The 11 Best Gym Bags of 2021

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Whether your gym is a track, field, pool, studio, fitness center, or even your own backyard, owning a quality gym bag can positively affect your fitness routine.

Finding a bag that fits your active lifestyle takes the guesswork out of getting ready while also promoting efficiency and establishing a routine. This isn’t just another accessory, it’s a commitment to your personal health and wellness. Think of packing it and keeping it stocked as the meal prep of working out.

Here are our top picks for the best gym bags.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall for Women:
Lululemon Define Duffle at Lululemon
The water-repellent material of this chic, tear-resistant gym bag keeps gear and electronics dry, even during rainy commutes.
The bag to have by your side on a visit to the gym, it features an isolated shoe pocket to hold any sweaty footwear.
Ideal if you prefer less bulky bags, UA's duffel features multiple zipper and mesh pockets so your essentials can stay separate.
Unpredictable weather is no match for this water-resistant duffel, complete with multiple pockets to keep smaller items separated.
Best for Storing Shoes:
VOORAY Burner Gym Bag at Amazon
If storing shoes is a priority, the shape and ventilated space makes it easy to keep your footwear on hand.
With durable water repellent (DWR) coating and a Duravax abrasion-resistant base, this bag withstands sweat and use for years.
A heavy-duty option to help you transition from work to the gym, it features space for clothing and tech in separate compartments.
This versatile pick, wearable multiple ways, can store a smaller sized laptop and a pair of shoes for your on-the-go needs.
Yoga lovers can rejoice in finding a pick made just for them with this horizontal tote that fits standard mats.
Best for Swimmers:
Gonex Swim Bag at Amazon
Split into a wet and dry side, its waterproof material ensures your tech stays safe, making it ideal for beach or pool days.

Best Overall for Women: Lululemon Define Duffle

Lululemon Define Duffle

The Define Duffle packs in a day's worth of work and workout gear, with ample space for gym and post-gym attire, a water bottle, a makeup bag, and a laptop.

This sleek, chic duffel is offered in both Black and Heathered Black and can easily be dressed up or down. Constructed from tough, tear-resistant polyester and polyurethane, the sturdy Define Duffle can withstand years of workouts and overnight trips. The water-repellent material keeps gear and electronics dry, even during rainy commutes. 

Designated zipper pockets throughout the bag enable you to stay organized. A padded exterior pocket keeps a 15-inch laptop safe, while additional exterior pockets keep your tech within arm’s reach. This bag gives you the ability to isolate your sweaty gym gear with separate sections for dirty and clean clothes.

The duffel can be carried by the long dual handles or slung over your shoulder using the adjustable shoulder strap. This bag has a capacity of 31 liters and measures 19.5x8.5x11.8 inches.

Best Overall for Men: Herschel Black Novel Duffel Bag

Herschel Black Novel Duffel Bag

Herschel Supply's timeless Novel Duffle is ideal for those seeking an upscale, everyday gym bag featuring ample open storage and a dedicated shoe compartment. This nostalgic yet modern duffel bag has a basic and bare-bones design. It features a large, open center compartment that’s ideal for both a trip to the gym or an overnight getaway. 

The Novel Duffle is made from polyester with two-way waterproof YKK zippers and is designed to be carried either by holding the reinforced, articulated handles or by attaching the padded shoulder strap. The interior includes a mesh sleeve that keeps smaller belongings organized. 

This bag is available in 29 different print and color combinations, which all feature the classic Herschel red striped lining and classic woven label. The Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffle has a capacity of 42.5 liters and measures 11.75x20.5x11 inches.

Best Budget: Under Armour Roland Duffle Bag

Under Armour Roland Duffle Bag

The Under Armour Roland Duffle Bag is a budget-friendly pick for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The flat-sided duffel bag features a spacious center storage compartment with a side mesh pocket and a wide front zip pocket for easy access. The bag features dual handles that snap down and adjust for hassle-free wear, along with an adjustable shoulder strap for added versatility. 

The Under Armour Roland Duffle Bag is designed using UA Storm technology, delivering a durable water-resistant finish. It’s available in a variety of color options and features the signature Under Armor logo. The bag has a capacity of 37 liters and measures 22.2x10.6x10.3 inches when full. 

Best with Pockets: Adidas Unisex Medium Duffel Bag

Adidas Unisex Medium Duffel Bag

For the athlete who lives on the field—rain or shine—the Adidas Unisex Team Issue Medium Duffel Bag stands up to the harshest of weather

The spacious and durable duffel bag features the brand’s signature Hydro-Shield water-resistant base keeping contents safe and dry. Multiple large zipper pockets fit bulky gear and equipment like balls and helmets, while the small interior pocket keeps valuables secured and organized. Additionally, the shoe compartment keeps dirt and grime from transferring onto clean clothes.

