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Critical Golf: Unbiased Golf Equipment Reviews

Nike Vapor X Carry

The Nike Vapor X weighs a bit over four pounds (as tested) and enters the Nike lineup as the lightest of their fully-featured carry bags.

The bag has six functional pockets for storage (5 zippered), enhanced water-resistant design, and a fleece-lined pocket for your valuables. There is a 5-way, 2 full-length divider system and putter-well, and in case you need some hints on where to place your accessories, there are icons for the valuables pocket, glove patch, GPS/rangefinder loop, pen-sleeve and insulated water-bottle sleeve. “Nike AIR” technology is incorporated into the S-curved shoulder straps to provide a comfortable and more ergonomic fit. The bag, while very comfortable and easy to carry, provides perhaps less storage space than those who like to really load up would want. We also weren’t fans of the legs, which don’t provide as stable a base as we like.

As far as design, with options such as Swan-Action Red or Electrolime-Neptune Blue, you shouldn’t have any trouble matching your favorite golf outfit(s).

The bag carries a steep retail price of $230, though is more commonly found for $189 or less. For those who are looking to keep their bag as light as possible, but still have a reasonable amount of functionality, this bag could fit the bill.

SCORE
88
GRADE
B+
Club Storage
93
Legs
85
Straps
93
Pockets/Storage
88
Rain Hood
93
Carrying Impressions
94
Style
93
Innovation
88
Cost/Value
82

Retail Price: $230.00 (street price of $179.00)
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93 / A-

CLUB STORAGE

The Nike Vapor X features an 8.5″ top (which is a bit smaller than most) with a five-way divider. There are only two full-length dividers, which split the bag into three areas that are further organized via the five-way top. Overall, we felt like the design of the Vapor X provided a nice compromise on club storage, balancing the trade-off between organizational efficiency and the additional weight created by adding more dividers.


85 / B

LEGS

The legs of the Nike Vapor X swing out easily from the bag when setting down, but the legs didn’t extend as much as we wanted, often resulting in a rather unstable bag when standing on its own. This is a result of the combination of the suspension that holds the legs in place (tighter than most other bags) and the sheer length of the legs (a whopping 2.5 inches longer than the Nike Performance Carry golf bag).

The legs hold nice and snug to the bag when walking. There is an external foot at the base of the bag that activates the legs to swing out when the bag is set down. When the bag is standing upright, the foot doesn’t protrude, so it doesn’t create any issues if you’re using the bag on a riding or push cart. Elastic loops at the base are available to secure the legs down when you don’t need to use them, a nice addition.


93 / A-

STRAPS

Those familiar with Nike products won’t be surprised to see “Air” technology used on the Vapor X in the form of a revolving double-strap system, each one featuring their “Max Air” design. A revolving buckle attaches the two shoulder straps at the center of the back and is supplemented by additional padding around the buckle. This system allows for even weight distribution and comfort, and we didn’t need to worry about our clubs sliding out when walking. The straps have 4 adjustment points where they attach to the bag (there is no adjustment at the revolving buckle).

The straps are comfortable, though it’s difficult whether it is the “Air” technology that makes this possible or simply the amount of padding built-in. Whatever the source, we were fans, this a pleasant surprise for a bag that is largely focused on saving weight. The straps fit our shoulders well, benefiting from the unique curved design, which is slightly “S” shaped.


88 / B+

POCKETS/STORAGE

If you are looking for extensive storage space, the Nike Vapor X may fall short of your needs. There is room for all the basics, but if you like to really load up, you will quickly find many of the pockets at capacity (even though marketed as “stretch-fit” pockets). We would trade off a bit more storage room for a bit more overall weight.

