• Storage and Organization 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Durability 90% 90%

Price: $220

Dimensions: 20x13.4x9.1”

Weight: 2lbs (for the 525D nylon version)

What We Like: Design quality and waterproof zippers

What We Don’t: Center-mounted hydration

Tom Bihn has created what can only be a cult following with their products. So please do not let this humble gear reviewers’ opinion rattle any cages. The Synapse 25 is an excellent backpack, however at $220, it is quite expensive. There are great pockets on the exterior for organization, and the material and design are top-notch. The pocket that confuses us the most is the center-mounted hydration pocket. It is able to hold a hydration bladder, but if you have a water bottle in there, you need to take the bag off every time you need a drink. There is also the fact that for the pack to be at its absolute peak level of performance, you would need to purchase 3-5 separately sold Tom Bihn accessories to go along with the bag. We like our packs ready to hit the streets right out of the shop!
We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!

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Tom Bihn has an almost frightening following because people really love their products. Designed, manufactured, and produced in the USA by a small 47 person team out of Seattle, Washington, Tom Bihn products are—in a way—all truly one of a kind. The customization that is allowed with their products shows that each pack is made for each customer. The Synapse 25 is available in 11 colors, and the interior color can be changed depending on the exterior color. It is very hard to find that type of customization in backpacks due to the usual need for “mass production.” The cost of the design and manufacturing quality does show in the price though, as the Synapse sits at $220, but for a backpack with a lifetime guarantee, we thought it was worthwhile to see if it is worth it.
Best Everyday Carry Backpacks: Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack - Gear Hacker

Storage and Organization

It only takes one look at their website to understand that the people who make these backpacks care about their customers. They seem to really want all online consumers to understand their packs before they make a purchase. The 18 paragraph description of the pack and all of its features is not exactly a page turner, but it shows that they want their consumers to fully understand the product.

Best Everyday Carry Backpacks: Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack - Gear Hacker
Lets see if we can summarize and point out the great features of this bag. There are five pockets along the front of the pack. The center and topmost pocket is their “hydration” pocket, which is large enough to hold a 1-liter water bottle or hydration bladder. There is a clip on the shoulder straps for the hose as well. Below this pocket, there is a small zippered pocket for small valuables such as keys and wallets.
On the “wings” of the front of the pack, there are two vertical zippered pockets that have added interior storage for pens, pencils, or small cameras etc. Finally, at the bottom, there is a large zippered pocket that is surprisingly deep and would happily hold extra layers or larger items such as a first aid kit or even a smaller DSLR camera. Think of all the stuff you’re already storing, and that is only on the front of the pack!
Best Everyday Carry Backpacks: Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack - Gear Hacker
In the main compartment, there is ample room for your larger items as well as a 15” laptop that would run on the included “rail loops” that work very well with the Tom Bihn Cache (sold separately). The Cache’s are laptop or tablet cases that attach to the rails and make for seamless entry and exit out of the pack. There is an open top pocket in the main compartment as well for additional storage.
Tom Bihn and their consumers also love O-rings. These handy little things help attach additional Tom Bihn accessories to the pack for increased security and storage (items are sold separately).
We tried to make this short and sweet, but the functionality and adaptability of this pack feels almost limitless. Personally, we are not the biggest fan of the center mounted hydration pocket, but after some getting used to, it probably is just fine.
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Comfort

Boasting a HDPE frame and an adjustable aluminum stay, the backpanel suspension is quite comfortable. The backpanel is made with closed cell foam with an exterior of mesh and nylon for comfort and breathability, and the combination of the mesh and nylon does not disappoint.
With the Synapse 25, there is also a removable and quite thin hipbelt. The hipbelt will help to distribute the weight and keep the pack secure during outdoor adventures. The shoulder straps are slightly contoured for a more comfortable fit around the neck and shoulders.
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Material and Durability

Tom Bihn has opted to offer both a 400D Halcyon and a 525D High Tenacity Ballistic Nylon as the materials for this pack. At the time of writing, only the 525D Nylon was available as the exterior material with a 200D Halcyon as the internal material. The 525D does make the pack slightly heavier but more durable and better suited for outdoor pursuits.
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All of the zippers on the pack use YKK Aquaguard water repellent zippers, which are super durable and able to keep your gear dry in a light rainstorm. Tom Bihn packs are made to last and this is no exception. Take one look at their website, and you’ll understand where we are coming from.

The Bottom Line

If it weren’t for the price, $220, this pack would definitely be my go to EDC backpack. The bag is manufactured in the US and comes with a lifetime guarantee. However with any backpack, our needs change, and my needs for a bag changes rapidly—so I struggle to buy one that costs so much.

Best Everyday Carry Backpacks: Tom Bihn Synapse Backpack - Gear Hacker

There is no doubt that the build, material, and organization quality is world class. The exterior organization is great, and with some added Tom Bihn accessories, this pack can really be used for any activity—indoor or outdoor. Overall, this pack is certainly one of the easiest to organize and will carry everything, but there are just a few things—like the center mounted hydration pocket—that we find confusing.

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We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!