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The 7 Best Gym Bags for Your Athletic Needs in 2023

CEO Tinh Phung
Introduction: A great gym bag is (almost) as important as a solid pair of sneakers. It gives you a place to organize and store all of your workout gear and makes it less likely that...

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Introduction: A great gym bag is (almost) as important as a solid pair of sneakers. It gives you a place to organize and store all of your workout gear and makes it less likely that you'll skip your gym session. After all, preparation goes a long way toward reaching your goals.

The 7 Best Gym Bags - Our Top Picks

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  • Best Overall Gym Bag: Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag

  • Best Gym Duffel Bag: Lululemon City Adventurer Bag 29L

  • Best Small Gym Bag: Vooray Burner Gym Duffel

  • Best Men's Gym Bag: The Settra Duffel Backpack

  • Best Women's Gym Bag: Lululemon On My Level Bag 2.0 19L

  • Best Lightweight Gym Bag: Carhartt Lightweight Duffel 40L

  • Best Budget Gym Bag: Adidas Essentials Convertible Crossbody Sling Bag

Why Trust Us?

The ACTIVE Reviews Team is made up of fitness experts that include athletes, coaches, and certified trainers who bring years of knowledge and experience to each review. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.

Best Overall Gym Bag - Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag

Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag

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The Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag is a no-frills option that works for any application, from quick gym runs to back-to-back sports practices. It has a roomy interior and zippered main compartment, with four zippered exterior pockets where you can safely store smaller, more valuable items like your cell phone and keys, or keep your dirty gym clothes away from your work outfit.

While there's no dedicated spot for your sneakers, the whole gym bag has built-in ventilation so each compartment is breathable and won't trap odors. There are also three carry options—an adjustable shoulder strap, plus side and top handles—so you can quickly grab it and go.

What We Like

  • Durable, polyester shell
  • Built-in ventilation
  • Plenty of exterior pockets

What We Don't Like

  • Spot clean only
  • Only comes in two colors
  • No dedicated spot for sneakers

BUY: Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag

Best Gym Duffel Bag - Lululemon City Adventurer Large Duffle Bag 29L

Lululemon City Adventurer Large Duffle Bag

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This gym duffel bag from Lululemon comes with a hefty price tag, but if you're constantly lugging a good amount of gear, it's worth it. It has a roomy main compartment, plus several exterior compartments—some that are zippered and some that aren't. One of the outer compartments is a padded pocket designed to fit a 16-inch laptop if you want it to double as your work bag. The whole thing is water-repellant, so it can handle sweat or a rainy day, and it's large enough to use as a weekender bag.

What We Like

  • Large interior
  • Water-repellent fabric
  • Zippered exterior pockets

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey
  • Only comes in a few colors

BUY: Lululemon City Adventurer Large Duffle 29L

Best Small Gym Bag - Vooray Burner Gym Duffel

Vooray Burner Gym Duffel

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If you prefer sticking to just the essentials, the Vooray Gym Duffel is the choice for you. This compact gym bag is small, but it's expertly designed to maximize space. It has a main, zippered compartment with four interior pockets that help you keep things organized, plus one small zippered exterior pocket that secures your keys and gym card. There's also a built-in space for your sneakers that sits underneath the bulk of the bag, but things may get a little tight for larger shoe sizes. The interior is nylon, which is easy to wipe down, and the outside is made of waterproof polyester.

What We Like

  • Four interior pockets
  • Built-in space for sneakers
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Comes in several fun patterns

What We Don't Like

  • Exterior pocket is small
  • Shoe space may not be large enough

BUY: Vooray Burner Gym Duffel

Best Men's Gym Bag - The Settra Duffel Backpack

The Settra Duffel Backpack

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With its minimalist, convertible design, The Settra Duffel Backpack is our pick for the best gym bag for men. This dual-function bag can be used as a standard duffel or a backpack, thanks to its cleverly hidden shoulder and waist straps. It has an extra-large interior, with two zippered exterior pockets and a dedicated compartment for your sneakers that's ventilated and removable. There's also a 17-inch laptop sleeve if you want to throw your work essentials in with your workout gear. As a bonus, it's made out of recycled plastic bottles so it's eco-friendly and certified plastic negative.

What We Like

  • Can be used as a duffel or backpack
  • Extra large interior
  • Removable shoe compartment
  • Doubles as a carry-on bag
  • Eco-friendly and plastic negative

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey
  • Only two color options

BUY: The Settra Duffel Backpack

Best Women's Gym Bag - Lululemon On My Level Bag 2.0 19L

Lululemon On My Level Bag 2.0 19L

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The On My Level Bag from Lululemon has a touch of femininity that makes it easy to transition from the gym to work or a day of errands. It has a removable strap so you can wear it as a crossbody or ditch the shoulder strap and carry it like a tote bag. While you'll have to sacrifice some space—the interior compartments are a lot smaller than the larger, duffel-style bags—it still has room for all of your essentials. The interior is divided into two compartments that can house your gym clothes, plus it has a dedicated space to secure your water or shaker bottle. There's a small zippered pocket inside, but it relies mostly on a button closure, so you do have to hold it upright rather than tossing it into a gym locker.

What We Like

  • Elevated style
  • Interior is split into compartments
  • Water-repellent fabric

What We Don't Like

  • Items aren't as secure
  • Smaller interior space
  • Spot clean only

BUY: Lululemon On My Level Bag 2.0 19L

Best Lightweight Gym Bag - Carhartt Lightweight Duffel 40L

Carhartt Lightweight Duffel

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If you carry a lot of gear and you don't want your bag to contribute to the overall weight, the Carhartt Lightweight Duffel 40L is the best option for you. The material is durable and water-resistant so you don't have to worry about getting caught in light rain. There aren't a lot of bells and whistles, but the bag itself is highly functional. There's a large main compartment with a zip closure and an exterior zippered pocket for small valuables. The bag also has a padded shoulder strap that is adjustable and removable.

