First things first: the Synapse 25 is comfortably designed, with a foam padded back . The adjustable arm straps also feature a chest and waist strap, and additional straps to attach gear to. The main cargo area features a single additional pocket and two key rings. If you upgrade to add the suspended pocket (called a Cache with Rails by the Tom Bihn company) you can strap it to the back of the bag or the front of the flap. The Cache—a padded cloth envelope with a fold-over flap—is available in different sizes for the iPad, MacBook Air, and 13 and 15″ MacBook, and protects the device from damage if the bag is dropped. The “rails” part is key, because the straps allow you to slide the entire Cache out of the bag without removing the device or detaching it.
There are two big pockets on the center of the outer flap, along with two side pockets (one of which features three pen holders) and the other has a key strap. Both the side pockets are big enough for a water bottle. A final long pocket across the bottom of the bag features three key rings.
I said the design of the Synapse 25 was simple, and I meant it. There are no external open pockets at all, giving it relatively clean lines even when stuffed full. While there aren’t a multitude of small, inner pockets, if you’re looking to go hiking or hauling a bunch of textbooks, or if you’re looking for an overnight bag for travel, its generous with space. It’s not a bag for organizing lots of little items (although various accessories are available for purchase to make it so), but if I was going to travel for a weekend, I could totally use it in lieu of a small suitcase if I packed carefully and wasn’t bringing any of the myriad bits of electronics (iPhone, iPad, video camera, mic, tripod, etc. along with all the power adapters).
The fabric of the bag is lightweight and, according to the Tom Bihn website, rip-resistant and repels pet hair. I must admit that after a couple of weeks it has picked up no rabbit hair nor bird dander.
Combining spaciousness, an expansive soft shell, and an attractive, clean design, the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 bag is an attractive choice for people who need versatility from their backpack. The Cache on Rails upgrade makes it checkpoint-friendly, and for bikers and hikers, you can add a safety light or a built-in emergency whistle. Pricey but well-designed, this bag is a winner for people who need a backpack with a lot of space, but also want it to look good.
If you don’t need quite so much space, check out the smaller Tom Bihn Synapse 19.
Buy the Synapse 25 Backpack
Provides: Transportation and protection for laptop (15″ or smaller), iPad, and other accessories, equipment
Developer: Tom Bihn
Minimum Requirements: 15″ or smaller laptop, iPad, other travel/school items and accessories
Price: $170.00 (additional accessories extra)
Availability: Out now