The Sun Mountain Zero-G takes top honors in our bag test due to its excellent all-around performance and the clever innovation of its belt strap. Sun Mountain has been toying around with ways to distribute the weight of the bag to the user’s hips and legs, instead of the shoulders and lower back, and with the Zero-G, they’ve finally gotten it right. Comfortable, easy to use, what’s not to like? Oh yeah, the steep price point. It may not be worth it to a limber 15-year old, but our middle-aged backs were more than willing to shuck out the extra cash. The additional amount you pay to Sun Mountain is a lot less than you’d otherwise have to pay to your massage therapist and your chiropractor…
Editor’s note: this review is for the 2010 version of the Sun Mountain Zero-G.
The Sun Mountain Zero-G has a 6-way top that splits the club area into 6 sectors, but only two dividers run the length of the bag, so there are essentially 3 main club storage areas. The 6-way top divides each of those areas in two. We didn’t have much of a problem with limited number of full-length dividers, although once in a blue moon, your clubs will get tangled (particularly if your grips are sticky).
We’ll just repeat what we said about the legs on the Sun Mountain Superlight 3.5, since the Zero-G seems to have the same ones. Great legs! These are Stacey Keibler or Elle Macpherson quality gams we’re talking about on the Sun Mountain bags. Wide rubber feet (the Stacey/Elle analogies have now ended) provide excellent stability, and the legs pop out easily upon setting down the bag. There is an element of independent suspension in the legs, in that they don’t both automatically pop out the same amount, which is helpful when dealing with uneven lies. A Velcro strap can be used to lock the legs if the user is traveling or using a cart.
Like most of its competitors, the Sun Mountain Zero-G features 4 adjustment points for the straps. The padding on the straps is excellent.
The distinguishing feature of the Zero-G, of course, is the hip belt, which we’ll include as a “strap” for purposes of our review. Sun Mountain’s previous effort at redistributing weight was its terrible “HUG” technology, which involved flipping down an ungainly foam-covered metal brace around your hips.
But with the Zero-G, they’ve figured it out. The new hip belt eases the weight of the clubs and the bag off of your fragile back and shoulders and on to the big muscles of your hips and legs. Users will feel the difference over the course of a round (particularly on hilly terrain).
Using the Zero-G’s hip belt is a piece of cake – as with any other bag, you start by slinging it across your shoulders with the backpack straps, and then you simply fasten the padded belt strap around your hips with the Velcro that is located about where a belt buckle would be. Upon arriving at your ball, you pull the Velcro apart and set down the bag as you normally would. Occasionally, fastening and unfastening the Velcro belt is more trouble than it’s worth (like when you chunk an approach shot 40 yards) – in those cases, users can just leave the belt unfastened.
If you are taking a cart or traveling and don’t want to have to deal with the belt strap, you can easily slip the belt off of the bag and then use the “standard” backpack setup.
The Sun Mountain Zero-G features 7 total pockets.
- 1 large garment pocket runs along the right side of the bag, with 1 medium sized pocket and 1 small velour-lined waterproof valuables pocket (so your iPhone doesn’t zonk when it rains!) both along the outside of the garment pocket.
- 1 medium-sized and 1 small pocket rest on the spine of the bag.
- 1 medium sized ball pocket is on the left side of the bag, with 1 additional beverage pouch along the outside of this pocket. One note – the belt strap interferes with access to both of these pockets when the bag is set on the ground – it’s not impossible to reach them, but the user has to bend the belt strap out of the way. When the bag is on the user’s shoulders and the belt strap is fastened, unfettered access to these pockets (and in particular the beverage pouch) is restored.
- There’s an additional pen holder along the spine of the bag, so if it wanted to, Sun Mountain could probably claim 8 pockets.
The Sun Mountain Zero-G includes traditional straps on the right side of the bag for holding an umbrella and a ring for attaching a towel.
It’s a very standard layout for pockets, but one that works well.
The Sun Mountain Zero-G has the same convoluted rain hood as the other Sun Mountain and Titleist products. Securing the hood involves the difficult process of threading two Velcro straps through anchors on the front of the bag (instead of around the legs, which was our first guess), then snapping two buttons around the straps, and finally threading a final Velcro strap around the handle. As mentioned in those other reviews, we think Sun Mountain went a bit overboard with the security levels – the lengthy set-up process seems counterintuitive to the immediate goal of getting the clubs covered as soon as possible.
Boy did we like using the Sun Mountain Zero-G!
- Weight. The bag weighed 5.6 pounds as tested (including the rain hood and the belt strap), about at the median of the competitors in our test.
- Balance. The bag is evenly balanced across the shoulders.
- Padding. There are two nice kidney bean shaped pads that nestle supportively into the user’s lower back.
- Handles/Straps. As mentioned in other reviews, one fantastic feature of the Sun Mountain bags is the handle that is integrated into the rim of the bag. The user simply grasps this handle with the right hand to place the bag securely on the ground (and activate the legs) and slide the strap off of the right shoulder in one simple motion. This became such a natural motion for us that we would search in vain for the same handle when testing other bags.
About average in terms of the looks of the bag itself, the Sun Mountain Zero-G gets docked a little for style because, to be honest, the belt looks a bit dorky when it’s unfastened. The Sun Mountain Zero-G comes in six different color combinations:
- Red, with white and black trim (similar to the Louisville Cardinals)
- Yellow, with black and white trim (Iowa Hawkeyes)
- Purple, with yellow, black and white trim (some mid-major school MUST have this combination)
- Blue, with red, white and black trim (Louisiana Tech)
- Orange, with yellow, black and white trim (we’re pretty sure NO school uses these colors)
- Black, with just a hit of red piping and white trim (Cincinnati Bearcats)
We just can’t say enough about the belt strap. In our minds, it fundamentally changes the carrying experience, much like Izzo’s development of the backpack strap did about 15 years ago. We look forward to seeing further innovation on this design from other bag manufacturers. The Zero-G also gets points for the integrated handle at the top of the bag.
The Sun Mountain Zero-G provides solid features and quality performance and the belt strap took it over the top and made it our favorite. Yes, it is the second most expensive bag in our test, at a hefty $229.99, but “value” doesn’t necessarily just mean a low price. What our reviewers look for is whether the product delivers utility commensurate with the price, and our reviewers (and their lower backs) felt that the Sun Mountain Zero-G was well worth the investment.