Best Golf Bags For Travel (2020 Picks)
Soft Sided Bags
Hard Shell Bags
Traveling to new and interesting golf courses is one of the most exciting parts of the sport. But getting there with your golf clubs can be a terrible experience without the right bag.
If you want to get to your destination with your clubs in one piece then you’re going to need a solid travel bag for your clubs. So here’s why we chose the bags above for you…
Sun Mountain ClubGlider Meridian (Top Pick)
The Sun Mountain ClubGlider Meridian is one of the most popular and highest-rated golf travel bags available today. It has been the Golf Digest Editors Choice for the last few years straight. With top of the line protection and ease of use, this was an easy top pick among our best travel bags.
The unique feature of the ClubGlider Meridian is the legs that extend from the bag with wheels on them to allow you to stand and roll the bag at a 45-degree angle. This helps the bag stand on its own with a wider wheel-base than the bags that have 4 wheels all attached to the base of the bag.
It’s also better than bags that have only two wheels and need to be held at the top and tilted down to use the wheels. That style requires you to support some of the weight of the bag while you are moving it, which can get tiring if you have far to go.
This Sun Mountain bag lets you easily wheel the bag around without supporting any of the weight.
The bag itself is made mostly of heavy-duty nylon with the bottom 2 feet or so of the bag (where most of the wear is to be expected) covered by a hard plastic on one side. This affords great protection for your clubs as well as durability that should last you a while.
The top part of the bag (the area that covers the heads of your clubs) is reinforced with thick foam padding. It is relatively rigid and quite strong. You should always use a support stick in every travel bag and this is no exception.
It has two handle positions. There are two straps on either side of the zipper that would allow you to carry it like a duffel bag. There is also a well-made handle at the top. This is the handle that you would use to pull the bag in the transport position.
Maneuverability is where the ClubGlider Meridian really shines. The wheels on the extended legs are on 360-degree casters. This allows you total freedom to move the bag around. It may seem like a small detail, but when you need to work your way through small spaces or heavy crowds, it’s invaluable.
The Meridian model has dimensions of 52” x 14” x 14”. This makes it plenty large enough for almost all carry bags and medium-sized cart bags. I highly recommend picking up a smaller lighter bag for traveling if you usually use a big cart bag.
If you need a larger version, Sun Mountain also offers the Pro Travel Bag model.
CLICK HERE to check out the Clubglider Pro. It can handle a big staff bag OR two mid-sized stand bags. Perfect for the couple that travels together.
Club Glove Last Bag Collegiate (Runner Up)
Club Glove is one of the most recognized names in golf when it comes to travel bags. They have been around for a while and produce very high-quality products.
The only thing that drops the Club Glove to runner-up status is that they fall behind the Sun Mountain bag in terms of maneuverability. In order to move the bag, you need to tilt it and wheel it on the bottom wheels. This bag lacks the extra legs that make the Sun Mountain easier to maneuver.
Otherwise, this bag is every bit as good. It is especially sturdy for a soft-sided bag. The material is tough and tear-resistant and the zippers are really strong. This is the kind of bag that makes you feel really confident that your clubs are going to get to their destination in one piece.
The Club Glove Last Bag really excels when it comes to securing your clubs and protecting them. It has straps across the front that you can use to secure your clubs in place. The padding all over the bag is really solid.
Club Glove also offers a 5-year no questions asked warranty…but you need to pay an additional charge to get that.
The Ogio Mutant is a great option if you are trying to save a little money and stay under that $200 mark.
The materials in this bag include a Tarpaulin base and reinforcements across the bag. The material is strong and durable. Compared to the Sun Mountain and Club Glove options, it falls just a little short.
When it comes to ease of use and maneuverability, the Ogio Mutant is basically the same as the Club Glove. It has two well-designed wheels that can handle less than perfect terrain as well as those smooth airport floors.
Where the Mutant really excels is its storage space. If you’re someone that likes your luggage to have a lot of options and multiple pockets, then take a good look at the Ogio Mutant.
CaddyDaddy Constrictor 2 (Best Under $100)
The CadddyDaddy Constrictor 2 is a great value for the golfer that doesn’t travel with their clubs that often or maybe has an older set that they are less concerned about.
The Caddy Daddy Constrictor 2 does a pretty good job of protecting your clubs and can be found at a really reasonable price.
My biggest gripe about the Caddy Daddy compared to the options above is the lack of padding around the clubhead area. This is the most critical part of the travel bag and needs extra protection. So if you decide to go this route and save some money, be sure to pack some extra towels or other types of padding around the clubs.
One positive side of having less padding is that the bag is lighter. However, once you add some extra support around the top, that benefit can be negated pretty quickly.
The material itself is good but also a step below the options above. I think the sub-100 dollar price point is where you really start to see a drop off in the quality of these bags. This bag can get the job done, but a few extra bucks can get it done a LOT better.
Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Golf Travel Bag (Budget Option)
At the bottom of the price range is the Amazon Basics Soft-Sided Golf Travel Bag. It’s one of the least expensive ways to give your bag some added protection. However, if you are flying and relying on your travel bag to protect your clubs from baggage handlers…you may want to invest in a higher quality bag.
This bag has decent padding and can be serviceable for a few trips. So if you don’t travel a lot and don’t have expensive clubs, then it might be worth taking a look.
However, some users have reported the wheels breaking fairly easily, which can be a huge deal. A golf travel bag with a broken wheel can make your trip miserable.
If you just want something basic (pun intended) to cover up your clubs (especially if you aren’t traveling by airline) then this can save you a lot of money. Otherwise, take a look at the Caddy Daddy above.
Samsonite Golf Hard Sided Travel Cover (Best Hard Shell Case)
Six wheels on the base give you options for maneuvering your bag around the airport (and options are good). It has four caster wheels on the base so you can leave the bag upright as you wheel it around. But Samsonite has added two wheels on the side of the bottom for hand-held tilted wheeling as well.
This Samsonite bag is going to do a great job protecting your clubs, there is no doubt about that. Just make sure you pack your clubs with some kind of packing material (towels, shirts, extra underwear) to ensure that the clubs are secure within the bag.
The downside to hard case travel bags is that you can’t tighten them around with clubs so you need to take some extra care when packing. Also, don’t think that the hard case removes the need to get one of those support sticks to put in your bag when traveling. In fact, they can be more important in a hard case as it will give your golf bag more height and secure it against the top of the case.
Speaking of the top of this case, it is 54 inches long! That’s the tallest bag on the list by 2 inches. So make sure that it will fit in your trunk. The size makes sure it can fit any bag you throw at it, but that also makes it a bit unwieldy to use.
It has four caster wheels on the bottom so you can maneuver it around while it’s standing up. You can also tilt it over and pull it like the bags above.
Overall, this is a very good quality bag. As long as you understand the pros and cons of a hard-sided bag and want this type, then this is the one to go for.
What To Look For In A Travel Golf Bag
This should go without saying but the padding on the bag is the primary factor in protecting your clubs.
There will always be a tradeoff between saving weight and adding more padding to the bag. The most important area to look at is the top where the clubs are not covered by your golf bag. This is where impacts from luggage handlers and the like can actually snap off the heads of your clubs.
Most of the best bags out there, and our top picks on this list, have some heavy duty foam padding at the top. Foam padding gives you a lot of protection without adding much unnecessary weight.
Get A Stick
No matter which bag you use, you should have a support stick in your golf bag. This is a simple device that looks like a tiny umbrella for your clubs. It is used so that the clubs are not supporting the top of the travel bag. In the event that a baggage handler having a bad day drops your bag on its head, the support stick will absorb the impact rather than your clubs.
