Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse19 backpack on a male model
Credit: Tom Bihn

Our Verdict

4.7/5
The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 is a great everyday carry with top-notch organization, an ergonomic design and high-quality build.

Pros

  • High quality

A trademark of Tom Bihn, this backpack is super durable and features very comfortable harness system.

 
  • Water-resistant

The exterior and interior of the bag is water resistant and features water repellent YKK zippers.

 
  • Spacious and highly organized

Despite its 19L capacity, there are enough space for all your stuffs and lots of organization going on throughout the pack.

  • Ergonomic design

The Synapse is comfortable to use thanks to edgeless straps, removable waist straps and a solid harness system.

 
  • Customizable to taste

There are awesome options for customization and additional accessories like packing cubes and cache for your laptop.

 
  • Versatile

You can use it as an everyday carry, hiking, travel, and literally every other thing.

 
  • Color varieties

There are lots of colors designs you can choose from to better suit your taste.

  • Lifetime warranty

Should your bag develop issues, Tom Bihn has a lifetime warranty in which they’ll repair any manufacturing defects at no cost to you.

Cons

  • Pricey

At over $200, it’s not the best option for those on a tight budget.

 
  • Lacks false bottom to protect your laptop

Unless you buy the extra laptop cache from Tom Bihn, your gear isn’t protected from drops.

  • Not stylish

If you are after a backpack that is fashionable, well, this bag isn’t it.

  • Quite small

This 19L capacity bag can be a tight fit if you tend to pack a lot.

 
  • Extra accessories

While it’s advisable you buy extra accessories from Tom Bihn that works seamlessly with the bag, they come at extra cost to you.

 

Pros

  • High quality

A trademark of Tom Bihn, this backpack is super durable and features very comfortable harness system.

 
  • Water-resistant

The exterior and interior of the bag is water resistant and features water repellent YKK zippers.

 
  • Spacious and highly organized

Despite its 19L capacity, there are enough space for all your stuffs and lots of organization going on throughout the pack.

  • Ergonomic design

The Synapse is comfortable to use thanks to edgeless straps, removable waist straps and a solid harness system.

 
  • Customizable to taste

There are awesome options for customization and additional accessories like packing cubes and cache for your laptop.

 
  • Versatile

You can use it as an everyday carry, hiking, travel, and literally every other thing.

 
  • Color varieties

There are lots of colors designs you can choose from to better suit your taste.

  • Lifetime warranty

Should your bag develop issues, Tom Bihn has a lifetime warranty in which they’ll repair any manufacturing defects at no cost to you.

Cons

  • Pricey

At over $200, it’s not the best option for those on a tight budget.

  • Lacks false bottom to protect your laptop

Unless you buy the extra laptop cache from Tom Bihn, your gear isn’t protected from drops.

 
  • Not stylish

If you are after a backpack that is fashionable, well, this bag isn’t it.

 
  • Quite small

This 19L capacity bag can be a tight fit if you tend to pack a lot.

  • Extra accessories

While it’s advisable you buy extra accessories from Tom Bihn that works seamlessly with the bag, they come at extra cost to you.

 

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 Review

I know how challenging it can be to find a backpack that ticks all the right boxes. After all,  a well-made bag has to be comfortable, easy to organize, durable and versatile for different occasions.

Depending on what you look out for in a backpack, you might also find certain criteria more important than others. 

Still, the benefits of a high-quality backpack you can trust to stay rugged for a long time are undeniably appealing.

With that being said, this Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review is a detailed analysis of the pack, including its perks and drawbacks so you can make an informed purchase.   

To make this Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review conclusive, I have included details about its construction, quality, features, and even views of users who have used the bag.  

Without further ado, let’s dive into my Tom Bihn Synapse19 review.   

Tom Bihn in a snapshot

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn about us image
Credit: Tom Bihn

The Tom Bihn brand was conceived when a 10-year-old Tom made a bag for himself in his father’s garage workshop.

And since 1972, Tom Bihn has been producing sturdy, efficient and comfortable travel bags, slings, backpacks and briefcases that please their many customers.

Tom Bihn with his 47 employees design and manufacture all their bags and accessories from their warehouse located in Seattle, Washington. 

Being a certified B Corporation, their production and work ethics meet environmental standards.

A member of the 1% For The Planet, they donate 1% of their gross sales to environmental non-profits groups working on sustainability, renewable energy, reforestation and wildlife issues.

Over the years, the company has been known for making high quality bags with the best materials that stand the test of time. 

Table of Contents

Design & Quality

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack front view
Credit: Tom Bihn

Tom Bihn makes very quality backpacks that are loved by many travelers and backpack enthusiasts alike and the Synapse 19 backpack is no exception. 

