Tag Archives: product review

Tom Bihn Synapse 19 and Synapse 25 IN THE WILD!

Review Tom Bihn Backpacks

On the hunt for a new bag, my fiancee Chet chose to turn to the company Tom Bihn. Specializing in travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks; tons of folks on the internet were singing the praises of Tom Bihn’s creations and so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Pretty much as soon as Chet’s Synapse 25 backpack arrived I wanted my own. He showed me the multitude of packing configurations available within it’s clever pockets and how much this one backpack could actually hold…and well,  cue the heart eye emojis!

Luckily, Chet could sense my need. Valentine’s weekend I was headed to Bowling Green, KY but my very own Tom Bihn backpack showed up as an early gift just before my departure date! (That boy’s a catch, I’ll tell ya!) I gasped when I opened the box because the pattern was so perfect. My bag is the Synapse 19 backpack. This bag is designed the same way as the 25 (with the same clever pocket layout) but is 19 liters as opposed to 25 so it feels much better on my smaller frame.

Tom Bihn’s website heralds these bags as “a supremely organized backpack” and I tend to agree. The Synapse 19, specifically, is said to be a backpack well suited for hiking, travel, or commuting. Just the things I need a backpack for!

We’ve put these bags to the test, most recently at the FIU Nature Preserve (where we shot the pictures you’ll find within this post), and I’d love to tell you my thoughts…

tom bihn close up

Looks and Specs: 

The Synapse 19 is a 19 liter volume bag and measures 16″ x 11.4″ x 7.9″. Mine features the Black Dyneema external pattern with a Wasabi interior.

The Synapse 25 is a 25 liter volume and measures 20″ x 13.4″ x 9″. Chet’s colors are Navy/Wasabi.

Both bags feature a sleek design thanks to their curvilinear exterior. Unlike some backpacks, these pockets are built into the shape of the bag so there’s no pouches cluttering up the outside of the bag. The bags feature one main, back compartment for big items with an interior, elastic-topped pouch that’s great for securing a laptop or books. Then there are two front pockets, the top of which is deep enough to hold a 1 liter water bottle or bladder. This pocket is specially designed to hold your water in place right at the center of the back which really helps with balancing the weight of your pack. Two side pockets flank the pack and these come equipped with slots to hold pens, cell phone, sunglasses, and O-rings to clip on carabiners or keys.

The bags are made with ultra-lightweight, ultratough nylon so they’re durable without feeling or looking bulky. As mentioned, I LOVE the pattern of mine. I’m always down for a bit of monochrome and the pop of bright green when I unzip is just the right level of pizzazz. I also feel like the design aids in the bag’s versatility. It works out on the trail but I can take it on city adventures without looking out of place. We’ve both remarked that it’s nice to have a backpack that doesn’t scream I’M A BACKPACKER!

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Comfort and Wear-ability: 

The back panel is padded with a 1/4″ of foam covered in a breathable mesh. That last point is a must when you live in South Florida. Nothing like taking your backpack off and finding a lovely layer of sweat patch has been left behind in it’s wake! The mesh definitely helps with this predicament!

The adjustable straps are also nicely padded. Overall, this is a really comfortable bag! While I’ve not done any super strenuous hiking with it (YET!), I did make it through a cutting-it-close, Home Alone style layover in the Atlanta airport without feeling like I was carrying a bag at all.

Both bags have removable waist and sternum straps. They’ve been taken off (except for Chet’s sternum strap…which is a great place to clip a go-pro) in these photos as we didn’t think they’d be necessary for a day-hike. But I liked having them when I was hauling more weight on a longer trip as you can totally feel the difference in weight distribution. I can’t feel any weight in my shoulders when I’m all clipped in!

For size reference: I am about 5′ 2″ and Chet is about 6′ 1″.

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tom bihn on the trail 1

tom bihn in the forest

So what will it hold?

As a day-pack — For the day trip you see featured in this post (FIU Nature Preserve and surrounding parks/gardens + campus exploration/Starbucks) I had a book, my large wallet, tissues, hand sanitizer, and a collapsible tote in the big pocket. A full 1 liter water bottle and snacks in the front pockets. My blogging camera, pens, cell phone, and chap stick in the side pockets. And an umbrella in the bottom pocket. Because this is Florida and you just never know!

As a work bag — Chet takes his Synapse 25 to work every day. His campus is huge and with walking from far-off parking garages, an office and classrooms in different buildings, and foraging trips to on-campus coffee shops; a backpack is a much friendlier-for-the-back way to tote your crap than a briefcase, IMHO. He carries with him: a full-size tablet, notebooks, large pencil case, cell phone, first aid kit, various cameras and electronic equipment, water bottle, and snacks.