You don’t need to spend too much on this though. I use this travel bag support stick. It’s inexpensive and works great.
PACKING TIP: Use a shirt or towel to wrap around the shaft of the support stick. That will prevent your clubs from banging against the metal arm.
Hard vs. Soft Shell
The first decision you need to make when choosing a golf travel bag is whether you want a softshell bag or a hard shell bag.
I recommend a soft bag. You may think that a hard shell bag offers more protection, but that isn’t necessarily true. The problem with most hardshell bag cases is that they are just a shell. There is little to no padding inside.
That means that any bag or clubs in the case will bounce around inside the shell and bang up against the sides of it. So if you do choose one of these, be sure to add your own padding inside the case to keep the clubs secure. The best way to do this is with your golf towels and clothes.
The downside is that putting all that extra stuff in there adds even more weight to an already heavy bag. So even though hard shell bags by themselves are lighter than the soft ones, that’s because they lack any substantial padding
Soft-sided bags (the good ones like our top picks here) offer just as much protection and have the added benefits in terms of weight and maneuverability. In addition, the top picks on this list have hard vinyl in the areas that get the most wear and tear. So you get the best of both worlds.
Of course, if you think a hardshell case is better for your needs, we listed our top picks for those as well.
Ease Of Transport
Part of traveling with bags is having to transport them yourself. Whether it’s taking them through a crowded airport or getting them from the car to your hotel room, being able to easily get your bags around on your own is very important.
Always choose a bag that has wheels. Golf bags are heavy enough, add a padded travel bag to that and carrying them is going to put a lot of strain on your back and shoulders. Even very fit golfers can give themselves problems by trying to carry their travel bags around.
Be sure to pay attention to the number of wheels and the arrangement on the bag. Some bags only have two wheels and require you to tilt them from the top to be able to wheel around. These bags also tend to be a little unsteady when you try to stand them on their own.
I prefer bags that have at least four wheels that allow you to leave the bag in a standing position and still wheel it around. These bags tend to be a little more steady standing on their own.
The ideal situation is a bag with six wheels. Four on the bottom that let you wheel the bag standing up and two more to be able to tilt the bag and wheel it from that position. The Sun Mountain bag above offers a unique approach with legs that extend out giving you a four wheel base with the bag tilted in a more secure position.
If you are going to invest a couple of hundred dollars in a travel bag, you want it to last.
Whether you’re traveling by airline or throwing the bag in your trunk, travel bags take a beating. So you want to look for materials that will last. The seams are the most important parts of the bag and the place where most bags will eventually fail and rip. Well stitched seams and heavy duty stitching are the things to look for.
As far as the material itself, you want to look for heavy-duty nylon material that won’t rip or tear easily. Your bag is going to scrape up against all kinds of things. as you take it from place to place. So making sure your bag can stand up to this without easily ripping is important.
Check your regular bag to make sure it fits. That should be the deciding factor if you go with the larger more expensive options.
Keep in mind that for the bags that have different sizes, there really isn’t any difference in terms of quality or features. The more expensive options are really just larger. So if you use a small carry bag, then you can save some money on the travel bag and go with a smaller option.
However, if you typically use a large cart bag, then you have two choices. You can go with a larger travel bag, or pick up a good carry bag to use when you travel.
I’d suggest the second option because traveling with a big heavy bag means extra fees on airlines, more difficulty getting through the airport, and a bigger rental car to fit your giant bag.
Most airlines have a 50lb limit for sports equipment and golf bags can easily tip the scales are more than 50.
There isn’t a huge variation in weight on the bags above, so you can’t save too much weight.
The key to saving weight when you’re traveling with clubs is more about how you pack rather than finding a light travel bag. In fact, the travel case is the one thing you DON’T want to cut corners on to save weight. Those extra pounds are the padding that is keeping your clubs safe.
Instead, try packing other things like golf balls, towels, etc. in your other luggage to redistribute the weight and spread it out.
