New: Padded Hip Belt for Smart Alec and Synapse Backpacks

Padded Hip Belt for the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, and Smart Alec | TOM BIHN

Due to popular request, we’ve come up with a 1” Padded Hip Belt designed to work with the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, and Smart Alec backpacks — three of our most popular backpacks used for travel, every day carry, and day-hiking.

If you already use the included 1” Webbing Gatekeeper Waist Strap on your Synapse 19, Synapse 25, or Smart Alec and it works for you but you’d like to upgrade to a padded version, then the 1” Padded Hip Belt is likely to make your day.

Sold as a matching left and right pair, the pads attach via Gatekeeper clips to the 1″ webbing loops which normally accept the simple webbing waist belt (the one that comes standard with the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, and Smart Alec). Made of .375″ / 10mm EVA closed cell foam with a protective laminated cover of heavy duty polyester knit, the set of two pads joins front and center with a sturdy, dual adjust side release buckle. The pads are contoured and, when attached to the above mentioned backpacks, form a slight conical shape, encouraging the belt to ride on top of your hip bones.

The 1” Padded Hip Belt is available in one size that adjusts to fits hips measuring between 33″ / 84cm and 50″ / 125cm. Want a different size? We’d be glad to see what we can come up with in the factory: emailus@tombihn.com

The 1″ Padded Hip Belt is available for purchase here. It can also be ordered with the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, or Smart Alec.

Good things to know:

The benefits of utilizing webbing or padded hip belts or even a sternum strap, especially in smaller packs, are subjective. Some folks swear by it and others don’t find that it makes much of a difference for them. Our goal is to give you as many options as we can (within the confines of good design) so that you can create the best carrying experience and set-up for yourself.

Using a pack like the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, or Smart Alec with a padded hip belt isn’t an invitation to carry more weight than is reasonable. Think of it instead as a way to potentially shift a bit of the weight of the bag onto your hips to make your carrying experience that much more comfortable. Taller people (those 6’2″ and taller) in particular may find that the overall length of these three bags do not predispose them to fully utilizing the weight carrying abilities of a padded hip belt. If you make good use of the webbing waist belt included with your Synapse or Smart Alec want a more comfortable version better capable to offset the weight of your pack, the 1″ Padded Hip Belt could be a great option for you.

The Synapse 19, Synapse 25, and Smart Alec do not have internal frame sheets with aluminum stays like The Guide’s Pack and Hero’s Journey do. (A frame sheet without a stay? It’ll keep pointy objects from poking you, but doesn’t provide significant vertical rigidity, but that’s for another time.) Because of that, the efficacy of the 1″ Padded Hip Belt may be limited for some depending on the weight they carry, how they pack, and their height. Will we add frame sheets with stays to these three bags? Unlikely. Oftentimes, frame sheets/internal frames are used in smaller bags because of two things: they allow you to overstuff a backpack without experiencing the back of the overstuffed backpack barreling or curving out against the spine and they allow you to toss your gear inside without as much consideration for comfort (it’s okay if the pokey water bottle is against your back.) The trade-offs, however, are these: frame sheets/internal frames add weight and they make bags stiff, which can make it more difficult to squeeze them into an already-full overhead bin, under the seat in front of you, or in other tight spaces. Frame sheets can also let us get away without truly feeling our packing list and meditating on what we’re carrying and where we’re packing it: for some folks, this works, and for others, it removes the part of the process in which we exercise discernment in what we carry and how we carry it (which can totally be part of the fun!) In short, frame sheets would make these bags very different than what they are, and we might love them less because of that.

Our Aeronaut 30, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, and Western Flyer travel bags all have 1” webbing loops that can accept the 1” Padded Hip Belt. If you’ve been hoping for a Padded Hip Belt for your TB travel bag, then this may be your best option. We’re not officially recommending the 1” Padded Hip Belt as an option for these bags because the aforementioned travel bags are larger and do not have internal frames, and because the attachment point for a waist belt is somewhat high, the 1” Padded Hip Belt can end up riding high on some folks, especially those who are taller. Same advice we gave earlier applies here: if you already use the included 1” Webbing Gatekeeper Waist Strap on your travel bag it works for you but you’d like to upgrade to a padded version, then feel free to give the 1” Padded Hip Belt a whirl, and let us know how it works for you (maybe you’ll change our minds!)

Padded Hip Belt for the Synapse 19, Synapse 25, and Smart Alec | TOM BIHN
1″ Padded Hip Belt attached to the Synapse 25 backpack.

Synapse 19 Padded Hip Belt | TOM BIHN
1″ Padded Hip Belt attached to the Synapse 19 backpack.

Synapse 19 Padded Hip Belt | TOM BIHN
1″ Padded Hip Belt attached to the Synapse 19 backpack.

Smart Alec w/the Padded Hip Belt | TOM BIHN Bags
1″ Padded Hip Belt attached to the Smart Alec backpack.

smart-hip-blog1″ Padded Hip Belt attached to the Smart Alec backpack.

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