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A well-structured, spacious beach bag is a handy carrier for sunscreen, books, and other portables.
We rounded up options across different price points and styles so you can find the perfect one.
We rounded up the best beach bags to shop, from ones with vibrant patterns to others of a more traditional wicker style. Some with chunky rope straps, others with see-through material to easily locate all of your necessities.
Below, find our recommended options across different retailers and price points so you can add this summer staple to your shopping cart (and then take it to the beach or pool).
A New Day Straw Large Dome with Tassels Tote Handbag
A New Day’s Straw Large Dome with Tassels Tote Handbag is spacious, flexibly designed, and affixed with a string of mauve, magenta, amber, and black tassels hanging from one of the handles. The open top allows you to easily locate your items when lounging outside, too, so you don’t have to dig.
Straw Large Dome with Tassels Tote Handbag (small)
Abrielle Beach Bag
For a fun summer DIY, this orange-and-white floral sewing pattern comes with the fabric of your choice, yard for the handle, an all-purpose zipper for the lining pocket, a spool of coordinating thread, and non-toxic fabric glue to make your own beach bag. There are some other required items, but the seller offers some of them for sale.
Abrielle Beach Bag (small)
A New Day Straw Circle Handle Tote
A New Day’s Straw Circle Handle Tote is oversized, well-structured, and double-handled for easy carrying. Its open-top, simplistic design makes it the perfect tote for heading to the farmer’s market as well.
Straw Circle Handle Tote (small)
South Beach Navy-and-Cream-Striped Tote
Navy-and-Cream-Striped Tote (small)
BeeGreen Reusable Drawstring Bag
The BeeGreen Reusable Drawstring Bag is great to sling over your shoulders that’s suitable for beach trips, hiking trails, and flea markets alike. The straps can be adjusted to fit people of all ages and you’ll appreciate its capacity to fit sunscreen, wallet, keys, and other small items.
Reusable Drawstring Bag (small)
Bulex Extra Large Black Beach Bag
Extra Large Black Beach Bag (small)
CB Station Medium Initial Boat Tote
CB Station offers a boat-style tote with contrasting handles and base that can be personalized with an initial monogram or name in script. Its durable design and zipper closure even makes it an all-in-one carrier to replace your reusable grocery bag.
Medium Initial Boat Tote (small)
CGear Sand-Free Gray Stripe Tote
This classic beach tote is highly durable with contoured carrying straps for comfort. It’s also uniquely functional with a magnetic closure to conveniently secure your valuables, either inside the main pocket or within one of the three sand-free pockets.
Tote IV (small)
Coral Reef Turquoise Painting Pattern Beach Tote Bag
If a long-form tote is more your style than a widely-stretched bag, the Coral Reef Turquoise Painting Pattern Beach Tote Bag is a great option. The edge-to-edge beachy design has black laminated lining for extra support and is deep enough to store a flower bouquet.
Coral Reef Turquoise Painting Pattern Beach Tote Bag (small)
Handwoven Brown Straw Tote Bag
Let’s face it — sometimes, we just want to carry a beach towel and have a hassle-free bag to store a cell phone and mini sunscreen bottle. The Handwoven Brown Straw Tote Bag has a crossbody-like design with a bamboo circle handle, much like Chloé bags.
Handwoven Brown Straw Tote Bag (small)
Jay Aimee Designs Personalized Small Blue Canvas Beach Tote
Nautical can be the name of the beach bag game, and the Jay Aimee Designs Personalized Beach Tote certainly lives up to that navy-and-white emblemed style. You can personalize the center stripe with your monogram, it’s water-resistant, and the chunky rope handles elevate the beach-bound design.
Personalized Small Blue Canvas Beach Tote (small)
Shylero Clownfish Waterproof Beach Bag
For a roomy, durable, and waterproof tote with a unique pattern, Shylero makes great carriers with wide rope handles, a side water bottle pocket, and a built-in keyholder and bottle opener. It also features a top magnet button to close off the wide-capacity bag.
Clownfish Waterproof Beach Bag (small)
Black & Natural-Striped Straw Tote
The beautifully woven, handbag-like Black & Natural-Striped Straw Tote is great for the beach, pool, or out to dinner by the water. It has colorful pom-poms tied to the short handles and will store all of your summer must-haves.
