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The Best Gym Bags for Carrying Fitness Gear With Ease

Best Gym Bags
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updated: June 4, 2024

Any bag can be a gym bag if you put your workout clothes in there, but why settle for just any bag? A dedicated gym bag should feature a few key traits that most totes won’t have. It should be large enough to handle a change of clothes, at least one compartment (which can handle toiletries that may leak, or damp workout wear away from other items), and it needs to be made from a material that can stand up to cleaning. From there, any other features are a plus, like water bottle holders or yoga mat straps. With so many choices on the market, it can be tough to find just the right fit—which is where this list of the best gym bags comes in.

Our top picks for best gym bag

Best sustainable gym bag: Terra Thread Aarde Gym Bag

Best sustainable gym bag
Terra Thread Aarde Gym Bag

Terra Thread Aarde Gym Bag

The Terra Thread Aarde Gym Bag incorporates sustainability into each part of the product. Fair Trade organic cotton canvas is used for the majority of the bag, with lead-free YKK metal fasteners and zippers. The bags are also manufactured in a fair trade-certified factory and are GOTS certified, meaning there are no toxic chemicals used in production and workers are protected under strong labor provisions. Finally, a portion of each purchase is donated to Feeding America’s campaign to end hunger, so shoppers can feel confident they are making the ethical choice when they buy the Aarde bag. While these are valuable qualities, shoppers will also be thrilled to find that this is simply a well-performing bag that is durable and sizable; the inner compartment fits up to 32 liters. It comes in seven stylish colors, with an emphasis on neutrals and green shades, and yet is still only priced at just under $60, making this a great-value pick.

Specifications:

  • Materials: Fair trade organic cotton canvas
  • Capacity: 32 liters
  • Dimensions: 11 x 18 x 10 inches
  • Shoe Compartment: No
  • Price on Publish: $59.95

The bottom line:

The Aarde gym bag by Terra Thread is made with sustainable choices at every level of production, including eco-friendly materials and a charitable donation with every purchase.

Get it here: Terra Thread Aarde Gym Bag


Best gym duffle bag: Herschel Novel Duffle Bag

Best gym duffle bag
Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel (Ivy Green) Bags

Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffel (Ivy Green) Bags

The new Herschel Novel Duffle Bag is large and sleek, with a simple silhouette that would look as appropriate in the office or airport as it does in the gym. This is also a sustainable choice: Both the exterior and interior are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, treated to be waterproof, while the leather accents are vegan. Although the outside look is very simple, it is still very attractive, with 19 different colors to choose from. The interior of the Novel Duffle features a shoe compartment and a zippered mesh pocket to hold your valuables. With 43L of volume to fill, this is a bag that could comfortably fit belongings for a weekend trip as well as your gym gear. I appreciate that this duffel is suitable for many different purposes, but doesn’t compromise on performance in order to be versatile—shoppers can expect that this purchase will be for life, thanks to the limited lifetime warranty. Shopping tip: If you’re a fan of this style, check out our lists for the best duffel bags and best rolling duffel bags.

Specifications:

  • Materials: 100% recycled EcoSystem (post-consumer water bottles)
  • Capacity: 43L
  • Dimensions: 11.75 x 20.5 x 11 inches
  • Shoe Compartment: Yes
  • Price on Publish: $110.00

The bottom line:

The Herschel Novel Duffle Bag is an elevated choice that’s as suitable for weekend travel and the office as it is for the gym, thanks to a sleek silhouette and inner pockets.

Get it here: Herschel Novel Duffle Bag


Best small gym bag: GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag

Best small gym bag
GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag

GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag

If you travel directly between the gym and home, you may arrive and leave wearing your gym clothes. Without bulky shoes and clothes to pack, your gym bag doesn’t need to be as large and bulky as people taking their equipment on their commute. For just the essentials, I love the GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag. The truly small dimensions make this a lightweight, portable option that still accommodates a water bottle, a sweat towel and some basic toiletries. You won’t find interior storage pockets but there are several thoughtful details, such as adjustable straps and a rope loop to attach keys or a keychain. The compact design and fun color options also makes this an easy bag to bring with you to the office or even out on the town afterwards, without feeling like you’re bringing the whole gym with you. Another perk of the small size? The price. This bag costs just $34, although it looks more expensive.