This bag includes a padded adjustable shoulder strap for easy and comfortable carrying. It has a capacity of 58 liters and measures 26x12.5x13.5 inches.

Best for Storing Shoes: VOORAY Burner Gym Bag

VOORAY Burner Gym Bag

Consider this the perfect bag for the gym, your daily commute, or an overnight stay. This compact yet roomy duffel features strategically-placed pockets to keep personal items secured and organized. The interior includes three separate mesh pockets and one large zipper pocket. It also features an outer mesh water bottle pouch, a padded exterior media pocket, and a ventilated shoe compartment.

The bag is made from nylon and polyester with a water-resistant base, keeping belongings protected from the unexpected wet floor or spilled sports drink. The Vooray Burner Gym Duffel can be held two ways—either by the magnetic leather handles or by using the detachable shoulder strap. The bag has a capacity of 23 liters and measures 5.5x9.5x9.5 inches.

Most Durable: Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag

Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag

Carhartt's Legacy Gear Bag features the brand's handsome, rugged aesthetic with an ultra-durable construction. This 20-inch duffel bag provides one main compartment with an inner zip pocket featuring YKK zippers to secure valuables. Constructed from 1200-denier heavy-duty polyester with a Rain Defender durable water repellent (DWR) coating, and a Duravax abrasion-resistant base, the Legacy Gear Bag stands up to years of sweat and abuse. 

Featuring triple-needle stitched seams for reinforcement, this versatile bag comes with multiple carrying options, including a set of dual top haul handles and a removable padded crossbody shoulder strap.

The Carhartt Legacy Gear Bag comes in Black, Carhartt Brown, and Gray and measures 20x10.5x10 inches, and weighs 1.5 pounds.

Best for the Office: Aer Duffel Pack 2 Convertible Backpack

Aer Duffel Pack 2 Convertible Backpack

The Aer Duffel Pack 2 blurs the lines between a classic duffel bag and a backpack. This high-quality, upscale backpack offers an unmatched level of tech organization and storage pockets to keep you organized on the go. The Aer Duffel Pack 2 is constructed from a 1680D Cordura ballistic nylon exterior, which is sturdy and both tear- and abrasion-resistant. 

This duffel-style backpack features a wide vertical opening to a spacious main compartment, allowing for ample storage of larger contents such as clothing, electronics, and personal care essentials. This bag also includes a back tech pocket with a raised, padded laptop compartment—which fits a laptop up to 15.6 inches—and plenty of tech organization for chargers, devices, trinkets, and tools. 

Additionally, this bag has a side water bottle pouch and a separate ventilated shoe compartment—which fits up to a men's size 13 shoe—so your dirty kicks won’t ruin your fresh and clean outfit. 

Side and top handles allow users to hang the bag on locker room hooks or hold it horizontally like a briefcase. This bag is designed for comfort, featuring contoured padded straps and a padded mesh backing that helps prevent back sweat. This bag has a capacity of 24.6 liters and measures 21.5x12x8 inches.

Best Convertible: Caraa Classic Studio Bag

Caraa Classic Studio Bag

Caraa's popular Studio Bag is basically the Mary Poppins' bag of bags. It easily transitions from a satchel to a backpack to a crossbody and has numerous storage compartments to organize and carry both gym and personal essentials. Fitting an 11-inch laptop plus your gym clothes and shoes—all in separate, dedicated waterproof compartments—this multifaceted bag is a must for fit women on the go. 

This bag features two sets of convertible straps: the moisture-wicking backpack straps and an anti-slip rubberized crossbody strap. The inside of the bag features a waterproof, antimicrobial lining with breathable vents to prevent your sweaty gym clothes from haunting you for the rest of the day. 

The bag is made from waterproof Italian nylon with buffed Italian leather accents. It’s offered in black with either gold or gunmetal hardware. The Caraa Studio Bag Small has a capacity of 15.9 liters and measures 12x9x9 inches.

Best for Yoga: Gaiam Yoga Mat Tote Bag

Gaiam Yoga Mat Tote Bag

Made from 100% cotton, this fully-lined yoga bag fits standard mats up to 24 inches. There's plenty of space for both personal belongings and yoga accessories in the spacious Gaiam Yoga Mat Tote Bag. Three magnetic snaps secure the mat in place while enabling easy access.

This bag also features both an interior and exterior zipper pocket to securely stow belongings. The Gaiam Yoga Mat Tote Bag measures 30.5x6.5x11 inches with 33-inch shoulder straps. It comes in gray and natural color options with two different embroidered prints.

Best for Swimmers: Gonex Swim Bag

Gonex Swim Bag

Gone are the days when your wet swimsuit saturates your clean clothes. The Gonex Swim Bag is the perfect accessory for the gym, pool, or beach. It's both lightweight and durable, keeping clean clothes dry and separated from wet swimsuits, towels, and sweaty gear. 