Striped Straw Tote (small)
Vbiger Orange Mesh Beach Bag
The Vbiger tote is sleek, has many storage compartments, and has a see-through middle design to conveniently locate your SPF lip balm, sunglasses, and face mist. Aside from zipper pockets, there’s also a waterproof cell phone case to ensure it sits damage-free.
Mesh Beach Bag (small)
Natural Boho Beach Tote
If you live in your Birkenstocks and love that casual beach look, the Natural Boho Beach Tote is designed just for you. You can’t go wrong with the twisted rope handles, intricate seashell and beaded details, and bohemian fringe border.
Style is one thing, but keeping your fresh fruit and mint-infused water cool is another. The Hydro Flask 35L Insulated Tote will hold up, keeps items cold for up to four hours (keeping the hours-long cooling feature alive like Hydro Flask’s much-loved reusable bottles), and collapses for quick storage and travel.
Insulated Tote (35 L) (small)
BohoPEACH Large Beach Bag
The BohoPEACH Large Beach Bag is made in Thailand and resembles tiki-style hard wicker handmades from Bahamian islands. It’s unique in that it’s tautly structured and has beautifully sewn seams at the bottom to last you for years of fun in the sun.
Large Beach Bag (small)
Color My World Multi-Colored Oversized Tote Bag
Waterproof Beach Tote (small)
Palm Beach Zip Up Tote
Summer may mean soft serve ice cream and boating trips, but for me, it means whipping out my vibrant Lily Pulitzer prints for sunny days outside. The Palm Beach Zip Up Tote is fully decked with a blue, green, and pink design (with sailboats, lobsters, and palm trees) and will store all of your essentials.
Palm Beach Zip Up Tote (small)
Natural Large Straw Tote Bag
The Large Straw Tote Bag isn’t your typical wicker handheld —its vegan leather handles add a touch of elegance to the intricately woven design. There are two interior zip pockets to store miniature portables and a magnetic snap closure to keep everything in place.
Large Straw Tote Bag (small)
Marrakech Shop Design Straw Beach Bag with Leather Strap
Can I just say, this is so cute. The Moroccan-made bag is perfect to carry on your back while on the boardwalk or to hold onto on a trek through the sand. It’s well-made, unique, and a showstopper for summer.
Straw Beach Bag with Leather Strap (small)
Camino Carryall 35 (small)
Mar Y Sol Multi Tybee Bag
The Mar Y Sol Multi Tybee Bag is a soft and flexible beach tote clad with a colorful stripe pattern and plush pom poms. Its interior pouch pocket is conveniently located at the center, so you can find smaller items amid the wide-capacity interior storage.
Multi Tybee Bag (small)
Vince Camuto Orla Canvas Tote
Durable and utilitarian, duffels can make for a great travel companion.
We found the best duffels for overnight trips, camping, taking to the gym, and more.
Though often overlooked in the carry-on luggage world, duffels provide a quick and easy way to pack, whether it’s for a short weekend getaway or as an extra bag on long-haul trips.
I’ve been a believer in the utility of a good duffel ever since my trusty red Reebok duffel got me through my first whirlwind tour across Europe with the USTA’s junior tennis team. In fact, I found it to be such an easy way to travel that I doubled down on my duffel bag game and bought a duffel that included wheels and could easily convert into a backpack. I used it for years as a travel journalist.
Now, with better design features and more durable fabrics and materials than ever, a good duffel can last a lifetime and make for an excellent travel companion. From long weekends to long-haul flights and everything in between, I put 17 duffels to the test with an eye for functionality, quality, and design.
This bag’s greatest asset is the drop bottom zipper panel that’s great for storing anything you’d want to keep separate, like shoes or dirty clothes. The drop bottom can also unzip and detach completely if you want to consolidate or if you don’t find it necessary for a particular trip.
As far as usable storage space, this bag is plenty roomy enough to get you through an overnight stay, but you won’t fit too much beyond that. I used it on a recent overnight staycation and found it to be an ideal two-day, one-night bag that easily fit a change of clothes, gym wear, a pair of sneakers and sandals, as well as hair accessories like my travel-sized blow dryer and curling iron.
Thoughtful details include a magnetic closure on the front button of the trolley sleeve, which attached effortlessly over the handle of my carry-on suitcase. This bag fits under the seat of an airplane and is also designed to fit in the overhead compartment on standard US airlines.