Specifications:

  • Materials: Matte PVC
  • Capacity: Not listed
  • Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 3.7 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $34.00

The bottom line:

For smaller loads, the GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag is a compact, stylish little bag that fits all the essentials without any unnecessary bulk or weight.

Get it here: GymShark Everyday Mini Gym Bag


Best gym bag for women: Ceneda Gym Duffle Bag

Best gym bag for women
Ceneda 20" Gym Duffel Bag with Wet Pocket Shoes Compartment Portable Overnight Weekender Bag Travel bag Yoga Bag for Women (Celadon)

Ceneda 20" Gym Duffel Bag with Wet Pocket Shoes Compartment Portable Overnight Weekender Bag Travel bag Yoga Bag for Women (Celadon)

While most gym bags are classically unisex, there are some features that women may appreciate more than men. Specifically, the Ceneda Gym Duffle Bag is a spacious bag that fits volumes up to 41 liters and comes with a color-matched toiletry bag, making it easy to bring your makeup, skincare, and shower supplies for after your workout. The shoe compartment and separate waterproof wet bag are storage details that anyone would appreciate, but especially swimmers or anyone who sweats a lot when they exercise. You’ll also find elastic loops that can be used for a water bottle or umbrella holder, and multiple pockets for smaller items, such as glasses or a phone. The Ceneda Duffle includes a strap to accommodate a yoga mat, as well as an adjustable, detachable strap that can convert this bag from a shoulder bag, to a tote, or to a crossbody as desired. You can get this duffle in four pastel shades, as well as khaki or black

Specifications:

  • Materials:Water-resistant material
  • Capacity:41 liters
  • Dimensions: 20 x 11.4 x 11 inches
  • Shoe Compartment: Yes
  • Price on Publish: $30.99

The bottom line:

The Cenedea Gym Duffle Bag is an affordable option that packs a lot of organization into one bag, including an extra toiletry bag, wet pocket, and shoe compartment.

Get it here: Ceneda Gym Duffle Bag


Best gym bag for men: Nike Brasilia 9.5

Best gym bag for men
Nike Brasilia 9.5

As with the women’s bags, duffel bags for men aren’t notably different from other styles; this is a unisex product. However, I like the Nike Brasilia 9.5 for its spacious interior that fits up to 60 liters, its multiple pockets and its affordable price of just $42. This is a no-nonsense choice that’s ideal for anyone who doesn’t care about frills and just wants a bag that will hold all their gear and keep it organized. The material includes at least 65% recycled polyester and although it’s not fully waterproof, the base of the duffel has been coated with a water-resistant material so you can trust your stuff will stay dry. Although the color range is limited, the four options are classic shades that should appeal to most shoppers. I also like that the shoulder strap and handle are padded, so heavier loads are still comfortable to carry.

Specifications:

  • Materials:100% (partially recycled) polyester
  • Capacity:60 liters
  • Dimensions:25 x 12 x 12 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No, but there’s a large, zippered compartment
  • Price on Publish: $42.00

The bottom line:

The Nike Brasilia 9.5 fits a ton of gym gear, includes several practical storage pockets and is priced at just $42, for maximum affordability and minimum fuss.

Get it here: Nike Brasilia 9.5


Best Crossfit gym bag: Small Haven X Crossfit Organized Backpack

Best Crossfit gym bag
Small Haven X Crossfit Organized Backpack

Small Haven X Crossfit Organized Backpack

If you’re a serious athlete or consistent gym goer, then you know how much impact a few thoughtful details can have on your workout experience. The Small Haven X Crossfit Organized Backpack features a patented internal organization system, inside a structured main compartment that can stand upright on its own for easy packing. The different compartments are varied in size to better accommodate your gear and get the most out of the 26 liters of volume. Because it’s slightly smaller than some of the other bags on this list, this is a more portable and agile option without sacrificing on storage.

