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If you’re still carrying your gym clothes in a shopping bag or the same backpack you take to work, it’s time to switch things out.
It’s never been easier to find simple, good quality gym bags online. Whereas the idea of a dedicated gym bag used to conjure up images of giant duffels or heavy, army-style sacks, the best gym bags these days are lightweight and compact. They’re small enough to tuck under your desk at work but roomy enough to hold your clothing, a pair of shoes and some workout accessories too (think: a jumprope, resistance bands, etc.).
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Gym Bag
Materials: You’ll be taking these bags to the gym, where you’ll be surrounded by sweaty bodies and damp, humid air, so make sure your bags are made with water-resistant materials. You’ll want your bag to be breathable too, so make sure the materials don’t absorb moisture, but are rather designed for good airflow. You’ll also want materials that are tough enough to hold all your gear, but flexible enough to stretch a bit if you want to cram in another pair of shoes. We’ve found bags that are made from durable fabrics that will hold up to wear and tear.
Organization: All of the bags on our list have a ton of exterior and interior pockets to help you organize your stuff. They also come with a hidden side pocket for your shoes or dirty clothes; it’s an easy way to keep the stink away from your clean clothes and valuables. Look for hidden interior pockets too, which are a great way to stash things like your wallet, phone and keys, to keep them away from prying hands.
Carrying: We’ve found some lightweight gym bags, that don’t add a ton of extra weight to your carry. All of the bags on our list can be carried with two top handles, or with an adjustable shoulder strap.
Bonus: These gym bags can double as travel bags for a weekend road trip or a quick getaway. All of these bags on our list are carry-on approved.
1. FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0
Rugged and durable, this gym bag can really take a beating. It’s made from a water-resistant material, with reinforced stitching at key stress points.
There’s a ton of space to organize your gear too, with one large main opening at the top, and a large side opening for your shoes. Two exterior pockets are great for small accessories, like your phone, earbuds and wallet, while two mesh pockets hold your water bottle and protein shaker (up to 32 ounces).
An internal pocket is great for valuables, while the other side of the bag features an exterior slide pocket, to slip in a magazine, tablet, etc.
Carry the bag via the two handles, or sling it over your shoulders with the included shoulder strap. The shoulder strap is removable for convenience. This medium-sized bag measures approximately 20 inches in length.
PROS: The company says the bag undergoes strict drop and stress-testing to make sure it holds up to all conditions. A separate side pocket keeps your smelly shoes and wet clothes away from everything else.
CONS: Most basic, no frills style on our list.
2. Boost Sports Gym Bag
We like the clean, minimalist design of this gym bag, which is made from a thick oxford fabric that’s tear-proof and waterproof.
The large main compartment is great for clothing, while a side panel opens up to store your shoes. Inside, find a self-contained “wet pouch,” for storing wet clothes and accessories that may leak or spill (I.e. shampoo, lotion, etc.). There is also a large exterior zip pocket on the other side of the bag.
Wear this as a crossbody bag with the adjustable strap or carry it with the top handles. Two small ventilation holes at the side of the bag help to let air flow for breathability.
This bag measures approximately 20 inches in length. Five colors available.
PROS: Simple design hides all the organizational features.
CONS: Some may find the material a little stiff and not as flexible as other picks on our list.
3. PUMA Evercat Contender 3.0 Duffel
PUMA is no stranger to quality athletic shoes and apparel and they’ve extended the same thoughtful design to this duffel-style gym bag.
The bag is made from a stretchy and durable polyester material with a polyester lining. The main compartment is roomy enough to store your clothing, toiletry bag and accessories, while a separate footwear compartment hides your shoes.
We like the mesh pockets on the outside, which are great for airing out your sweaty or smelly gear (think headband, towel, etc.).
The entire bag is sturdy yet super lightweight. It’s finished with the iconic PUMA logo on the side.
PROS: At 21 inches in length, it’s the largest bag on our list. Makes a great travel bag too.
CONS: Hand wash only.