The material is stain-resistant, durable, and didn’t show any sign of wear after a couple of uses. It’s also extremely easy to keep clean.
One major drawback with this duffel is the lack of a laptop sleeve on the interior, especially since I never travel without my laptop.
The best duffel on a budget
The CALPAK Luka Duffel is a lightweight bag with numerous pockets for easy organization that won’t break the bank.
Pros: Extremely light, stylish, lots of pockets, separate shoe compartment, affordable
Cons: Laptop compartment is small
The first thing I noticed when testing the Luka Duffel is it’s extremely lightweight. In fact, it’s the lightest bag I tested for this guide. I ordered the Luka in Metallic Bronze, and it was actually more elegant and a bit bigger than I expected based on the photos I saw online. The fabric is also extremely soft (it feels like your favorite puffy coat) and is made from scratch-resistant polyester.
It’s big enough to pack a day’s worth of clothes if you want to use it as an overnighter, but I found it to be most useful as an oversized daytime bag; it’s stylish enough to wear to brunch or take to the office and fits all the daily essentials.
One of the best features is the pockets and compartments. There are nine pockets in all, including a separate shoe compartment on the bottom and a trolley sleeve on the back in case you want to take this bag on the road. There’s no built-in padded laptop compartment, however, there is an oversized zipper that can easily fit an iPad or 13-inch laptop. I have a 15-inch Macbook Pro, which, unfortunately, was a bit too big to fit into this sleeve.
For an easy everyday duffel for the gym, work, or running errands, this is an excellent option that offers exceptional value.
The best duffel for the gym
Made from water-resistant fabric with a separate compartment for storing gym shoes, the ’73 Originals Super Duffel is an ultra-lightweight gym accessory.
Pros: Casual, lightweight, shoe garage, interior and exterior pockets and compartments for separating items, water-resistant
Cons: More of a standard size duffel than “super”
Between the water-resistant fabric, shoe garage, cloth side pockets, internal mesh accessory pocket, and pockets on each end, I was thoroughly impressed by the ’73 Originals Super Duffel.
At first glance, this bag looks like your run-of-the-mill duffel, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover all of the little extras that set it apart. The lining on the inside is not only ultra-soft but water-resistant, which I learned quickly as I somehow managed to accidentally leave an unopened hand sanitizer inside which dried quickly and left no residual damage.
The shoe garage easily fits a pair of gym sneakers in a totally separate side compartment, and the front zipper pocket is great for keys or anything else you want to keep protected but accessible. There are also tons of storage compartments on the inside, which makes for super easy organizing.
The interior packs a roomy punch for how small it appears. You could easily use this bag for a quick overnight trip in addition to your regular go-to for the gym. That said, the name “Super Duffel” is a bit deceiving, as it’s not big enough to really work beyond an overnight amount of clothes and accessories.
Pros: Large wheels, sturdy frame, plenty of interior storage space, pockets and compartments
Cons: Heavy, might be too tall for some travelers
I’ve used other wheeled duffel bags in the past, but I tested the REI Co-op Big Haul Recycled Rolling Duffel on my first trip since the pandemic and was so impressed with the quality and ease that came with it that I genuinely can’t wait to use it again on future long-haul trips.
This bag is not only extremely sturdy, but tall to boot. I fit everything I needed for a week-long trip and then some, which was both a blessing and curse because it provided so much space that I found I was packing more just to fill it up.
It’s also extremely high quality and water-resistant. Made from a recycled ripstop nylon with a tough nylon base, this bag is both heavy-duty and easy to wheel around thanks to its oversized and smooth wheels. It also lays flat on the top so if you have a smaller bag, purse, weekender, or tote, you can rest it across the top. The interior wall of the bag features mesh pockets and compartments that are great for keeping garments separate and organized. The side, front, and end handles also made the bag easy to grab and there are compression straps that help to keep the bag more compact.
Fully packed, this bag was heavy and because of its height, which might be a challenge for some travelers. While the two wheels were great, I did wish this bag had four wheels just for the ease of being able to push it instead of wheeling it behind me. Overall, and especially compared to other wheeled duffels I’ve used over the years, this is a winning option at a very reasonable price.
The best leather duffel
Rugged, roomy, and boasting thick, premium leather, this rough-and-tumble duffle by Duluth Trading Company is built to last.
Pros: Durable, sturdy, roomier than expected with beautiful flannel lining
Cons: Heavy, no interior pockets
Made using full-grain cowhide leather that’s “built to take a pounding,” as Duluth puts it, this bag is not only a best-seller, but it’s sturdy. The detachable shoulder strap and no-frills U-shape zipper make packing and unpacking extremely easy and I loved the flannel lining on the inside.
The bag also zips and clips for added security. The antique brass details on the zippers and belt buckles are a nice touch and the premium materials ensure this bag will last for years. The overall weathered look of the leather does give it a more casual overall feel than a typical leather bag you might take to work.
This duffel is deceivingly spacious and you could easily use this bag for a long-weekend getaway, with enough internal packing space for shoes and multiple days’ worth of clothes (depending on how light you pack).
That said, this duffel is not only heavy-duty, it’s also just plain heavy. Even without anything packed inside, the duffel has some heft to it, so if weight limits are an issue for you, keep that in mind. There are also no pockets on the interior or exterior, so if you’re a pocket person, this bag might not suit you.
Duluth has a “no bull” guarantee so if you’re not satisfied with this duffel you have one year to return it for a full refund.
Pros: Quality, top-notch craftsmanship, durable, rich color
Cons: Not many zippers or compartments
If you’re looking for a classic duffel that’s equally great as an elegant everyday bag or a weekender and worth the splurge, you can’t do much better than Filson’s Medium Rugged Twill bag.
The duffel, which is one of Filson’s best-sellers, comes in a variety of colors. I tested the Chessie tan and was blown away by the understated but handsome color and overall craftsmanship. Details like the gorgeous, adjustable leather straps and the snap-secured flap that runs along the top of the bag add to its look, quality, and usability.
Made from Filson’s signature rugged twill and bridle leather, the materials are scuff-resistant and the bag feels extremely sturdy with very little flop factor. The look is versatile enough to use for both business and leisure. Although pricey, the quality materials and construction ensure it will last year for years to come, making it a solid investment piece.
There’s one interior pocket, but no zippered compartment space and no exterior pockets, so if you like a lot of pockets this may not be the bag for you.
The interior is roomy enough to easily fit all your daily work essentials or to pack for an overnight trip or as your under-seat personal item. It does become a bit cramped once you pack for a full weekend, but if you prefer a larger duffel, there is a bigger version of this bag available.
Pros: Durable, waterproof and can be used as a backpack or duffel
Cons: No exterior pockets, might be cumbersome for some travelers
It’s easy to see why the Base Camp Duffel by North Face is beloved by travelers and adventure seekers the world over. This duffel can not only withstand the elements, but it’s designed as an all-terrain bag that works for everything from scaling a mountain to weekend car camping trips.
The shoulder straps easily detach and adjust with an ergonomic fit that’s designed to throw it right over your back when the going gets tough. Alternatively, you can use the padded carrier handles for a simple grab-and-go option.
Due to its height and width, this 95-liter duffel might be a bit cumbersome for some travelers who prefer to travel light, but is a boon for those who have a lot to bring with them.
On the inside, the bag comes lined with a large mesh pocket as well as a detachable mesh bag which is great for extra storage for dirty clothes or anything you’d want to keep separate. As far as usable storage space, this bag has tons of room for at least one and up to even two weeks worth of clothes and gear depending on what you need to bring. There’s an interior zipper on the top of the bag, and the tag sets the tone with the famous John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”
What else we tested
What we recommend and why:
Away The Duffel: This is actually my top overall pick for the best duffel. Its size is just right and there’s plenty of packable space for two to three days of clothes, plus room for accessories. It even features a hidden and padded 15″ laptop pocket, along with two interior side pockets. However, it’s unfortunately currently out of stock.
Away Weekender Bag: I’ve owned an Away carry-on for years but this was the first time I’ve tested the canvas Weekender bags. While it offers some of the same features of The Duffle (which is my pick for the best overall travel duffel) this bag offers a separate shoe compartment on the bottom. While you do get more packing space with this option, it was much flimsier than The Duffel.
Travelpro Crew Versapack-Weekender Carry-on Suiter Duffel Bag: Professional, spacious, and great for keeping clothes wrinkle-free, for serious business travelers, this a top option. There are a lot of great features but the real star of the show is the suiter which can accommodate up to three suits, or a few dresses, blouses, or other garments. There’s also a padded tablet sleeve on the outside of the bag and hidden pockets on the front.