Other storage details include a vented shoe compartment that can fit up to a men’s size 14, as well as a dedicated laptop sleeve for anyone who is traveling to or from work and doesn’t want to use a laptop backpack. Athletes will also appreciate the high-quality materials and added features, like the expandable water bottle pocket. Unfortunately, this quality comes at a high price: $329. This likely won’t be within everyone’s budget, so I’d recommend this backpack for serious athletes who will get consistent use out of it.

Specifications:

  • Materials:1050D ballistic nylon exterior
  • Capacity:26 liters
  • Dimensions: 20 x 12.5 x 6 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes
  • Price on Publish: $329.00

The bottom line:

The Small HavenX Crossfit Organized Backpack costs a premium but delivers next-level organization, high-quality materials and thoughtful details in a compact, 26-liter bag.

Get it here: Small Haven X Crossfit Organized Backpack


Best gym bag on Amazon: FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0

Best gym bag on Amazon
Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0: The Durable Crowdsource Designed Duffel Bag with 10 Optimal Compartments Including Water Resistant Pouch (Black, Medium (20"))

Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0: The Durable Crowdsource Designed Duffel Bag with 10 Optimal Compartments Including Water Resistant Pouch (Black, Medium (20"))

We often turn to Amazon for low-priced options, but that doesn’t need to mean a dip in quality. The FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0 is frequently on sale for under $30 and yet offers many of the storage features of more expensive bags. With this duffel, you’ll get a shoe compartment, phone pocket, two water bottle holders, a wet pocket — and several other storage areas. The main compartment also fully unzips into a wide-mouth opening, so that you can easily pack or unpack your gym gear. While the aesthetic is a little blocky and basic, you can still choose from 8 different colors and choose between the handles or shoulder strap for different carrying styles. FocusGear doesn’t list the material used for the bag and we don’t believe it’s waterproof, but the base has been reinforced with a water-resistant panel to protect your bag from any wet surfaces. This isn’t the most elevated bag, but it’s incredibly practical and organized — even more so when you consider the price.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Not listed
  • Capacity:28 liters
  • Dimensions:15 x 11 x 10.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes
  • Price on Publish: $29.99

The bottom line:

For a wallet-friendly gym bag that offers several storage pockets, a fun color-range and an accessible wide-mouth opening, you can’t go wrong with the FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0.

Get it here: FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0


Best gym bag for swimmers: Speedo Large Teamster Backpack 35L

Best gym bag for swimmers
Speedo Large Teamster Backpack 35L

Speedo Large Teamster Backpack 35L

Speedo is a go-to brand for many swimmers and their gym bags are no exception. The Speedo Large Teamster Backpack has been updated with a sleeker silhouette that can stand upright when empty, while still accommodating a spacious 35 liters of volume. Swimmers often carry more gear than other athletes, thanks to goggles, swim caps and space-stealing towels. With this Speedo backpack, swimmers can comfortably store dry items in the large interior pocket, while the ventilated front pocket is ideal for wet swimsuits, caps or goggles. As you’d expect from swim-related equipment, the exterior shell is fully waterproof (most bags on our list are water-resistant, at best) so you can comfortably bring this bag around any body of water and keep your gear dry. Non-swimmers may not get as much use out of this bag, but for the right audience this is the ideal gym bag that will last you for years.

Specifications:

  • Materials:91% polyester, 9% nylon
  • Capacity:35 liters
  • Dimensions:20.5 x 14.5 x 6.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $54.49

The bottom line:

The Speedo Large Teamster Backpack is ideal for swimmers, with a large compartment for towels and gear, a ventilated pocket for wet items, and a fully waterproof shell.

