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Best Gym Bags

Updated March 2024
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Best of the Best
Haven Small Backpack
Small Backpack
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Outstanding Organization
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This is a tough, compact gym bag that will keep your items organized and easy to find when you need them.


The patented interior system with multiple compartments for keeping items organized. Made of durable nylon. Has a backpack design that is easy to carry. Small yet roomy enough to carry lots of gym and workout gear.


Zippers occasionally jam. Price falls on the higher end of the spectrum.

Best Bang for the Buck
Leolake Sports Gym Bag
Sports Gym Bag
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Bottom Line

A solid bag that offers a lot of features and a wet-proof compartment that our expert really likes.


Zippers are easy to open and close even when the bag is full. Has a separate shoe compartment. Contains an interior "wet-proof" pocket for damp clothing or towels. The straps are durable and easy to hold.


Some users felt the bag was a bit too small.

DALIX w/Adjustable Strap
w/Adjustable Strap
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Portable Convenience
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A solid budget gym bag with some nice features; our expert notes how sharp-looking and affordable it is.


The interior is surprisingly spacious. Contains compartments for shoes and wet clothes that are comparable to more expensive brands. Affordable overnight bag as well.


The inexpensive polyester material could wear out quickly.

PUMA Evercat Contender
Evercat Contender
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A well-built bag that provides all the storage you need and comes with our expert's recommendation.


Made from a durable polyester material. Zippers work well. Hangs off of your shoulder right where you need it to. Comes with a separate storage compartment for shoes. The shoulder strap is removable.


Does not have enough pockets for storage of smaller items.

Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle
Under Armour
Undeniable 5.0 Duffle
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Popular Brand
Bottom Line

A nice bag for anyone who wants a classic duffle design with roomy, versatile pockets.


Offers multiple compartments to suit different needs, including vented laundry and water bottle pockets. The polyester material is water-repellent. Padded handles make it comfortable to carry.


Material is thin and prone to ripping prematurely. Stitching may unravel in spots.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best gym bags

When it comes to staying healthy and fit, most of us have the best of intentions: eat right, avoid stress, exercise on a regular basis. When it comes to that last point, however, it’s oh-so-easy to skip that trip to the gym “just this once.” Unfortunately, all too often, that “once” turns into forever.

While a good gym bag admittedly isn’t a miracle motivator, it can be very helpful in keeping you on track with your exercise program. Owning a gym bag makes it more convenient to leave the house and visit the pool, the YMCA, the trail, or wherever you like to work out.

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While your gym bag needs to be functional, it should also have some style. A good-looking bag may provide just enough encouragement for you to head to your CrossFit class instead of skipping out.

Different types of gym bags

There are actually several different types of bags that fall under the umbrella term “gym bag.” While all of them will transport your clothing, equipment, and water bottle to the health club and back, each has its own pros and cons, and knowing those points makes it easier to select the bag that’s best for your needs.

Traditional gym bags

Traditional gym bags are similar to duffel bags, but they have more pockets. In addition to separate areas for shoes, clothing, and toiletries, some traditional gym bags also have mesh pockets in which you can store wet items. Short handles and a long strap to sling over your shoulder for hands-free use are the norm, and most also have an inner frame that provides a bit of structure. Like duffel bags, you’ll find a wide range of colors and sizes.


  • Multiple pockets to separate workout gear

  • Shoulder straps

  • Reasonable price

  • Can also be used as a weekend vacation bag or carry on


  • More crevices for mold spores and bacteria to hide

Duffel bags

A popular choice not only for trips to the gym but also as carry on luggage, duffel bags are the most basic gym bags. A duffel bag is cylindrical with only one large compartment, although there may be one or two small outer pockets for small items. This type of bag has two handles but no rigid frame.


  • Inexpensive

  • Available in a huge range of colors and sizes

  • Good for bulky items

  • Lightweight


  • No separation between shoes and clothing

  • No shoulder strap

  • Seams may be weak

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Expert Tip
Use the ventilated side compartments to store your sweaty clothes, and clean your workout clothes after every use.
BestReviews Fitness Expert


Backpacks for gym use are generally a little larger than the backpack your child uses to lug books to school. Most have a roomy inner space and one or two outer pockets for small items. A handle on top of the backpack makes it easy to tote by hand, but you can also elect to use the shoulder straps and keep your hands free. People who bicycle or make use of public transportation may find a gym backpack particularly convenient.


  • Hands-free option

  • Can be used for other purposes


  • Not as roomy as larger duffel bags and traditional gym bags

  • Not many compartments for smaller items

Gym totes

Gym totes are basically large bags with two handles. Some have a drawstring or similar closure at the top; others are entirely open. Many totes are quite stylish, making them a good choice if you head directly from the office to the gym or vice versa. They are also handy for packing large items such as a laptop, yoga mat, towel, or bulky equipment. Some gym totes have an outer pocket or an inner divider, but many consist of just one big inner compartment.


  • Good for large items

  • Can be stylish

  • Useful for travel or weekend trips


  • Usually no separation between shoes and clothing

  • No shoulder strap

  • Open top may be less secure

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Did you know?
If you bike or walk to the gym, a backpack with a ventilated panel in the back will keep you comfortable and sweat-free as you travel.

Gym bag materials

What is a good gym bag made of? You’ll find several material choices when you go shopping.


