A great bag that has tons of storage for any sports-related gear; our fitness expert uses this one every day.
The strap is comfortable, and it's just short enough to not impede walking. Side pockets are ventilated to keep sweaty gear from getting moldy.
Some of the pockets don't have a closure system, allowing items to easily fall out.
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.
Some users felt the bag was a bit too small.
A solid budget gym bag with some nice features; our expert notes how sharp-looking and affordable it is.
The interior is surprisingly spacious. Compartments for shoes and wet clothes comparable to more expensive brands. Affordable overnight bag as well.
The inexpensive polyester material could wear out quickly.
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 separate storage compartment for shoes.
Does not have enough pockets for storage of smaller items.
A great bag that offers a lot of versatility and has durability that our expert personally vouches for.
Top opening is raised just enough to make it easy to close when full. Comes with an additional mesh pocket for small items. The sides and bottom are abrasion-resistant.
Some users felt that the fabric could be a bit thicker.
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.
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.
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 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
Can also be used as a weekend vacation bag or carry on
More crevices for mold spores and bacteria to hide
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.
Available in a huge range of colors and sizes
Good for bulky items
No separation between shoes and clothing
No shoulder strap
Seams may be weak
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
If you swim, you’ll want at least one waterproof compartment to store your suit after hitting the water.
Many gym bags include an outer pocket, usually made of mesh, to keep a water bottle close at hand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.