In this absolutely epic roundup of the top rated gym bags of 2017, we did our homework and surveyed a variety of people to help you find the perfect gym bag. We’ve divided the list into:
The Best Gym Backpack
The Best Gym Bag for Work
Cheap Gym Bags
The Best Small Gym Bag
The Best Sports Duffel Bag
Whether you’re doing crossfit, yoga, swimming, boxing, roller derby, Brazilian jiu-jitsu – you name it, we’ve got something here for you. What do you usually carry in your gym bag? Sneakers, gloves, protein bars, laptop? Are you still carrying around that ugly and sweat stained gym bag that you got for free 5 years ago? You want gym bags to be able to handle abuse, to be functional, lightweight, yet big enough to carry all your gear, and of course, you want something to look good too. Your search for the best gym bag ever ends today!
Best Gym Backpacks:
Dimensions: 21.25” H x 14.25” W x 13.5” D
This is a very nicely sized backpack, with two extra-large zippered compartments that can carry your shoes or cleats, and a basketball or a soccer ball. This is a large backpack that can swallow a lot of gear, but despite the size, the design is very sleek, and it doesn’t look too bulky. The branding isn’t over the top too, which helps in keeping a clean profile.
- Features a hydroshield water-resistant bottom material to protect your gear from the elements
- Two large mesh water bottle pockets with compression straps to better secure gear
- Exterior vertical zip pocket with interior gusset for better organization
- Large mesh pocket on the inside so your small items don’t get lost
- Lined media pocket to protect your electronics from scratches
- Well-padded Loadspring™ straps to help distribute load
Dimensions: 27” H x 13” W x 7” D (27” is with the top is extended and fully open; it’s ~22” when the flap is down)
First things first – this is a relatively large backpack, so if you’re on the smaller side (5’4” and below) this may not be for you, unless you carry around a lot of gear. Even then, you likely won’t want to use this pack to pull double duty as an everyday backpack. But if you need to schlep around a lot of gear (or books!), this is the pack for you. It has a pseudo-roll top like design, but instead of a roll, the top closes with a single fold over flap and a single buckle which gives it a very unique look. This also means you can easily use the bag fully open, just in case you need to carry tall items, e.g. a yoga mat or maybe extra groceries.
- Backpack with separate zippered shoe compartment on the bottom
- Internal laptop sleeve that can fit up to a 15” laptop
- Large external front zippered pocket with built-in admin panel for pens, chargers etc..
- Stretchy and relatively tall water bottle pocket on the side (can fit tall bottles)
- Mesh zippered pocket on the inside so your smaller items don’t get lost on the bottom of the bag (this is a cavernous bag)
Dimensions: 19” H x 14” W x 11” D
This backpack is one of the more popular soccer backpacks with a ball pocket. It’s a great game day bag, and is also a great gym bag. Unlike most soccer backpacks with a ball holder, the ball pocket here is cleverly hidden in a zippered compartment on the front, so it stays out of the way and doesn’t take up much space if not needed. It has a nicely designed vented front pocket that’s perfect for shoes or wet gear.
- Vented, mesh front compartment for shoes or used gym clothes.
- Deployable ball pocket – great for volleyballs or soccer balls (does not fit basketballs, but you can stick a basketball in the main compartment if you want).
- Tarpaulin bottom, which lends some structure to the bag and keeps the bottom water resistant
- Top stash pocket, perfect for your wallet, cellphone or keys, maybe some lipbalm
- One external mesh water bottle pocket
- Loops on the front of the pack for a bike light
- Minimal branding – you have a nice and clean Nike swoosh logo on the front of the pack, and a small swoosh on the left strap, that’s it
- One internal mesh pocket for smaller items
Dimensions: 20” H x 12” W x 7” D
This is one of the more unique bags on this list. This is a gym backpack with a separate shoe compartment, a dedicated laptop compartment, a dedicated tablet sleeve, and a very cleverly designed external carry system that can carry an additional pair of shoes, wet clothes or can serve as a ball pocket or holder (it can carry a basketball, volleyball or soccer ball). The main story here is ventilation – every compartment here (except for the dedicated laptop compartment) is ventilated.
