The Tom Bihn Synapse backpack is a lightweight, ultra-sleek bag designed for day travel, hiking, or any outing where only the basic necessities are needed. It has a very efficient design that allows you to pack the bag to capacity without sacrificing organization or easy access. The Synapse I received to test was the Synapse 19, the smaller version of the Synapse 25. The Synapse comes in different fabrics and the one I received has an ultralight Dyneema/nylon ripstop exterior (Cordura nylon also available) with a Dyneema/nylon ripstop fabric lining. If you’re not familiar with Dyneema, it is the worldest strongest fiber; 15 times stronger than steel wire, 8 times lighter, and floats in water! It is also water resistant, heat-resistant, and UV-resistant. If this means anything, it means that this bag is tough!
The Synapse has six zippered pockets and all of them use Aquaguard waterproof zippers to protect your possessions.
The main compartment uses an elastic edged divider to create a separate pocket that is big enough for a netbook, books, IPad, etc. It allows the user to separate some of their items without sacrificing space. The other half of the main compartment is large enough for a large laptop, several large textbooks, or multiple pieces of clothing. There are also plastic attachment points inside of the Synapse which you can use to hang additional items with small carabiners, hooks, lanyards, etc. It utilizes a very simple design for optimal organization and works specially with Tom Bihn’s Cache with Rails for those who want added protection for their laptops.
The five remaining pockets on the Synapse are on the front of the bag. There are two pockets with small horizontal openings on the top center, one with a large horizontal opening across the bottom, and one on each side with a long vertical opening.
The first of the two top center pockets is deceptively deep. It is intended to be used with a water bottle and is deep enough to accommodate one up to one liter in size. I found that it also works very well with a small travel umbrella and try to keep one inside whenever I use the bag. The fabric keeps water from leaking through to other compartments, whether your bottle leaks or the umbrella is put in while still wet. The second pocket is located immediately below and is ideal for small items like a cell phone, wallet, keys, etc.
The bottom pocket stretches across the entire front of the bag and can be used to store a lightweight jacket or anything else you may want easy access to. It is comparable in size to many hip-packs and is easy to access while wearing the Synapse.
The two side pockets are utility pockets and are designed for the small odds and ends you carry with you. They are big enough for small travel notebooks (think Rite in the Rain), cellphones, paperback novels, etc. Both pockets have plastic rings to hang more of your gear, like a small flashlight, compass, keys, etc. The right pocket has a small interior pocket perfect for a cell phone and the left pocket has several pencil/pen holders. There was also a small lanyard hooked to one of the plastic rings when I received it, which can be used throughout the bag on the various attachment points.
The Synapse is a very comfortable bag. The back is padded with thick (1/4″) foam and covered in breathable mesh fabric. The model I was given came with removable straps for the sternum and waist to help stabilize heavier loads. I haven’t packed the bag with anything heavy enough to require the use of the straps, but I do keep them on just in case I need them. You can also outfit your bag with a special Whistle Sternum Strap, which as odd as it sounds contains a built in whistle in the buckle. While I found this a little strange, it could come in handy for someone lost in the wilderness or in other situations where help is needed. Another safety feature you can add on is a Guardian Dual Function Light. This light is perfect for cyclists and mounts securely on the front of the bag. I did not receive either of these items with the bag.
I found myself looking at the Synapse and getting excited over all of the little features that you don’t notice the first time around. It is a tough, functional bag that is beautiful to look at and when I needed a new bag recently, appearance meant a lot to me.
My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world several months ago and the thought of carrying a diaper bag around was a little discouraging to me. I’m not usually phased when I find myself crossing traditional gender lines, but when I saw the diaper bags (aka giant purses) that were on the market, I didn’t like what I saw. I knew I needed something that could carry the multitude of items that a new baby needs and that it needed to be something durable that could be washed and wiped down constantly. The toughness of the Dyneema fabric made the Synapse a perfect diaper bag or as Andreas calls it, a Tactical Sanitation Deployment Device. Since the TSDD is waterproof, it is very easy to clean when a bottle spills inside a pocket or a mystery substance is found on the outside.
I love the Synapse 19, my wife loves it, and so does my son. I recommend this product to anyone looking for a small travel backpack or their very own TSDD.
PS – Tom Bihn products are made in the U.S.A.. While I don’t discriminate against products made in other countries, I am always proud to use something made at home.
Please Note: This product was sent to me as a promotional item and these are my own views and opinions.
AS BOWS BECOME MORE ADVANCED, IS YOUR BOWPRESS ABLE TO KEEP UP?
Every year bow manufacturers are raising the bar. A weapon that originated in medieval and primitive times has now become more technologically-advanced for hunting, recreation, and competition. As we all are aware, innovation is on the “literal” drawing board every year. Designers are continually challenging the limits of limb technology with limb angle configuration, limb deflection, and we have seen parallel limbs and beyond parallel limbs. Riser materials have changed as well with the use of carbon fiber, which provides high tensile strength, has low thermal expansion and high temperature tolerance; all of these qualities and still has a high strength-to-weight ratio. Cam technology has evolved into solo cams with idler wheels, offering simplicity and forgiveness in performance and design; dual cams with hard draw stops for the archer who demands a rock-solid wall at full draw. I have even seen a bow with a range finder built right into the riser. Of course, not every innovation ends up being a success, but we always want to see more ideas!
Every year in January, at the Archery Trade Association Convention and Trade Show, members of the ATA, along with industry manufacturers and buyers, can get a sneak peek at what new innovation is going to be available to consumers in the upcoming months. Over the past two decades, I have seen a quantum leap in the hunting industry, especially in the bow hunting market. We are flooded with gadgets, doohickeys, thingamajigs, contraptions, apparatuses and gimmicks; and yes of course, things which all of us “need” in our quest for bow hunting or tournament success. And, the anticipation of being able to attend the annual ATA show to get a sneak preview is exciting enough to cause you to lose sleep, days before the show starts!
I’m going to cut right to the chase this year. I’ve seen some clever new things, and once in a while someone comes along and changes the industry. This year, a man from a new company, called Archery Tooling Corp. attended the 2013 ATA show for his first time and presented his new product. It’s called, the Spikepress™.
In an industry where two other major bow press companies dominate the entire archery and bow hunting business, after seeing what the Spikepress™ can do, you might say, it’s time to replace old technology with the new. That’s a very confident statement. But let me ask you something? Let’s start at the top-down in the archery industry with who I am asking this question to. Bow manufacturers, archery pro-shops, arrow rest manufacturers, bow string makers, bow technicians, crossbow companies, crossbow technicians and any entity, person, or organization which currently uses a bow press to make adjustments or repairs on a bow or crossbow.
AS BOWS BECOME MORE ADVANCED, IS YOUR BOWPRESS ABLE TO KEEP UP?
Before I made the decision to change this important piece of equipment, I needed to test what Spikepress™ was claiming. This was the picture that locked my interest and made me want to get more familiar with all of the other features. Take a look at the position where the press arms (grippers) is holding the bow and tell me that doesn’t look stable?
With the other bow press, we all know the contact point with the bow is at the limb tips, very near the cams, with 2 slim arms on each side, putting unequal pressure on a very high tension system, at its weakest points. As you begin to relax the string, you know this isn’t right but this is all that you have known, and it’s all that you have to work with, so if you’re an experienced bow technician, you better keep checking all 4 points of contact at the limb tips and making sure that first, the arms are initially positioned correctly and, second, as you begin to relax the string while pressing the bow, you might cringe at the cam(s) starting to turn and twist. Your next step would be to back out the press and re-adjust your arms a little bit more and try again, coming in for a straighter approach, and adjusting from there. This has worked for many years, what other choice did we have? Well, we didn’t, until now. There are other common problems.
COMMON PROBLEMS WITH EXISTING BOW PRESSES
Let’s take a look at the common problems with existing bow presses in the industry today.
Jumpers – Bows that jump either upwards or downwards out of a press due to the fact that the press was unable to properly secure the bow.
Point of Contact– The contact between the bow and press and the constant necessity to protect the bow from damage by maintaining the coating between.
Accidental Drop of Bow – Existing popular presses hold the bow strictly by pressure or friction. Releasing pressure results in the bow dropping to the ground and possible damage can occur.
