Best Sports Gym Bags Buying Guide

Many of us have good intentions when it comes to staying healthy and fit. We aim to eat well, manage stress, and exercise regularly. However, it’s all too easy to skip that trip to the gym once in a while, and before we know it, our fitness routine falls by the wayside. That being said, going to the gym or studio for a workout can be a great way to break up your day, and it’s encouraging to see that gym attendance continues to rise. However, in order to have a successful training session, you need the right gear, including shoes, shorts, and a water bottle. To keep everything organized and easily transportable, you’ll need a suitable bag to carry all your essential items.

Although a gym bag may not be a magical motivator, it can certainly help you stay committed to your fitness routine. With a gym bag in tow, it’s easier to leave the house and head to the pool, the gym, the trail, or wherever you prefer to work out.

While a regular duffel or backpack can suffice in a pinch, a dedicated gym bag can provide added conveniences like water bottle holders, shoe compartments, and spacious pockets. It can also help you stay organized by keeping all your workout essentials in one place, reducing the risk of forgetting anything important. Before we delve into our top picks for high-performance gym bags, let’s take a closer look at what to consider when choosing one that meets your needs.

Selecting a gym bag is similar to choosing a new pair of workout shoes – it’s important to consider how you plan to use it before making a decision. Perhaps you’re in the market for a durable tote that can transport your gear from your car to the gym without any fuss. Or maybe you need a bag that’s stylish enough to double as an office accessory without drawing too much attention. In some cases, you may need a gym bag that can also function as reliable carry-on luggage.

As you determine your ideal gym bag, there are several key factors to consider, including functionality, durability, and style. While it’s crucial for your gym bag to be practical, it’s also essential for it to have some visual appeal. A good-looking bag can provide the extra motivation you need to head to your fitness class instead of skipping out.

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Gym Bag Styles

There are several types of gym bags, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Traditional gym bags have more pockets than duffel bags, providing separate areas for shoes, clothing, and toiletries, as well as mesh pockets for wet items. They typically have short handles and a long shoulder strap for hands-free use, and an inner frame for structure. However, traditional gym bags tend to have more crevices for mould spores and bacteria to hide.

Duffel bags are the most basic type of gym bag, cylindrical in shape with one large compartment and one or two small outer pockets. They are lightweight and come in a wide range of colours and sizes. However, they do not have a rigid frame or any separation between shoes and clothing, and their seams may be weak.

Gym backpacks are larger than regular backpacks and typically have one or two outer pockets for small items. They are convenient for people who use public transportation or bicycle to the gym. However, they are not as roomy as larger duffel bags or traditional gym bags and may not have many compartments for smaller items.

Gym totes are large bags with two handles and can have a drawstring or similar closure at the top or be entirely open. They are stylish and convenient for packing large items, such as a laptop or yoga mat. Some have an outer pocket or inner divider, but many consist of just one large compartment. They are useful for travelling or weekend trips, but they have no shoulder strap, and the open top may be less secure.

Gym Bag Materials

When shopping for a gym bag, you’ll find a variety of materials to choose from. Most gym bags are made from durable textiles like leather, canvas, polyester, or nylon. It’s important to look for a gym bag with strong zippers or hook-and-loop components that can withstand frequent use. Choosing a more durable duffel or pack may also be a better long-term investment.

Polyester is a common gym bag material because it is strong and easy to clean. It holds moisture well, which is useful for carrying wet items like bathing suits, but it doesn’t breathe and can be prone to the growth of mould and bacteria.

Nylon is lightweight and inexpensive, but it doesn’t hold its shape well and isn’t very durable. It also stains easily and doesn’t hold in moisture as well as polyester.
Leather looks luxurious and durable, but it is heavy, expensive, and can be prone to staining and retaining odours. If you like the look of leather, consider a gym bag with leather trim or handles instead.

Canvas is a heavy fabric made from cotton or a cotton blend. It is lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to wash. It’s a great choice for gym bags that carry stinky clothes, but unless treated for water resistance, it doesn’t hold in moisture very well. Many canvas bags have leather trim and handles for added style and strength.


Gym bags are an essential accessory for athletes and fitness enthusiasts to carry all their workout essentials. When choosing a gym bag, it’s important to consider factors such as style, material, volume, and compartments.

In terms of volume, a medium-sized duffel bag ranging from 30-40 litres is usually sufficient to carry shoes, accessories, and a change of clothes. However, if you frequently carry additional gear such as weightlifting belts or multiple pairs of shoes, a larger bag might be necessary. For those who need a versatile pack for outdoor activities or travel, a more spacious interior might be required. It’s important to keep in mind that if you plan to use your bag as a carry-on for flying, some airlines have restrictions on bag sizes.


