Tom Bihn Synik 30 Review | Innovative One Bag Travel Backpack (New & Updated Synapse 25)

Tom Bihn Synik 30 Review | Innovative One Bag Travel Backpack (New & Updated Synapse 25)

– The Tom Bihn Synik is a
30 liter travel backpack that is the next iteration
of the Tom Bihn Synapse. This is the 30 liter version, and Tom Bihn also has a 22 liter version. In this video we will
be focused on the 30. I’m Tom, the founder of Pack Hacker where we use our expertise
and real world experience to provide practical
resources and honest opinions guiding you towards smarter travel. So if you’re new to the
channel, consider subscribing. Let’s jump right in to the Synik 30, a bag that I have been testing
for the past 3 weeks in Detroit, Michigan, and
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Let’s jump in. (energetic music) The name Synik comes from a
bit of a joke over at Tom Bihn. So there’s a guy over there
named Nik, he’s the COO, a designer, and programmer,
and there’s a bit of a joke that his name has to be in
every product that he produces. He created a wallet in 2018
called the Minimalist Wallet and of course it was called
the Nik’s Min|imalist Wallet. So you take the Synapse and
then you take the name Nik, marry those two together and
you come up with the Synik. Overall, the Synik looks
very similar to the Synapse. So similar in fact, that
Tom Bihn has actually moved the Tom Bihn logo
down to the bottom right. So on other previous
iterations of this bag it’s in the top middle right here, and that may be a little bit unnerving for fans of Tom Bihn, we
personally like the look of it down there, it’s a
little bit less obvious, but your mileage may vary, may take some getting used to as well since it is a new position for the logo. We polled our Instagram audience
to see what they thought of the aesthetic of this bag, if you want to be a part
of that for future polls be sure to head over
and follow @packhacker. We also add those results
to individual review pages, so be on the lookout for those. Tom Bihn is decently underground,
making all their products right here in the USA. I feel like if you’ve
heard of Tom Bihn or you’re a Tom Bihn fan, or you
have one of the bags, you are really into bags,
and some of the times when I’m at the airport traveling around I see somebody wearing a Tom Bihn bag, I like to ask them about it. Never once have I ever talked to anybody that’s not really excited
about the bag that they have. So Tom Bihn has a really great community and a really great support
system of followers that really dig their bags. From a travel perspective,
the overall look of this bag is a little bit round and
kind of an oval shape. Now when you think of
optimized carry-on travel a lot of the times you’ll
think of more rectangular bags, the bags that are sitting up behind me. And this creates a very ergonomic
carry and a great design, but you sacrifice a little bit
of space going on in the bag, you can’t really just jam
this thing out with a bunch of different packing cubes
similar to some of those bags on the wall behind me. That being said, we are
pleasantly surprised with how much the Synik 30 holds. A lot of these pockets
on the outside, the looks can kind of be deceiving based on where the zippers are placed, and
the size of the zippers. A lot of the times you
get these pockets open and there’s a lot more room
inside than you’d expect. And the bag kind of
shifts and forms based on the amount of gear on the inside. The main fabric on our version of this bag is a 525D ballistic
nylon, and the interior is a 200D halcyon. We love the interior liner
because of its durability. So the ripstop going
on here, if you do get a small rip in here,
those lines will prevent an additional larger rip from happening. Depending on the color that
you choose for the interior, the visibility is probably
pretty high when contrasted with darker gear, so it
makes everything really easy to see what’s going on inside. And lastly it is a little bit softer, little bit more kind
of rubbery to the touch compared to a swishier ripstop nylon of around 200 denier,
so we like that as well. Wrapping up the rest of the
notable materials on this bag, these shoulder straps have
an EV50 half-inch padding going on, they’re super
comfortable, dense and thick. Duraflex, Nexus, and Woojin
hardware is used throughout on this bag, all solid hardware brands. And lastly, big beefy
YKK AquaGuard zippers for additional weather protection. If you want more of the
nitty-gritty on the specific technical details of this bag,
be sure to click on the link in the description below,
head over to our product page, everything is listed for you there. (energetic music) Kicking it off with the
harness system in the back, the EV50 half-inch foam padding here, one of the most
comfortable shoulder straps that I have used to date, especially for a bag of this size. Now, some would say that this
is a little bit of an overkill for a pack of this size,
but if you are carrying a bunch of heavy camera gear and tech gear you really can’t go wrong. And who’s going to complain
about more comfort? There are no low lifters
at the top of this bag, so a lot of the times that
can kind of pull the pack a little bit closer to your upper back and prevent sag, but
it’s not really needed due to the size and shape of this bag. It’s a little bit more
ergonomic, you don’t really need those low lifters at the top of the bag. Moving down the straps, we
have a properly attached sternum strap that is
semi-permanently anchored. We love that this is securely fastened. A lot of other bags that we
review kind of do this halfway, and it can be easy to
lose a sternum strap, we’ve lost a ton of them when testing bags with sternum straps that
aren’t quite attached as well as this one. The shoulder straps
themselves are pretty standard and easy to adjust,