It is a nicely designed pack with high quality materials, useful features and multiple clever pockets and O-rings for organizing all your stuff.

However, if you are looking for a backpack that is fashionable, well, you will be a bit disappointed as you may not be attracted to the overall look and aesthetic of the Synapse 19.

It spots a simple Tom Bihn logo pasted on the front and a turtle-like shape with five pockets on the exterior and a rugged look to it that’s unlikely to fetch you compliments.

But what this bag lacks in looks, it more than makes up in material, feel and features that’ll make using the bag a bliss.

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack color collections
Credit: Tom Bihn

It makes for a comfortable carry, from the padded back, to the shoulder straps, everything feels balanced just right when it’s loaded up.   

TheTom Bihn Synapse 19 comes in over 7 colorways—which include different exterior and bright interior colors liners that helps you find things more easily in the dark.

However, not all the colors are available, so be sure to go check those out on the product listing page if you want to see all the options.

What’s more? 

The Tom Bihn Synapse backpack comes in two sizes – The 19L and 25L versions, the latter being the best option if you’re looking for something bigger.

Materials & Construction

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack front and back view
Credit: Tom Bihn

First off, the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 is made in the USA with high quality materials that are not only bluesign® approved but also a solid choice for heavy duty uses and even short trips.

So you can choose what works for you, the Synapse 19 is available in three different super tough fabrics – 400D Halcyon, Ballistic nylon or 1000D Cordura.

As a result, the exterior is made with either a nylon ripstop or ballistic while the interior is lined with a 200D Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric that can withstand the demands of heavy loadings and are resist to tear and scuffs.

In addition, the bag is water resistant and even comes with water repellent YKK zippers which add some additional protection from the elements.

Other components include hardware from Duraflex, Nexus and Woodjin buckles, all known for their supreme quality.

For comfort, you get EV50 half-inch dense padding in the shoulder pads, with padding and Spacer mesh in the back panel which help with breathability. 

In addition, there’s an internal frame that helps maintain the structure of the bag, a removable waist/sternum strap, snaphook key strap as well as a total of 8 O-rings to clip on extra gear. 

Although optional, there are accessories you can buy from Tom Bihn to get the most of the bag, from small organizational pouches, to laptop cache.

All in all, the Synapse 19 is carefully made with solid and durable materials that you can trust to survive years of use, but if anything goes wrong, you can bank on their great lifetime warranty.  

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack color collections

Fit & Comfort

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: Twitter image
Credit: Twitter

Because the shoulder straps are a big deal as far as comfort is concerned, the Synapse 19 features edgeless straps that conform comfortably to your shoulder and are made of well-padded foam.

Speaking of straps, you can choose to use the waist straps as well as the sternum straps that come with the bag. Using a waist strap distributes the load around your whole body instead of just your shoulders to avoid sore shoulders.

Since the straps are removable, and this is a small bag, you have the option to use only when your bag is packed full.  

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack back view with sternum and chest straps

Padded back panel with mesh

The back panel is a bliss. Well-padded with high quality closed-cell foam, it gives room for breathability and wearing comfort.

Aside all these, you also get a comfortable grab handle with a webbing loop with which you can hang the pack against the wall or attach additional accessories.

In addition, there’s the option to use a frame sheet so as to give the pack a little more structure, allows it to stand up straight and makes for a considerably more comfortable carry. 

Storage & Organization

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: Twitter image
Credit: Twitter

A fan of pockets? Well, the Synapse 19 exterior alone has 5 zippered pockets, and I really like how these pockets can hold a lot without eating into the main compartment while still retaining a compact carry silhouette.

O-rings
There are a total of 8 O-rings available in all the pockets, you can clip items like pouches, carabiners and other accessories sold by Tom Bihn to make you backpack easier to use.
You’ll see 2 in the main compartment, 1 in the top center pocket, 1 in the small center pocket, 2 in the bottom front pocket, 1 in the left front pocket and 1 in the right front pocket.

Two side pockets: Around the sides are two huge pockets equipped with a key strap, O-rings, and slots for a sunglass, cell phone, pens/pencils, wallet, snack etc.

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack with features

Two front pockets
At the center in front of the bag are two pockets to help you organize your items. The top center pocket is designed for holding water bottles and so is larger than the second pocket.

There are so many reasons to love this particular pocket: it’s very deep to accommodate even big bottle and you can use it for other things if you don’t fancy carrying around a water bottle.