Another important factor is compartments. Some athletes prefer to keep their belongings organized in individual pockets, while others don’t mind everything being in one open compartment. Bags with multiple storage areas are necessary for those who want a neat and tidy setup. This can also be helpful for separating sweat-riddled garments and footwear from other gear, which is a good habit to maintain a clean bag setup. Premium gym bags might even come equipped with separate shoe compartments and smaller side pockets to match specific needs.
A water bottle can be kept close at hand in the outer compartment of many exercise bags, which are typically made of mesh.

Yoga Pad Belt

A yoga mat is among the bulkiest things you might want to pack in your gym bag. Choose a gym bag with a strap or compartment specially made to carry your mat rather than stuffing it into your duffel or tucking it under your arm.
Overall, choosing a gym bag with the appropriate volume and compartments can greatly enhance the convenience and organization of carrying workout essentials.


When choosing a gym bag, it is important to consider options that feature some form of ventilation. This helps to keep your bag fresh and clean by allowing for better air circulation and preventing odours from getting trapped in fabrics and textiles. If your bag does not have built-in ventilation, it is recommended to open up pockets and zippers once you get home to create better airways. It is also important to avoid leaving used shaker bottles or dirty fitness apparel in your bag for too long, as these scents can easily penetrate your setup and become difficult to remove.

Ventilated Shoe Pocket

Sneakers that are damp from sweat can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew, leading to unpleasant odours. To combat this, consider a gym bag that features a ventilated shoe pocket, which allows for proper airflow to dry out your shoes and prevent bacteria growth. Additionally, it is a good habit to store sweaty clothes in ventilated side compartments and to clean your workout clothes after every use.

Waterproof Pocket

For swimmers, a waterproof pocket is a must-have feature to store your wet swimsuit after hitting the water. This will keep your other gear dry and prevent any unwanted moisture from seeping into the rest of your bag.

Reinforced Joints and Zippers

Nobody wants their gym bag to fall apart in the parking area of the fitness centre. Your luggage will stay put longer thanks to reinforced seams. They are particularly crucial if you are carrying objects that are large, heavy, or pointy.

Your exercise bag’s zipper is frequently its weakest point. Extra stitching and bolstering cloth are used in reinforced zippers to increase their tensile strength.

Padded Straps

A heavy bag can put a lot of strain on your wrists or shoulders. If you tote a bag with padded straps, you can lessen the strain and increase your comfort.


You will value a bag with wheels if you transport a lot of equipment.


There is a gym bag to match your style and colour choice, whether you want to carry something more understated or want to flaunt your personality with a neon bag.


When researching gym bags, we found a wide range of prices, with some nylon totes priced under $10 and structured leather bags priced over $400. However, for most people, a gym bag in the $20-$50 price range will likely meet their needs. It’s important to consider the features and materials you require when deciding how much to spend. If you only need a basic gym bag to carry clothes and shoes, a lower-priced option may suffice. But if you have specific requirements or want a bag that will last for years, it may be worth investing in a more expensive option. Ultimately, the decision depends on your individual needs and preferences.

All of these features can be important to consider when choosing a gym bag, depending on your specific needs and preferences. It’s important to think about what items you’ll be carrying, how much you need to store, and what type of activities you’ll be doing. Consider the size and volume of the bag, the number and type of compartments, the material and durability of the bag, and any additional features like ventilation, a water bottle holder, reinforced seams and zippers, a yoga mat strap, wheels, padded straps, and colour. Ultimately, the right gym bag can make your workout routine more efficient and enjoyable, while keeping your gear organized and protected.

How Can I Clean the Odor?

A smelly gym bag is a surefire method to attract unwanted attention on your commute. As soon as you get home, remove the dirty clothes, shoes, and towels from the container to avoid the odour. Before adding more items, let the bag breathe and wipe out any apparent moisture.
If your luggage can be washed, do so whenever an odour appears. If it cannot be washed, throw in a few tennis shoe deodorizer pellets or overnight soak the empty bag in a small bowl of baking soda.

What Should I Put in a Gym Bag?

To ensure you have everything you need for a successful workout, it’s important to pack your gym bag with items that cater to your specific fitness discipline. In addition to your workout gear, there are a few items that we recommend to help cover all bases and scenarios. For example, having a change of clothes and a pair of socks on-hand is always great, especially if you need to quickly change after your workout. It’s also a good idea to have an extra water bottle or shaker bottle in your bag to eliminate the chances of being parched mid-set. Other small items such as a phone charger, gym towel, and personal hygiene items can also be handy additions to your setup, along with your other training accessories.

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