My current backpack, which I purchased in January of this year is a Tom Bihn Synapse 25, this is a 25 litre backpack that I use as my EDC.
Later this year Tom Bihn will release a new backpack called the Synik. It will be available in two sizes, a 22 litre and 30 litre version. I have been incredibly lucky to have opportunity to use the 30 litre version in advance of its release. The aim of this review is to give you a detailed insight to the Synik and any pros or cons there may be for different use cases.
The Synik arrived in the classic Tom Bihn box and I couldn’t wait to open it up to see the new bag design.
It also comes with an internal frame (this was an optional add on item for the Synapse bags) and 8 cord zipper pulls. This is how I attached the zipper pulls (shown on my Synapse):
These zipper pulls have the advantage of making the zippers easier to use and also quieter as the cord cushions them.
In the box was also the optional 1″ Padded Hip Belt, this is also available for the Synapse bags. The hip belt will make carrying the bag easier during hikes as it enables you to carry some of the weight on your hips instead of having all of it on your shoulders. This is another huge bonus of the Tom Bihn bags, they allow you to make a configuration that works for you, if you need the hip belt you can add it and for those times when you don’t it is very easy to remove using the clips on the side.
In the box was also a strap, which I can use to attach the Synik to rolling luggage for those instances where the pass through is too small for the two-pole style rolling luggage, however with all my rolling luggage large and small the pass-through at the back of the Synik fits with no issue.
The Tom Bihn team also put a Tom Bihn sticker in the box – this is a lovely bonus.
As previously mentioned the Synik will be available in two sizes a 30 litre and a 22 litre. For me the 30 litre is perfect because it can be used as an EDC and also a travel bag.
As usual with Tom Bihn bags they will be available in a wide range of colours and materials, the bag I am reviewing is a Black 525 Ballistic/Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon, which is my favourite combination for their backpacks (my Synapse has the same colours).
One of the first things I noticed is that the Tom Bihn logo has moved from the centre of the backpack to the lower right corner, I like this look, it is a bit more discreet.
My Synapse has nine O-Rings and the Synik has two additional in the main compartment, I use these to attach a range of pouches so they don’t get lost at the bottom of the bag. Tom Bihn sell a range of pouches with clips that work with the O-Rings and I usually have at least three in my bag.
This bag is packed with new updates and features.
The grab handle has been updated since the Synapse so it is more comfortable to hold.
Here is the Synapse 25 handle:
Here is the updated version on the Synik:
The updated handle is softer and more sturdy.
The backpack straps also have more padding and are now edgeless, this makes carrying the Synik much more comfortable. When I first read about the strap update I thought it would be a nice feature, but it is difficult to describe how good an upgrade it is, they are so comfortable and make a huge difference when carrying the bag for long periods of time.
When travelling there are times when taking rolling luggage cannot be avoided, so it is nice to have the luggage pass-through. The Synapse didn’t have this feature and it is a nice bonus if you have a long wait at an airport.
Clamshell and tie down straps
Being able to open the Synik fully clamshell style is one of the big new features for me, it makes it a lot easier to find items in your bag and also it’s easier to pack for trips. Removable tie down straps have been added, which can be used for packing cubes and items you don’t want to fall out when the bag has been fully opened.
The included internal frame adds value to the Synik by ensuring that bulky items in the bag don’t poke you in the back. I didn’t have one of these for my Synapse, but I was missing out as I always have bulky items packed and this does make it more comfortable and I don’t have to try and rearrange anything when packing.
Laptop sleeve and side access
I carry an iPad Pro and MacBook Pro 13″ daily and having the inbuilt padded laptop sleeve is a great way to store my laptop. It even has a side access pocket for the sleeve so you don’t have to open the main compartment of the bag to get to it.
Packing for adventures
Packing for a mini adventure with my son
It’s always great to go on adventures with my wife and son. Our son is nearly two, so this means we have a lot of stuff to take with us, even on short day trips and the Synik handles all of this with ease. Today we decided to go on a mini adventure to the park and then shopping. For this trip I needed diapers, a changing mat, snacks, a change of clothes, water, toys and a range of other baby items in addition to my own gear (portable phone charger and some cables). Everything fit with no issues and I was still able to fit my hoodie inside when needed.
Packing for a running race weekend / an overnight trip
One of my hobbies is running, I run in a range of events (marathons, half marathons 10k’s and 5k’s). Marathons and half marathons often take me to new countries and cities, which requires me to pack an overnight bag. In October I will be taking part in the Amsterdam half marathon and I will be using the Synik for this trip, this trip will last for 2 nights and 3 days.
For a trip like this I will need my running kit, which includes shoes, a toiletry bag, clothes, some cables and charging gear for my iPhone and Apple Watch. Everything fits in the Synik and it will even be able to fit under my seat on the plane.
Packing for work
Using the Synik 30 for work has had a few benefits, I can fit my laptop in the new inbuilt sleeve and I can even fit my lunch bag in the main compartment along with my iPad and various folders of paperwork.
No matter what adventure I am on, I always use the Tom Bihn Snake Charmer to hold all my cables and chargers, it fits perfectly in the bottom front pocket of my Synik. If you have a lot of cables and other small items of tech, it is really worth looking into the Snake Charmer to complement your Synik.
In addition to a range of pouches Tom Bihn also offer the Side Effect, which is an organiser pouch that enables better organisation of smaller items due to its range of pockets. It has O-Rings that can be attached via a key strap to O-Rings inside the Synik.
The Synik 30 will replace my Synapse 25 as my EDC and travel bag. When I first saw a list of the Synik’s new features, I thought that it stood a chance of replacing my Synapse. However after having used the backpack, these are features that I don’t want to lose. This bag has taken a solid design and made it even better, if you are a fan of the Synapse you will absolutely love the Synik.
The only downside I can see of the Synik 30 is that it could be too large for some people, but if this is the case, the 22 litre version should have you covered for those times when you need a smaller backpack.
Update: August 5th 2019
At the weekend I took some photos of the Synik 30 when I was on an adventure with my wife and son at the beach.