Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Callaway Hyper-Lite 5

Callaway is keeping us on our toes with the iterations of their Hyper-Lite lineup and the variety of bags offered, most with only subtle differences. Like other manufacturers, Callaway often keeps bag names the same year to year or have very slight name changes, while still introducing noticeable feature changes. For example, Callaway went from the original Callaway Hyper-Lite 4.0 to the Hyper-Lite 4.5 and then back to the Hyper-Lite 4. Confusing? Don’t even get us started.

So on to the Callaway Hyper-Lite 5. When selecting one of the Callaway bags, don’t be fooled into thinking that the bag number (“5″ in this case) corresponds to the exact weight of the bag – rather it is simply a model name indicating the relative weight/feature set within the lineup. Though it is marketed at under 5 pounds, our bag weighed in at 5.2 pounds, and is the heaviest in the current Hyper-Lite family. This is due in part to the slightly larger overall size of the 9” 5-way organization system, which features 4 full-length dividers. Looking from the top of the bag, the sectors are in a 1-2-2 pattern, with each sector being completely separated from the others by the full-length dividers. A good portion of what will drive additional weight on a bag are the number of dividers and the number of those that are full-length. 5-way tops are relatively common, and we think it’s the right trade-off between organizational efficiency and weight.

Club Storage
Rain Hood
Carrying Impressions

The Hyper-Lite 5 has solid padding for the shoulder straps, which are adjustable at the standard 4 points, and are designed in an “X” pattern, with additional padding where the 4 straps meet in the middle of the back. The straps are easy to adjust and provide ample foam and mesh to make for a bag that is comfortable to carry. The hip/back pad is also the soft mesh material found on the shoulder straps, providing for both comfort and ventilation. The feet are made of soft rubber and well-sized to prevent sinking into the turf or slipping on wet ground. The Hyper-Lite 5 received high marks in our carrying impressions during test rounds.

As the largest and most full-featured of the Hyper-Lite carry bags, the Hyper-Lite 5 featured a range of pockets:

  • One large apparel pocket runs along the right side of the bag, with a medium sized garment pocket on its outside.
  • A small velour-lined water resistant valuables pocket with a key fob above the medium sized pocket on the outside of the large garment pocket. Our preference is for these “valuables” pockets to be placed inside of the larger garment pockets to provide additional security.
  • One large-sized pocket and one smaller zippered pocket (we use these for golf ball and other odds and ends) are on the spine of the bag. The large-sized pocket has an elastic and mesh pocket on the interior for storing items, and mesh at the bottom covers of the pocket to prevent balls from falling out when fully unzipped. The smaller pocket also has mesh at the interior bottom to keep goods corralled, and also has the ability to unzip from the bag completely so you can embroider your name.
  • One medium sized pocket is on the left side of the bag, again with mesh at the bottom, which we used for storing gloves, yardage guides, and snacks. On its outside is an open thermal-lined pouch for holding beverage bottles of most sizes.
  • Not included in the pocket count are a pen holder on the left side of the large-sized pocket on the spine.

The Callaway Hyper-Lite 5 also includes traditional adjustable straps on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella, a ring for attaching a towel or clipping a GPS device or laser rangefinder, and a Velcro patch to attach a glove.

The rain hood included with the Hyper-Lite 5 is the standard included for most bags, with the pieces of hood that wrap around the top handle of the bag and are secured by Velcro, and two buttons that attach to the top front of the bag.

Our least favorite component of the Hyper-Lite 5 were the legs, which drooped more than we wanted from the get-go, making it easy for the legs to catch on our towel and otherwise get in the way when carrying, setting down and picking up the bag. We can’t tell if this was specific to the test bag that we purchased or not – we didn’t have this issue with other Callaway bags we tested. If you like to carry your bag (as opposed to use a push or riding cart), you’ll want to consider this in your decision. Unfortunately this isn’t something you would notice in a store, as the tension of the leg system is enough to keep them tight against an empty bag. On the upside, there is a Velcro strap that allows you to keep the legs secured when using carts or traveling, and the mechanism that extends the legs is located within the base. We much prefer the in-base mechanism to the separate foot that some other manufacturers position on the outside of the base, which is more likely to get snagged on carts.

At $180 retail, the Callaway Hyper-Lite 5 is priced competitively, with all the features you would expect in the latest carry stand bags. The quality is high, and the layout straightforward. It comes in a variety of colors (which change depending on model year) including Black, Navy/Charcoal, White/Charcoal/Green, White/Lime/Charcoal, as well as Royal/Navy/Silver, Black/Charcoal/Red, Red/White/Black, and Charcoal/White in 2015. At an MSRP of $180, the Hyper-Lite 5 has a bit lower price than the latest iteration of the Hyper-Lite 4, which we can’t explain, but certainly won’t complain about.

Retail price: $179.99
Amazon.com price: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Callaway carry bag comparison
Given the number of bags available, we think it’s best to offer a brief comparison to the other current carry bags in the Callaway Hyper-Lite (2014) family:
The Hyper-Lite 5 has fewer top club sections than the Hyper-Lite 4.0 (there were 6 on the original Hyper-Lite 4.0, while the current Hyper-Lite 4 (and Hyper-Lite 3) has only 4). The main differences between the Hyper-Lite 5 and the Hyper-Lite 4 is the larger top of the Hyper-Lite 5 (9″ v 8.5″), and 5 full-length dividers on the Hyper-Lite 5 versus 4 on the Hyper-Lite 4.

Breaking down the full lineup (since sadly the Callaway website won’t let you easily compare models…get with the program, Callaway!), the key differentiators are:
Fusion 14: 14-way top, the only bag in the Callaway lineup with a slot for each club, and a whopping 10 pockets; under 5 pounds
X2 Hot Stand bag: 7-way top, 7 pockets, under 5 pounds
Hyper Lite 5: 9″ 5-way top, 8 pockets
Hyper-Lite 4: 8.5″ 4-way top, 8 pockets, under 5 pounds
Hyper-Lite 3: 8.5″ 4-way top, 6 pockets (lacking 2 accessory pockets available in the Hyper-Lite 5 and Hyper-Lite 4), under 4 pounds

For a video overview: