UPDATE 08/02/16 Here’s a video review of this bag: https://youtu.be/BrhnhjxM7xE

As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to challenge myself to traveling lighter and lighter. During my last trip, I felt as though I had pared down to the very basics which I carried in my Deuter Act Trail 28 backpack. Although there was only one item that I didn’t use, I still felt as though I could try harder to pack lighter.

My decision to purchase the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 was one that I made after days of research. I watched YouTube videos, read blog posts, and scoured the Internet for reviews. I decided to make the purchase even though it was beyond what I wanted to pay for a small backpack. In order to justify my purchase, I decided to use it for my everyday carry to work until my next trip.

For this packing challenge, I loaded the backpack with all the things I’d want to take on a weeklong trip.  I won’t have my own transportation, but this trip will be to a major US city, so I won’t have to pack like I did when I went to Cuba last year.

First, let’s just marvel at the craftsmanship of this bag. It is very well-made, and I believe it will last until I pass it on years from now.

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The Synapse is loaded with great organizational features, including pockets that look small but hold lots of stuff. Let’s start with the bottom pocket which is holding a pair of flat sandals (size 10), my favorite body wipes by ShowerPill, a Chico Bag (for dirty clothes, shopping, whatever), deodorant (which wouldn’t fit in my stuffed toiletry bag), and a first aid kit.


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Shoes are wrapped in plastic and placed underneath these items.

There are two side pockets which are designed to go inward (rather than creating an outward bulge) but don’t affect loading the main compartment. On one side I have a Moleskine journal, medicine box, jewelry, washi tape, and calligraphy markers.

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All nestled inside one of the side pockets.

On the other side, I have a bag of ginger chews, gum, backup camera battery, hand wipes, a Perfect Bar, and LaraBars.

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There’s a large pocket in the front which is designed to carry a 0ne-liter water bottle. Instead, I stuffed it with a makeup bag and “miscellaneous” bag.


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Getting ready to stuff it in.

On the very outside is a small pocket designed for quick access items.

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The main compartment has a large pocket designed for a laptop. I put a few disinfecting wipes in there but nothing else because I needed the main space for my packing cubes.

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Packing cubes fully loaded with the above.

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Toiletry bag on top of the packing cubes.

Pardon the bathroom selfie, but I wanted to show just how small this bag is. Everything you see above is packed into this bag!

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The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 fully loaded.

Below are the things that will have to go into my cloth tote bag:

  • wristlet purse
  • baggie of liquids
  • water bottle
  • camera
  • iPhone

Here’s what my liquids baggie almost always contains:



I’m pretty sure that I won’t be going any smaller than this in my future trips, but I’m sure that won’t stop me from buying another bag when the next latest, greatest bag rolls around.