As a travel bag — This one is the kicker! I was AMAZED at how much stuff I was able to pack in for a 3 day/2 night air travel trip. I brought plenty of clothes, including; a pair of jeans, a huge sweater, 3 shirts, and PJ’s (featuring a really heavy pair of fleece pj pants because I was worried about traveling to actual winter climates). I even had room for a pair of sneakers in the bottom pocket! (For reference I wear a size 6 shoe.) Not to mention all my toiletries, make-up, jewelry, snacks, and misc. entertainment (chargers, headphones, book, etc.) I used these mesh pouches to keep things even MORE organized. The smaller ones held my jewelry and odds and ends. The bigger ones held my shirts (1 tank top, 1 dressy t-shirt, 1 pj shirt) and my underwear. These are great because you can clip them on to any of the bags 8 internal O-rings and you know they’ll stay right where you need ’em. I don’t own any packing cubes but I imagine with the help of a couple I could pack in even MORE clothes.

WANT MORE TOM BIHN CONTENT? Check out THIS POST and THIS ONE

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Who should get one?

Anyone who walks a lot, whether on adventures or at work. Anyone who enjoys ultra-light packing or just a super organized day trip. Anyone who loves a good hike. Anyone who wants to sail through their commute, or airport security, or a nearby trail.

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What do you think? Would you get one? Do you think you could pack for 3 days (or more!) in a 19L backpack? Are you a hiker, student, or traveler on the hunt for a new pack? I would HIGHLY recommend checking out the Tom Bihn website and having a browse!

Happy Trails and Travels!!! 

P.S. Want to receive an extra dose of delight in your inbox? SUBSCRIBE! You’ll receive occasional emails chock-full of all sorts of goodies. Thanks so much!

 

Irresistible Me Review

2007 party
BG Summer 2k7

Allow me to take you back to 2007…

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Note: This was actually taken with my friend Chad’s laptop.

taking selfies with your laptop (sepia = artsy) was a perfectly acceptable thing to do…

2007
Out with friends on my 21st birthday.

and I was 21 years old, rounding out a year spent in my very first apartment.

The Summer of 2007 Amy Winehouse’s Rehab, Hey There Delilah by The Plain White T’s, and Justin Timberlake’s Summer Love played on a loop on the nearest radio, and I was pulling paychecks working part time at Sally Beauty Supply and Equipment. That last fact will set the stage for why, when a company contacted me about trying out their hair extensions, I answered with a resounding yes.

You may notice from the pictures above that I wasn’t quite the “type” to work at a store that specializes in beauty products, let alone one that would have me playing an expert about hair dyes and conditioners in order to make a sale. I reserved make-up for debate tournaments and my hair was in the awkward stages of growing out a cutely layered bob. (My only hair “essential” was the headband featured in that sepia selfie up there.) But a girl’s gotta pay her rent and luckily I had a friend tip me off that a Sally’s was hiring, she worked at another branch in town, and I had the smarts to wear dress pants and heels to the interview. I was hired! And joined a staff of bubbly sorority girls and country-music lovin’ good ol’ gals. Our manager was an old bull of a woman who took Sally Corporate Office directives as seriously as her side hobby of Bible-inspired interpretive dance. (Seriously. She brought in VHS recordings of these performances for us to watch on the TV reserved for training videos.)

The job was pretty much what you’d expect of most retail gigs. I stocked product, ran a cash register, and counted tills. I also pretended to know about every item we sold and pushed certain “special deals” to unsuspecting customers so I could receive points. I did this because I’m deeply competitive not for any real profit. All those points ever amounted to was some free products and once, quite auspiciously, a Burger King gift card. When older customers assumed I was a licensed hairdresser, I didn’t correct them. Making shit up about shampoos is a fantastic way to waste time.

A month or so into my Sally’s tenure, I was given the responsibility of keeping up with ordering for a few sections. One of which was Ethnic Hair-Care (Note: If any of the bottles of relaxer from this section busted open we had special clean-up procedures and had to evacuate the store because it was considered a chemical spill. Even the relaxers made for kids. This still boggles my mind.) and one was a whole wall of fake hair. Extensions, weaves, pieces, tracks; you name it, we had it. And ALL of it was expensive. In fact, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the price tags. “We’re asking HOW much for this 2 inch wide strand of hair? WTF!?”