- Padded laptop compartment – fits up to a 15” laptop plus a separate tablet sleeve with buckle closure in the main compartment.
- External carry pouch locked with a Fidlock ™ buckle – can carry an extra pair of shoes, or even a basketball
- Internal accessory pocket built into the front panel – for your keys, wallet, lipbalm, eyedrops etc..
- Two large water bottle pockets on each side
- Large ventilated shoe compartment (fits up to Mens US size 13)
- Built-in sternum strap
- Clips to attach the Dsptch Shoe Straps (purchased separately) to allow you to carry an extra pair of shoes. (Technically, you could carry a pair of shoes in the bottom shoe pocket, a pair on the external carry pouch, and a pair on each side and have the entire main compartment free for other stuff)
Best gym bag for work:
If you’re looking for a bag to carry your gym essentials as well as your office gear, we’ve got 5 bags that will look great in the office. It doesn’t matter whether you want to go to the gym before work, after work, or in the middle of the day – these bags will help you transition from the office to the gym, or vice versa. Here, we focused on gym bags that can carry your gym essentials as well as your office gear (e.g. your laptop). We’ve put a premium on aesthetics here, we’ve carefully selected bags that will blend-in in a professional environment. Understated, with minimal branding is what we’re looking for here. Bags that’ll go well with whatever you wear to work. You will not find it embarrassing to carry these in the office.
Dimensions: 18” H x 12” W x 7” D
This is a relatively small backpack, and is perfect for work and gym essentials. The best thing about this pack are the clearly defined main compartments – an “office” compartment on the side closest to your back, and a “gym” compartment on the front with a duffle-style vertical zipper (you wouldn’t want to be pulling out your workout shirt when you’re fishing out your laptop in a meeting would you?).
The front duffle-style compartment shares space with the separate shoe compartment on the bottom while the back compartment has separate laptop compartment, a tablet sleeve and 3 pockets. This is a great looking pack, with a very clean aesthetic on the outside, with the only branding being a small Aer tag on the side of the bag – but the inside still features enough organization to satisfy non-minimalists.
- The back compartment (the “office” compartment) has light padding on all sides
- Separate shoe compartment – fits up to US Mens Size 12
- Built-in sternum strap
- Top easy-access pocket for your keys, wallet, earbuds etc…
- 3 internal pockets: a zippered mesh pocket on the top for your phone etc.. and directly below it are 2 smaller pockets: a cargo mesh pocket, and a flap pocket with velcro closure
- No external water bottle pocket
Dimensions: 22″ L x 10″ H x 8″ D
Similar to their gym/work backpack version above – this duffel is designed for the gym and the office. It features 2 compartments – a padded laptop compartment, and a large main compartment with a separate ventilated shoe compartment with side access.
- Made of moisture-resistant nylon
- Separate zippered, padded laptop compartment – fits up to 15” laptops
- Hidden security pocket on the floor of the bag – accessed via the inside of the main compartment
- 1 external zippered pocket for quick access to keys, gym card etc..
- Top handles for briefcase-style carry and a separate shoulder strap for cross-body carry
Dimensions: 21″ L x 13″ H x 9.5″ D
The EO Travel Duffel is primarily designed as a travel bag, so it doesn’t have gym friendly features such as a shoe pocket. But it features a very spacious main compartment and a separate laptop pocket (padded and lined with a really nice material, we have no idea what it is, but it is niiice…) that is perfect for someone looking to jump from the cubicle to the gym. Dual padded haul handles and a removable shoulder strap with a shoulder pad are included.