Escape 35L Duffel by Nixon: Another great option that was just edged out, this duffel features tons of interior packable space, including numerous zippers and compartments. It converts easily into a backpack and is made from recycled ocean plastic. The interior features a lining with a mesh zipper compartment that can fit toiletries. However, the bag felt flimsier than others I tested.
Sseko Designs Garment Duffel: Featuring a beautiful design and dual-functionality as a duffel and garment bag, this duffel by Sseko Designs is made with cotton canvas, leather straps, gold hooks, and zippers. Along with the removable leather crossbody strap, the bag completely unzips flat with a hanger hook at the top to keep your clothes wrinkle-free. You could easily use this duffel without the garment function, and includes an exterior pocket and a trolley sleeve. That said, the material is a bit on the thin side and the zippers didn’t connect all the way.
Duffle by von Holzhausen: If James Bond were a duffel man, I have no doubt this von Holzhausen would be his go-to bag. Made from a patented Technik-Leather that is 100% animal-free and sustainable, from the double zipper on top for easy packing and unpacking in the main compartment to the concealed large front pocket with zipper closure, this Italian-made beauty is as graceful as it is gorgeous. However, I personally preferred the overall construction and packability of the Filson.
Herschel’s Little America Backpack-Duffel: This 25-liter backpack-duffel is sleek, long and narrow, and includes a 15-inch interior padded laptop sleeve. This model is a “mountaineering silhouette” and there’s a drawstring closure that ties the bag together at the top giving it more of a casual look. The front storage pocket with hidden zipper and key clip, interior pinstripe pattern, and two interior side pockets make this bag ideal as an everyday work duffel, but it doesn’t have quite as much space as other options I tested.
Eddie Bauer’s Expedition Drop Bottom Rolling Duffel: Another good option for a wheeled duffel that was barely beaten out by our top choice, this bag is lightweight while still being plenty durable. It’s available in three sizes, including medium, large, and extra large. I tested the large and was really impressed by how maneuverable this bag is when it’s fully packed. You could easily fit a week’s worth of necessities, and the bag expands and compresses. My main gripe is that the interior lining did tend to catch in the zipper.
Grand Tour Duffel: Currently only available for presale, Paravel has long been a leader in sustainable travel bags, and their Grand Tour Duffel is no exception. Made out of upcycled plastic water bottles and protected using a silicone coating to prevent stains, I love the design touches from the easy-grip handles on the top of the bag to the leather trim against the eco-canvas. On the inside, there’s beautiful blue lining along with two identical pockets on each side which are great for phone, passport wallet, and cosmetic bag. However, it’s better suited for an overnight trip or day trip as opposed to hopscotching around the globe as the name suggests.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Herschel’s Sutton Duffel Mini: I also tested the Sutton Mini Duffel in Ash Rose. This bag comes in three sizes including mini, mid-volume, and standard, each of which come with a removable crossbody strap and offer more of a traditional duffel look and feel. I enjoy the mini, but it really operates more like a purse than a true duffel and can only fit a handful of everyday items.
What we look forward to testing next
GoPro Backpack Duffel Bag: GoPro fans and gearheads might find this to be an interesting duffel option because of the mount that’s actually attached to the strap of this bag. The bag also looks deep and roomy and features interior zip pockets on the top flap for additional storage. As an added bonus, it can also transition from a duffel to a large backpack.
The NOMATIC 30L Travel Bag: Known as the “go anywhere, do anything bag,” the Nomatic is made with durable, water-resistant materials and zippers. The patented strap system also transitions from duffel to backpack and there’s a shoe compartment with a ventilated door and a water-resistant flap.
YETI Crossroads 60L Duffel: Yeti recently released a new collection of premium bags including their expedition-grade duffel, which is made from water- and abrasion-resistant material and features three interior divider panels, pockets, and modular compression straps to keep your stuff nice and snug.
For this guide, many of the duffels I tested are by brands that I know and have used personally for decades as a travel journalist and adventure junkie. In addition to my own thorough research, I also tapped colleagues and fellow travel writers to see what duffels they love and use on a regular basis to narrow down the field. For this guide, I first-hand tested 17 duffels to find the best.