Since it holds your water in place right at the center of the back, this helps in balancing the weight of your pack and is water resistant too, so if your bottle does leak, it doesn’t affect your valuables inside.

Bottom pocket
Deep and spacious, this is a great spot to fit your small accessories, chargers, or even an organizer pouch if you like. There are also two O-rings here where you can attach a pouch, key strap etc.
Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack loaded with contents

Main compartment
Located at the back is a spacious main compartment equipped with two O-rings, and water repellent YKK zippers that can fit a whole lot of large items without regret.  

Laptop sleeve: There’s a laptop sleeve in here that can fit a 13-inch laptop well and well as tablet.

However, I’m less than pleased with this design. For one, the laptop sleeve is not padded, especially at the bottom and that’s a huge risk for your expensive device, especially in cases of drop impact. Also, I expected a separate laptop compartment to better organize your tech gear, instead of stuffing everything into a big sack.

There are also four webbing loops to attach the optional Cache, a Freudian Slip, or an internal frame to add structure to the bag.

At 19L, it may not be the biggest bag but you’ll amazed at how much it can hold.

Tom Bihn Accessories

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 accessories

You may need to buy a few accessories separate from the bag to have optimal organization, protection of your gears and overall great experience using the bag.  They include the followings:

Cache

Available in different sizes from the ipad mini to the 11” Macbook Air, it’s well-padded to protect your gear and handy to just make life easier.

Also, it’s checkpoint friendly and makes it easier to reach for your device without bring out your laptop and all together solve the problem of the lack of false bottom protection for your device.

Freudian slip

It’s an add-on you’ll have to buy separately but it comes with organizational slips where you can organize your pens, notes, Kindle, iPhone etc.

Snake Charmer
A little pouch to keep and organize your cables or toiletry, you can stow it in the external side pocket or throw in the bottom compartment.

You can check out more accessories from Tom Bihn here.

Price

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: Twitter image

The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack is a well-made bag with an expensive price point.

In addition to that, you may have to buy two or more accessories, which are just extra cost, exclusive of the price of the bag.   

While they are not compulsory – you can use the bag without them- they are advisable to buy.

However, if you can afford them, you’ll get the bang for your buck.

Warranty

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: Twitter image

Tom Bihn stands behind the quality of the Synapse 19 bag with a Lifetime warranty.

If your bag gets damage as a result of manufacturing defects, the brand will fix it, at no cost to you.   

But if the damage is not the fault of the brand, Tom Bihn will repair it for you at a reasonable charge in their factory located in Seattle.

You can learn more about it here.

Users Thoughts/Reviews

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: Twitter image

From this Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review, we’ve been able to established how durable and well made the backpack is.

Users dig the Synapse 19 not only for its durability but also for other enviable features as well. It’s water-resistant, have decent pockets that are not bulky, but remain sleek and slim even when stuffed and a lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.

However, it could be better.

For one, it doesn’t have a separate laptop compartment and the one in the main compartment is not padded.

What’s more, the pack lacks a false bottom to protect your laptop (you’ll have to pay more for this basic preference) and that’s a huge let down in my book as it offers no protection for your expensive tech.

Also, the accessories like the Cache to protect your laptop comes at extra cost, bearing in mind that the Synapse 19 isn’t exactly cheap.

For a travel backpack, it can get a little too small and unless you plan to leave a lot of items behind, you’re better off with the Synapse 25 backpack.

That is why I have rated it a 4.7 out of 5 in this Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review. 

Alternative to consider: The Tom Bihn Synapse 25

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review: The Tom Bihn Synapse 25 backpack
Credit: Tom Bihn

Love the Tom Bihn Synapse 19 but want something bigger? Well, you’re in luck because the bag is available a 25-liter version and shares similar features and quality.

The Tom Synapse 25 however has some advantage over its 19 counterpart.

At 25L, it offers more space and room for organization and with more color options – 14 available colors!  Also, it comes with a separate tech compartment that fits a 15” laptop comfortably as well as a tablet.

All in all, it has all the great features of the Synapse 19 version, as detailed in this The Tom Bihn Synapse 19 review.   

I recommend the Synapse 25 as an everyday carry, (if you tend to carry a lot), as a one bag to use in a long-term trip, for taking hiking or to a beach.

Final Thoughts

You’ll be hard-pressed to find bags with better construction than the Tom Bihn bags.

Although not exactly built for style, it’s however built for comfort and organization, which makes it a versatile option as a work bag and travel.

Because of the quality and the lifetime guarantee from Tom Bihn, I’m confident in this Synapse 19 bag as a long-term investment, which gives  a great deal of confidence in using it often.