This is one of the most common gym bag materials. Heavy-duty polyester is strong and fairly easy to wipe clean. It holds in moisture well, so your wet bathing suit won’t soak through the fabric. On the downside, because it doesn’t breathe, polyester bags are prone to the growth of stinky mold and bacteria.


Though lightweight and inexpensive, nylon doesn’t hold a shape and isn’t very durable. It stains easily and doesn’t hold in moisture as well as polyester does. Still, if you just need a lightweight bag for occasional use – and you don’t want to pay a lot – nylon can be a good choice.

Expert Tip
I like to use disinfectant wipes to clean the inside of my bag, especially after weeks of heavy use.
Best Reviews Fitness Expert


While it looks luxurious, leather is also durable and holds its shape well. On the downside, leather is heavy, expensive, prone to staining, and known for retaining odors. You might not want an entirely leather gym bag, but if you like the look of leather, consider a polyester or canvas gym bag with leather trim or handles.


This is a heavy fabric made from cotton or a cotton blend. It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and usually machine washable. In short, it’s a great choice for gym bags that often carry stinky clothing. Unless treated for water resistance, however, canvas doesn’t hold in moisture very well. Canvas bags often have leather trim and handles for extra strength, giving them a touch of style.

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For your safety
Remind yourself to stay hydrated with a gym bag that sports a water bottle pocket. Refill your bottle before every workout, and let it dry between uses to prevent bacteria growth.

Gym bag features

Once you’ve determined the gym bag style and material that best suit your needs, there are still a few other features to consider. The following is a list of gym bag features that we think you might appreciate.


Maybe you just need a couple of compartments to separate your shoes from your clothes, or maybe you want several pockets to organize a multitude of items. Either way, we think most people find compartments are pretty important.

Waterproof pocket

If you swim, you’ll want at least one waterproof compartment to store your suit after hitting the water.

Water bottle holder

Many gym bags include an outer pocket, usually made of mesh, to keep a water bottle close at hand.

Expert Tip
I’ve been able to store my full water bottles in side compartments in most bags, which is an added bonus for utility.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Reinforced seams

Nobody wants their gym bag to rip apart in the health club parking lot. Reinforced seams keep your bag together longer. They are especially important if you carry heavy, bulky, or pointed equipment.

Yoga mat strap

One of the bulkiest items you might want to carry in your gym bag is a yoga mat. Instead of tucking it under your arm or jamming it into your duffel, go for a gym bag with a strap or compartment specifically designed to carry your mat.

Ventilated shoe pocket

Damp gym shoes are a guaranteed recipe for stink. A ventilated shoe pocket lets your sneakers air out, cutting down on the opportunity for germs or mildew to gain a foothold.

Reinforced zippers

The zipper on your gym bag is often the weakest spot. Reinforced zippers have extra stitching and supportive fabric to bolster their strength.


If you carry an excess of gear, you’ll appreciate a bag with wheels.

Padded straps

A heavy bag can really pull on your shoulders or hands. You can take a bit of the pressure off, and improve your comfort, if you carry a bag with padded straps.


Whether you want to show off your personality with a neon bag or carry something a bit more discreet, there’s a gym bag to match your style and color preference.

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Expert Tip
Most bags have a special compartment to insert a card with your name and contact info. Be sure and use it.
BestReviews Fitness Expert

Gym bag prices

How much do gym bags cost? That depends on how much you want to spend.

During the course of our research, we found nylon totes for less than $10 and structured leather gym bags for over $400.

But those are the extremes. Most people will likely find a gym bag in the $20 to $50 range that suits them well.

Under $10

Many of the gym bags that sell for less than $10 are made of cheaper materials and likely won’t last too long. If you have a light, short-term need, this could suffice for you.

$10 to $50

The bulk of “mainstream” gym bags are found in this price range. As you move higher up the range, you’re likely to find sturdier bags with more pockets and closures. Gym bags from fantastic brands like Adidas and Under Armour are found here.

$50 and up

If you’re looking to make a statement with a leather gym bag or one that hails from a chic designer, you’ll find many good choices over the $50 mark. As mentioned above, you can find gym bags that cost $400 or more. In most practical scenarios, this type of expense wouldn’t be necessary.

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When buying a gym bag, think beyond the gym walls. A well-chosen bag can also function as a carry on, diaper bag, or weekend tote.


Q. How big of a gym bag should I buy?

A. Resist the urge to buy the biggest bag you can find – unless you genuinely need the space for large equipment. And unless you only need a bag to hold your keys, water bottle, and hand towel, you should also resist buying a tiny gym bag. A too-large bag can be heavy and difficult to store, and a too-small bag limits what you can carry.

The best size is the one that holds whatever equipment you need for your workout, a change of clothes, a small toiletry kit for the shower if you’ll be needing it, sandals for the locker room, and any belongings you like to stow for easy transport, such as a laptop. For most people, that means a medium-sized gym bag.

Q. How do I get the smell out of my gym bag?

A. A smelly gym bag is one sure way to get dirty looks on your commute. Stave off the stink by emptying dirty clothing, shoes, and towels out of the bag as soon as you get home. Let the bag air out before restocking it, and wipe away any visible moisture.

If your bag is washable, go ahead and wash it whenever odors develop. If it’s not washable, toss in a few deodorizer balls (the kind made for tennis shoes), or place a small bowl of baking soda in the empty bag overnight.