What We Like

  • Durable water repellent material
  • Removable shoulder strap
  • Lightweight and minimal

What We Don't Like

  • Not convertible (no backpack straps)
  • Not a lot of pockets or compartments

BUY: Carhartt Lightweight Duffel 40L

Best Budget Gym Bag - Adidas Essentials Convertible Crossbody Sling Bag

Adidas Essentials Convertible Crossbody Sling Bag

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The Adidas Essentials Convertible Crossbody Sling Bag isn't large enough to accommodate a ton of gym gear, but if you prefer to travel light (read: you only need a water bottle, your phone, your keys, and other small essentials) this could be the right pick for you. This sling-style bag has a zip-closure main compartment that's big enough to fit essentials like a reusable water bottle. There is also a front zippered pocket for easy access to things like your phone and keys, while a drop pocket and a hidden side pocket gives you even more storage. The strap unzips into two straps, quickly converting it from a cross-body bag to a backpack.

What We Like

  • Small and compact
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Easily convertible

What We Don't Like

  • Not big enough for clothes or sneakers
  • Not many color options

BUY: Adidas Essentials Convertible Crossbody Sling Bag

Benefits of a Gym Bag

A gym bag can make a style statement, but it's meant more for function. Here are the benefits of a gym bag:

Organization

A gym bag can serve as a portable locker. You can use it to store all of your gym essentials, like your workout sneakers, gym card, water bottle, shaker bottle, gym clothes, and headphones. Most gym bags have dedicated pockets and compartments that allow you to neatly organize things so you know exactly where everything is at all times and don't have to go digging to find what you're looking for.

Convenience

Gym bags are also huge for convenience. You can pack your bag up the night before and easily carry all of your gear with you in the car or throughout the day until you're ready to hit the gym. When everything's packed up and with you, you're also less likely to skip the gym—it sure beats having to go home first to change.

What to Look for in a Gym Bag

A gym bag can keep you organized and help you stay on track. When choosing a gym bag, here's what you'll want to think about:

Comfort

Even if you're not carrying your gym bag for an extended length of time, comfort (or ease of carrying) is an important factor. Some gym bags have hand straps, while others also include a shoulder strap that frees up your hands and makes it easier to carry. Others have dual straps that allow you to carry them like a backpack, so you can keep your hands free and distribute the weight evenly on your back. Many gym bags have more than one carrying option. Before landing on your choice, consider what's most comfortable for you.

Size

Gym bags come in a wide range of sizes, from just big enough for one water bottle and a couple essentials like your phone and keys, to large enough to fit a change of clothes, sneakers, essentials, and even a laptop. Of course, the bigger the bag, the bulkier (and heavier) it usually is. Think about what you want to use your gym bag for. Do you need to pack up your clothes and an extra pair of sneakers in the morning to hit the gym after work? If so, you'll want a larger bag that can accommodate everything. Are you looking for a way to store your essentials while you're working out, but don't need to bring extras with you? Then you can get away with a smaller option.

Materials

Since a gym bag typically takes a beating, you want something that's durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean. Many gym bags are made of polyester blends or canvas—two materials that fit the bill—but that's not always the case, so check your labels and care instructions.

Also consider how those materials are put together. Is the bag ventilated? Does it include mesh so you can store dirty clothes or shoes without odors getting trapped? Are there zippered pockets? These features don't necessarily make one gym bag better than another; it just depends on what you're looking for.

Style

Style is partly a personal preference. What colors, designs, and shapes do you like? But the style of gym bag you choose can also make a difference in how many items you're able to fit inside it. There are duffel-style gym bags, cinch sacks, backpacks, and totes. Duffel-style bags typically hold more (and can double as weekenders), while cinch sacks are meant for essentials and usually don't have dedicated pockets or compartments.

FAQs About Gym Bags

What are the best gym bags to buy?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but the Nike Utility Power Training Medium Duffel Bag is a great option for most people, which is why it's our pick for the Best Overall Gym Bag. Ultimately, the best gym bag for you comes down to personal preference and how much stuff you need to carry in it.

How big is a gym bag?

Gym bags come in a huge range of sizes, from an oversized duffel-style bag that can double as a weekender or carry-on, to a small cinch sack that only fits a one-liter water bottle and your cell phone and keys. Bigger bags are best for people who need to bring a change of clothes with them, while smaller bags are great if you don't need to carry a lot.

What is the difference between a gym bag and a duffel bag?

A duffel bag is a large bag that typically has one main pocket and is carried over the shoulder. The first duffel bags were closed by a drawstring on top, but nowadays you can find ones that zip closed. A gym bag comes in all different styles. There are duffel gym bags, but you can also find backpacks, totes, and many other styles. Another major difference is that gym bags typically have more compartments that are designed to specifically carry gym essentials, like water bottles, headphones, and sneakers.

What is the purpose of a gym bag?

A gym bag just makes life easier. It gives you a convenient place to keep all of your gym gear and makes it easy to take it with you into and out of the gym. A gym bag can also keep you on track with your goals; when you're prepared with everything you need for your workout, it's harder to talk yourself out of doing it.

What is the standard size of a gym bag?

There's no standard size gym bag, but if you're not sure what you need, a medium-size bag will likely do the trick. Gym bags are measured in liters and a medium-size bag can hold 30 to 40 liters. Larger bags (those that are 50 liters or more) are good for anyone who needs to carry extras, like a change of clothes or two pairs of shoes.

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