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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Nike Sport Carry Lite

The Nike Sport Carry Lite can be summarized fairly easily: lightweight and inexpensive. At a mere 3.7 pounds and $130, it would be hard to say that this bag shouldn’t be on the short list for most players to consider. As with any bag that is light or inexpensive, there are tradeoffs. Nike’s marketing touts the “ultra-lightweight” materials on the Sport Carry Lite, which might be more aptly described as “thin” (although the nylon does seem to be relatively durable). The Nike Sport Carry Lite also saves on weight by foregoing a handle at the top and reducing padding on the shoulders and hips.

Even so, don’t expect a stripped-down “Sunday bag” – the Nike Sport Carry Lite still offers six pockets and additional accessories. It didn’t turn our heads, but our wallet and backs appreciated every bit of it.


Retail price: $130.00
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SCORE
93
GRADE
A-
Club Storage
92
Pockets/Storage
89
Carrying Impressions
91
Rain Hood
95
Cost/Value
98

The Nike Sport Carry Lite has an oval 8.5 top and a 1-1-2-1 well pattern, with a dedicated putter well taking the top position. It is a bit unorthodox, but worked fine on the course. We do note that we’ve never really understood the need for a dedicated putter well (even less so on the Sport Carry Lite since there is no full-length divider separating it from the next section), and usually cluster the putter with other woods and hybrids at the top of the bag. In any event, the Nike Sport Carry Lite has two full-length dividers, between the 2nd and 3rd sectors and the 3rd and 4th sectors.

There are seven pockets, made up of five zippered pockets, one with a mesh pocket inside, plus an open beverage sleeve.

  • An apparel pocket sits on the right side of the bag, offering ample amounts of space for rain gear and the like, and a full-length zipper. It isn’t as large as the ones you’ll find on full-featured carry bags, but will certainly hold the bulk of what you need and has mesh netting at the bottom to keep itmes from falling out of the pocket. Inside of the apparel pocket against the interior side of the bag is a mesh pouch to keep smaller items accessible instead of in an unorganized heap at the bottom of the pocket.
  • On the outside of the apparel pocket is a fleece-lined valuables pocket, which is handy for keeping your wallet, keys or phone safe, though for security reasons we would prefer to have this pocket accessible only from the inside of the apparel pocket.
  • On the lower left hand side of the Sport Carry Lite is a thin medium sized pocket that we usually use for storing gloves and course guides. There is mesh netting at the bottom of the zippered opening to keep items from tumbling out when the pocket is opened.
  • On top of the medium sized pocket on the left side is an easy accessible beverage sleeve (there is no drain for liquids/condensation, as a few carry bags have). The sleeve isn’t really insulated, so drink up and order another cold one from the cart girl when she passes by again.
  • At the bottom of the bag is a medium sized pocket that has two zippers and can be removed. This is referred to as a ball pocket, but is large enough to hold other gear as well, such as sunscreen, an extra set of spikes, etc. A smaller zippered pocket sits on the spine just above this pocket – this is where we usually store a few balls to keep them readily accessible when we need to hit a provisional.

Not included in the count is the pen/pencil holder located at the base of the bag on the spine.

Nike Sport Carry Lite 2015
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The right side of the Nike Sport Carry Lite features an adjustable strap, sleeve, and bottom loop to secure an umbrella, a nylon strap for attaching a GPS or laser rangefinder, a plastic towel loop (which could be used for to attach any number of things with carabiner), and a Velcro glove patch in case you don’t want to go the old school glove-in-the-back-pocket route.

Other key features include:

  • Weight. This is one of the top-selling points of the bag. And when Nike says light (okay, they really say “Lite”), they mean it. The Sport Carry Lite weighs in at a very reasonable 4.3 pounds all-in. This is far below the average carry bag of nearly 5 pounds, and while you might think 3/4 of a pound isn’t much, it does make a difference when you’re walking the course, be it 36 or 18 holes.
  • Hip padding. In order to achieve this weight, something has to go…and one of the areas is padding on the bag, including for the hip/back. It wasn’t a deal breaker for us, but it is noticeable.
  • Straps. The shoulder straps, which also sacrificed some padding in order to achieve the desired weight, have a slight s-shape, and merge to form one continuous piece. Aside from the two straps merging into one, there is a piece of elastic that pulls the two shoulder straps together just a few inches from where the straps merge on the player’s back. The adjustable nylon straps are attached to shoulder strap via something called the “Nike EquaFlex revolving double-strap system.” Let us translate – “Plastic piece of material attached where the shoulder straps merge that allow for some amount of movement in the straps and thereby enable smaller adjustments on the fly.”
  • Legs. The legs do an exceptional job of holding snugly against the bag when it is being carried. Unfortunately, the Nike legs lack a bottom foot of any significant size, so on a soft course they will be more prone to sinking into the ground. The legs do extend easily when the “foot” at the bottom of the bag is activated, and there are a pair of elastic bands that can secure the legs against the bag when you’re traveling or on a cart.
  • Handles. In the interest of saving weight, the Nike Sport Carry Lite bag omits the customary handle at the top rim of the bag, which we found ourselves missing more than expected. It does retain the standard handle in the middle of the bag on the spine, and then another at the bottom of the bag just under the lowest pocket on the spine.

The matching rain hood was easily attached to protect clubs from the rain. Four buttons surround the oval top, two on each side, and there are cutouts of the hood for the shoulder strap clips, keeping good coverage around most of the top. Lastly, there is a Velcro strap goes around the points where the legs attach to the bag.

We can’t say we were big fans of some of the aesthetic design choices on the Sport Carry Lite – the pixelated shading at the edges of the apparel pocket looked more like an ode to yesteryear than something fresh. The Sport Carry Lite comes in four different color combinations: White/”University” Red; Fireberry (pink)/Volt (yellow)/Dark Fireberry; Silver/Photo Blue/Dark Grey; and Black/Silver/Anthracite. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.

But we’re confident that you’ll find that at its retail price of only $130, the Nike Sport Carry Lite offers exceptional value in a carry bag. The Sport Carry Lite is the least expensive bag in our tests, and yet its ultra-lightweight materials still proved durable, holding up fine during use. You’ll give up some padding for your shoulders and back, and we would have preferred to have a top handle for the bag, but all in all, these are reasonable tradeoffs for an otherwise very solid choice in a carry bag.

Retail price: $130.00
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now