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Tired of arriving for workouts with everything crammed in your arms? Is carrying your shaker bottle and towel making it hard to keep tabs on your earbuds and phone? Do you have to take a few pairs of training shoes with you, and need some extra room? If any of these apply to you, it may be time to invest in a new gym bag.
Our list of top-rated gym bags offers a variety of cool features including dedicated shoe compartments, antimicrobial materials to keep stink at bay and a wide variety of overall volumes for whatever you need to carry. We combed through reviews to see what actual users say in order to provide you with authentic intel as you whittle down your choices.
Whether you are looking for something that can store a basketball and change of clothes, or you want a small gym bag for essentials, read on for our top picks.
The adidas Defender Duffel Bag is a smaller-sized gym bag with a classic adidas look—and space for your team’s logo on the ends. There’s a multitude of pockets and dual handles that have a padded grip (along with a detachable shoulder strap and pad) making this bag easy to carry. An inside zipper pocket in this gym bag is great for smaller items or valuables. Plus, end zip pockets easily fit a pair of sneakers.
And if you get caught in a downpour in the parking lot, your stuff won’t be sopping wet afterwards thanks to the water-resistant fabric. One reviewer who owns multiple Defender bags writes, “They have been [dragged] around in the dirt, and thrown around while stuffed full of gear. The bags still have no rips or zipper issues. They have taken a lot of abuse and still work as good as new.” Fun fact: If you need a bag for general travel, this is a great option for that, too.
Purchase the adidas Defender Duffel
This 25-liter capacity bag is simple in style but sturdy enough to haul your gym gear around. Padded handles make it comfortable to carry even when you’re lugging several things around. There’s an exterior water bottle pocket and a pocket for your phone so you can keep those items handy, as well. It’s even got an interior padded pocket that can fit a laptop up to 16 inches making this a great work-to-gym bag. Other interior pockets are also great for tucking away small items.
The bag can be spot cleaned, but it’s not machine washable. Reviewers say it can stand up to much more than the gym. “I love almost everything about this bag including the durability, look, size, heaviness and number of pockets (side water bottle pockets are the best). I used it for a work trip and plan to use it for the gym,” writes one user on Lululemon’s site. But others on the Lululemon site begged the designers to include other necessities that could hold yoga mats and clip on to luggage.
Purchase Lululemon Go Getter 2.0
If you want a large gym bag capable of storing all of your gym gear, look no further than the Nike Brasilia 9.5. It’s a simple-looking duffel bag that can tote around all your essentials while also providing designated spaces such as inner and outer pockets to keep your stuff organized. It comes with a removable shoulder strap and a second set of handles that snap together for easier carrying. This 95-liter bag has a side compartment that lets you separate your shoes, as well as extra compartments in case you want to sort out dirty from clean clothes.
Several reviewers mention how spacious the Brasilia 9.5 is and note that it’s a great multi-purpose bag ideal for hauling around football and baseball gear, kickboxing equipment and doubles as a great travel duffel, too.
Purchase Nike’s Brasilia 9.5 Duffel
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller than Nike’s Brasilia 9.5 duffel, consider their Utility Power Training gym bag. An adjustable removable padded shoulder strap makes for easy carrying. Those who prefer a handheld option can opt to use the shorter straps that can be clipped together. If you like to keep all of your things organized, you’ll appreciate the five outer storage compartments that come in different sizes so you can easily and quickly access smaller items like keys and earbuds in addition to larger items like shoes and shaker bottles. Bonus: one of the storage compartments is deep and can easily fit a pair of shoes so you can keep them separate from the rest of your gear.
This bag is sturdy and one reviewer mentioned it was a great choice for both the gym and traveling. Another liked that even when they filled their Utility Power Training duffel with enough clothes to last a week while traveling, it never felt bulky.
Purchase Nike’s Utility Power Training Duffel
Need space in your bag for shoes? The Mier Large Duffel Bag has it. It’s ideal if you have to change the shoes you’re wearing walking into the gym because it can accommodate an extra pair. With about 60 liters of capacity, though, it’ll carry a lot more than a pair of kicks.
But let’s talk about that shoe compartment, because it really ensures that you can kick off the dirty ones without spreading the ick to the rest of your stuff. The shoe compartment is water-resistant and can fit a large pair of shoes. It boasts some ventilation to keep shoes (and perhaps dirty gym clothes) from smelling up the entire bag. Speaking about compartments, this bag is loaded with them. It’s got an inner pocket that zips, an outside pocket that’s larger and a side zipper pocket. There’s even a mesh water bottle holder on the side and the shoulder strap is removable if you’re the kind of person who prefers carrying a duffel by the handles.
Reviewers on Amazon liked the big size, but did complain that it wasn’t well-constructed. “The only initial thing I’d change is that empty it’s very flimsy. While good for storing it away when empty, when it only has a few things in it, it kind of falls in on itself and doesn’t have any cardboard or anything across the bottom,” one reviewer writes. “Great versatility—great amount of space, good pockets,” another adds.
