After two years of 80 mile commutes, my old Tech Aero backpack was toast. I picked up the Alpinestars Protection Backpack as a replacement. The main selling points of the old bag were a back protector sleeve, large capacity, and waist and chest straps. It was a bag built specifically for motorcycling rather than a school bag with a fancy logo. The Protection bag builds on this idea and has many of the same features in a more refined package.
The big update here is something seems so common sense that you’d think every rider’s backpack should be equipped with it: captive straps. Rather than being smacked and beaten all over by stray shoulder and waist strap ends, the ends are permanently attached to the rest of the strap with a simple plastic loop. I’d used zip ties in the past, but to have it come straight from the manufacturer like this is just amazing.
The waist strap buckle has also been offset to the left to avoid digging a hole in your tank’s paint. The back protector sleeve was great, but you had to purchase a $90 Bionic back protector. It now comes as standard. Missing from the new bag is the cheesy rain cover that did little more than trail behind you like a cape. The bag itself is water resistant and the zippers waterproof, but I wouldn’t trust my Macbook in there unprotected in anything more than a light drizzle.
I use a 17″ Macbook, and it fit just fine in the old bag’s laptop sleeve. The new bag, being somewhat shorter and wider doesn’t accommodate it, but a 15″ should fit just fine. It does, however, have no problem carrying a DSLR body, three lenses, batteries and a tripod strapped to the outside.
The helmet carrying net has been redesigned here too. Now, rather than being two cheesy straps and a sort of sock, it’s a proper net that’s very strong, stretchy and can be used for more than just a helmet.
Gone are the pockets that used to reside on the waist strap pads and in their place are much more stout pads. Those pads land right on top of my pelvis and lend some much needed protection to what is usually a bony, fleshy disaster waiting to happen. Tracing the main compartment’s zipper is a piece of tastefully applied reflective piping.
Unlike the Kriega R35 packs Grant and Wes use, this Alpinestars bag uses more traditional shoulder and waist straps that are similar to those of a hiking bag. I wear the shoulder straps somewhat loose, and let the chest and waist straps do their job. The shoulder straps are somewhat thinner and further away from the center than a regular bag. It certainly doesn’t give you that terrible neck/shoulder pain that a crappy bag does after a few hundred miles. Maybe not as comfy as the Kriega over very long distances, but way more practical if you actually have to get off the bike and walk around, where the Kriega falls flat.
Retailing for $229, the protection pack isn’t cheap, but it’s much more functional than your old Jansport. Also take into account the $99.95 Bionic Back Protector that comes with it and provides serious protection every time you strap it on.