Ease Of Packing
This is important to look for when choosing any luggage, not just golf travel bags. You want to make sure the bag has features that make it easy to pack everything you need.
For the most part, a travel golf bag should be focused on protecting the golf bag rather than having all kinds of compartments and pockets for various things. After all, your golf bag itself probably has all the pockets you need for everything.
However, a few smaller compartments can make your life a little easier if you want to store some extra things in your travel golf bag that are easily accessible. Things that you may use even off the course like sunscreen might find a home there.
Golf Club Travel Bag Tips
Get a good quality bag. If you are reading this then you already know this one. Just scroll up for the best options.
Try to get direct flights whenever possible. Non-stop flights will give the airlines fewer chances to lose your clubs. There are always other considerations to take into account like price and whether your destination is even available to reach non-stop. But don’t forget that you probably spent a lot of money to travel to play that course, so a few extra bucks for a direct flight can help to ensure that your clubs arrive in the same place you do.
Pack conservatively. Golf clubs are already difficult to manage on a trip, so do your best to cut down on your luggage as much as possible. If you are staying for more than a few days, check to see if your destination hotel has laundry services. If it does, you can bring half the amount of clothes and just have them washed.
Check the airline regulations when it comes to oversized luggage. Golf bags are bigger than regular check-in luggage and are usually subject to special rules and fees. Don’t get caught by surprise. Do some research and know exactly what the size and weight limits are. You may even be able to move some things from your golf bag to your suitcase and avoid extra fees.
Put your contact information on your golf clubs. Whether it’s the airline’s fault or you just got distracted by the churro stand in the airport and walked away from your golf bag, you may need to rely on someone finding the bag and returning it to you. So put your name and cell phone number on the bag so someone can reach you wherever you are.
Don’t forget about ground transportation when you are flying. Many resort destinations offer shuttle service to and from the airport. This can be convenient, but it also means another opportunity for your golf clubs to be handled by someone who doesn’t realize they are breakable. Opt for the car service or taxi instead.
Secure your clubs well inside the bag. Most golf club damage during travel happens from the clubs bouncing around inside the bag. So use your golf towels, headcovers, and maybe even some clothes to ensure that the clubs don’t move around. Your woods will already have headcovers, but you can pick up covers for your irons too. Just be sure to remove the iron covers before you head to the course…it’s not a “cool” look.
Pack electronics in your carry on. If you have any electronics that are normally kept in your golf bag like a GPS or rangefinder, consider putting them in your carry on with the other electronics.
Common Questions About Traveling With Golf Clubs
Do I need a travel bag for golf clubs?
Yes! If you are traveling with your golf clubs then a travel bag is an absolute necessity, especially if you are flying. You simply can’t take clubs on an airplane without a travel bag. Even if you are traveling by car, a good travel bag will protect your clubs from getting banged around in the trunk with all the other luggage.
Should I get a soft-sided or hard case travel bag?
Soft-sided bags are the way to go. There is a reason we chose soft-sided travel bags at the top of our list. They are lighter, easier to get around with, and offer just as much protection as their hard-sided counterparts.
How much should I spend on a travel bag?
You get what you pay for. Protecting your clubs when you travel is not an area that you should try to save money on. If you want a bag that will last a long time and protect your clubs well, you can expect to pay $250 to $350.
Do airlines charge extra for golf bags?
Usually, yes. Most airlines will have an extra fee for large luggage and sports equipment like golf clubs. However, that varies from airline to airline. So be sure to check the rules and fees of the specific airline that you are using before you get to the airport. That way you may be able to move some things around to make sure all your bags are within weight requirements.
Will my golf bag fit in a travel bag?
If you buy the correct travel bag then yes. There are travel bags of all sizes from those that work great with ultralight carry bags to those that pros use with giant staff bags. Just make sure you check the dimensions of the travel bag and measure the size of your golf bag before buying.