Purchase Mier’s Large Duffel
Looking for a “knockout” gym bag to up your boxing game? Elite Sports’ duffel bag got our attention. It’s large enough to hold your clothes and combat gear and it’s sturdy thanks to the mesh/Cordura construction. In case you’re wondering what kind of fabric Cordura is, it’s a super-durable blend of high tensile strength synthetic fibers—in other words, it’s a great pick for boxing or MMA enthusiasts whose gear gets put through the ringer.
One Amazon reviewer mentioned that every side of the bag is deep-pocketed allowing for more than enough storage space. Another reviewer also loved the storage capacity this bag offered noting that it was able to fit their gloves, hand wraps, resistance bands, a 40 ounce water bottle and more, easily and comfortably. A water-resistant lining and ventilation also help prevent that dreaded gym bag stink.
Purchase the Elite Sports Duffel
Simple, basic duffel? Check. The Carhartt Trade Series 2-in-1 Duffel Bag is ideal as a gym bag for women and men, and it can go beyond your fitness needs too. The material can keep your stuff dry if you’re transporting it in the rain (or doing an activity where you’ll be outside), and the abrasion-resistant base holds up to wherever you bring it. “I use this bag every day for my gym clothes. Great product and very durable. I also used it on the past two trips that I went on and it held up nicely,” one buyer from Amazon notes.
This bag includes an exterior zippered pouch and adjustable shoulder strap that can be removed. The large zipper runs the length of the bag, so it’s easy to fit longer gear in it (like a racquet or just your dirty gym clothes). The whole bag comes in a utility pouch so you can pack it down when needed.
Purchase Carhartt’s Trade Series 2-in-1 Duffel
Imagine having one tote bag that does it all—well, it exists. The Nike One Tote is rated one of the best gym bags for women because it gives you convenient features for your fitness routine in a great tote bag style. “I’ve used this bag almost every day since buying it. It works great for my laptop during the week and volleyball stuff on weekends,” says one reviewer on DicksSportingGoods.com.
This 18-liter bag has a big main area that you can reach from the top. Inside, there’s a padded laptop sleeve and a mesh pocket for smaller items. An elastic bungee on the side can handle a yoga mat or other larger object. There are pockets on both sides (one has a zipper, the other is magnetic) for smaller goods. And an interior water bottle pocket keeps your drink comfortably secure so it doesn’t spill and drench everything.
Purchase Nike’s One Tote
To choose the best gym bag for you, focus on function and what you’ll use the bag for. Maybe you like to hit the gym immediately before or after work and need a bag with space to carry your gym gear and clothes and a padded laptop sleeve for your computer. Are you looking for a bag you can also use outside of the gym? You’ll want something that’s versatile enough to double as a carry-on bag for traveling or whatever else your needs might be.
Here are a few things to think about when you’re trying to find the best gym bag for your individual needs.
Almost every user will want a bag made from a durable material. If you tend to drag your bag around or store it on a dirty gym floor, you may want something with extra reinforcement on the bottom. Consider if you need it to be water-resistant or waterproof. And if you’re into buying what’s good for the planet, you may want to look at recycled materials.
If your bag frequently gets dirty, look for one that is machine washable—many are spot clean only.
Some bags have more structure than others—they hold their shape when nothing is in them. That can be a good or bad thing, depending on your needs. If you need a bag that can fold up easily, or if you’re always loading gear in and out and prefer something that stays put, look into what reviewers have to say about how the bag holds up when it’s empty.
Gym bags can vary fairly widely in price, depending on size, materials, construction and brand. It’s possible to find a decent gym bag for your needs for under $100. The bags on our list range between $35 and $158.
This may be the most important aspect of picking a gym bag. For instance, if you frequent spin class and need to pack your own shoes, look for a bag that can hold them (and an extra towel). Need something to tote your yoga mat to the studio? You may want a yoga bag or gym bag with a longer length. If hydration is a must while you’re exercising, choose a bag with a water bottle holder.
To find the best gym bag for your needs in terms of size, consider what you’re using the bag for. If you need to carry a yoga mat or boxing gloves on top of clothing, you may want a larger bag. But if you’re just looking for something to hold an extra towel or water bottle, you may be fine with a smaller one. Again, if you plan on using the bag for travel or other sporting events, you may want or need a smaller or larger bag.
At some gyms, your bag may need to fit inside a locker. Otherwise, you may be more at liberty to pick any bag you like.
Focus on what needs to go in the bag, and if there are other items that you’d like to be able to carry along. If you don’t change at the gym, you don’t need space for clothes, but maybe you want something to tote around your equipment or a fitness mat. Other people need to change at the gym and need space for clothing. You may want a separate pouch for used gym clothes, which can be wet or stinky.
That depends on your needs. Bigger isn’t always better, while something too small means that you’re either carrying extra stuff or looking for a bigger bag. See what you need to carry first, then see if the bag will accommodate it.
Think about what you will need. Some people arrive in gym clothes and need to change into regular clothes when they leave. If your gym has a shower, you may want shampoo or conditioner and soap. If you come and leave in the same clothes, you still may want to pack a towel, water bottle, smartphone and workout earbuds. Check to see if your gym offers a towel service—it’s one less thing to lug along.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Kristen Fischer is a journalist and copywriter who has written about health for more than 15 years.
The Best Gym Bags to Keep Your Gear Organized in 2022 – Sports Illustrated