If you lift weights, have a bi-weekly basketball game, hit-up a fancy Thai-boxing-fencing-capoeira-boot camp, or participate in any other type of regularly scheduled workout, a good gym bag is as necessary as a clean towel. But with companies in sectors as varied as outdoor gear, athletic equipment, and menswear offering their own takes on the gym bag, it can be tough to find the right bag for your sensibility and budget.
So let’s get back to basics. The ideal gym bag should be large enough to hold your gear and have compartments to quarantine the sweaty stuff. It should also look good enough to travel to the office before and after a workout and maybe even double as a weekend-trip duffle in a pinch. All of our picks, which we sourced from boutique manufacturers, international brands, and companies in between, meet these criteria. Take a look — and whichever bag you choose, don’t forget to spray it down every once in a while.
Under Armour Undeniable 3.0 Duffle
Over a thousand Amazon reviewers can’t be wrong. This 4.6 star-rated duffle features a polyester construction that’s rip- and water-resistant. There’s a large front zip organization pocket, a great place to keep smaller items like a lock or wallet, and a large vented pocket that lets you keep dirty and clean clothes separate. Unlike most of the bags on this list, you can also choose from five different sizes, so you can choose the bag that suits your exercise routine best.
Matador Transit Duffel
Lightweight, yet durable, this single-compartment 30L duffel has more than enough room to store all of your gear. It’s made from rugged, waterproof Cordura fabric and has sealed zippers and seams so your gear will stay dry. Its large canvas handles can also function as backpack straps. Best of all? It packs into a small stuff sack when not in use, making it easy to stow in a briefcase or carry-on.
Herschel Supply Novel Duffel
This bag comes in 33 different colors, but we prefer it in classic black. It just feels right. Whatever color or pattern you choose, the specs are all the same. Inside, there’s a storage sleeve to stash your headphones and other gear. Better yet, there’s a separate compartment to seal off your sweaty sneakers off from the rest of your gear. It has two large handles and is overhead-bin compliant, so it can pull double duty as an overnight bag on your next weekend getaway.
TOPO Designs Classic Duffel
We love Topo Designs because the Colorado-based brand takes a beautifully minimalist approach to their gear — their bags have everything you need and nothing you don’t. This 42L duffel continues the tradition. The bag itself is made from rugged Cordura, while the straps are made from a sturdy seatbelt material. (Don’t worry: the padded handle is easy on the palms.) Tough enough to handle abuse, the bag also has a nylon-lined interior that ensures your gear is treated well wherever you travel.
Filson Small Field Duffle
Made from heavyweight-waxed canvas, this bag repels the elements and sheds stains. The roomy interior is lined with nylon and there are plenty of stow pockets for stashing smaller necessities. A heavy-duty strap and handles make it comfortable to carry on your shoulder, across your body, or in your hand.
While it only costs $22, this bag has all of the features of much pricier options, including a shoe compartment and plenty of internal storage. There’s also has an inner lining made from a water-resistant PVC coating that will ensure that your gear stays dry in even the worst weather. The 30L compartment easily fits everything you need for a workout.
Aer Gym Duffel 2
Smartly designed to stash all of your gear, this 37.4L bag offers ample space and a variety of excellent organizational features. The main compartment is tall enough to fit a basketball along with the rest of your clothes, and there’s a tucked-away shoe pocket meant to quarantine your sneakers. Strategically placed mesh walls help ventilation as well. There’s a padded laptop sleeve to cradle your computer and a front compartment with pockets for everything from headphones to energy bars. Its 900D fabric makes the bag tough enough to handle rough treatment — but it looks so nice you’ll want to treat it with nothing but care.
FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag
The designers of this unique bag based their work on reviews of existing gym bags, and apparently there were lots of complaints about a dearth of pockets. The exterior of this bag has separate pockets for a water bottle and protein shaker. Inside are two pockets that can fit oversized phones along with two wet pockets, one oversized and ventilated, one hidden. The other key thing that makes this bag different is its wide opening. Instead of a simple flap opening on top, the main zipper runs down one of the wide sides of the bag, making it easier to pack and unpack and to see what’s inside.