Get it here: Speedo Large Teamster Backpack 35L


Best gym bag for yoga: PopFlex Delilah Duffle

Best gym bag for yoga
PopFlex Delilah Duffle

PopFlex Delilah Duffle

Yoga practices can require a lot of extra props, from mats and blocks to blankets and bolsters. While many studios will provide these items, it’s no surprise that frequent yogis often like to bring their own—but this can be bulky to carry. The PopFlex Delilah Duffle looks like a classic gym bag in many ways, but also features a few key details that will particularly benefit yoga goers. The spacious interior can accommodate classic yoga props, while the exterior features both front and back yoga mat holders with seatbelt straps for greater security. The separate shoe compartment with waterproof lining makes this a useful bag for other sports too, but would be as good to store a wet towel after hot yoga. Then there are the various inner and outer pockets for maximum storage organization, including water bottle pockets and an inner key ring clip. If you’re someone who loves to practice yoga while they travel—or even travels to yoga retreats—then you’ll particularly appreciate the Delilah’s travel details, such as criss-cross trolley straps and a laptop sleeve.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Nylon, polyester
  • Capacity:27 liters
  • Dimensions:16.5 x 12.5 x 8 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes
  • Price on Publish: $150.00

The bottom line:

The PopFlex Delilah Duffle would work for any athlete, but yogis will love the two yoga mat holders, multiple storage pockets, and added travel functionality.

Get it here: PopFlex Delilah Duffle


Best gym tote bag: Lululemon City Adventurer Tote Bag

Best gym tote bag
City Adventurer Tote Bag 27L

City Adventurer Tote Bag 27L

Not every bag can be a good gym bag—and not every gym bag can double as a good casual weekend bag. If you’re looking for a versatile product that will work as well on errands as it does in the locker room, then the Lululemon City Adventurer Tote Bag is a perfect choice. The classic tote design features an expandable gusset, so you can keep things compact and sleek or roomy and practical, depending on your needs. With up to 27L of volume, that leaves plenty of space for all your gym gear—or your groceries. Lululemon uses a water-repellent fabric to ensure your possessions are protected from the elements and incorporates some recycled polyester for a more environmentally-friendly approach. While there aren’t dedicated sports features like a shoe compartment or a wet pocket, the City Adventurer Tote does have interior and exterior pockets for convenient organization. If you decide to bring this tote with you on your travels, you’ll also benefit from the trolley-compatible sleep that lets you slip the bag onto your carry-on bag.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Nylon, polyester, recycled polyester
  • Capacity:19 liters, 27 liters when expanded
  • Dimensions:20.5 x 7 x 12.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $128.00

The bottom line:

The Lululemon City Adventurer Tote Bag works as well running errands as it does in the gym, with durable, water-repellent fabric, several storage pockets and an expandable gusset.

Get it here: Lululemon City Adventurer Tote Bag


Best lightweight gym bag: Bellroy Lite Duffel

Best lightweight gym bag
Bellroy Lite Duffel

Bellroy Lite Duffel

If you know you’re going to be loading up your bag or simply value having something lightweight and easy to carry, the Bellroy Lite Duffel is a great choice. Made of 100% recycled nylon, the ripstop material is three times lighter than Bellroy’s other fabrics and the entire bag weighs just over 1 pound. Not only is it lightweight, the bag can be folded or rolled up so you can pack it in a larger bag for use while traveling. Once unrolled, the Lite Duffel fits 30 liters and features several interior and exterior pockets, including a quick-access pocket on the front for frequently used items. The lightweight nature of the bag means you do sacrifice extra features like a shoe compartment or a wet bag, yet you’ll still pay over $100 for this bag. However, the durable fabric means this is a bag you can take with you on your adventures for years, without ever needing to strain to carry your items.

Specifications:

  • Materials:100% recycled nylon
  • Capacity:30 liters
  • Dimensions:13 x 15.5 x 9 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $139.00

The bottom line:

If you prioritize a lightweight yet spacious bag that you can pack up and take with you as you travel, then the Bellroy Lite Duffel is a great choice, if slightly expensive.

