- 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.
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.
At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into how to shop for a gym bag and what to keep in mind when picking one out, as well as the testing methods we used in deciding which made the cut.
Here are the best gym bags:
- Best gym bag overall: Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag
- Best gym bag on a budget: Everest Gym Bag
- Best backpack gym bag: Under Armour UA Hustle 3.0 Backpack
- Best leather gym bag: Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel
- Best water-resistant gym bag: Thule Chasm
- Best rolling gym bag: Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag
The Adidas Defender II Duffel Bag is well made and refreshingly simple with a few compartments and two ways to carry it.
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.
Pros: Distributes weight evenly, water-resistant exterior, padded laptop sleeve
Cons: Capacity is too small for some athletes
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.
Best leather bag
If you love the timeless styling of luggage from generations past, then this Komal’s Passion Leather KPL Vintage Leather Gym Duffel is the gym bag for you.
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
Best rolling bag
Anyone with joint or shoulder injuries or issues shouldn’t carry a gym bag by hand, so the Olympia Luggage Rolling Duffel Bag is just right for them.
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.
More great Insider Reviews workout guides
Before starting in on any yoga routine or practice, you’ll want to make sure you have the right gear and that starts with getting a proper yoga mat. Here are our top picks.
Dumbbells are a great fitness tool for building and maintaining strength, perfect either on their own or as a complementary addition to a home gym setup. Check out our favorites.
Resistance bands are simple pieces of elastic that create constant tension to stimulate muscle growth and increase the value of your workout. Here are the best ones to buy.