I couldn’t wrap my head around the prices because I was broke. I’m talking mega broke. Like eating ramen for dinner broke. Like paying at the gas pump with coins broke. Like taking clothes to the consignment store to pay bills broke. I was in the midst of my first adult-hood reality check, and while all my friends were in the same place and we still managed to have a we’re all in this together BLAST that summer, it still sucked. It sucked because here I was, stocking pieces of hair, and thinking, “this strand of hair costs more than what I’ll earn today.” I daydreamed about what I would do with the money if I could steal all this fake hair and sell it on some underground hair black-market. I wondered, “Is any of this stuff even WORTH it?!”

Which is all to say, when a representative from Irresistible Me asked if I wanted to check out their hair I couldn’t say no. 21 year old me was like, “FAKE HAIR IS THE PINNACLE OF WEALTH AND FRIVOLITY AND FUN!” and 30 year old me was like, “Fair enough. Let’s do it.” Let’s once and for all figure out what all the fuss is about. I was told to check out Irresistible Me’s website and choose any of their clip-in human hair extensions for review. While they have full sets of extensions, I decided to take an easier approach and opted for a 16″ ponytail (in medium brown). As you can see in the picture below, I’m yet again growing out a short haircut. Which means right now ponytails don’t looks so rad. It’s buns or nothing, kids. So I figured a fake pony might be a fun way to help with this current predicament. Check it out…

Before and After 1

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Look at that luscious ponytail!  In all seriousness, the hair is really good quality. It’s 100% human Remy hair so you can dye it and style it to your hearts content. The piece itself is really easy to put in. It has a comb-like clip that you secure just above your own tied back hair and a ribbon to tie it in. There’s a ton of YouTube videos explaining a multitude of ways to style it into up-do coifs but I’ve only tackled a high pony (I put my hair into a bun and clipped in the piece) and the low, sling-it-over-your-shoulder pony you see above. My only disappointment was there’s not really a way to use the ponytail to make a big, juicy bun at the top of my head but I suppose that kinda goes against the whole purpose anyways. These retail for $89 (on sale right now for $67) and honestly I think, if you were planning to wear it often, they’re totally worth it. They make you look just a smidge more put together even if your hair is actually a hot mess…which in my mind is a huge plus. The quality seems made to last and the hair itself feels so natural.

Not to mention, 21 year old me would be immensely jealous of your big ballin’ status.

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What do you think? Would you buy and rock a fake ponytail? Have you held any uncharacteristic jobs? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

Review: Jingle VoxBox

Jingle VoxBox

Every once in a while the mail-box gods shine upon me and I find myself tearing into a new treat from Influenster. When we returned from Louisiana after Christmas the Jingle VoxBox was waiting for me. Look at all the goodies!

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream – While my skin isn’t as dry as past winters (Thanks Miami humidity!), this little jar has been perfect to pack along on trips. I’d never used Cetaphil before but I’m a total convert. The Beauty Uniforms series on A Cup of Jo has totally convinced me of the power of a good drug-store moisturizer and this one doesn’t disappoint.

http://www.facebook.com/Cetaphil

Biscoff Cookies – This little treat is totally my jam and I was so stoked to see THREE packages in my VoxBox. Yum! If you’ve ever heard (or eaten spoonfuls of) Trader Joe’s cookie butter than you know Speculoos biscuits are a taste sensation. I love these as an afternoon pick-me-up with a hot cup of tea or coffee. But if I’m being honest, I also ate a package crumbled up on top of a smoothie bowl for my lunch today. So…really there’s no right way to eat a Biscoff. Isn’t there an airline that gives these little packages out during in-flight drink service? *does research and resolves to only fly whoever it is from here on out*

http://www.facebook.com/biscoff

http://www.instagram.com/biscoffcookies

http://www.twitter.com/biscoffcookies

Ore-Ida Tater Tots – I have a bit of a soft spot for tots. Especially ones from Sonic. WHOOPS! The cat is out of the bag! I was excited to give this alternative a try and headed to the frozen section of my grocery, coupon in hand, right after my VoxBox showed up. Crispy on the outside and floofy on the inside. That’s pretty much all I need in a tot and Ore-Ida’s ticked both those boxes. These are great alongside home-made burgers (or veggie burgers) for when you’re craving Sonic but are resolved to eat at home instead. Or am I the only one out there who craves Sonic? That seems possible. Either way…these were good.