Get it here: Bellroy Lite Duffel


Best foldable gym bag: Vorspack Duffel Bag

Best foldable gym bag
Vorspack Small Duffel Bag 20 Inches Foldable Gym Bag for Men Women Duffle Bag Lightweight with Inner Pocket for Travel Sports - Black

Vorspack Small Duffel Bag 20 Inches Foldable Gym Bag for Men Women Duffle Bag Lightweight with Inner Pocket for Travel Sports - Black

If you live somewhere low on closet space or need to be able to bring your bag inside of another bag, then a gym bag that folds up is a huge space saver. Not only can the Vorspack Duffel Bag fold up, but it folds up so small that it fits neatly inside one of the bag’s interior pockets for easy transportation. The nylon material is water-resistant and durable, but lighter in weight than polyester products. The Vorspack Duffel is rounded, as opposed to a classic block shape, which does reduce some of the available storage space; this bag caps out at 23 liters of volume. Because of this, you won’t find a dedicated shoe pocket or wet bag. However, Vorspack does feature a quick-access outer pocket and secure inner pocket for more valuable items. The handles are reinforced and the shoulder strap is detachable for added convenience, plus you can choose from six colors. The best part? This bag retails for under $20.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Nylon
  • Capacity:23 liters
  • Dimensions:20 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $16.99

Pros:

  • Can be folded up and tucked completely inside one of the interior pockets
  • Rounded shape is sleek and there are several bright colors to choose from
  • Useful carry handles and detachable strap make for versatile carrying options
  • Durable water-resistant nylon and cross-stitching for added longevity

Cons:

  • Only two pockets for organization
  • Smaller volume than some other options on this list

The bottom line:

For under $20, the Vorspack Duffel Bag features 23 liters of capacity in a lightweight nylon construction that can fold up into a square and fit inside an interior pocket.

Get it here: Vorspack Duffel Bag


Best value gym bag: Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle

Best value gym bag
Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle MD, Men's, Black/Black/Metallic Slvr

Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle MD, Men's, Black/Black/Metallic Slvr

Value means a lot of things to different people, but ultimately it’s about good quality for a good price. The Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle is under $40 yet fits 58 liters inside its large interior. Made of durable UA Storm fabric, the material has been treated for water-resistance while the bottom and side panels have been coated with TPU and foam for added structure. The bag features a vented interior pocket for either shoes or dirty laundry, as well as a dual water bottle slip pocket, although it has minimal additional storage compartments. Instead, the main compartment is nice and empty to accommodate bulkier equipment like gym gloves or yoga blocks. UA makes its Undeniable 5.0 Duffle in an incredible range of 45 different colors, although not every color is available in every size. Overall, I found that this bag perfectly balances affordability with performance and spaciousness, for truly great value.

Specifications:

  • Materials:100% polyester
  • Capacity:58 liters
  • Dimensions:24.5 x 12 x 11.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes
  • Price on Publish: $39.74

The bottom line:

The Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle is large, durable, accommodates a shoe compartment or laundry pocket, and comes in multiple colorways for under $40.

Get it here: Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle


Best gym bag for organization: ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag

Best gym bag for organization
ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag Dry Wet Separated Gym Bag Sport Duffle Bag Training Handbag Yoga bag with Extra Drawstring Backpack for man and women (Black-Upgrade) Large

ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag Dry Wet Separated Gym Bag Sport Duffle Bag Training Handbag Yoga bag with Extra Drawstring Backpack for man and women (Black-Upgrade) Large

Keeping your gym gear organized can make your workouts that much more seamless, thanks to easy to find equipment and safely stored items. The ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag has all the storage features you could need: a spacious wet compartment, a vented shoe pocket, a large main interior and an easy-access front pocket. There’s even a yoga mat strap that locks your mat in place for secure transportation. The duffel bag is made of water-resistant material, although it can look a bit inexpensive. You’re able to choose from several colors, but be warned that these skew pastel—if your taste is more neutral or unisex, you might be stuck with black. However, the bag costs under $30 and includes thoughtful details like a padded shoulder strap and thick handles, for more comfortable carrying. I also like that ICEIVY hasn’t stuffed this bag with unnecessary storage details, so you can truly maximize the interior capacity.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Water-resistant material
  • Capacity:28 liters
  • Dimensions:19 x 10 x 8.5 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes
  • Price on Publish: $27.99

The bottom line:

The ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag features a wet and dry compartment, a vented shoe pocket and an easy-access front pocket, for useful organization at under $30.