Constant Search for Adapters – The new bows and old technology presses require adapters in order for the two to work together, and that includes custom-made FINGERS/ALTERING FINGERS/STRAPS and many other different gadgets to overcome the fact that the press used is not adequate to accommodate high-tech bows.
Cam Area Interference - All fingers and adapters bring up another issue which is the crowding of the cam area, blocking them interfering with adjustments and the maintenance required.
MEET THE SOLUTION, THE SPIKEPRESS™
The Spikepress™ is a true universal bow press capable of pressing any brand bow with any design, of any size and any shape – securely.
The main frame is constructed of professionally welded steel and is proficiently powder-coated for a durable finish. The “V” shaped telescopic construction ensures smooth and solid movement of the arm.
The press consists of a screwing mechanism that has been constructed and tested to withstand pressures way above limits that are used to compress any high-tension bow.
The press also consists of four pin retainers which are pivoted and have two sets of holes at different angles in order to accommodate any width and shape of limbs on the bow. They are made of steel and plated for rust prevention.
The four pins are made of ½” diameter 304 stainless steel. The “SPIKE” pins are machined with a reverse angle to allow the pivoting of the bow when it is being compressed. The four pins are also engaged with four grippers, holding the bow in place before and after the compression.
Spikepress™ comes with four spike pins, four grippers, four “L”-shaped pins (to aide in the transition from the older bows to the newer parallel and beyond parallel bows) and a ball-point hex driver.
Spikepress™ consists of a unique “pin system” which allows you to convert your bow press to a crossbow press just by using the crossbow attachments.
The Crossbow Package consists of four 12 3/4″ long spike pins, which can be used with the grippers, four Delrin booties and four 3” long adapter pins.
The unique “pin system” of the Spikepress™ and the quick interchangeability system leaves room for innovation, such as making custom pins for bows such as the BowTechInsanity and Experience, which are bows that may be damaged outside of warranty if manufacturer recommendations are not properly followed when being compressed for adjustments or repairs. The Spikepress™ also has optional convenience adapters for Mathew’s solid-limb bows.
As bows may become more technologically advanced, the Spikepress™ system allows for future adaptability as well.
THE SPIKEPRESS™ SPECIFICATIONS
The main frame consists of two parts made from square steel tubing. There are two holes on the main frame close to the hand wheel, one lubricates the screw-bearing housing and the other lubricates the screw nut. The screwing mechanism consists of a 7/8-6 threads / inch powerful acme thread screw, accompanied with a solid bronze acme thread nut. The screw housing has a combination of a bronze bushing and a thrust-bearing mechanism for a smooth rotation under pressure. Also included, is an 8” diameter hand wheel with a revolving handle.
There are four pin retainers (two left and two right) made out of steel and are ZINC plated. Each retainer has two holes ½” diameter to accept the pins (spikes). The one hole is horizontal which is used for extreme parallel limbs. The other hole is 20 degrees above the horizontal position to be used for non-parallel limbs. The pins have a slip fit in the retainer so they can be relocated according to the type of bow you are pressing.
There are a set of four pins which are made of 304 stainless steel. They have a ball joint configuration to allow pivoting when a pin engages with a gripper. It also has an o-ring at the opposite end for friction when inserted into the retainer. There is also a fine adjustment screw on the retainer to fine adjust the pin.
There are two sets of Grippers. The Grippers are made of aluminum, and the clamping insert is made of Delrin material.
The press is also capable of accommodating crossbows simply by using a different pin length to compensate for axle to axle distance. By looking at this device, you can see that it can be used with any type and shape of bow limbs, safely and securely.
THE MAN BEHIND THE INNOVATION
George Gouramanis made his first trip to ATA in Louisville, Kentucky this year. Little did he know, his small corner of the convention center floor would create such a stir at the ATA show. Particularly with certain notable persons who were affiliated with top bow manufacturers, such as Bowtech, PSE, Bear Archery, and other bow manufacturers. The Spikepress™ was also demonstrated to and impressed some key people from different corners of the archery industry such as Olympic coaches, archery clubs, and archery shop owners.
Here is a short demo with the Spikepress™ showing the custom tooling for Bowtech Insanity and Experience bows.
I asked George about his first experience at the Archery Trade show.
