Archives for category: product review

I bought the OGIO All Elements backpack in May 2016. It’s a simple bag — a waterproof and spacious single compartment with a laptop sheath and a few zippered pockets — and it works great. Until it doesn’t.

In November, the waterproof seal started coming undone, so I had them send me a new bag under the one-year warranty. The customer service was speedy and I had my new bag the next day. Then, in April, the seal on the new bag started coming undone, so I got on the phone again. Even though I love the All Elements bag for its roll-top (=expandable capacity for lots of groceries), I was pretty fed up with needing a new bag every six months. I used it as a commuter bag, so it was carrying my lunch and maybe a binder and an extra pair of yoga pants five days a week with an occasional grocery-store trip. Yes, I used it frequently, but not enough to warrant external damage from the inside.

I asked if they would be willing to send a different bag since the seal was clearly not a one-time issue. They are and they approved a different bag even though it’s at a higher price point. Stay tuned for my adventures with the Mach5!

Summary: It’s great bag until it’s not. Order at your own risk. On the bright side, to make up for a crappily-constructed bag, they have amazing customer service.

Edit 5/16: The Mach5 is too big for me. It’s probably too big for anyone under 5’5″-ish or has a short torso. OGIO continues to have the best customer service, so I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them again should the right item appear. The perfect backpack hunt continues!

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There’s not a lot of chatter out there for women’s motorcycle gear, so I thought I’d chime in. Also, this is the only space I have to vent about what a garbage pair of boots Dainese makes, since CycleGear (where the boots were purchased) is not posting my honest (and polite) review.

When I first started riding in 2007, I bought a pair of Alpinestars Stella SMX4 boots. I wore these boots for seven years. That number is a little disingenuous since I only rode on and off for five of those years. Still, I’d estimate that they accumulated a solid two years worth of wear-and-tear type of use throughout those five years and I wore them almost daily for another two years. I credit them with saving my ankle from being crushed when it got sandwiched between my bike and a car. I walked away from that incident with a second-degree sprain.

When the zippers on those boots finally gave up, I replaced them with Dainese Siren boots. Why Dainese? I don’t have a really good reason. CycleGear didn’t have too many options for women. The Sirens felt sleeker than the SMX5s when worn over my leathers. But it was a bad idea. After a measly six months, the stitching holding the zipper teeth came undone, so the zippers became non-functional. Dainese said this was “normal wear and tear” and they refused to honor their year-long repair warranty. In other words, they admitted that their $260 leather boots have a six-month lifespan and that this is normal. I’m not sure how this is considered “acceptable” quality or how anyone can afford to spend over $500 in boots every year, but I know that I’m never buying Dainese again which is a shame since their narrow European style fits my body well.

I replaced the Sirens with Alpinestars Stella SMX6 boots. Despite a similar price, the SMX6s are considered a race boot and for that, they offer far more ankle protection and more rigidity around the toe box as well as replaceable sliders. I’ve only been wearing them for a month, but considering how long I wore the SMX4s, I’m looking forward to many, many miles together. After wearing the SMX6s for a couple of weeks, I tried on the Sirens again to see how they felt and to consider whether it would be worth it to have them repaired on my dime in order to have a back-up pair of boots. Short answer: no. They have so much mobility through the ankles that it feels like I’m wearing a fashion boot. Even though they have a puck at the ankle for superficial abrasion protection, there’s no structural protection at all. The leather feels thin and I’m not comfortable riding at highway speeds in them because I don’t feel protected.

TL;DR: Dainese bad, Alpinestars good.

In other Alpinestars fan girl news, the 7-2 leather jacket I bought in 2007 is still my go-to winter jacket and I’m still wearing the same pants I bought back then, too. Alpinestars, take my money!