- Dedicated laptop compartment, fits up to a 15” Macbook
- Made of 900D triple-coated nylon which is very water resistant and abrasion resistant
- YKK zippers! Zippers are almost always the first thing that breaks in a bag, and YKK are some of most durable zippers on the market
- One quick access pocket on the outside, and one zippered pocket on the inside
Dimensions: 21.5″ L x 10.5″ W x 9” D
This bag is a Kickstarter success story, and is one of the more interesting looking bags in this list. Made of PU leather, which is water resistant and scratch resistant, this 24L duffel is the perfect size for an office and gym bag. It’s also a great weekender or overnight travel bag as well. There is a ventilated shoe compartment (fits up to US Mens size 13) and a padded tablet compartment built into the top flap (there is no dedicated laptop compartment though.. your laptop will have to go in the main compartment)
- Includes a separate dopp kit
- Front utility pocket with a built-in admin panel – space for your keys, phone, cables etc…
- Water resistant zippers
- Quick access cell-phone pocket on the exterior, including a water bottle pocket
- Haul handle with magnets, and a removable shoulder strap
- Passport-sized super secret compartment
Click here to get the KP Duffle on Amazon. Also available in other great colors.
Dimensions: 22” H x 12” W x 7” D
Aer calls this pack a mobile office, and in many ways, that’s a great way to describe this pack. It’s a backpack, with a duffel built on top of it. Or, if you prefer, it’s a gym bag with a laptop compartment. At 22” high, this is a relatively tall backpack, but at only 7” at it’s deepest, this is also a very slim pack. The office/laptop compartment (closest to your back) has space for up to a 15” laptop and also has a separate table sleeve. The main compartment on the front opens duffel style and has a vented shoe compartment (fits up to US Mens size 13). Each side of the bag has quick access pockets, which can fit your phone, wallets, notebook etc..
- Backpack straps (primary carry); plus padded top and side handles – carry it like a briefcase at work, wear it like a backpack on your way to the gym!
- Expandable water bottle pocket on the left
- Water resistant YKK zippers
- Adjustable sternum strap
Best Small Gym Bag:
Dimensions: 18.5 x 11 x 10
This is as simple as it gets. This is slightly smaller than your typical gym duffel and it only has one compartment, with no pockets at all, inside or out. But if you want to keep it simple, and just want to carry a pair of shoes and a change of clothes and maybe a towel and toiletries, this is the perfect small gym bag. And, it’s also available in a variety of colors.
- Includes a stiff, but flexible bottom, which helps in keeping the shape, and in not making the bag sag too much under heavy weight.
- D-shape duffel opening for quick access
- Hook and loop hand strap with adjustable shoulder strap
- Less length than your typical duffel, which means it’s easier to maneuver in crowded spaces, like the subway, great for gym commuters
Click here to shop the Adidas Diablo Gym Duffle on Amazon. Also available in a ton of colors!
Extra Small (XS): 16″ L x 10″ H x 9” D
Also available in larger sizes:
Small (S): 20″ L x 11″ H x 10” D
Medium (M): 24.5” x 13” H x 12” D
Large (L): 28″ L x 13″ H x 12” D
The Brasilia Duffel is one of Nike’s most popular budget duffel lines. It’s available in a variety of sizes (from extra-small to large). For regular gym use, you’ll want to take a look at either the XS or S, perhaps the M if you need more space. The large duffel, at 28” long is just too big for most people, unless you’re carrying tons of extra specialty gear.
The XS size in particular is perfect if you want a really small duffel for only the essentials. There is one interior pocket for your valuables, a separate shoe compartment that’s slightly vented and an exterior mesh pocket. The big downside is that it doesn’t have a stiff bottom, so it will sag a bit if fully loaded. But since it’s not a large duffel (the XS is only 16” long) it’s really a no biggie.
- Well designed top grab handles, with removable shoulder strap, and a single grab handle on one side (you can also use this handle to hang the bag, if needed)
- Separate shoe or used clothing compartment, with slight ventilation (the vented area isn’t as big as most bags, not great if you want to air something out quickly, but good if you don’t want people on the subway staring at your gym shoes in the bag).
- Water resistant bottom helps with protection from wet surfaces, however, bottom doesn’t have a stiffening board
- Available in a variety of sizes – XS is great if you want something smaller than usual, the S is about the size of most regular gym duffel bags. M and L are probably too big for most people.
- Made of lightweight polyester, the downside is it doesn’t have much structure, but on the flipside, it is one ultralight bag.