“My personal experience at the 2013 ATA show was an incredible one. From the time I decided to exhibit, to the day we left the show, everyone and everything fell into place. Everyone on the staff at the ATA, especially Maria Lewis, was extremely helpful with the preparation for the exhibit. When we arrived, the facility was easily accessible to unload and set-up. On Monday morning everything was ready to go!
I had the opportunity to make a lot of important contacts for my business and the opportunity to demonstrate my product, Spikepress™, over 200 times. Some of the visitors at our booth included John Hernandez and Todd Levings from BowTech, David Kronengold from PSE, Bear Archery, Steve VanZile of George Chapman Archery, Mel Nichols the U.S.A. Olympic Archery Team Coach and Eric Price of Lumenok. I also had the pleasure of meeting many of my current customers, in person, from all over the country especially, Kenny Cuchiara of the Arizona Archery Club.
Overall, it was the best experience I have had at any show…ever!”
There aren’t that many bow presses available in the archery industry, which ultimately limits the choices for bow technicians and bow manufacturers. The Spikepress™ is quite accurate in its claim, that it is safer for the person who is working on the bow, and protects the longevity of the bow itself.
My final thoughts are that, in life, there are things that you wished you had done and things that you wished you had known – maybe these things would have changed the course of the way you do things, or at the very least, help you get over some current issues or frustrations you are already dealing with. Although this idea can be said for life in general, I am specifically referring to the Spikepress™. Hindsight is 20/20.
At the Archery Trade show this year, the Spikepress™ caused jaw-dropping reactions and over-impressed some of the top names at bow designers and manufacturers– perhaps this should prompt you to take a look. The Spikepress™ is seriously worth a look and a demonstration. Contact George Gouramanis, the owner of Archery Tooling Corp at email@example.com or call 631-838-2190 to find out more or to request a demonstration.
Just in time for the holidays, our friends at Patriot Surplus have offered our loyal fans a chance to win a $25 coupon code usable towards anything on their website. Patriot Surplus is a “one stop shop for military gear, law enforcement gear and much more.” It is a veteran owned online retailer with a very large collection of products, including some from 5.11 Tactical, Magnum Boots, and other TGH friends.
There are THREE ways you can enter to win:
Post a comment on this post on TacticalGearhead.com telling us what you will buy with the $25 credit if you win.
The winner of this contest will be chosen randomly from all entries received before Wednesday, December 19, 2012 and notified via email or Facebook message. That gives you a week to share this opportunity with all of your friends and family!
Please note: This coupon code was provided by Patriot Surplus and must be used according to their guidelines. This code may not be used towards shipping, taxes, etc.
A new company contacted us a few weeks ago about sending us one of their products and after looking at their catalog, I was very excited to test a piece of their clothing. DRIFIRE, a fire resistant clothing and equipment manufacturer, allowed me to choose between several items, but when I saw that they had a layering system of garments, I was immediately excited.
Whenever you travel in the field, you need to be prepared for diverse weather and temperatures. Temperatures can rise or fall very quickly and you need to be prepared for anything, while still carrying the lightest load as possible. I love layering systems for this reason. Multiple layers allow you to shed clothing while regulating your body temperature efficiently.
Up until now, I’ve been using a standard long sleeve thermal undershirt as a component of my layering system. It keeps you warm, but it is itchy and takes a long time to dry when it gets soaked with sweat, so I knew exactly what I was going to choose from DRIFIRE’s catalog.
The DRIFIRE Midweight Long Sleeve Shirt is a very warm and comfortable shirt. Made from a blend composed of 85% modacrylic and 15% viscose fibers; it is fire resistant, antimicrobial, quick-drying, and made in the USA. I wear-tested the shirt casually and also wore it while exercising several times. The shirt was extremely comfortable, breathed much better than I expected and dried very quickly, even while still wearing it.
The shirt is also very well made and looks good on its own or while worn underneath a short sleeve shirt. I am very happy with the performance and appearance of this shirt and while I wanted to test its fire-resistance, I decided to stand by DRIFIRE’s guarantee, instead of risking my new favorite shirt!
Please Note: This was given to me as a promotional item and this review reflects my personal opinions and views.