Get it here: ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag


Most durable gym bag: KNKG Plus Duffel

Most durable gym bag
ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag Dry Wet Separated Gym Bag Sport Duffle Bag Training Handbag Yoga bag with Extra Drawstring Backpack for man and women (Black-Upgrade) Large

ICEIVY Gym Duffle Bag Dry Wet Separated Gym Bag Sport Duffle Bag Training Handbag Yoga bag with Extra Drawstring Backpack for man and women (Black-Upgrade) Large

One of the most important qualities of a gym bag is that it should be durable, ready to keep up with daily workouts year after year. With KNKG’s Plus Duffel, you can be confident that you’re paying for a lifetime product thanks to its high quality 1000D nylon exterior and ripstop nylon interior. Should there be a defect in materials or workmanship, KNKG will repair or replace your bag for free, including free shipping. This duffel is a new iteration on a beloved classic, with optimized storage organization and even more durable construction. The bag fits 33 liters of volume and features a dual internal shoe zone, dual water bottle holders and multiple exterior pockets for quick access to your most used gear. You’ll be able to pack all of your sports equipment with no issue—and with no fear of tearing or stretching, thanks to the nylon fabric. While you’ll pay a little more upfront for this duffel, you’ll have a lifetime of high-quality storage.

Specifications:

  • Materials:1000D nylon
  • Capacity:33 liters
  • Dimensions:18 x 11 x 11 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:Yes, dual
  • Price on Publish: $149.95

The bottom line:

For $150, buy the KNKG Plus Duffle for a 33-liter capacity bag, featuring an impressive array of storage features and made of durable nylon that will last you a lifetime.

Get it here: KNKG Plus Duffel


Best gym backpack: Nike Utility Speed Backpack

Best gym backpack
Nike Utility Speed Training Backpack, Men's

Nike Utility Speed Training Backpack, Men's

If you prefer to carry your gear on your back, then the Nike Utility Speed Backpack is an ideal choice that balances ample storage with a streamlined silhouette. This backpack is only available in black and uses a durable material that holds up against daily use, without any signs of wear. I appreciated the double water bottle holders on either side of the backpack, as well as the two zippered front pockets, which allow for more segmented organization than you get with most backpacks. The main interior section doesn’t feature a shoe compartment or a wet pocket, like many of the other bags on this list, but fits a lot of gym equipment if your priority is storage. If you like a backpack for the gym, you likely prioritize portability and compactness over maximum storage, in which case I think you’ll love this one. The padded and adjustable shoulder straps are also great.

Specifications:

  • Materials:Not listed
  • Capacity:20 liters
  • Dimensions:18 x 11 x 6 inches
  • Shoe Compartment:No
  • Price on Publish: $94.50

The bottom line:

The Nike Utility Speed Backpack is compact, sleek, and easy to carry thanks to padded straps, yet features extra storage pockets and two water bottle holders.

Get it here: Nike Utility Speed Backpack


What to consider when buying a gym bag

Your preferred athletic activity

Depending on your workout, you’ll likely appreciate different features in a gym bag. Some bags come with a strap to hold a towel or yoga mat, appreciated by swimmers and yogis, but less valuable for runners. If you’re into crossfit or weights, you may want to bring specific gear with you, such as a weight belt or chalk; a bag with multiple small compartments will be particularly useful here. Other gym goers may prefer something simple and lightweight, that can fit their workout clothes and a water bottle and not much else. Consider what activities you are most likely to pack your bag for and what features will make life easier.

Preferred carrying style

While the standard gym bag is a duffel, many different styles of bags might be better suited to your taste and needs. Backpacks are a popular choice, especially for people traveling between the gym and the office. These often include space for a laptop or other work equipment and can be more comfortable to carry. Tote bags can be versatile, for people who want one bag that works as well at the gym as on weekend errands. If you travel light to the gym, a drawstring bag may be the most compact and convenient option. The classic duffel is a favorite for being easy to throw in the back of a car or over your shoulder.

Size and capacity

Depending on where you’re traveling from and what activity you’re doing, you may need to bring a little or a lot of gear. Make sure your gym bag fits everything you need for a productive workout, without being so big that your stuff gets jumbled around inside. If you know you’d rather have your massage gun, yoga blocks, and towel with you in the gym, then choose a bag that fits all of those items.

