For 2017, I’ve been testing an Alpinestars Force 25 riding backpack. Here’s what I think about the pack so far.
At first glance, the Force 25 seems to be better-designed than the last A-Stars pack CMG had; this pack has redundant buckles that ought to hold the pack shut if the zipper fails. The zippers might feel a bit chintzy still, but at least if they fail, there’s a backup.
The last Alpinestars pack CMG tested had a bum zipper that spilled Editor ‘Arris’s iPad onto the road, and the Oxford pack we tried in 2015-2016 did the same thing to me, leaving me to jury-rig my bag shut with a belt in the middle of an airport. Trust me: One of the first things you want to look at on a backpack is the zipper.
Aside from the closure, the rest of the bag seems well-thought out. It’s not minimalist, but it’s a streamlined design that doesn’t add too many features with accompanying weight (like the American Kargo bag we had). Instead, I’d say this bag’s designer spent a lot of time analyzing Kriega’s offerings; the chest strap is similar and the overall dimensions are similar.
The Force 25 isn’t waterproof, although I found it capable of fending off a light shower. Alpinestars included a rain cover; I prefer a fully waterproof bag, but the rain cover is probably a more realistic and reliable approach to tackling downpours.
There is an internal laptop sleeve in the bag, and routing straps for a hydration bladder system.
In the few outings I’ve used the Force 25 for, it has been comfortable to wear and seems to be of decent quality. I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up over the entire riding season.