While many elements of a duffel come down to personal preference and needs, there are some key features I looked for across every bag I tested, including:
Packability: While I’m not traveling at the rate I once was pre-COVID and couldn’t test all of these bags in a real-world setting, I did pack, unpack, and do a simulated test run of each and every duffel included in this guide from home, in my car, and around my neighborhood. I packed everything from my daily essentials to a week’s worth of clothes when I could into these bags to determine both ease of packing and the amount of clothes the average traveler could fit into each bag.
Functionality: From smooth wheels and adjustable straps to comfortable handles and numerous interior pockets for organizing, I tested every bag through a critical lens to determine which ones stood out from the pack and made travel easy. I also considered the bag’s primary function and how it worked in that space, since a durable camping pack needs very different features than a chic overnight duffel.
Durability: I tested these duffels for about two months. Several went on real trips with me, and those that didn’t I still put through rigorous stress tests to simulate travel conditions. Additionally, I’ll be continuing to test top recommendations to see how they hold up over time.
Extras: Whether it’s separate shoe compartments or the ability to convert into a backpack, I considered extra features when choosing my top picks and whether those extras really added additional value.
What to consider when buying a duffel
Finding the right bag that fits your overall needs will depend on numerous factors. Here are a few things to keep in mind before buying a duffel.
Use: Duffel bags come in a wide variety of styles, materials, sizes and price points. There’s really no one size fits all, so the first thing you really want to ask yourself is: what am I using this for? If you want an extra personal item for trips or an easy bag to grab for an overnight, you’ll have very different needs than someone looking to take a duffel on a long-haul trip as their main bag.
Function: If you’re someone like me who likes to bring their laptop with them wherever they go, having a duffel that offers little details like a laptop sleeve is crucial. An exterior trolley sleeve is also a really nice design detail and can go a long way especially when you travel. Many duffels I reviewed also had dual-functionality, which can come in handy. Additionally, if one strap tends to make you uncomfortable, look for a duffel that can convert into a backpack.
Weight: Another major consideration when picking a duffel is weight. If you’re picky about this, go for lighter materials like cotton or polyester over leather, which tends to be heavier. However, bear in mind that leather also tends to be more durable. Since the majority of duffels don’t have the luxury of wheels, having something on the lighter side is generally a good idea.
Budget: Once you’ve established what you’re using your duffel for, then you can narrow down your choices. A great duffel doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and there’s a ton of great deals to be found out there. If you’re testing out a new duffel for the first time, see if there’s a warranty and what the return policy is. Many brands offer a limited lifetime warranty, so make sure to read up and see what that covers and what it doesn’t.
Style: Much like carrying a purse or a briefcase, the style of your duffel, is very much an extension of you and your personality. While it might not be the most important consideration, with so many options to choose from, you don’t have to sacrifice on style if that’s a key factor for you.
Gym bags allow you to comfortably and easily carry workout apparel and gear to and from the gym.
The best gym bags keep clothing and accessories organized, making for easy access and efficient storage.
Our top pick, the Adidas Defender II, holds plenty of gear, is highly durable, and stays comfortable slung over a shoulder.
Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
If you regularly work out at a gym or play a sport, you’ll want to own a gym bag to help transport your gear. A dedicated gym bag lets you establish a routine that makes preparing for a workout more convenient and your time at the gym more efficient. It also makes any post-exercise transport, laundering, and storage of fitness apparel and gear easier and more hygienic.
A proper gym bag should have multiple compartments that can be used to create your own organizational system. You can appoint one or two pockets to store soiled, sweaty garments and shoes, while dedicating another for clean clothing. Other compartments store water, energy bars, snacks, or supplements and you’ll want to stash your phone, keys, and wallet somewhere safe, as well.
There’s certainly no shortage of gym bags available to purchase, too, as almost every athletic brand offers its own version. But they’re not all created equal. To help, we’ve tested a number of bags from top brands like Adidas, Under Armour, and Thule to find the best worth owning.
Pros: Lasts for years of heavy use, simple intuitive design, comes in multiple colors
Cons: Medium and large sizes too big for many people
The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag has one large main compartment with enough room for a change of clothes and a towel, a water bottle, deodorant and shampoo, and whatever other workout gear you prefer.