Dimensions: 16” L x 9” H x 9” D
This barrel duffel is even smaller than the Nike Brasilia in XS (above). Even though the specs say it’s only an inch smaller in height and depth, the difference in real life is actually quite significant because this is a round duffel. This is almost as no-frills as it gets – there is no interior organization here, no separate shoe compartment or vented mesh. But in a bag this small, you don’t really need a lot of organization. The only “feature” here is a single exterior pocket.
- 1 easy access cargo pocket (no zippers) on the outside
- Top grab handles, with removable shoulder strap
- Great size if you want something really small. It’s also a great emergency bag to leave in the car, and if you’re a light packer, it can do double duty as an overnight bag.
- Did we mention it was small? Again, if you want something as small as possible that can still carry your gym essentials, this is about as small as you want to go.
- One more time, just in case you missed it – this is a small duffel! It’s so small, you can even use it as a carry-on with Spirit Airlines or other small regional jets without the gate agent giving you the stink eye.
Dimensions: 21” L x 12″ H x 11” D
One of the more popular gym bags for women right now. This bag isn’t as small as the bags above, but it still maintains a very sleek profile. This bag also has pockets galore. There’s a separate shoe compartment with minimal venting (good if you don’t want people to easily see the contents of your bag, but not great if you want to carry wet stuff). The great thing is that the shoe compartment is lined with patented freshPAK™ anti-microbial technology which helps take care of odor-causing bacteria. The main compartment has 3 interior pockets (one is lined with tricot – great for jewelry or other items that you don’t want scratched), and there are 2 exterior pockets.
- 5 pockets! On the inside, one side of the bag is a large mesh pocket. Opposite this is a small floating pouch with two organizational pockets – helpfully labeled as for “little stuff”. One of these pockets is lined with a soft material, so it’s perfect for earrings, bracelets and other jewelry. On the outside, there is a nicely sized zippered pocket on the front, and on one side there is a stretchy mesh pocket for your water bottle or anything else you want quick access too.
- Great color selection – these are really some of the best looking gym bags we’ve seen. The Adidas logo is “pearlized” which gives it a really nice, unique look.
- Top haul handle, with adjustable shoulder strap, and small grab handles on each end.
Shop the Adidas Squad III Duffel on Amazon. Also available in other colors!
Dimensions: 20.7” L x 12.8” H x 9″ D
This is the only bag on this list with a dedicated yoga mat holder. And unlike all other bags on this list which are either backpacks or your standard duffle bag, this one is a tote bag. It’s made of Under Armour’s patented UA Storm™ polyester, which is a highly water resistant material. And in a big departure from your usual Under Armour gear, this bag has minimal branding (Surprise! We typically stay away from most UA gear because of the over the top branding, but this one is pretty good).
- Includes a removable laundry bag, great for your used gym clothes
- Adjustable straps, so you can slide your yoga mat in
- Internal mesh bottle holder
- Interior floating pocket with zipper for your valuables, and a slip pocket for a tablet or laptop
- Lined exterior pocket, so you don’t scratch your phone
Best Sports Duffel Bags:
30L: 19” L x 10.8” H x 11.8” D
50L: 23” L x 12.25” H x 12.25” D
70L: 25” L x 13.7” H x 13.7” D
90L: 26” L x 15” W x 15” D
120L: 29.5” L x 15.7” W x 15.7” D
This bag is available in 4 sizes – 30L, 50L, 70L and 90L. But you’ll most likely want the 30L as a gym bag. The 50L if you’re carrying lots and lots of gear (but be warned, the 50L is a large bag and is going to be really heavy when full). The larger sizes are really best left for carrying specialty gear or for expeditions.
With a coated outer polyester fabric, this is a highly water resistant bag. It’s advertised as water proof, but technically the bag itself is not water proof because the seams aren’t sealed and there really is no such thing as a fully water proof zipper. The fabric itself is waterproof – but the construction of the bag isn’t. It will do fine in a rainstorm, but don’t jump in the pool with it. Uniquely, this bag has hidden backpack straps that you can deploy if you prefer backpack carry or if you want both hands free.
