What's next for golf bags? Whilst technology and materials have pushed the boundaries of clubs, balls, shoes and apparel in recent season, the golf bag has remained largely unchanged since the invent of the stand and double-strap.
Wilson believe the next innovation in bags is the NeXus.
They launched their Wilson Staff NeXus bag, featuring a unique 360-degree integrated frame design. Having met with Wilson to discuss the bag, I got my hands on one and took it to the course.
I chose the white NeXus model. If the white isn't your cup of tea, or if you are concerned about it getting dirty, worry not, there are three other colour combinations available. Check them out here.
Like me, you may not fully understand what a "360-degree integrated frame design" means or how it can help you carry clubs around the course. Haven't spoke to Wilson I can tell you that, simply put, it refers to the exoskeleton frame that is separate from the bag. The frame, stand and spine of the bag are all part of a one-piece base structure. Built from a lightweight aluminium, the overall frame is very light and by building it as one piece it can more functional and durable.
In the photo below you can see where the orange spine of the bag feeds down the bag and into the stand, behind the golf ball pocket.
Pick the bag up, or set it down, using the new base design and you get an idea of what Wilson's designers were doing with the design. Like a good golf swing, it is stable and doesn't have many moving parts. Where some stand bags feel fragile or clunky when you set them down, the NeXus smoothly rests on the fairway, with the new base sitting flat on the ground rather than tilting forward (see above).
Whilst it might be said that this base design helps protect the bag from the wind, I can't imagine bags struggling-in-the-wind is a concern for the average golfer. Regardless, it sits and looks very comfortable.
Beyond the fancy new frame/exoskeleton, the NeXus has a range of features and pockets to cater to all your on-course needs. Wilson have considered just about everything and anything you may need to store in your bag.
From an insulated drinks pouch, to a GPS sleeve, to a heat-sealed, water-resistent valuables pocket, the NeXus is packed with storage areas for your journey around the course. Large apparel pockets easily fit a set of waterproofs and with a total of eight pockets/pouches all together, you will be hard pressed to fill them all.
Here's a look at the GPS sleeve and water pouch:
Beyond what you might want to store inside the bag, Wilson have even added an open, velcro patch at the top of the bag for you to attach your glove as you walk the fairways or hole out on the greens. Where or not you like to look like a pro with your glove hanging out your back pocket, this is a cool feature and example of the added features the bag has.
Enough about the pockets and how it sits, how is it to carry?
I hear you, and take my word for it, the NeXus bag is comfortable to wear and carry. The straps are quite large due to a heavy amount of padding, but they are comfortable and have come on a long way since the original double-strap designs.
The simple double-strap system is easy to adjust whilst the bag is on your back. I was able to find the correct, comfortable position before I even reached my first drive.
My only gripe would be that when adjusted, the oversized grip-handle in the middle of the back did rest on our my back. It wasn't uncomfortable, but I could feel the handle.
Talking of handles, the oversized handle towards the top of the bag was easily my favourite part of the bag. I can admit that I have been put off by the look of these handles on bags before, to me they look like they are suited to helping players lift their bag onto a trolley or buggy. However, without even meaning to, I found myself using this handle time after time throughout my day at the course.
Anytime I took my bag off my bag, I would slip the bag off my shoulders and naturally my hand would find itself on this handle. It is easy to grip, comfortable on your hand and provide a great balance point for the bag. I would use it dropping my bag by a green or on a tee and also carrying the bag around the locker room, or out to my car.
I think Wilson specifically made it large and comfortable to show golfers just how light the NeXus is. If they did, it worked on me.
The handle along with the large 5-way divider top seemed to be shaped and positioned to open the top of the bag and make it easy to carry as well as add or remove clubs.
The padded, woven material around the top of the bag seemed quite frail and already showed signs of nagging and splitting after just a couple of rounds. This is fairly common with this material.
Overall, I was really impressed by the weight, stability and features of the NeXus.
Having always used a stand-bag and having never really shopped around for bags, I was surprised to see the quality and attention to detail in the bag. I would have loved to see it priced below £100 to make it more affordable and not directly competing with the top bag brands such as Ping and Titleist.
Price-wise, it sits in the upper bracket of stand-bags. It does, however, have all the features and functionality to compete there. If you are in need of replacing that 10-year old bag that has almost completely fallen apart, you should certainly consider the NeXus as your next bag.