Gear: Alpinestars Protection Backpack

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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.


  • paul

    Hey that’s a mighty nice Jacket. what is it?

    • Darren

      In photo #5 I see a A* logo… not sure what model

    • seanslides

      Wes put up a article when they first came out. It’s an Alpinestars Kinetic Drystar. Waterproof, free of over-sized and ostentatious logos, and all the armor (elbows, shoulders, back protector compartment). It’s also got a zip out liner. Also, I bought the cheaper messenger jacket, and was throughly unimpressed with it. It’s not cotton, the fit is kinda weird, no zipper to connect to pants, and no back protector compartment. That $100 makes a giant difference.

      It’s been my everyday jacket for quite a while now, and when you buy one off the rack they don’t really look like this. Unhappy with the waterproofness (technically waterproof, but the shell got soaked), I decided to take matters into my own hands. After a some online searching, I figured I’ve give waxed cotton a shot, and this is how it turned out.

  • paul

    Thanks Seanslides, yes thats a nice simple jacket. cheers for the links and info

  • Mark D

    Nice write-up Sean, I’m enjoying your articles.

    The bag is a bit pricey for my tastes; I usually just tie down anything heavier than a change of clothes or a few books. Although not having to wear a back protector in your jacket is -15 lame points when you’re off bike.

  • noone1569

    In the market for a new bag myself. Time to replace the trusty old ACU camelback bag that I have. This is pricy, but what sort of quality are the seems and stitching? Will I need to replace it in 1 year, 2 years, 5?

    • Sean Smith

      It depends on how much you ride, and how hard you use your gear. The overall quality seems to be slightly improved over the Tech Aero bag, and that thing took a pretty brutal beating before it was finally deemed dead. Even then, I probably could have had the zipper replaced and a new waist strap sewn on and used the thing for another 3 years. Even getting knocked off my bike and sliding down the freeway didn’t seem to have much effect on it.

      If I had to guess, I’d say that the first thing to fail on this bag will be the main zipper. It’s one of those YKK waterproof deals that looks real cool and is supposedly waterproof. It’s not all that beefy though, and the zipper sliders are what broke on my old bag (which had the same zipper).

      If you’re a fanatical lane-splitting commuter who rides everyday, rain or shine, I’d give this bag a solid two years. If you ride a helluva lot, but not quite that much, probably 5 or longer.

      • noone1569

        Great. I ride a helluva lot, and use a bag everyday I ride. I try not to get stuck in shitastic weather that often, but also would be tosing this thing around at work/school.

        I think I’ll go ahead and pull the trigger on this. Do you think the webbing is big enough to shove a Icon Variant (XL) in there?

        • Sean Smith

          Absolutely. It has no problem carrying my Arai Vector inside a helmet bag with rags and extra shields. I’ve used it to carry a jacket and all sorts of other stuff too.

          • noone1569

            Well sweet. Ordered one last night. A* can thank you.