There are five different zippered pockets:

  • a garment pocket runs along the right side of the bag, and features a mesh pocket inside of it, which we found more useful than expected, allowing for quick access to smaller sized items, such as snacks or a wallet. This large pocket will store most of your needs, but may be stretched for capacity if you’re preparing for a rainy day with a waterproof jacket and pants. There is a small fleece-lined waterproof pocket along the outside of the garment pocket, barely large enough for a wallet and a GPS unit.
  • one very small pocket and one medium-sized pocket sit on the spine of the bag. We used the smallest pocket for extra tees and balls.
  • one medium-sized pocket on the lower left side of the bag, which we would customarily use for gloves and other items. Outside of this pocket is a open insulated sleeve to keep a cold drink.
  • Not included in the pocket count is an pen/pencil sleeve, and a Velcro patch to attach your glove.

The Nike Vapor X has a straps for securing an umbrella, a metal ring at the top to attach a towel, and a flat fabric loop for clipping a GPS or laser.


93 / A-

RAIN HOOD

The Nike Vapor X rain hood easily attaches with two buttons on either side of the bag, and has with good coverage both at the top of the bag and cutouts to let the shoulder straps move freely. There is a nylon strap with Velcro at the end that loops around under the legs to further secure the hood. Overall it is slightly on the small side and can be a bit tight when accessing clubs, but overall is a very good hood and easy to attach.


94 / A

CARRYING IMPRESSIONS

The Nike Vapor X is one of the lightest bags we’ve tested. Combine that with good balance and padding, and you’ve got a bag that is a breeze to carry. Hey, maybe we’ll go 36…

  • Weight. While Nike claims the Vapor X weighs less than 4 pounds, ours tested at 4.3 pounds (4.5 pounds with the rain hood). Funny thing…we generally find you at least a quarter of a pound to the marketed weight (or even name) of a bag to get to its actual weight. The Vapor X rightly belongs in the “lightweight” category of bags – Nike, however, takes liberties and classifies the Vapor X into its “ultra-lightweight” grouping with bags like the Nike Weekend Carry (under 2 pounds). Nothing like some poetic license! In any event, the Nike Vapor X is still one of the lightest full-featured bags in our tests. Carry on!
  • Balance. The revolving buckle in the center of the back helped us always be at ease with the balance of the bag on our shoulders.
  • Padding. Even at a rather low overall weight, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of back padding on the bag, which is ventilated to boot
  • Handles/Straps: The Vapor X doesn’t feature the handle at the top of the bag that is starting to proliferate within the industry. There is the traditional lower strap handle at the base of the bag, however.

93 / A-

STYLE

Nike Vapor X Lightweight Golf Bag
Click for more colors

The available range of Nike Vapor X designs range from subtle hues to brash combinations. We like the design – it’s nothing over-the-top, but the Nike swoosh and Max Air shoulder straps will still gain some attention.

The bag comes in 7 different marketing-inspired colors:

  • Black/University Red – Dark Grey
  • Gym Red/Swan – Action Red
  • Cool Grey/Action Green – Swan
  • Storm Blue/Electrolime – Neptune Blue
  • Safety Orange – Soar Neutral Grey
  • Granite/Electrolime – Smoke
  • Pink Flash/Deep Night – Swan

88 / B+

INNOVATION

There isn’t much new to the Nike Vapor X that we haven’t seen in other bags, and some items are lacking. It does feature the Velcro glove patch that has started to become more common, and we like that the foot used to activate the legs doesn’t protrude when the bag is set into a cart.

The marketed innovation points for Nike are the light weight, the “Max Air” revolving double strap system, and curved shoulder straps, all of which enhance the bag’s comfort on the golf course. It may be a stretch, however, for Nike to refer to it as having an “advanced hauling apparatus” (now that is marketing!).


82 / B-

COST/VALUE

$230 retail is an extremely high MSRP for a bag with fewer features than most of the carry bags we have tested. There are a number of other bags that either provide additional storage space, or are lighter with the same features. What you are getting with the Vapor X is a solid bag with the Nike name, but at a price.

We should note that while the Nike site quotes a $230 MSRP, they are selling it on their web store for $179 (and we find the bag available for less via other sites – see Amazon, for example). Even at that more attractive price, however, the Vapor X is still not a value standout.