I’ve spent a considerable portion of my life traveling. I grew up traveling from place to place with my skateboard or snowboard in tow. When I finally stepped away from the fascination of all things sideways and took up golf, the wanderlust followed. It’s a rare day day that I’m not working on an upcoming golf destination to explore. And I’m fortunate enough that the majority of weeks throughout the year I’m exploring a new location with my clubs.
Along with a heavy travel schedule comes an intense demand on travel gear and a desire to have simple luggage that can stand the test of extensive travel and wear. While I haven’t found anything that can make it beyond a year of heavy travel, I can say that the Sun Mountain Club Glider is a worthy contender and certainly one of the best soft golf travel bags on the market.
I have to say that I was really excited to get the Club Glider out for testing. The travel bag just happened to show up at my doorstep the same week that I popped the final rivet off of my current go-to travel bag. While my previous bag was good while it lasted – I managed to completely dismantle it in under a year of travel (somewhere around 100 flights of wear).
I was pretty impressed by the overall construction and design of the Club Glider. The materials are reinforced well and the look of the bag is a clear winner over any of the other bags currently on the market. If there’s a better looking golf travel bag out there, then I haven’t seen it.
I was also won over by how easy the bag was to load and secure. There’s plenty of room in the Club Glider to pack your clubs and additional accessories to go along with you, including enough clothing for a week and a few pairs of shoes. All of it fits in the bag without a problem.
The construction of the bag is on the better side of the soft bags that I’ve used.
The base is attached to the bag and reinforced in a way that will keep the seams of the bag together through just about anything you can throw at it. My issue with many popular bags has been in this area and the Club Glider clearly wins here. Airline employees will sling your bag around every way possible and the extra reinforcement in the Club Glider is a great feature.
I was also very impressed with the durability and thickness of the straps. The straps are thicker than they need to be, but this gives the bag a nice solid and strong feel. The inner strap that secures your bag is a nice feature as well and a feature that is noticeably missing from many other of the leading golf travel bags.
The material at the top club-end of the bag has extra padding and is an extremely durable outer layer deflects solid objects well. That extra padding is also a nice reinforcement for the heads of your clubs.
The body of the bag is a different material that holds up ok, but is also somewhat susceptible to asphalt abrasions and pricking. My sixth flight had the top of the bag tear through in a way that removed pieces of the top layer of the bag. I’m not sure what happened here, but it does expose a durability concern for the material that covers the majority of the top of the bag.
My particular case was nothing that a strip of duct tape couldn’t fix – but it was a bit disappointing to have the tear show up at all. I can only guess that bag was slid across asphalt upside-down (which is moderately common on the tarmac).
There are quite a few other marks that I’ve had on the bag that have avoided any tearing – but look like they were somewhat significant. Even with these visible scars, there has been no damage (not even minor) to any of the items that have been stored in my bag.
The Club Glider has some major benefits in terms of convenience.
The bag is simply a joy to get through the airport. The extension legs that pop out of the base of the bag (complete with caster wheels) allow for great ease-of-movement in transporting the bag and for general maneuverability. The bag really does feel like it glides with minimal pulling or effort while the extension is out. This is also great while you are waiting curbside with the bag and allows you to avoid placing the bag down on the pavement. The extension is a little tricky to extend and retract – but something that you’ll get used to after a trip or two.
The zippers on the bag are also noteworthy. I’ve never seen a zipper and teeth this big – they appear to be 3 to 4 times the bulk of a normal zipper. This lets the bag easily open and close with less effort and few snags. The circles at the end of the zipper allows for easier zipping due to the large teeth and also give you a great place to attach the (included and TSA-approved) bag lock.
The Club Glider as has ample space for just about any golf bag you’ll want to put in it. I tend to travel the most with a more compact stand bag, and that leaves plenty of room in the interior for additional clothing and shoes. The one thing to watch out for here is overall weight. Most airlines will charge you if you exceed 50 lbs, and the limit can be reached pretty easily with this bag due to the additional weight that is present because of the extension legs. In the one case that I did inadvertently pack the bag to over 50 lbs, I was able to remove a few sleeves of balls and place them in my carry-on to get the weight down (in addition to my clubs I also had two pairs of shoes and 3 days of golf clothing).
The Other Things
There are a few other things that are worth pointing out about the bag that I haven’t previously mentioned.
One issue that I had with the bag was fitting it into most rentals and my own personal car. You’ll likely need to make sure that your rental car has seats that fold down – even if you’re in an SUV. The bag is a few inches too long to stuff into a trunk sideways. I have an Infiniti G35 that does not have seats that fold down (which is a serious design flaw BTW) that leaves me with the only option being to sit the bag sideways in my back seat. I’ve also tried to insert the bag sideways into larger SUVs like a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Yukon – both to no avail.
I also want to mention that without the additional support legs extended – the regular wheels on the bag leave a bit to be desired. I think that this is a clear place where rollerblade or large skateboard wheels and bearings could improve the design significantly. The wheels aren’t awful – but they’re not as smooth as I would expect for a top-end travel bag.
While the overall length and weight of the bag are both slightly over what I think most traveling golfers desire, the Club Glider has many excellent features that makes it a nice and solid overall bag. This is far from a me-too bag; the Club Glider has some great innovations that will leave the regular traveler smiling and will leave the others in baggage claim wishing they had a bag as nice and well-designed as this one.
I’m expecting to have many more enjoyable trips with the Sun Mountain Club Glider and it certainly stacks up to be the best golf travel bag that I’ve used to date.