Within the main chamber is a smaller zippered pouch perfect for a wallet, keys, phone, and other small valuables. Each end of the bag has a compartment that can fit shoes, sweaty garments, and anything else you want to keep separate. The base is padded to keep your gear safe and the fabric is rip- and puncture-resistant. There’s also both a shoulder strap and handles to allow for comfortable and easy transport.
And that’s it. But hey, that’s really all you need out of gym bag. So why does this bag cost almost twice as much as other options on our list? Simple. It’s remarkably well made. Adidas even offers a lifetime warranty. And when you think about it, that’s an impressive amount of faith Adidas is putting in this gym bag. Adidas knows the thing is going to be hauled back and forth to the fitness center, to the track, the field, and everywhere else such luggage gets lugged.
It doesn’t hurt that the Defender II comes in nearly two dozen different color patterns, so you can easily find one that not only matches your needs but that matches your personal sense of style, too.
Best on a budget
The Everest Gym Bag’s dedicated water bottle sleeve, versatile front pouches, and adjustable, padded shoulder strap make it a great budget-friendly gym bag.
Pros: Great low price, dedicated water bottle pocket, keeps gear and sundries organized
Cons: Occasional issues with side pocket tearing, longevity questionable
The Everest Gym Bag may be our pick for the best budget bag but it’s far from something that should be considered cheap. For starters, it’s manufactured out of durable 600D polyester that resists scratches and tears, and is even water-resistant. Of course, you don’t want to submerge it in a bathtub while your smartphone is inside or anything, but don’t worry about some drizzle as you jog from the subway to the gym.
The bag features a large primary compartment with plenty of room for shoes, clothes, showering accessories, and more, and its twin front pouches are perfect for a phone, wallet, some energy bars, or other smaller sundries. A central water bottle sleeve handles most water bottle sizes, too.
On one side of the bag, you will find a zippered mesh pouch, and on the other, there is a closed compartment. Both can be extended into the main area of the bag, allowing you to stash sweaty clothes or muddy shoes away from the rest of your gear.
The only real drawback with this bag is that the side pockets in which you can store soiled gear must take up room in the main compartment to be sufficiently spacious, so it can be tricky to tell exactly how much room you will use in each area after a workout. After a few trips to the gym, though, you should have the balance down and can pack and plan accordingly.
The Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack has enough space to carry a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, a full-sized laptop, and a few accessories, and it distributes the weight of all your gear evenly across your torso.
Now yes, we just mentioned a lot of stuff that you can fit into a UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack, but to be clear, if you put a pair of sneakers, your gym apparel, a computer, and your wallet, phone, and keys in this bag, it would then be just about full. But that’s just fine, because what else do you need to carry with you as you travel from the office to the gym and then home?
And unlike with traditional gym bags that must be slung over one shoulder or carried in your hand, this backpack distributes that weight evenly across your shoulders and down through your core, meaning you can transport all that stuff for miles and miles in comfort if need be.
Anyone with a long trip between the gym and the home or office should consider this gym backpack. Its padded laptop sleeve keeps that invaluable computer safe while the brand’s UA Storm technology-treated exterior resists rain, sleet, or snow, keeping your stuff safely dry within. The bottom panel is abrasion-resistant and the entire backpack is rip-stop and puncture-resistant.
And also, the UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack comes in colors ranging from black to blue to pink to orange and more.
Pros: Beautiful vintage style, multiple compartments and pockets, versatile
Cons: Requires care and maintenance
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a bare-knuckle boxer or 19th Century strongman to appreciate the Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel. While this leather duffel may have the look of a vintage piece of equipment, it’s actually brand new and manufactured to modern standards and with modern apparel and accessories in mind.
There is a front pocket perfect for your smartphone and keys, there are side pockets that can accommodate shoes or sweaty gear, and there is a large main compartment perfect for a change of clothes, hygiene products, snacks, or whatever else you need to have on-the-go.
This durable leather duffel is the perfect size for use as a gym bag, but it’s also great for the traveler. The bag is suitable for carry-on use and will easily fit in overhead compartments and will even fit under the seat aboard many aircraft. And it’s hard to mistake this unique, handsome duffel with another traveler’s luggage.
While of course there are drawbacks to using a leather duffel, such as the need to avoid heavy precipitation and the more complicated cleaning procedures, these mild issues are greatly outweighed by the KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel’s classic charm for those who truly value style. And for a leather bag, it’s reasonably priced.
