This review is an interesting one because it is the first time that Motocaddy has created a stand bag, having previously just focused on cart bags to complement their market-leading trolley range.
We were keen to try this out as Motocaddy has made a number of bold claims regarding the new AquaFlex bag, including its waterproof capabilities and their belief that it is just as adept on a trolley as it is on your shoulders.
As I discovered with the Titleist Hybrid 5 Stand Bag I reviewed earlier in the summer, these kind of two-in-one bags aren't always as practical out on the course as they seem on paper.
What's It All About?
Motocaddy says that the bag weighs a pretty reasonable 2.2kg (for reference, George recently tested the TaylorMade FlexTech bag at 2kg and was pretty satisfied), but this is actually up to 2.4kg once you add the strap to this.
There's a fully-adjustable strap and swivel buckle which utilises 'Smart Fit' technology, re-balancing the shoulders whilst you're carrying the bag so that the weight is spread between your shoulders for more comfort.
The new Easilock system in the base of the bag helps to securely slot in to a Motocaddy trolley, removing the need for a lower strap to go around the bottom of the bag, as demonstrated in this image below.
100% waterproof protection is ensured thanks to a TPU-coated nylon exterior, whilst there are five large pockets including a valuables section, along with a rainhood, to keep your gear safe from the elements.
David Wells, Motocaddy Chairman, explains the development of the new AquaFlex bag:
Anyone who has ever tried to use a carry bag on a trolley knows they don't fit very well. Our R&D team have worked hard to come up with a revolutionary top and base design which allows it to fit perfectly onto a trolley without affecting its performance as a lightweight carry bag.
With our knowledge and expertise in producing quality waterproof bags, we're really excited to launch the AquaFlex which will be the most versatile bag available to golfers.
I took the AquaFlex bag along to the very impressive Stockport Golf Club, filled with balls, gloves, tees and all the other usual bits needed for a round of golf, and put it through its paces.
I was keen to see whether this bag, which was touted as being just as useable when carrying as when on a trolley, would be one that you could use to do both jobs rather than having to switch in and out of two different bags.
Motocaddy AquaFlex Stand Bag Review
The first thing that struck me was build quality. Priced at £199.99, this was not a bag which was expensive simply because you're paying for the brand name. This was made with quality materials and some real effort had gone into its production - as you'd hope for the first of its kind from Motocaddy.
As a general rule, I am not a huge fan of the shiny look on bags like this one had, although the fact that I knew it was providing waterproof protection did mitigate this a little. The grey and lime colourway which I received was not nearly as bright or offensive as I feared it could be. Overall, the AquaFlex looked like a smart, well-made bag.
On The Course
Out on the course, Motocaddy's new Smart Fit technology worked brilliantly when the bag was worn on my back, as it basically adjusts to fit you. This then spares you the usual time wasted having to fiddle with the straps and tighten different parts to get the bag to fit properly. It was not so good on one shoulder, as it sat a little too upright for my liking, but that's not exactly a deal-breaker and overall I was very impressed.
Continuing on a similar theme, the design of the shoulder pads was also a big plus as Motocaddy has been very generous with the material in there, making it much more comfortable than most. There's nothing more annoying than straps that dig in or rub over the space of four hours, so this again proved that some thought had gone into the production of the AquaFlex.
Following the round, we also tested out the waterproof protection of the bag, using the very scientific method of emptying a bottle of water over it, and it passed with flying colours. Motocaddy wouldn't say this bag was 100% waterproof if they weren't 100% sure, so I think you can be confident that it will do the job.
The only real issue that I encountered on the course was that I just felt it becoming pretty heavy as my round went on. As it's designed to go on a trolley as well as be carried, I presume Motocaddy wanted to ensure that you wouldn't lose out in storage and features if you switched from a cart bag. As a result, the 2.4kg weight was a little uncomfortable for the last couple of holes on a pretty warm day.
The excellent build quality was again highlighted by the leg and stand mechanism, which felt sturdy and strong, although was probably a factor in the extra weight. I think that unfortunately these are the kind of trade-offs that you're going to get with a bag like this - if you want cart-bag levels of quality you'll have to sacrifice in other areas, such as added weight and a reasonably high price tag.
I liked the five-way divider and I found that the pockets were all of a good size, with sealed seams adding that extra bit of protection too.
If I was being very picky, I would maybe say that a designated water bottle pocket would be preferable to the external 'pouch', where your water bottle can sometimes slip out.
Would I Use It?
If I used a trolley more than I carried my bag, and didn't want two different bags, then yes. It's big enough that if you went through a period of using it exclusively as a trolley bag, you wouldn't feel like you were losing out. The pockets are more than adequate, it feels sturdy, and being waterproof is a great bonus.
For me however, I just think it's a little too heavy to use as predominantly a carry bag. Yes, I ended up playing more than 18 holes during our testing day but I could feel the weight of the bag starting to wear on my back before the end of the round, which has been proven to have a negative effect on performance. We can't afford to be giving any more shots away!
Over the last few months I have been using the Sun Mountain Two5 Plus as my main stand bag, and whilst that has limitations in other areas, I really felt the difference when using this bag. It reminded me more of the Titleist Hybrid bag which I recently reviewed, although I think it's a little better than that.
Motocaddy AquaFlex Stand Bag Verdict
For Motocaddy's first venture into the world of stand bags, I think they have done a pretty good job. Being 100% waterproof is a great bonus and there's a couple of really good features in there too, including the Smart Fit technology and the very comfortable shoulder straps.
If you're a 70:30 trolley user then this bag could be perfect for you, as for the odd round of golf where you have to carry the bag it would be more than okay. If Motocaddy could find some weight to maintain the AquaFlex's best features whilst shaving a bit of weight, then this would be the ideal option for all golfers.
- Great build quality
- Full waterproof protection
- Extremely comfortable shoulders
- Plenty of pockets
- Smart Fit technology worked well
- Shiny material may not be to some people's taste
- Bag felt a little heavy towards the end
- Only grey is available as main colourway