again the same note here. We wish there were elastic
keepers to help manage this excess strap a little bit more and clean it up a little bit. At the bottom of the bag there are two loop attachment points
on the inside of the straps that can be used for either
a waist belt or a hip belt, Tom Bihn has a ton of options
over there on the site. And again, I really love the
amount of customizability that you can do with a lot of their bags. Seems like no two Syniks will be the same. The padding on the back
is quite comfortable, you have air mesh at
the top here, and then a lower denier nylon at the bottom. Next up we have a frame sheet between the back panel and the
main part of the bag. That just sticks in this little slot here. Big improvement on the
Synapse, which used to have that frame sheet on the inside. The frame sheet adds a bit of structure and helps the bag stand up on its own. I’m a little bit taller at six foot two with a 19 and 1/4 inch torso. For me, I did notice the
bottom of the frame sheet kind of getting stuck
between my belt and my pants but that only happened
just a couple times. So just something to note,
when you do have that frame sheet in there, that extra structure and you’re a taller person,
since this bag isn’t super long it may get caught in your pants. Next up in the exterior, this
top handle which is great and a really great
improvement in iteration compared to the other previous bags. First Tom Bihn just started
with a nylon strap up here, pretty standard, basically
the same material as you see on these straps. Then, on the next iteration
they took that strap material, folded it in half and sewed it to add a little bit of padding. And now there seems to be
about a 1/4 inch thick padding here on the sides, sandwiched in between two pieces of ballistic nylon. This is a big improvement
on the handle overall, way better than the previous
iterations of the pack and again, this just goes to show that Tom Bihn is constantly iterating, improving, and just
making their packs better. And then lastly, at the
bottom of the bag there is an additional attachment
point for a guardian light that they sell, great for
bikers, you could also get away with attaching
additional accessories as well. Another bonus of this
loop at the bottom here is that it makes a great
handle to pull the bag in and out from under an airplane seat. Generally with the
wedge shape of this bag, it’s way easier to put this
under the airplane seat with this side going forward first. (energetic music) Kicking it off with the quick
access pocket on the top, there’s about eight inches
of vertical space here. Pretty much the perfect size
for a quick grab pocket. Great if you’re just
going through the airport, need to take everything
out of your pockets, quickly stuff it inside of here. Also there’s an o-ring at the
top, and Tom Bihn has hidden a lot of these throughout the pack to attach additional accessories, such as their smaller organizer
pouches, things of that nature. We found it really nice to
attach to the o-rings here, and kind of let those organizer
pouches hang out of the bag while we’re using them in day to day use. There are a total of 11 o-rings
going on across the pack, there was one in the water bottle pocket, one in the small middle pocket, one in the left pocket, one in the right pocket, three in the bottom pocket, and four in the main compartment. One thing about the zippers here is that they are YKK
AquaGuard, and on this small quick grab pocket specifically it’s a number eight YKK AquaGuard zipper. And with that AquaGuard
protection it really helps to keep moisture out, but
it can make the zipper a little bit more stiff, especially while breaking
in the pack initially. For me personally I was at the airport, kind of running through the airport holding onto the bag
with one hand (bag zips) and it is a little bit hard to zip and unzip this pocket quickly. It’s much better to set the bag down, grab onto the fabric on the sides, and zip and unzip the bag. Just to illustrate how hard
this zipper is to zip up compared to some other zippers, we’ll compare it to the
Mystery Ranch Zoid Cell we got last week in the mail. That thing has a super
smooth zip, one of the smoothest that we’ve seen. This will definitely break in with time and it’s not really that big of a con, more of a small note. Directly behind the quick
access pocket, we have a centered, mesh-lined water
bottle pocket going on here. We like that the water
bottle pocket is centered to evenly distribute the weight
of a larger water bottle, not a lot of bags do this. The stretchy mesh on the interior walls to accommodate larger
bottles, or make these side pockets a little
bit larger if you want to kind of stretch them in. We found this to be a
great place to store the clear-windowed 3D organizer
pouch from Tom Bihn using that as a toiletry bag here. Ideal place for it, too, since you can take it out easily at airport
security if that’s needed. Moving on to the two side pockets here, they’re really easy to access if you swing the bag around
the front of your body, you can kind of open those up
and get a great look inside while you’re still
halfway wearing the bag. Both of these side
pockets are a lot larger than meets the eye as well,
so the interior of this pocket is actually kind of this big, even though the zipper seems a lot smaller. So once you get into the
interior of the pocket, there’s a lot more room than you’d expect. The right pocket features
a single liner pocket with a wide open space. We’ve been placing keys and sunglasses and other small accessories
inside of this pocket. Left-hand side offers
the same liner pocket, but with three divisions
in it for things like pens, pencils, styluses,
and travel sporks. Each one of these pockets
features an o-ring as well so on the right-hand side
it’s really great for keys with a key chain,
