Tom Bihn Synapse/Synik Review

One of the internet’s most beloved backpacks due to its accessibility, organization, build quality and capacity.

Stick to it for some time and you’ll see what we mean. Dad-bag looks tho.

The Synapse is now available in a few different flavors:

  • “Synapse” available in 19L and 25L, not clamshell opening, older straps.
    • 19L is real minimal and light and great for day hikes.
    • 25L is epic for minimal travel and larger daily carry loads.
  • “Synik” available in 22L and 30L, clamshell opening, new edgeless straps.
    • 22L is PERFECT for my daily carry needs (a little tight, I gotta get a little funky on the laptop setup, but it’s perfect for me).
    • 30L is quite large for daily carry (larger framed people and folks with bigger loads to carry may not think so, tho), solid for travel (although I’d like something that’s a little smaller as a daily carry once I arrive).

Video of the SYNAPSE 25: 

More often than I care to admit I simply grab this bag because I KNOW it won’t let me down.

All the organization is on the outside of the bag, which makes it insanely easy to access everything you need.

Then the capacity inside the main compartment is surprisingly roomy. I’m amazed that I can travel with the 25L Synapse for 3 weeks and beyond (as long as I’ve got access to some laundry :).

Also, it’s very comfortable to travel with, even when it’s completely loaded to the brim. When you pack it for minimal travel all the clothes rest up against your back, so it’s soft and comfortable (compared to most bags which place the laptop against the back). I was surprised to see how much I noticed the comfort of this setup.

Tom Bihn also sells loads of accessories you can use with this bag. I use the laptop cache and a few of their pouches that connect to “O” rings inside the bag.

And it needs to be said how much I love the fact that I can use this bag as both a travel bag AND a daily carry bag. Similar to the Wandrd Prvke in that regard, and a feature I find myself really hungry for these days.

If I could combine the functionality of this bag with the look of a GoRuck bag I’d be in heaven. That being said, I reach for this much more often than I reach for the GoRuck. Love this bag!


Material Choice:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

Excellent materials from Tom Bihn on these. And lots of material choices to choose from, too.

Build Quality:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

Made in the USA. One of the highest rated bags out there for durability.

Water Resistance:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

All the YKK zips have an aquaguard seal on them, keeping the weather out of your goodies.

External Access:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

Epic. External. Access. Everything's on the front!

Internal Organization:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

The new Synik version adds a laptop compartment.

Capacity:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

Lots of options for which size you want to go with. No matter the size you'll be surprised how much it can actually fit.

Carry Comfort:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

The new Synik straps are some of my favorite of any bag ever.

Doesn't Look Weird:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

It's definitely got some solid dad bag vibes. In smaller size, however, like the 22L Synik or the 19L Synapse, the look is much less "turtle shell" like.

Extra Score:Sub-Par Satisfactory Excellent

It's awesome to watch a company design and iterate over time based on user feedback. Extra points for TB!

Tom Bihn Synapse/Synik Intuitive organization.

Intuitive organization.

There’s so much external access on this bag, making everything easy to access. And the pockets are designed really well. A delightful product in use everyday.

Tom Bihn Synapse/Synik USA build, materials and details.

USA build, materials and details.

Tom Bihn sweat the details in such great ways. 

Tom Bihn Synapse/Synik Some love it. Some hate it. All respect it. #dads

Some love it. Some hate it. All respect it. #dads

Some people love it, some people hate it. But everyone respects it. My dad’s like that too. 

Tom Bihn Synapse/Synik Now available in the upgraded “Synik” version. (Both are favorites.)

Now available in the upgraded “Synik” version. (Both are favorites.)

I personally am definitely more excited by the 22L Synik these days than I am with the 25L Synapse. Something about the smaller size (and the upgraded straps + handle + laptop compartment) gives it an even more delightful vibe. 

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