While the Ping Hoofer Vantage provides solid performance, it doesn’t truly stand out in the crowded carry bag market. A number of our reviewers had used Ping Hoofers in the past, so we were hoping to see some innovation, but the Hoofer Vantage is not much different from the bags from 7-8 years ago. Ping seems to be experimenting with a couple of minor new features (the strap and the beverage pocket), but the execution isn’t quite there. It feels like when audio manufacturers started sticking fancy auto-reverse mechanisms and light meters on cassette tape decks – sure, it made the tape deck niftier, but it didn’t really hide the fact that the world was moving on to the compact disc. Ping traditionalists will still like the Hoofer Vantage, but the competition seems to have passed it by a bit. Better bags can be had at a lower price.
Retail price: $189.99
Availability: Discontinued; replaced by the Ping Hoofer C-1
A 5-way top splits the club area of the Ping Hoofer Vantage into 5 sectors. There are two full-length dividers that run the length of the bag, so the club storage space is divided into three major sectors, with the 5-way top splitting two of the major sectors in half. Fans of simpler set-ups for club storage will like this bag.
Ping bags have always been unique in both the angle of the bag when the legs are extended, and the way the “hoof” shaped bottom collapses to engage the legs. The greater angle between the legs and the bag can be helpful on uphill or downhill lies. At the same time, the engagement mechanism requires a bit of weight on it before the legs will extend. This generally isn’t a problem when the bag is full (the weight of the clubs themselves will help), but takes a little bit of practice. The legs on the Hoofer Vantage are rubber tipped, but lack the wider feet found on some competitors, which costs it a bit in stability.
The Ping Hoofer Vantage does not have a single unit dual-strap like most of its competitors – instead, the two straps are completely separate. The right strap features a “dual retraction” system. It works exactly as described – some form of tensor (on each end of the strap) keeps most of the strap curled away in the innards of the bag, so there’s less of a chance of it getting fouled. Unfortunately, the left strap has no such mechanism. It just hangs there, so (a) we often fumbled to try to find it when we wanted to put our left arm through the strap and (b) it tended to get tangled around things like the towel. Users will eventually get the hang of it, but this is not a category in which the Ping Hoofer Vantage was exceptional. Padding was sufficient, so comfort was not an issue.
The Ping Hoofer Vantage sports 7 total pockets.
- 1 large garment pocket runs along the right side of the bag.
- 1 small velour-lined valuables pocket (non-waterproof) sits above the large garment pocket. One complaint was that this was among the smallest of the valuables pockets we encountered – so if you’ve got a lot of bling, this may not be the bag for you.
- 1 small-to-medium sized pocket sits on the right side of the bag behind the large garment pocket.
- 1 medium-sized pocket and 1 small pocket sit on the spine of the bag.
- 1 medium sized ball pocket runs along the left side of the bag.
- 1 beverage pocket, lined with insulation and complete with a drain, runs along the left side of the bag. While we liked the insulation and drain, the pocket is on the small side, so while it fits a regular bottle of Aquafina, users will have difficulty cramming an athletic squeeze-top bottle into the pocket. In addition, the pocket holds the bottle almost parallel to the ground, so it often feels like the bottle will fall out (but it never actually did fall out over the course of several rounds of testing).
- There is a small pen pocket on the spine of the bag that Ping does not include in its pocket count.
The Hoofer Vantage includes a slot on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella and a ring for attaching a towel.
The rain hood is nice and simple – two Velcro straps must be secured – one underneath the legs and one underneath the straps. That’s it. For additional security, the user can also unclip the left strap and pass it through the rain hood, but we didn’t find that to be necessary.
The Hoofer has never been the lightest bag on the market, and the Hoofer Vantage is no exception. It generally performed fine during our test rounds, and didn’t really stand out in either direction.
- Weight. The Ping Hoofer Vantage is slightly heavier than the average bag, weighing in at 5.8 pounds as tested (including the rain hood).
- Balance. Ping gets this right, as the bag sat well and the weight felt evenly distributed when both straps were in place.
- Padding. A pad is placed where the bag rests against the user’s lower back – nothing fancy, but it’s adequate for the task.
Our style mavens thought that the Ping Hoofer Vantage was about middle-of-the-road among the bags we tested. It comes in 8 color combinations – none of which are particularly dramatic, which, in a world of fluorescent bags that scream “look at me!”, is a bit refreshing. The color options are:
- Navy and white, with silver trim
- Royal blue and grey
- Dark green, with black trim
- Navy, with black trim
- Black, with grey and neon green trim
- Black, with orange trim
- White, with orange and black trim
The retractable right strap is nice, but other than that, there isn’t much new on the Hoofer Vantage.
The Ping Hoofer Vantage retails for $189.99, which is square at the middle among the bags we tested. Its performance is respectable, but one there is more “wow” factor available on other bag factors at that price point.