Tom Bihn Synapse 19 and 25 Backpack Review

August 24, 2014 — 15 Comments

Originally I was only going to review the Synapse 25, but then we thought it would be cool to do a comparison review of the 25 and the 19. Make sure you watch the video below to see the comparison and enter for your chance to win the Synapse 25 for FREE!

Getting my Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack and accessories was an adventure in and of itself.

I was notified that the shipping process had started on July 2nd, which seemed like plenty of time to receive it before I left for Portland, OR on July 9th. But darn it all if that pesky July 4th holiday got in the way. I waited and waited until I finally got the update saying it would be delivered by the end of the day…on July 9th. NOOOOOOOO! My brain went into overdrive since I was leaving at 145pm on the 9th. That morning I got an update saying it was “out for delivery.” Maybe I could catch the driver somewhere! I then realized that I work less than five minutes from the distribution center it was likely being delivered from. I tried to find their local number but kept landing on the 800 number, which was of no use. Finally, I found the good ol’ 608 number! I dialed and the lady on the other end said she’d see if she could find it. Yes, I prayed she would return with good news. “I found it. We’ll just hold it for you at the front counter,” she told me. I thanked her profusely and then went to pick it up shortly thereafter. I felt like Indiana Jones as I walked out of that FedEx distribution center.

Then the real fun began. I unboxed the bag.

I’ll jump into the present tense now to describe the bag. It’s beautiful. The material is sturdy, built to last. One of my main concerns with a backpack is that the zippers are easy to use with one hand. The Synapse 25 has six, seven if you count both for the main compartment. I’m happy to report that they are secure, yet simple to zip and unzip with one hand. The handle at the top of the bag is a perfect size for my little arm to fit through, giving me some leverage for using the bag with my right hand.

The compartments in this bag are…cavernous. I honestly kind of wish I had gone with the Synapse 19 because I overestimated how much space I actually need. Here’s a shot of all the stuff I was lugging around with me in Portland.

Tom Bihn Synapse 25

Yeah, so, I probably didn’t need to carry all of that stuff around with me the whole time. I had plenty of room for more, though!

The temperature was in the 90s when I was there, so my back did get pretty hot, but I don’t blame the bag for that. I blame all the stuff I was carrying around. Even so, I was never uncomfortable, though I did wish at times there was a bit more padding on the shoulder straps. I can imagine filling this backpack to the brim for a camping weekend and having more than plenty to survive for quite some time.

The accessories are fantastic, too. The sleeve for my 11″ MacBook Air is REALLY nice, though it was a bit difficult to get my laptop in and out of with one hand at first. It’s loosened up a bit, but can still be somewhat of a one-handed challenge. The 3D Mesh Organizer Cube was perfect for my phone charger and other cords. The 3D Clear Organizer Cube kept my toiletries together and visible for security. The Mesh Ballistic Organizer Pouch worked great for my computer cord. And the 16-inch Key Strap kept my keys safe and secure until I got home. Again, all of the zippers were of high quality and easy to use with one hand.

Ultimately, the Synapse 25 is an incredible backpack. The materials and craftsmanship are second to none. The design is well thought out, with each pocket and zipper in its rightful place. I’m proud and excited to carry around my Tom Bihn backpack and plan to do so for years and years to come.

Checkout the comparison review video below and enter to win your FREE Synapse 25 below that! You’ll get the Olive Green Synapse 25 in the video – a $200 value!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank to Darcy and the amazing folks at for providing the bags and accessories to review!


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I'm a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a friend...all kinds of things, actually.

15 responses to Tom Bihn Synapse 19 and 25 Backpack Review

  1. I am a sucker for new bags. Been rocking a Timbuk2 messenger for a year or so and ready for a change. Bags look legit. Great review.

  2. I’m a professor, and I am tired of my heavy, leather bag. I need to get with the “cool people”, and sport a new backpack! Thanks for the great review! I really like the little bags for miscellaneous things. It looks like the bag could help me be organized!

  3. With four kids and two adults who can’t ever seem to banish the need for bringing “stuff” on outings, we are always hungry for a new backpack. Great review of this one!

  4. Looking for a new backpack for some upcoming travels. It looks like a great carry on!

  5. looks like it’d be great for jaunts around town!

  6. My husband is always looking for new bags. I think he has more duffle bags and back packs than I do shoes!

  7. I could really, REALLY use this bag!

  8. Great review! I can’t decide between the Synapse 19 or the 25, but your video did push me towards the 19. Thanks.

  9. The 25 looks like it would be a perfect personal item for flying. It’s all about the pockets!

  10. I hold Tom Bihn in high regard as a designer for starters. I travel a lot for work and have adopted the one bag carry-on only approach to flying. This bag would be perfect in that respect.

  11. Nice review! I have the same Olive S25 and love it. Holds so much and is so efficiently designed. Well worth the cost.

  12. Awesome review! Both bags seem great. What really impressed me is how quickly you got the straps off. I have two hands and those kind of things kick my butt every time! My daughter doesn’t even let me try car seat straps any more. LOL My brain just doesn’t work well with that concept I guess.

  13. I accidentally watched this video twice! I thought today’s was a new post! Well, turning 50, yep, the BIG ONE! didn’t help my mind! I would love to win this backpack! I would probably be the best salesperson for the company, since I have about 200 students a semester! LOL Thanks again for the video! YOU ROCKED IT! (TWICE!)

  14. Had fun reading/watching this!

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