This bag is split into two main sections, one for wet contents and the other for dry. The waterproof wet compartment is constructed from a translucent EVA material, keeping even electronics on the opposite side dry.

This slim and sleek rectangular gym bag comes with both dual webbed handles for easy carrying along with an adjustable, detachable padded shoulder strap for crossbody convenience. It securely zips shut, keeping all belongings safe and sealed. 

The Gonex Swim Bag is available in two sizes—medium (15.75x10.24x5.51 inches) and large (17.8x12.3x7.5)—and comes in three contrasting color combinations: black, green, and purple.

Best for Kids: Nike Gym Club Kids' Duffel Bag

Nike Gym Club Kids' Duffel Bag

The Nike Gym Club Kids' Duffel Bag is designed to carry your child’s gear from soccer practice and gymnastics to sleepovers and the playground. Pack all the sports essentials in this durable, water-resistant gym bag sporting the signature Nike Swoosh.

This kid-sized duffel features a full-zip main compartment with inner pockets for added organization. A mesh side pocket keeps a water bottle handy during practice and games. Choose between dual handles or the padded adjustable shoulder strap for custom carrying.

This Nike gym bag measures 19x9x11 inches and comes in multiple color options. 

Final Verdict

For those who prefer the comfort of a backpack, the Aer Duffel Pack 2 delivers the spacious organization of a classic duffel bag in the compact convenience of a sleek and professional-looking backpack. This hybrid gym backpack has all the storage you could ever need for your computer, tech equipment, water bottle, shoes, toiletries, and a change of clothes, all while still looking professional enough for the office.

The Vooray Burner Gym Duffel is a compact gym bag that fits all the essentials for a post-gym refresh. Complete with a separate shoe compartment and water bottle pouch, this duffel is the ideal size for a change of clothes, toiletries, and small gym accessories.

What to Look for in a Gym Bag

Size and Design

Based on the sport or activity, gym bags are designed with specific features like a waterproof lining for swimming and high-intensity cardio, a shoe compartment for cleats or cycling shoes, and even added straps for carrying yoga mats. Assess your spatial needs and what you plan to carry. Also, keep in mind you’ll want to make sure the bag fits inside of your gym’s lockers.

Material

The most popular materials used in gym bag construction are polyester, nylon, canvas, leather, and vinyl—which one you choose will depend on your style, budget, and functionality. We recommend choosing a material that’s lightweight, durable, breathable, and water-resistant. Check for sturdy zippers and finishings as well, avoiding cheap plastic.

Water Resistance

Water-resistant or waterproof lining, sections, or coatings are an excellent way to protect your items. If you’re a swimmer or get quite sweaty, a wet bag compartment is a crucial feature to look for. Inner linings that are water-resistant can help prevent sweat or smells from permeating the materials and make the inside easier to clean. Exterior waterproofing can protect your gear from the rain.

Storage and Organization

Many gym bags come with a multitude of compartments with specialized organization—like padded laptop pockets, a separate shoe compartment, a water bottle pouch, and wet clothing storage. The additional compartments add to the versatility of a bag, enabling it to double as an everyday or weekender bag.

Comfortable Straps

Particularly if your bag is packed with equipment and quite heavy, you will want straps that do not dig into or chafe your skin. Look for padding and comfortable materials or overlays that pad the handles. Adjustable straps can also help with comfort by fitting more closely to your body. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the best ways to clean a gym bag?

    If your gym bag has a water-resistant liner, use a cloth with water, a little liquid hand soap, and vinegar to wipe it down, with particular attention around the seams where grime and smells can linger.

    If your bag is made of soft material like cotton, check to see if it can be washed in the washing machine. Some lightweight bags can be machine-washed with cold water on the delicate or hand-wash cycle and air-dried.

  • How do you remove odors from a gym bag?

    Washing your gym bag frequently can prevent and remove odors. Use white vinegar or oxygen bleach and cold water to wash bags that are safe to go into the washing machine. If your bag still smells off-putting after a wash, try another rinse cycle to remove excess detergent. Placing a dryer sheet or cotton cloth with essential oils inside your bag can also help with odors.

  • What are the must-haves to pack in a gym bag?

    Depending on what you use your gym bag for and when you work out, there are some essentials you’ll likely want to keep inside. Use travel containers to bring along body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. You’ll likely want a spray or gel deodorant as sticks can break. A towel and shower shoes are a good idea as well. If you won’t be taking a shower, dry shampoo helps soak up sweat and oil. It’s wise to remove your makeup before a workout, so face wash and makeup remover, if you need them, are useful to have on hand.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As an active gym-goer, Emily Stone has always been a fan of Lululemon’s versatile gym bags. The Define Duffle allows her to pack for the day, fitting both work and gym essentials (including a laptop). This chic duffel also doubles as the perfect-sized weekender bag for a quick trip.

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