How to maintain and clean a gym bag

Your gym bag will hopefully get a lot of use and end up carrying dirty, sweaty clothing on a regular basis. Dirty or wet clothes and shoes should be kept in their dedicated sections, to prevent the spread of water or dirt to other, clean items. It’s also important to keep your bag clean and sanitized, so your belongings stay in good condition and you don’t end up shortening the lifespan of your equipment—or your bag. It’s a best practice to remove everything from your bag after each use, so it can be cleaned and stored properly. Wash dirty gear and make sure to wipe down the interior of your bag with a disinfectant, to remove any germs and odors. Some bags may be machine washable, while others may require handwashing. While spot cleaning should work for daily use, consider a monthly deep clean—or more frequent clean if you are a swimmer or heavy sweater—to keep your bag smelling and looking good.

Durability and materials

Water-resistant coatings

Gym bags have to put up with a lot of action. They’re transported in all weathers and are regularly exposed to water, thanks to locker rooms, swimming pools and general sweat. This makes water-resistance a key feature of any reliable gym bag. While some bags are made with waterproof or water-repellent materials, other bags use a water-resistant coating on the base and/or sides of the bag to help keep your belongings protected from moisture. Make sure to check the labels on your bag, so you don’t accidentally expose unprotected surfaces to water.

Reinforced stitching

Many brands construct their gym bags with reinforced stitching to ensure that all straps and pockets stay in place over time. This form of stitching is also valued for its flexibility, allowing the seams of the bag to flex with use and reduce the pressure on high-stress areas. For pockets that get a lot of use or straps that hold a lot of weight, reinforced stitching can help to maintain performance in a near-invisible way.

How we test and select the best gym bags

To find the best gym bags, I considered the needs of different kinds of gym goers to find the best options across the board. I evaluated each bag on its style, price, materials, organizational features, capacity, size, durability and carrying options, to determine its overall value. Using a combination of first-hand experience, expert insights, and customer reviews, I assessed how each bag performed and held up over time, as well as how the bags would work in different scenarios. It was important to reflect the diverse needs of different athletes, from those who prefer a large duffel with roof for all kinds of equipment, to those who prefer a lightweight, stylish design that can double as a weekend bag. I leaned toward trusted brands with a reputation for quality manufacturing, but also considered less famous customer favorites to determine the best gym bags for every kind of gym goer.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How many liters should my gym bag be?

This will vary depending on what you like to bring with you to the gym and if you intend to use this bag for other purposes. Ensure there’s enough capacity to fit all of your gear, but not excess space that has your belongings jumbling about inside. Most gym bags on this list accommodate volumes of 20-30 liters, but there are a few more capacious options that might be better suited for anyone who wants to bring additional equipment, such as massage guns or Crossfit shoes. If you’re looking to also use this gym bag for weekend errands, you may want a slimmer silhouette that is less bulky to bring around town. The same goes for if you want this bag to double as a carry-on bag or even personal item. In short, aim for the smallest bag that will fit everything you need.

How do you pack a gym bag?

As with any excursion, think about what you will need to take out of your bag first and pack in reverse. Items that you’ll want to use pre-workout should be stored in the most accessible places, with post-workout gear put within less easy reach. For maximum convenience, make sure to utilize different storage pockets so that you can find everything quickly and easily, without having to take out everything in your bag. Ideally, you’ll be able to use each pocket for the right-sized gear so that there is minimal wasted space. Remember to bring a wet bag if you will have damp clothes post-workout, and use shoe compartments for greater efficiency.

Why do people carry gym bags instead of standard bags?

Any bag can be used to transport gym equipment, but many people opt for a gym bag because they’re designed specifically to organize your workout gear. Different bags have different storage pockets for gym shoes, wet gear, water bottles and personal items, so you can make sure everything is kept securely and in its rightful place. Vented shoe compartments and wet pockets can help to reduce the spread of odor or moisture, in a way that standard bags cannot. They also utilize materials that are durable and water-resistant, to accommodate busy locker rooms and swimming pools on a regular basis. Finally, gym bags often feature padded handles or adjustable straps, for more convenient and comfortable portability.

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