25 years after PING first introduced it as a revolutionary carry bag with legs that were activated when the bag was set down, the PING Hoofer continues on as a part of the company’s lineup. The Hoofer is the only bag in PING’s lineup offering a 5-way top (the others are 2, 4 or 14-way) with 2 full-length dividers separating the clubs. The bag weighs a somewhat portly five-and-a-half pounds, which is above average in our tests (of course we lean toward testing lighter bags that are still full-featured). The nylon and polyester bag features 8 pockets, including a water-resistant valuables pocket, a sunglasses pocket, and rangefinder and water-bottle pockets. You can never claim not to be organized with this bag!
The attached rain hood snaps in a pouch underneath the cushioned hip pad. And as with the other “Enhanced Ergonomics” (E2) bags in the PING line, there are two sliding shoulder pads with a strap slider to allow for a backpack fit (though the bag can be carried using one strap as well). There is also a reinforced bracket for the legs, and a wider 24-inch leg span for this latest release. Overall, the Hoofer is a solid bag but its days of being revolutionary seem to be in the past. To add a little confusion into the mix, we have seen this bag alternately referred to as both the “Hoofer” and the “Hoofer II”.
Note: To keep players on their toes, manufacturers often use the same model name across multiple years for carry bags, making larger changes to bag design every 2-3 years. This review is for the 2014 PING Hoofer carry bag. This Hoofer is not to be confused with the PING Hoofer 14, which has a 14-way top with 6 full-length dividers and weighs approximately ½ pound more than the PING Hoofer).
The PING Hoofer has a 9″ x 8″ reinforced 5-way top, which we think most players will be just fine with – it offers a balance between club storage and minimal sections, not too overboard as with a 14-way, and not so few that your clubs grips will get stuck together. Looking from the top of the bag, the opening is split roughly into thirds horizontally across the top by two full-length dividers, and the top two sections are then split vertically into two separate sections. This 2-2-1 split from the top of the bag works for us, and though the full-length divider might add some weight, it is minimal compared to the weight that comes from the extra features in the bag.
There are eight total pockets – seven zippered pockets and one open beverage sleeve. It’s a lot of different places to squirrel away your goods, and the tradeoff is the additional weight you’ll lug around.
- One large garment pocket sits on the right side of the bag and is big enough for most of the gear you will need. The zipper runs the full length of the pocket, and there is a small amount of mesh at the bottom to keep smaller items from spilling out. One nice feature is the zipper on the inside of this pocket that, when open, allows you to access the “inside” of the bag, in case you accidentally drop something down the 5-way top. No more turning your bag upside-down in an attempt to retrieve a wallet or sunglasses!
A smaller pocket sits on the outside of the garment pocket, which we use for assorted items (car keys, contacts, etc.).
A Velour valuables pocket is accessible from the top outside of the garment pocket. For security reasons we generally prefer the valuables pocket to be accessed through the inside of the garment pocket.
- On the lower left hand side of the bag is a medium sized pocket, which we generally used for gloves, scorecards and course guides. The zipper runs the length of the pocket, with some mesh at the bottom as well. Stacked on top of this pocket and sticking out from the bag is an open beverage sleeve. The design here will add a bit of weight to the bag, and even though it is taking up more space than most bag beverage sleeves, it isn’t insulated.
- On the spine of the bag are three pockets stacked on top of each other. These add quite a bit of depth to the bag, and enough bulk to make for a tighter squeeze into the (albeit tiny space in the) trunk of our convertible. The largest pocket that sits on top is quite spacious, probably unnecessarily large, and was where we stored balls, tees and the like. Two other medium-sized pockets sit in between this largest pocket and the bag. We didn’t really have a need for all of these separate pockets, and eventually used the largest as storage for extra balls, then the other two for tees and balls markers, and a few balls to be readily accessible. While the pockets create a lot of options, we didn’t necessarily see the need for all of them, and would have traded them off in exchange for less weight.
- GPS pouch. On the lower right side of the bag, sitting on the side of the pouches on the spine of the bag, is a small velour-lined pocket intended to be used as a GPS holder. The pocket has mesh at the bottom so you don’t lose your device, and holds all sizes of GPS devices, as well as smaller-sized laser rangefinders. Again, it’s nice that you can keep everything organized, but if we wanted to store our GPS device during the round, we would rather it be more conveniently located at the top of the bag. We found ourselves not using it, and it became another design element that only added more weight to the bag.
- Not included in the pocket count is a pen/pencil holder set just off the spine on the top third of the bag.
The Hoofer also features an adjustable cord and loop on the right side of the bag to secure an umbrella, and a plastic ring for attaching a towel, laser or GPS device of choice. There is no tee holder(s) on the bag, scorecard slot, or Velcro patch to secure a glove, available on some competing bags.
One twist (call it an innovation?) is that the PING Hoofer rain hood is stored in a zippable storage pocket underneath the hip pad. That means you are just that less likely to have left your rain hood at home. The hood includes a strap with an elastic snap to attach inside the storage pocket so the hood won’t go missing. Once you remove the hood, you have five buttons that snap to the top of the bag to secure the hood, and a portion of the base of the hood is elastic, allowing the hood to snugly fit the top of the bag without the fit issues that arise with competing bags and hoods. Well done all around.
While the PING Hoofer is a bit more bulky than we would ideally like, it is still a comfortable bag with a good amount of padding and adjustment capabilities:
- Weight. At roughly 5 ½ pounds in a market that is increasingly moving toward lighter bags, the PING Hoofer is above average in weight among the bags we have tested. For reference, we start to see the lightest full-featured bags at just under 4 pounds.
- Hip padding. The padded area is approximately 5″ x 10″ in size, and felt a bit more cushy than expected, perhaps due to the addition of the storage pouch for the rain hood underneath.
- Straps. Somewhat surprisingly, there is no central back pad to which the shoulder straps attach, rather there are two separate intertwined straps. Given that weight wasn’t really a consideration in this design, we would have expected a different system, though the straps are well padded. The upside to the lack of a back pad, however, is that the bag is a bit easier to carry with just a single strap.
- Legs. The legs hold tightly against the bag when you are carrying the bag, and easily release when set down. Note that the legs don’t have actual feet, just pegs, which can sink into wet ground. The Hoofer foot is, of course, integrated into the bag. Unfortunately, there is no strap to secure the legs when on a cart or while traveling.
- Handles. The PING Hoofer has the three standard handles that are found on virtually every carry bag: a plastic handle that is integrated into the top rim, a nylon handle on the spoine, and a nylon trunk strap at the bottom of the bag.
From a design standpoint, if you are looking for something that will make you stand out in a crowd, it won’t be the PING Hoofer. The color options are relatively staid: black, charcoal/black/red, carbon/mach (huh?) blue, and carbon/steel/leaderboard (market THAT!) lime.
At a retail price of nearly $190, the Ping Hoofer is one of the more expensive bags in our reviews, though the price isn’t much higher than other full-featured bags. The Hoofer will have everything you want, but you’ll wind up with a bag both heavier and more bulky than others. We won’t scoff at you for buying the PING Hoofer, but there are other attractive options if you are looking to save a few bucks or want a lighter bag.