The Thule Chasm is a water-resistant duffel that protects your gear from the elements. It’s also a great travel bag, and it can convert into a backpack for easier hauling.
Pros: Water-resistant, converts from duffel to backpack, large opening, padded bottom
Cons: Expensive, no laptop compartment
Having gone through a good number of bags for the gym, I’ve grown to appreciate the ones with large openings. It not only makes it easier to pack, but it also lets me get to things much quicker. Which is the reason why I like the Chasm from Thule. The 40-liter version (also available in 70, 90, and 130 liters) is the right size for the gym or a weekend trip, and it has a big opening that I can easily shove workout clothes, shoes, and other gym gear into it.
But there’s so much more to this bag. Don’t feel like carrying it or slinging it over your shoulder? The Thule Chasm converts into a backpack, making it easy to haul. For me, the versatility is a plus because some days I feel like using a backpack, while other days I prefer a duffel.
The Thule Chasm is made with a water-resistant material, and the bottom is padded to offer some protection. There are mesh pockets on the inner part of the lid for storing dirties. And, you can lock the zippers to prevent theft, which is handy for when you use a gym locker room. The only thing I wish this bag offers is a laptop compartment, which would allow me to carry just one bag from home to office to gym.
Thule products are very well made. I also use Thule bags to carry my camera equipment, so you can rest assure that this bag will protect your gym gear. It is quite expensive for a bag, but if you want to invest in something that offers flexibility and longevity, this is a good option.
If you’re looking for a water-resistant duffel, you should also consider two options from Eagle Creek: the Cargo Hauler Duffel 45L and Migrate Duffel 40L. Like the Thule Chasm, both Eagle Creek bags can convert into backpacks. The Cargo Hauler is expandable for when you need more room, while the Migrate Duffel can be packed down for easy storage. I find Eagle Creek bags to be well made, but also affordable. — Les Shu
Pros: Rolling design takes strain off your body, multiple pockets for easy organization, great price
Cons: Does not stand up straight, lacks sufficiently large compartments for some users’ preferences
Gym bags can get heavy quickly, what with all the gear most of us lug along to our workouts. There are shoes, changes of clothes, water bottles, energy bars, shampoo and a towel, and so on.
If you have strength or grip issues in your hands, shoulders, lower back, or really anywhere else, you should not be carrying a heavy gym bag, nor should you sling one over a shoulder. Doing so can throw of your center of balance and/or put undue strain on the sensitive area. With the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel, you can tote along all the fitness apparel and gear you want and then some while letting the wheels do most of the work.
At 22 by 12 by 12 inches this gym bag offers plenty of room to stash shoes and clothes, snacks and water, accessories, personal items, and more, but it’s not so large that you can’t easily bring it on the subway or bus and stash it under your desk at work. As the duffel has no fewer than eight pockets, it’s easy to keep all of your stuff organized, not to mention keeping soiled gear separate from clean stuff.
When needed, such as when you encounter stairs or uneven terrain, the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel can be picked up by its handles and carried along. But the recessed, in-line skate style wheels — which turn smoothly thanks to metal ball bearings — and the retractable pull handle are what set this bag apart from the rest. Also, it costs only about thirty-two bucks.
How to shop for a gym bag
When choosing the right gym bag for you, there are a few factors to consider. First, think about what you’ll be carrying to the gym and then find options that can accommodate it all.
Next, consider when and where you’ll have the bag. Do you need to bring it with you on the subway or on a bus? If so, a smaller bag is like a good idea. If you have a long walk or prefer to jog to the gym, then a backpack might be your best bet.
Finally, don’t dismiss style as an important element. You’ll have your gym bag on you often, so choose the one you’ll be proud to have over your shoulder and on display.
How we test gym bags
When compiling a list of the best gym bags, we only considered those with multi-compartment designs. Wel also looked at the materials used, well aware that while one person might value performance and durability, someone else might value style — thus, we included a leather gym duffel.
We heavily weighed the cost, too. Bags can get expensive but unless it’s truly unique, we don’t think a gym bag needs to cost a fortune. Finally, we looked for special features that set these bags apart from the competition. There are so many currently on the market and while most are quite similar, the bags we chose each have at least one unique factor that earned them a spot.