Most people with a prepared mindset tend to carry a bag of some sort on a daily basis. Often this is called an EDC bag and what I like to refer to as 2nd Line Gear. Many use some sort of tactical type bag and as we've discussed before can be a bad thing. You want a bag that will help you blend into your surroundings. Today we will be reviewing the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 and in my opinion is the perfect Gray Man bag for most all situations.
Tom Bihn is a pack company dedicated to making utility driven bags built from quality components. They are also built here in the good ol' US of A. They have two version of the Synapse- the 19 and 25. I chose the 25, because its a little larger. I'm 6'1'' and around 215 lbs and it fits me well. The 25 also offers 30% more storage than the Synapse 19. The Synapse can be had in a few color options. I chose this Olive Codura because it can also blend into the wilderness if I need it to.
I have to say the quality of the pack is outstanding. Its tough but also lightweight. The Synapse 25 starts at $170 and upgrades can be had. One thing for sure, this pack will last a very long time.
The main compartment has tons of room and a elastic divider to separate items if needed. The interior of the Olive Codura has a gray grid pattern (called steel dyneema) and helps you find items in the pack.
There are 5 exterior pockets on the Synapse 25. The unique thing about these pockets is that they expand out. Most packs sacrifice interior space when they are used- this is not a problem with the Synapse 25. The bottom pocket is large enough to store a rain jacket or fleece; allowing it to be easily accessible if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
The left pocket has a key lanyard, a suede pocket to protect your iPhone, and plenty of room to add other items.
The right side has a few organization slots for things like flashlights, pens, folding knives, multi-tools, and firesteels. This will keep your essential EDC items organized and at hand.
An awesome feature of the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 is the top pocket bottle carrier. It will hold bottles a Nalgene and Kleen Kanteen with no problem. It holds the bottle upright and centers the load. Unlike most packs that have mesh pockets on the side that will weigh down one side.
All the zippers feature a Aquagaurd water repellent zippers. Similar to the kinds you find on high-end mountaineering jackets. Each zipper has a pull lanyard making them extremely quiet (adding to the covert factor-when stealth is needed).
Each Synapse 25 comes with a sternum strap. For $5 you can add a whistle integral buckle. The buckle comes in an orange and gray color (pictured here). The gray is somewhat subdued and will help you signal for help if you find yourself in a bad situation.
Another upgrade is the Guardian Dual Function light that attaches to the bottom tab of the pack. They offer red and white lighted versions. These lights have a steady and strobe light function. The red can be used to preserve your night vision as well as having a low light signature; when you need to be covert. The white can be used as a distress signal for when you need to be found or when light discipline isn't a problem. You can also use them for less tactical applications like when riding your bike through the city at night.
If your carrying heavier loads or moving quickly (running or biking)- the Synapse 25 has a removable waist strap to secure the pack close to your body.
For those of you techy types there is something known as a cache (and not like a survival cache) but to hold your tablet or net-book This is designed to hold your tech device higher in the pack (so you don't have to dig around at the bottom for it and also protect it. There is also a TSA friendly system that slides your device on a track out of the pack while still maintaining security of it.
Tom Bihn also offers various secondary pouches and sacks that help organize gear. I prefer the mesh ones, because I can visually account for my items as well as identify whats in them. All of these pouches have a clip that will attach to o-rings brackets that are inside each of the pockets on the Synapse.
Overall this pack is exactly what one needs for most EDC stuff. It offers survival signaling items as well as organization. It blends into the city and in the wilderness (if you get the subdued colors). After reading this you can see why I call it the perfect gray man pack.