http://www.facebook.com/oreidapotatoes

http://www.instagram.com/oreida

http://www.pinterest.com/oreidapotatoes

Hallmark itty bittys – How cute is that little baby Spiderman? Pretty dang cute, IMHO. Not sure what I will actually DO with him but he looked cute amongst some Christmas decorations on my side table. I can see how these guys would make cute stocking stuffers or gift toppers. I packed Spidey up with the tree ornaments so I can try turning him into a bauble of some sort next year. Any other ideas? (I don’t have a child. Or a dog. And my cat is wildly uninterested in such things.)

http://www.facebook.com/hallmark

http://www.instagram.com/hallmark

http://www.pinterest.com/hallmark

NYC City Proof 24HR Waterproof Eyeliner – I’ve never been one for eyeliner. My makeup must-haves rotate but right now my go-to’s are tinted moisturizer, blush, and 2 coats of mascara. Done and done. However, if I’m in need of a fancier look, this liner’s got me covered. It is super fierce and glides on smoothly and easily. You could even blend it out for a smoky eye.

http://www.facebook.com/newyorkcolorcosmetics

http://www.twitter.com/nycnewyorkcolor

KISS True Volume Lashes and Strip Lash Adhesive – I’m saving these for a rainy day and/or when I need my eyes to be like, “YAAAS! We are open!” They look pretty fierce. Oh, and a cool feature? The adhesive is black so it will blend in with my lashes instead of leaving white globs that never totally dry and just make you look like you’re rocking a bunch of eye boogers in your peepers. Not a good look.

http://www.facebook.com/KissNails

http://www.instagram.com/kissproducts

http://www.twitter.com/KissProducts

Pure Ice Nail Polish – I received the shade Silver Star. It’s a really fun and festive sparkly color so it was perfect for a little New Year’s Eve finger bling. The color was really easy to apply and lasted on my nails for about a week without touch ups. I think this shade would look really neat as an accent nail paired with navy blue (my favorite nail color). You can snag Pure Ice Nail Polish at Wal-Mart for under two bucks which is a really good value for the quality. Go grab some if you’re a home-manicure junkie!

http://www.facebook.com/OfficialPureIce

http://www.instagram.com/officialpureice

http://www.twitter.com/OfficialPureIce

Overall this was a very fun box and I truly enjoyed all the contents! If you love trying new products and posting reviews, check out Influenster. It’s totally FREE to sign up! And who knows…the mail-box gods may choose to shine down on YOU next!

NOTE: I received all of these products complimentary for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Cat Scratch Fever! (& a giveaway!!!)

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As I’ve mentioned before, I share my little abode with a sweet, cuddly, mischievous Ragdoll cat named Wink. While it seems like he sleeps about 18-23 hours a day, when he’s awake he’s absolutely my spirit animal and spoiled as they come. I can’t help but to give him butt rubs whenever he cuddles up next to me or pop him out an ice cube whenever he sits by the freezer and mews. He’s got me wrapped around that little white paw, y’all! But sometimes all this love and attention makes him forget that his Mama loves sleep just about as much as he does. When I shut my bedroom door at night I imagine he has all sorts of kitten adventures (the most recent of which involves hopping from dining room table to bar cart…not cute)! Sometimes he gets excited in the middle of the night and wants to fill me in. Sometimes he feels like I should get up and get his breakfast on the table (errr…floor) LONG before my alarm has signaled the start to my day. And how does my dearest pet voice these concerns? By giving the carpet by my door a good once over with his claws. He’s definitely not as much of a scratcher as other cats I’ve met, yet, this ONE little patch of carpet is irresistible…and who can blame him, really? Yours truly is on the other side of that door!

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Seeking a simple solution, I found Carpet Scratch Stopper. Basically a plastic/vinyl mat fitted to your doorway, this new product completely eliminates the possibility of a feline friend digging his/her claws in where they shouldn’t be. The website features mats that will fit 28”, 30” and 32” doors. I got a 32” mat and it fits great, even allowing me to open and close the door as needed. The Carpet Scratch Stopper could definitely stand up to some bumps and scratches from high traffic/having animals afoot and would be fairly easy to clean. So far Wink has been interested in laying right by it, bringing his toys to it and *drum-roll please* NOT scratching…I’d say that’s a win. If you want to save your carpet (or your security deposit) this product is well worth the price! And how cute is the website’s “About Us” section written by the company’s founder Joanne? She even has introductions to her 4 cats: Chloe, Ripley, Rose and Blackie. Adorbz. Speaking of adorable…look at this pensive fellow! Uuuugh, I can’t get enough of him…claws and all.

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Would you like to give the Carpet Scratch Stopper a run for it’s money?  Leave a comment below telling me a little bit about your cat companion! I’ll choose a winner (randomly) at the end of the week. Good luck! GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED.