Following the introduction of Goretex for golf clothing 30 years ago, it always baffled me why someone could not come up with a lightweight, waterproof fabric for golf bags.
Finally Sun Mountain felt my vibes and a few years ago launched their H2NO waterproof range which they have extended for 2014, as you may have seen with Jamie's review of the Sun Mountain H2NO stand bag.
Unlike Jamie, I gave up carrying clubs a long time ago, so for the last 3 months I have been putting the H2NO Lite cart bag through its paces on on my electric trolley.
The first test was easy as I didn't have to do anything. Since we are in the UK, I just had a wait a few hours before I could expose the cart bag complete with clubs and clothing in the pockets to torrential rain for 4 hours.
Previously when playing in the rain I have use a full size tour bag which was heavy but impervious. Now the much smaller and lighter H2NO Lite was stealing its thunder.
After a thorough drenching the bag kept my clothing, gloves, money, scorecard and electronics completely dry. My dream of a waterproof bag is here as the 2000mm coated fabric and rainhood kept everything out. The 2000mm refers to the amount of rain that is requried before it gets through the fabric and is twice the industry standard for waterproofness.
Each of the H2NO Lite's seven pockets has sealed YKK zips to stop the water getting through, so things like gloves and phones in outside pockets stay safe and dry. This means no more rainproof bag covers that stopped you getting into the pockets.
All the pockets are generous and in the right places, but I would like to see double zips on the front facing pockets so you could open from either side of your trolley rather than having to lean over if you are on the other side.
The storage and internal dividers for the clubs are excellent, including a generous and easily accessible 15th slot for the putter.
The waterproofness combines with lightness of a 2.4kg bag for ease of movement on a trolley and greater battery life which your arms and your wallet will thank you for.
The base of the bag feaures a slot to enable it to lock into place on most popular electric golf trolleys and that is a big plus to ensure the bag stays secure on the trolley.
So far so good, but looking at the overall package the name highlights the issues with some of the features, or lack of them.
As an American brand, Sun Mountain classify the H2NO Lite as a cart bag rather than a trolley bag. Normally I let our transatlantic cousins off with rewording our golfing language, but here I think it makes a difference.
The design is made for ride on carts as shown by the two excellent grab handles on either side of the top of the bag. They may be good for lifting onto the back of a cart, but they are no use for lifting out of a car boot and onto a trolley.
What you need is a grab handle at the base and a handle on the front near the top, neither of which the H2NO has. There is a fabric 'handle' on the front that is technically described as the "cart-strap-pass-through panel", so it is no wonder that it is too wide and not strong enough for the job, but it is all there is.
The positioning of this panel is near the firm base of the putter slot so coming up with a more robust grip handle in this location should be possible.
I have also occasionally forced the putter to share it's lovely 15th slot with the umbrella, whose intended home under the side pocket seems a bit of an afterthought. The short sleeve and bottom loop are just outdone for user un-friendliness by the flimsy adjustable loop that the umbrella has to go through at the top of the bag.
Given this is a bag designed for the rain, you would think they would get the umbrella holder right. One full length sleeve that holds the umbrella completely would allow a quick and easy umbrella insertion with one hand rather than a time consuming fiddle with two.
A water bottle slot or pocket somewhere near the top wouldn't go amiss either and I am a bit surprised by this from an American bag.
This may all seem harsh, but this is not a cheap golf bag, so it needs to deliver in all areas. Let's face it, it rains more here than in the USA and we use trolleys more than carts, so it needs to be up to life in the UK.
The design of the handles, zips and umbrella holder could be better for a premium bag so I am afraid it will lose a star. Other trolley bags are more user friendly in the dry and competitors are starting to come into the market with lightweight waterproof bags.
Despite these foibles, I am going to keep using my H2NO Lite cart bag, as the lightweight design and waterproofing are superb. It may be pricey, but the fact it keeps everything dry and is lighter to use than a tour bag in the rain are still pretty strong reasons to buy it.