We loved the original Sun Mountain Zero-G when it was released in 2010, and continue to be big fans of the 2015 version, now dubbed the Sun Mountain Three 5 Zero-G. Based on Sun Mountain’s popular Three 5 series, the bag itself is functional, lightweight, and provides a reasonable amount of storage. The differentiator is still the innovative hip belt, which redistributes the weight of the bag from your shoulders to your hips. This also helps protect your lower back, as the weight of the bag won’t suddenly lurch to one side when you turn or lean.
The caveats are that it’s not cheap (with an MSRP of $219.99), and sometimes the legs don’t pop out as far as we’d like, requiring a nudge from a foot to get them to fully extend. But the increased comfort from the hip belt make this almost a “must have” for anyone who regularly walks the course. The Sun Mountain Three 5 Zero-G is still one of our favorites.
The Sun Mountain Three 5 Zero-G has a 9″ 4-way top, with each of the 4 club storage areas partitioned off by full-length dividers. Another couple of storage partitions would have been helpful, as clubs had a tendency to group together and create a logjam down by the grips. The top is flared outward to make it slightly easier to pull clubs out of the bag.
There are seven 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 easily holds a vest, a jacket and a pair of rain pants (assuming you roll things up, of course). The zipper runs the full length of the pocket, and there is a small piece of accordion pleated fabric at the bottom to keep smaller items from escaping.
- A smaller valuables pocket sits on the outside of the garment pocket. The valuables pocket is lined with velour to provide a bit of protection should you put in a watch or a phone – of course if you throw your keys in there too, you’ve kind of defeated the purpose.
- On the lower left hand side of the bag is a medium sized pocket that, like the garment pocket, has a piece of accordion pleated fabric at the bottom to keep the contents from falling out.
- Stacked on top of the medium sized pocket is the beverage sleeve. The beverage sleeve does not have any discernible insulation.
- On the spine of the bag are two pockets stacked on top of each other. The lower of the two has plenty of room for sunscreen, insect repellent, extra spikes, et al. The upper pocket was ideal for storing a couple of handfuls of tees.
- Also on the spine of the bag is a small webbed pocket designed to hold two golf balls.
- Not included in the pocket count are a pen/pencil holder on the exterior of the garment pocket near the top of the bag , a scorecard and pencil/pen holder on the exterior of the garment pocket closer to the base of the bag.
The right side of the Sun Mountain Three 5 Zero-G also features an adjustable umbrella strap and a nylon loop for attaching a towel, laser rangefinder and/or GPS device.
The belt makes the Zero-G one of the best carry bags for those who regularly walk the course:
- Weight. While the name of the bag is clever marketing, that’s all it is – the Sun Mountain Three Five Zero G does not weigh 3.5 pounds. Our testing revealed that it is 4.66 pounds without the belt (but including the rain hood), and 5.37 pounds with the belt attached (and including the rain hood). The average weight among the carry bags we have tested is about 4.9 pounds, so it’s a tad above average with the belt.
- Hip padding. The bag itself isn’t overly generous with padding at the hips and lower back, but the belt is heavily padded and almost an inch thick, so as long as you have the belt in place (and why wouldn’t you, if you decided to invest in this particular bag) it’s pretty cushy.
- Straps and Belt. Sun Mountain’s Auto-Fit Strap System is a central back pad with four points at which the straps are attached, and the length of each of the four straps is adjustable. Our sense is that the “auto fit” aspect of the system is that the left shoulder strap can slide along an arc at its attachment point. As a result, gravity will move the bag into the right place without you needing to adjust the length of the strap. The belt is improved over the 2010 version – instead of fastening the belt via Velcro (which started to wear out in our 2010 test model,) there is a simple plastic buckle that clicks the ends together. The belt is adjustable from 30 inches to 50 inches.
- Legs. The legs hold tightly against the bag when you are carrying the bag. As noted above, on some slopes they don’t pop out as far as we’d like, requiring a nudge from your foot to induce the proper angle. The triangular rubber feet provide a stable platform and prevent the legs from sinking into soft wet terrain. There are two elastic loops to secure the legs to the bag when you’re driving a cart.
- Handles. The Sun Mountain Three Five Zero-G 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 spine, and a handle built into the bottom pocket near the bottom of the bag.
The rain hood of the Zero-G (Sun Mountain calls it a “Dry Hood” is well designed for quick deployment. Four buttons go into strategically placed snaps, with a tab that slips through the handle at the top of the bag and then Velcros into place. It took less than a minute and a half to get the rain hood secured despite not having bothered to read the instructions (and putting the wrong side on first). The hood is coated with Teflon, which is supposed to repel water and stains.
Other than the belt, which draws some odd glances now and then, the Zero-G doesn’t really attract too much attention for its looks. It comes in four different color combinations: White/Grey/Orange; Cobalt (blue)/Black; Black/Red/Gunmetal (gray); and Gunmetal(gray)/Black/Citron (yellow).
At a retail price of nearly $220, the Sun Mountain Three 5 Zero-G is one of the most expensive bags that we’ve tested. While the storage options are relatively simple, the carrying belt elevates the Zero-G to the next level. The belt may not be for everyone, but it is a differentiator that for regular walkers is well worth the premium.
Retail price: $219.99
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