Tom Bihn, a brand that I have been following for many years. I have heard good things on their product and they explain in details on each product they design. I keep looking at is the Synapse 19, a backpack designed for day trip (which I usually do when I go hiking) but I didn't pull the plug to own it because of the look.

The Hike and Bike pack by Rawlow Mountain Works is what I would bring along when I go on hiking. 18L in capacity which is sufficient for carrying water, rain jacket and even my coffee making stuff. It is light and well balanced. I was reading some backpack news one day and came across the Synapse 19 again. One feature that I am especially fond of, is having a compartment for storing the water bottle in the middle. Usually, backpack are keeping the bottle on the side but I have to find a way to balanec out. Having it kept in the center like the Synapse ease my concern.

Pulled the plug finally and not long after placing my order, it's already sending across the ocean to my home in Asia. Apart from the backpack, I have ordered two pouches as well since another "theme" of this backpack is the abundance of compartment which equipped with o-ring for easier organisation. I want to try out their approaches of storing things - keep them in pouches which ties up to the o-ring for ease of pulling out. I bought a small one for keeping small item like the Airpod or lip balm and a bigger one for keeping my A5 written pad.

Hitting the road

Now is the time to hit the road with the new pack. Since it's just a short hike to the country park near by and thus, I only need to take along the essentials - water, snacks and also my kalimba.

The compartment and organization
This bag has 5 pockets, 2 on the sides, 2 at the top and one at the bottom. You can pick the material of the bag, as well as the internal lining. I choosed Halcyon for both the lightness, strength and looking. The different in colors between the bag and the lining makes it easier to spot the items.

As I have said, it is the centered placement of the water bottle that draws my interest to the bag and naturally, this is the first thing I tried. A 1L Naglene bottle can slipped in easily and on the above is a small pocket which I used to keep my keys.

I hooked the smaller pouch to one of the side pocket and a strap to the other one (which I could hook it up with the ring on my wallet). The side pocket is big and deep that I use it to keep a can of soft drink. And I like this side pocket even more after my trial because of the ease of access. When I need to get anything, I just need to swing my bag to the front. Together with the strap+o-ring, even smaller item can be pulled out easily.

I don't have stuff that needs to put in the pocket at the bottom. But I think it is a good design as it ease to pull the stuff that should put at the bottom easily (rain jacket, cooking utensil, etc).

The big compartment is also equipped with o-ring systems. One can hook it up with either a slip (they call it a FREUDIAN SLIP) or a laptop sized pocket. I have neither so I cannot comment. But it also has an internal sleeve which is big enough for my iPad Pro 12.9 inch.

Before putting in any stuff, the first difference I notice from my Hike and Bike is the weight (752g vs 300g). The weight difference comes from the padding on the shoulder strap and the back support, not to mention the use of material with internal lining.

The Synapse is comfortable to carry, because of both the shoulder pad and the center of gravity that is nicely positioned at my upper part. It has a cushioned back support which also offer an optional internal frame for those who prefer something more rigid. I opted not to use one since I don't like the feeling of having something stiff at my back.

For backpack of this size, I would prefer not having a waist belt and I am so glad that the waist belt is removable. It helps to reduce cluterness and also save several grams off the weight. The bag stays firm on my shoulder and it won't swing when I turn around. The only issue I have is I could feel the edge of my kalimba box on my back.

All in all

The bag makes uses of the 3 dimensions efficienly, growing up (center pocket) and sideways (the side pocket). Even the back is slightly slanted to make some more room at the bottom. It is nicely designed and a joy to use for a day trip. You might even bring it along as a second bag for a trip that last for several days.