and the left-hand side we have one of Tom Bihn’s small clear organizer
window pouches as well. Moving on to the bottom
pocket, again some really great and generous space going
on here, we’ve sort of dedicated this to being
the tech pocket on the bag. A MacBook Pro charger will stuff inside of this thing quite easily. If you don’t want to manage
the wires, that’s totally fine. We have the side winder
going on, which makes things a lot more manageable, but
if you just want to stuff you know, cords in here,
that’s totally cool too. And then there are three o-rings going on at the bottom here, great to include those smaller pouches. With tech gear you can kind of separate, organize everything out
and sort of pull them out and hang them outside of the bag when you need access to them. We’ve even found that
the Roost laptop stand fits in here horizontally, although it does make the
bag shape a little bit weird. But that’s just an indicator
as to how much space is actually inside of this pocket compared to the smaller zipper. So there’s a ton of room outside of the width of that zipper. And saving the best compartment for last, the thing that is so
special about the Synik, the main clamshell compartment. If you’re a fan of the
Synapse, you’ll know that that was a horseshoe zip, kind of made it a little bit hard to see exactly what’s going on inside of the bag. The Synik opens up fully clamshell-style, there’s a couple of great things going on inside of the main compartment as well. First there are o-rings and nylon loops at the top on the front
flap of the compartment. There is a padded bottom on the exterior right where the two zippers end. There are removable compression
straps where they kind of push button buckle, that’s really useful on the interior of the pack. And lastly, there are two o-rings near the top compartment
of the straps as well. Moving on to the laptop
compartment, there is a big improvement on the Synik compared to the Synapse as well. On the Synapse there was
this laptop cache concept, and it was a little bit better in thinking compared to in practice. With this laptop compartment they’ve gone a little bit more integrated. It’s accessible from
the interior, so there’s a zipper towards the top
that’s easily accessible. Really great if you’re pulling
the bag from under your seat, especially if you’re in a middle seat and you’re kind of space constrained. Pull the bag out, fold the top part of this fabric down a little bit, and then slide the laptop out of the top. Lastly, you can use the
dedicated side access zipper to get your laptop in and out as well. A 15-inch MacBook Pro goes in
and out of here very smoothly. The entire pocket is lined
with a slightly padded mesh material, and we think
this is a much better solve than the laptop cache that
we’ve seen in the past. (focused music) At the time of this review,
I’ve personally been testing the Tom Bihn Synik 30
for the last three weeks in Detroit, Michigan and
Minneapolis, Minnesota, including two domestic flights. The main compartment was filled out with a suit folded two times in a garment bag at the bottom for a wedding. The top compression strap
was attached and tightened to keep everything nice and secure. Below that, I used a Tom
Bihn Tri-star packing cube filled with other clothing
needed for the trip. This is a great packing cube for bags like the Synapse and Synik because it is a little bit thinner
than other packing cubes. And once you get inside
of that main compartment, thinner is typically better so you can hold more items inside. Then, the bottom compression
strap is used to hold in that Tri-star packing
cube and suit together. A keyboard and a laptop
stand were put into the front mesh stretch
pocket on the interior, which I still think is a
little bit awkward to use. And there is still plenty of room inside of the main compartment,
especially towards the top where the packing cube ends. No issues with durability so far, time will tell if anything does happen. We don’t expect to have too
many issues with the Synik considering we didn’t
really have any issues with the Synapse, and the
two bags are quite similar. Plus, all of the Tom Bihn
bags are hand-made in the USA. Tom Bihn takes a lot
of pride in their craft and they really make quality items. Not to mention having a
great warranty to back it up if anything does go wrong, that they honor with people as well. So to wrap this thing up
with some pros and cons, starting with the pros, there is a bunch of considered organization
going on throughout the pack. The ergonomic, intuitive design just feels really great to use. And there are some awesome options for customization and additional accessories. On to some of the cons, the rounder size isn’t optimal for complete
space optimization for carry-on travel. The interior, stretch divider
pocket is a bit cumbersome. And lastly, a small nitpick, but we wish Tom Bihn included elastic keepers to help manage the
excess straps on the bag. (focused music) Tom Bihn has taken the
Synapse, an already great bag and improved it even more than they have in previous iterations
to create the Synik. Although we have a couple of
small nitpicks with the bag the pros greatly outweigh the cons. If you’re the type of
person that likes bags with a lot of organization, options for a bunch of customization, and don’t need a giant rectangle for completely optimal carry-on travel, the Tom Bihn Synik 30
is an excellent choice. So there you have it, our review on the Tom Bihn Synik 30. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below on this video. Thanks for keeping it here at Pack Hacker, your guide to smarter travel. We’ll see you in the next video.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. I know I keep saying this, but if they brought these upgrades (laptop and straps) to the A30 I would buy in a heart beat. Not a fan of the Synapse/Synik look.

