By Jack Trageser — Rattling Chains staff
After using the DGA Elite Shield bag for more than a month, it is my favorite bag ever, as well as the best accessory product ever marketed by Disc Golf Association. Time will tell whether it passes the all-important durability test, but it seems to be very well equipped in that regard as well.
It should be mentioned right that one’s preference of disc golf bags — like the golf discs they are designed to carry — is a highly subjective matter. Most significant in this regard is size. Some prefer the minimalist approach — a bag that is as small as possible and meant to hold a few discs and maybe a water bottle. Others have a rather different philosophy, and represent the “If there is even the remotest chance I might need it, I will carry it” school of thought. These folks want to carry 30 or more discs, two wardrobe changes, enough food and water to survive in the wilderness for 10 days, and seven miscellaneous pockets and straps full of other stuff.
I prefer something between these two extremes. I want room for about 14 discs, a large water bottle, and the outer layer of clothing I’ll remove halfway through the round. I’d also like several convenient storage pockets for my snacks and little stuff, too. And, now that I’ve gotten used to backpack-style straps, my bag must at least include that as an option as well. Finally, I like to keep the cost reasonable — $75 or cheaper.
Keep in mind these personal preferences when I say that the Elite Shield bag by DGA is the ideal bag for me.
The company is best known for its dominant share of baskets installed worldwide and its pioneering status in the sport (perhaps you’ve heard of “Steady” Ed Headrick, the PDGA’s first member, the father of disc golf and the inventor of the Pole Hole catching devise?), but DGA also markets its own line of discs, apparel and accessories.
This bag has many cool features, some of which are completely unique to the Elite Shield. Some of those features include:
- Shield Pocket: This is the standout feature for which the bag is named. It’s a hard shell storage compartment designed to keep your phone, sunglasses, or anything else you want to keep from getting broken or wet safe and sound. DGA general manager Scott Keasey told me he got the idea after watching his bag get backed over by a car. I’m not sure it would withstand the weight of a car, but I love having a place where I know my breakables will be safe.
- Gel foam back padding: I’ve personally never had an issue with my bag feeling “hard” against my back, probably because it comes into contact more with my backside than my back. Still, the padding is quite cushy and I notice the difference.
- Retractable towel lanyard: This detachable device consists of a clip that attaches to a hook inside one of the large side pockets, another clip that attaches to a towel, and a length of strong but skinny string that automatically retracts back into the device. I didn’t know at first whether I’d use this, but find that I like not having to deal with stuffing my towel back into the bag after using it. I’ve never used towel clips before because they required me to use the towel right next to the bag, which can be awkward. Now, thanks to the lanyard, I don’t have worry about that or losing the towel.
- PVC diamond-plated water resistant bottom: This is actually big for me, as I play in pretty rugged terrain and the bottom of bags usually are the most likely failure point. Most bags are not only made of the same material as the rest of the bag, but are also completely flat. The Elite Shield’s bottom is rugged plastic, and also includes “feet,” which keep the bottom surface slightly elevated to reduce exposure to moisture and other wear-and-tear.
- Foam insulated beverage pocket: My favorite parts of the beverage pocket include an elastic gather at the top, which keeps even my small aluminum bottle secure even when I’m running, and the mesh plastic bottom. I hate when my bottle leaks, for whatever reason, and I discover a pool of liquid accumulating in the holder. The mesh will prevent that. One small downside is a large Nalgene bottle is a tight fit. The fit is actually nice and snug, but getting it in takes some wrangling.
The more standard features of the bag are quite agreeable as well. It comes with a skinny shoulder strap, but the four well-placed connectors accommodate the backpack straps of your choice. DGA sells it packaged with their Gel-Strapz, but I attached my straps and they work perfectly.
The storage pockets aside, from the Shield pocket, are all I could ask for — one large zippered compartment and another small one, along with a couple of small “tuck” sleeves for a mini, pencils, or whatever.
The putter pocket presents one small drawback for me, but only because I will sometimes jog during and between holes on a course when time is tight. I keep two putters in the pocket, and a couple of times the one on the outside has popped out. It’s absolutely no concern if you’re walking on the course like most people, but speed golfers should be aware this might happen.
The bag is medium in size. I have room for 12 discs in the main compartment, as well as two in the putter pocket. By using the included configurable dividers, the discs sit neatly in a middle section, with storage on both sides for clothing, extra towels, etc. This bag can hold more than 14 discs.In fact, I met a guy
In fact I recently met a guy at a local course who was using an Elite Shield bag. When I told him I’d be reviewing it soon, he noted he was able to fit 30 discs, which is way more than DGA intended with the design. But it gives you an idea of the capacity.
If you are like me and prefer a bag designed to last and isn’t too small or too big — but just right and includes a bunch of cool extras — I think you’ll like the DGA Elite Shield bag.
Jack Trageser is the founder of School of Disc Golf and the instructional writer at RattlingChains.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.