- Very water resistant and abrasion resistant fabric
- 2 internal mesh pockets – the inside of the main flap is basically all pocket and there is a smaller mesh pocket on the side for valuables
- Hidden backpack straps and separate grab handles on each end
- Zippered quick access pocket on the outside
Small: 24” L x” 12.2” H x 11.4” D
Medium: 26” L x 13.5” H x 12.4” D
Large: 32.5” L x 15” H x 13.4” D
This is for those needing a roomy carry-all for the gym. Although this bag is available in 3 sizes – we recommend the small size for regular gym use. With a 50L capacity, the Small size isn’t really that small. The medium size is a staggering 70L and is going to be way too big for most people. Featuring a ventilated shoe compartment, this bag is made of water-repellent hydroshell™ coated and rip-stop polyester and is a popular training or game day bag. The bottom of the bag features Adidas’ ClimaProof™ which helps protect your gear from a wet field or gym floor.
- Features patented anti-microbial technology (FreshPAK™) to resist the build-up of bacteria causing odors
- Removable and adjustable shoulder strap with padded air-mesh shoulder pad
- U-shaped opening, allows you to pack efficiently and easily grab gear when needed
- Large zippered pocket on the outside, runs the entire length of the bag; additional mesh drop pocket on one side
Cheap gym bags:
Dimensions: 18” L x 11.5” H x 10.5” D
The budget pick – this is one of the most popular budget gym bags out right now. It’s not large, and can easily fit in most gym lockers. There is a separate vented shoe compartment (Everest calls this a wet pocket) – but because of the relatively smaller design of the bag, this will take up a large part of the main compartment. It’s not built to be abused, and it won’t win top marks for the most stylish gym bag, but for the price, it is a great budget gym bag.
- 2 exterior zippered pouches for your essentials – keys, wallet, phone etc…
- 3 mesh pockets on the outside (one large on the side, and 2 smaller ones in front of the zippered pouches, good for your gym cards, small towel etc..)
- Top carry handles with a separate removable shoulder strap
- External water bottle holder – but it can’t hold larger bottles
Dimensions: 24.5” L x 11” H x 10” D
This is a larger duffle than the Everest Gym bag above. It also features a separate vented compartment, for shoes or used gym clothes. There’s a large zip pocket on the front that spans the entire length of the bag and a zip pocket on the opposite end of the shoe compartment. This is a nicely sized hold-all, great if you carry more gear, or if you want a gym bag that can also double as a weekender or travel bag.
- Water resistant bottom for extra protection
- Top haul handles, with a separate shoulder strap and an additional grab handle on the bottom right that’s great for carrying vertically (or for grabbing out of a gym locker or the overhead compartment on a plane)
- Internal zippered pocket for your valuables
- Wide D-zip opening allows you to easily see the inside
Dimensions: 19.5” L x 13.5” H x 9” D
If you want something with less of the “I’m going to the gym” look, the Shackes Duffle is a great alternative to the Everest bag above. This bag also has a separate shoe compartment, but it isn’t vented, which helps with aesthetics. The good thing about this bag is that it can easily double as a nice-looking weekender, overnight bag or carry-on bag.
- Water resistant fabric – both the exterior and the interior are lined for extra protection
- Double YKK zippers on the main compartment
- Floating inner zipper pocket for your valuables – wallet, passport etc..
- Slightly stiff bottom, which prevents the bag from sagging when full
- Top grab handles with separate shoulder strap
- Luggage pass through – allows you to easily slip this bag over the handles of your rolling luggage
Dimensions: 23.5” L x 13” H x 10.2” D
This is the only packable bag in this list. It can fold down into about a 9” x 9” square, so you can easily drop this in any bag and only deploy it when needed. Because it’s a packable bag, that means the bag doesn’t have any structure at all.
- Ultralight, water and tear resistant nylon
- Separate shoe compartment (not vented)
- Easily folds away for storage, or for carrying in another bag as an emergency or overflow bag
- You can carry this bag folded in a smaller bag, then deploy it when you’re done with your workout to carry wet/used gear
- Luggage pass through – allows you to easily slip this bag over the handles of your rolling luggage
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