Having come to the end of my Tom Bihn Brain Synapse 19 review, it is now over to you.
What do you think about this bag and if you have owned a Tom Bihn Synapse 19 bag, what has been your experience with it?

Kindly leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’ll love to hear from you.

This article is not sponsored in any way by any company. This backpack have been independently selected by myself and my team. And the only thing I receive is a small commission from our affiliate program if you buy any of them through the links and buttons on this page. It doesn’t cost you a penny. But it really helps me out as this money goes to paying for maintaining the website, editing software, my time, team and everything else that goes into preparing this post.  

7 thoughts on “Tom Bihn Synapse 19 Review | A Sturdy Pack For EDC And Travel”

  1. Hi,

    Great review of Tom Bihn synapse bag. It is indeed very versatile and the range of colours means there’s a colour for whatever your thinking.

    The price is expensive if your not serious about the bag you need, it also depends on what your using it for?

    Just a bag for nothing in particular, it’s pricy.

    However, this looks an awesome bit of kit all the same.

    I use a Solomon Trailblazer for all my running and cross training.

    It’s comfortable, lightweight and well priced. Has plenty of storage and has done a great job with my off road running.

    Thanks for a through review.

    Great stuff

    Reply
  2. Great review. Finally a back pack that can accommodate accessories for just about anyone. The only issue I see is it definitely is an investment. I never expected it to be so expensive. I don’t mind spending premium dollars for a quality product. I need to think this is like a good set of luggage and I can get past it. Since they fly under the radar with style they trick you by not looking like a Coach or Gucci bag but I’m sure will last much longer than those pricey bags.
    Definitely worth looking into. Thanks for such a great and honest review!

    Reply
  3. Hi there, this is an excellent bag, it has all the major features I tend to look at when traveling. I prefer to travel with a backpack. I like that it has two sizes as the 19 l tends to be a little bit small for me, then again I guess it depends for what you use it for…

    The 8 o rings on the bag is very impressive and it looks like it has a lot of pockets. The durability and non rip is definitely a big plus in my eyes and I like the idea of a lifetime warranty.

    It seems that the zips do open half way but the bag is made to pack from the top when traveling I like bags that can be opened sideways. However, this bag has a very nice design and it’s padded as well.

    I have to say it is pricey but good bags tend to be.

    Thank you very much for sharing, I am definitely going to check it this out.

    Reply
  4. Hi Femi, Thank you very much for your review! I have to say I still prefer the black one because black looks more classy than the other colors.
    An enormous important point is the shoulder straps. I know from my backpacks that I had lots of problems with bad sitting shoulder straps and suffered much pain. I wouldn’t like that anymore, so this is an important factor for me. I think this bag is quite good, and the price isn’t a problem for me as long I have some quality that goes with me for years. I am very much in sustainability, and bags are products that should be our companion for decades. 🙂

    Reply
  5. I love the different colours available with Tom Bihn Synapse 19 backpack. It certainly has plenty of compartments to hold all your tech stuff. I would be a bit concerned at carrying my laptop though as there is no padding in the sleeve. However, the cache for ipad or mackbook looks to be a good investment. The snake charmer is another useful addition for storing cables. This would make carrying a mobile phone or laptop charger easier. I can imagine this backpack would be very useful for a weekend business trip. Thanks for sharing:)

    Reply
  6. Hi there Femi – this was a great overall review for this backpack! As someone who has used the same backpack for travel, work, and school for the past 15 years I haven’t really considered upgrading. The backpack I have now, while maybe not the most comfortable or efficient in how it holds items, does what I need it to. However, after reading this review, I may need to reconsider those thoughts as this backpack looks incredible with all the features you laid out. Like anything in life, you pay for great quality, and that seems to be true for Tom Bihn products. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  7. Wow! what a thorough review on this particular backpack Tom Bihn synapse 19.
    This backpack is made of good stuff and suitable for dare I say a ‘secret agent’!
    It is so versatile and holds many features.

    I love any type of bag that has many compartments for all sorts of things, and the added bonus is that it is water resistant, in case of water spillage.
    I don’t personally use a backpack, but if I had to grab hold of one this is right up there with the best of them. It is a bit pricey, but as the saying goes ‘you get what you pay for!’

    I would have been nice if there were more varieties in the range of colours, or patterns, as it stands they are a bit low key and not in your face, more like a working backpack or a simple hiking backpack, even so maybe that’s the safest option they don’t attract attention, less easy picking for muggers!

    All in all this is a great review you give an honest feedback, pointing out the pros and cons, a lasting product and is definately a keeper, that would last for ever!
    Thanks. for sharing Femi 🙂

    Reply

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