  2. Looks like your wearing a turtle shell on your back. Also its a little on the heavy side when empty. Need more bags under 1kg.

  3. Great review guys. I was curious about this evolution of the synapse. The design is still a bit strange but the synapse was awesome to use, so I think it will be the same for this one.

  4. This bag just doesn't fit my taste I guess.. Btw what about the new Mistery ranch Urban assault 24l. Would be nice to see a video about that bag imo.

  5. Excellent review. I wonder if the Peak Designs packing cubes would fit well inside. After watching this it made me wish that you had reviewed the Brain Bag from Tom bihn. Wondering which of these is a better one bag travel solution.

  6. You show an 8 inch depth for the bag, but TB's website indicates 10.8. This could be a problem for a lot of international airlines.

  7. The design isn't as good as an aer travel or peak design… But there is something about this brand. It exudes confort and practical above all else. Also somehow doesn't seem to care about marketing bs or hype.

  8. I like everything about this bag besides the look. Don't think I can get past that though, this thing is truly hideous in my opinion. Out of all the backpacks reviewed on this channel, I think nearly all are more aesthetically pleasing than this one. The shape of the bag combined with the big logo patch just makes for an overall very ugly look.

  9. How is it possible that the Synik 22 and Synapse 19 have the same dimensions when the former is 3L bigger? Where does the added capacity come from? šŸ¤”

    I was hoping the 22 would be slightly bigger in size as the 19 looked really small.

  10. Hi, Tom, great video and review as always. I'm on the fence with this bag… I'd like to get it as a gym bag/one bag travel bag, but the depth dimensions of 10.8in have me worried that the bag will not be carry-on compliant once fully packed out for many airlines that have the 22x9x14 rules. Does this seem an issue to you? Thanks.

  11. I have the synapse and it's definitely one of the best bags in terms of organization. Yes, its not very aesthetically pleasing, but it works as theft-deterrent, especially when you're staying in cheap hostels. LOL

  12. Tom. If your house (or wherever that wall of backpacks is) was on fire and you can only save one backpack, which one are you going to save ?

    I have purchased the GR2 and it comes on Friday but I recently discovered your channel and have been watching your reviews on other backpacks and Iā€™m wondering if I made the right choice.

  13. Just need to say that I love your channel! In all of my days of researching travel gear and backpacks, I wish I would've stumbled upon this channel sooner.
    Your brand is super clean. I love the format of your video, your blogs, your Instagram polls, and you express a genuine concern for people who want honest reviews of travel gear. You listen to your audience, too, which is awesome.
    Even though I already discovered the backpack that fits my needs (thanks to your channel!), I still watch every second of your videos because I always feel like I'm learning something new about minimalist traveling, efficiency, and organization. Every video is insightful and generates new ideas for me.
    Thank you for making these videos. Everyone involved in this channel is an all-star and you have my undying support.

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