If every personal trainer on Earth could agree on one thing, it would be this: be more deliberate about your fitness regimen. Plan a gym schedule. Count your calories. Jot down your reps. It’s all for the sake of fostering self-motivation.
This clear-headed wisdom applies to gym gear, too. Buy better clothes and equipment, and you will feel obliged — excited, even — to use them. Along the same lines, if you feel safe and comfortable returning to your local gym, a great gym bag might be just the nudge you need to go for it. But not all gym bags are created equal — and it's best to have one suited to your particular needs, tastes and ambitions.
What to Put in a Gym Bag
Your choice in which gym bag works best for you may be subjective, but there are some objectively important items to put inside said gym bag — for instance, it never hurts to have a spare pair of socks on hand, as well as an extra workout shirt and shorts, just in case.
Along with socks, we also recommend a cozy change of clothes for the journey home, a waterproof bag to hold your sweaty clothes post-workout, supplements to enhance your performance, small snacks in case you miss a meal and need refueling and an extra water bottle for the days you accidentally leave yours at the office or on the kitchen counter.
So, whether you head to the gym before work and require a nice office-worthy option or are more concerned with function than form, we have a pick for you below.
Best Overall Gym Bag
We chose Aer’s Gym Duffel 3 for its versatility, excellent organizational features (including a designated shoe slot) and rugged construction bolstered by a 1680-denier Cordura ballistic nylon exterior. Oh, and one other key element: its confident, urban-commuter styling. It’s right in the sweet spot for 90 percent of gym-goers and an excellent choice for style-conscious frequent fliers, too.
Best Upgrade Gym Bag
The DSPTCH Gym/Work Bag has the versatility of a Swiss Army knife, the dependability of a Ford pickup and styling that Daniel Craig could get behind. The bag consists of a laptop and tablet compartment, a wet/dry pouch and a hidden security pocket on the bottom of the bag. A 500-denier Cordura nylon finish make it tough, too.
Best Value Gym Bag
This wallet-friendly option has all the standard gym bag features: big main compartment, ventilated shoe compartment, various pockets. It's a great team sports bag too, thanks to its overall aesthetic. Available in a number of colors, the Defender feels right at home plopped down on astroturf sidelines.
Best Classic Canvas Gym Bag
JOSHU+VELA is known for premium natural canvas and leather lifestyle bags. The Small Duffel's hardy canvas construction, complete with American bridle leather straps and hand-set copper rivets, is both cosmetic and functional: tough enough to cram into a locker, yet handsome enough for a first-class cabin.
Best-Looking Gym Bag
True to Lululemon's general rep, this gorgeous, water-repellent gear hauler isn't short on function. Handy external pockets keep your water bottle, shoes and clothes separate, an adjustable shoulder strap and trolley-compatible sleeve ease transport, and there's even a slot that fits a 16-inch laptop.
Best Rugged Gym Backpack
When you want a bag that's going to stand up to the elements while standing out in style, grab ahold of Mission Workshop's Speedwell backpack. The Speedwell is made with Dimension Polyant's X-Pac fabric and MultiCam Cordura, two fabrics known for their durability and aesthetic. The fully waterproof pack is great for biking to and from the gym, or to use on weekend adventures, thanks to its floating harness system (which enahces breathability), a padded and zippered laptop pocket, two exterior water bottle holders, an internal hydration compartment, magnetic Fidlock closures and YKK zippers throughout.
Most Hyped Gym Duffle
This candy-hued duffle has developed a cult following in recent years thanks to its eye-catching colorways, but the once you get past the bright exterior, there are also tons of features that make this a great pick for daily gym trips. The outer shell is waterproof and features double stitch construction, so you can throw the Go-Bag around worry-free. The ergonomic shoulder straps are detachable and adjustable, so you can pick and choose how you'd like to carry. Four pockets (two internal mesh, one internal organization, one external stow) allow for separating clean and dirty clothes, as well as sneaking in snacks or work equipment as well. And with over 10 colorways to choose from, you'll be able to pick a hue that matches you.
Best Gym-to-Camp Backpack
For those that aren't just a gym person or just a camping person, you'll want a bag that can transition from running miles on the treadmill to a weekend in the Catskills, no questions asked. Matador's SEG30 is the ultimate organizer, thanks to 30 liters of available spaced, parsed out into four sections for optimal organization. Use the backpack straps to go hands-free, or grab onto one of the carry handles on the top, bottom and side of the bag, and hit the road.
If you're looking for more capacity, try the SEG42 on for size.
Best Low Profile Gym Bag
If you're the type of person that wants to go to the gym, but doesn't want to look like you're going to the gym, this bag is for you. This little number combines sleek and savvy looks with performance: it's made with neoprene, which allows it to stretch and flex, and comes in four neutral colorways, giving it a polished feel. This hard-working duffle features an interior zip pocket, side shoe and water-bottle pockets, and a removable padded laptop sleeve, as well as a removable laundry/shoe bag, but from looking at the stylish exterior, you'd never know it.
Best Gym-Ready Backpack
With all of the space (30 liters) and features of a gym duffel, the Utility Pack defies expectations. A water-resistant compartment for damp clothes and gear, padded straps, expandable pockets for two water bottles and a padded laptop sleeve make it as functional and versatile as anything with a handle.
Best Workwear-Inspired Gym Bag
If you don’t consider the words sleek or urban as legitimate selling points, then the Legacy Gear Bag is for you. It’s built much like Carhartt’s overalls: simple, timeless, nearly indestructible. It comes in three sizes (20, 23 and 30 inches) and four colors (black, tan, grey and Realtree camouflage).
Best Gym-to-Work Bag
This stylish, waterproof duffel boasts a sneaky shoe slot to keep stinky kicks separate from work clothes or fresh gym clothes. The built-in locker hook allows you to hang the bag up for convenient storing. Once at the office, unzip a side pocket to reveal a 15-inch laptop sleeve and organizational sections lined with blue nylon twill.
The Regimen Gym Bag is currently backordered, and will ship starting January 25th.
Best Rugged Gym Rucksack
Thanks GoRuck's Special Forces roots, everything the brand makes is tough, this bombproof, 1000-denier Cordura nylon bag is no exception. Ergonomic lumbar support, a training sternum strap and Ruck Plate compatibility mean you can not only tote workout gear in this bag, you can legit work out with it.
Best Gym Bag for Gym Haters
If you're the type who prefers to get fit outdoors rather than the gym, why not opt for a bag that's equally comfortable at a campsite? Despite its looks, Topo's duffel makes for an ideal gym bag thanks to durable construction and a pack cloth liner for your softer goods to rest before, after or notwithstanding a workout.