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Keep Your Training Goals In-Tote with the Year's Best Gym Bags

Not all gym bags are created equal. Here are our favorites for all kinds of people and uses.

best gym bags collage
Courtesy

2020 was supposed to be the year that ended commercial gyms. But as we’ve seen, gym attendance is continuing to rise. Now that folks — and hopefully, you — are returning to the gym, it’s time to find the best gym bag for all that fitness apparel and equipment.

What to Consider When Choosing a Gym Bag

Just like picking out a new pair of gym shoes, you want to look at how you plan to use your gym bag before making a decision. If you’re just in need of a tote to carry from car to gym, then any bag can essentially suffice. If you’re hauling your gym bag into an office for lunchtime training, though, or plan to use your gym bag for other activities like hiking or travel, you should probably look at some build details that’ll cater to these needs.

First and foremost, you’ll want a bag that’s large enough to house all your workout essentials. Most medium-sized bags, roughly 30–40 liters in volume, can comfortably house your sneakers, accessories and a fresh change of clothes. If you plan to use your duffel for outdoor adventures or as carry-on luggage, consider larger options.

You’ll also want to consider your gym bag’s material. Most gym totes are made from leather, canvas, polyester or nylon due to the durable nature of each textile. It’s also key to look for hearty zippers or hook-and-loop components that will hold up through countless openings and closing.

Lastly, you’ll want to look at features like a shoulder strap, extra compartments for shoes and accessories, ventilation and other components. These add-ons might not be necessary for your particular needs, but they can make organizing or cleaning your gym bag much easier down the road.

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.

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How We Tested
collage of gym bags
Todd Hamer

Over the course of a few weeks, we tossed our go-to gym gear into a handful of these bags to test how capable they were at hauling our goods. We made note of the convenient features like shoe compartments, laptop storage, overall volume and (of course) style. We also considered how these gym bags would fare in less training-specific environments like traveling or hiking. Now, it’s time to load up and see which gym bags are ready for the long haul and which are best left at home.

BEST OVERALL GYM BAG
Aer Gym Duffel 3
Aer
BEST UPGRADE GYM BAG
DSPTCH Gym/Work Bag
DSPTCH
BEST BUDGET GYM BAG
Adidas Defender Duffel Bag
Adidas
BEST GYM BAG FOR TRAVEL
Patagonia Black Hole 55L Duffel Bag
Patagonia
BEST BACKPACK-STYLE GYM BAG
Aer Duffel Pack 3
Aer
15 Tougher-Than-Hell Technical Backpacks
best tactical packs
Gear Patrol

Using rugged materials and packing as much function as possible, these backpacks can handle anything.

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BEST LOW-PROFILE GYM BAG
Dagne Dover Landon Duffle Bag
Dagne Dover
BEST WORKWEAR-INSPIRED GYM BAG
Carhartt Legacy 30-Inch Gear Bag
Carhartt
The 10 Best Rugged Travel Duffels
the 10 best rugged travel duffels of 2018 gear patrol lead feature
Yeti

No matter where you’re traveling to, you’ll need a bag, and there’s nothing more functional than a cavernous, weatherproof, backpack strap-equipped duffel.

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BEST ALL-PURPOSE GYM BAG
Baboon to the Moon Go-Bag — Small (40L)
Baboon to the Moon
BEST WORK-TO-GYM BAG
Stuart and Lau The Regimen Gym Bag
Stuart and Lau
BEST CLASSIC CANVAS GYM BAG
Herschel Supply Co. Novel Duffle
Herschel Supply Co.
BEST OVERSIZED GYM BAG
Mountain Equipment Company Recycled Duffle Bag
MEC
BEST GYM BAG FOR GYM HATERS
Topo Designs 20-Inch Classic Duffel
Topo Designs
Duffle Bags for Short Distance Trips
style
Courtesy

Duffle bags are versatile carry-alls for clothing, footwear, Dopp kits and other odds and ends.

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