Gym bags: it pays to invest in a good one. Not only will you look the part – nothing screams ‘this guy knows what he’s doing in on the gym floor’ more than a well-kept gym bag – but investing in a proper holdall will make your life easier. From optimal storage solutions to handy compartments that separate your cleans from your dirties, a decent gym back is much more than aesthetics.
The best gym bags are robust, stylish and practical enough to keep pace with your fitness ambitions. Whether you're working out at your local gym, lugging equipment to the park for an AMRAP circuit, or looking to head to an active weekend break in the not-too-distant-future, you’ll need something well suited to your needs.
To help you find the best gym bags for carrying your kit, we’ve compiled a list of some of the Men’s Health Editor’s favourite tried and tested bags for heading to the gym. We’ve included everything from backpacks, sports bags, duffel bags, holdalls, totes and more, so there’s bound to be one that catches your eye.
Best Gym Bags
In a hurry? Here's a quick round-up of our favourite gym bags for men. For a more detailed breakdown of each, keep scrolling.
What Makes A Good Gym Bag?
All well as a roomy main compartment to stash the bulk of your gear – think gym clothes, trainers, your wash bag, a protein shake, the list goes on – the best gym bags have smart pockets, clever zips and snug padding to store and protect your keys, wallet, laptop, face mask, and other loose items, so you can move seamlessly between business and leisure when the office opens up.
You should also look for a bag that’s robust enough to keep pace with your plans. Extra handles are a welcome plus, whether you’re muscling the bag into a locker or onto a busy train carriage – and don’t forget to factor in the size. Too small, and it won’t hold your gear. Too big, and you won’t be able to stash it under your desk or use it as carry-on luggage.
For swimmers – or excessive sweaters – a wet compartment is also a handy addition. If you plan to head to the pool or gym before work, or you commute to the office, storing your wet kit in a separate and secure compartment to your dry clothes will make your pre-work routine run a whole smoother.
How to Clean Your Gym Bag?
Unfortunately, over time, your gym bag will start to smell. That protein shaker you forgot to clean or, worse still, spilt, the wet swimming shorts that spent a day too long at the bottom of the bag, all these things will add to the unpleasant aroma that can stink out a locker room within seconds. Thankfully, keeping it clean and feeling fresh is a relatively simple task.
Well made gym bags are designed so you can clean them easily. For most, a regular wipe with a damp cloth or a disinfectant wipe (make sure you check they can be used on all materials) is enough to keep your bag in a respectable condition. If you want to go that little further, however, mixing warm water with white vinegar and, if a change of smell is in order, an essential oil that you like will give you that freshen-up feel you're after.
It's worth noting that some materials may need to be given a bit more attention. Canvas, for example, which can shrink when wet, should always be put on a cold cycle if you're thinking about shoving it in the washing machine drum. Our advice, if you can, spot clean the areas that need a pick-me-up.
If you really want to keep your gym bag in top shape and smelling of roses for as long as possible, make sure you remove sweaty, wet gym gear as soon as you can. Airing it often – after each use if possible – will help blow away that armpit smell from the lining.
What Should Be in Your Gym Bag
Gym Bag Essentials
You can tell a lot about a man by looking in his gym bag and sometimes it's not pretty what you'll uncover. Following our guide below, by packing your bag correctly you'll be ready for any eventuality at any time. Having to go commando at work will be a thing of the past, sitting in your sweaty workout socks all day will be banished forever, and as for wet hair days, kiss them goodbye.
Keep these essentials in your bag at all times:
Right, now you know what makes a good gym bag, how to clean it, and what to pack, it's now a case of picking the right one for you. Whether you're looking for a bag that's fit purely for purpose, travelling only from your home to the gym and back again, or perhaps one that won't look out of place in the office as it does in the changing room, or one that can even work as a weekend away bag, here's our edit of the best gym bags available right now.
20 Best Gyms Bags to Buy
Why we love it: This backpack is designed for those of you who lead an active lifestyle both in and out of the gym. Built to last, with practical external compartments, the Utility Elite will keep your gear secure when making your way through the hustle and bustle on your work commute. And with its cushioned straps, you won't arrive at your desk peeling the bag from your shoulders.
Why we love it: As you'd expect from Gymshark, they don't do things by halves and this bag is no exception. Designed to carry everything from your gym kit to your running trainers and food prep, through to your textbooks and laptop, the X-Series 0.3 is the ultimate gym bag. With countless internal and external entry pockets, plus reinforced YKK hardware and supportive padding, your gear will be safe and sound from the forces placed upon it. Handy if your gym locker is a bit snug or your morning commute happens to be on London's underground.
Why we love it: There aren't many bags that are so big, strong and sturdy that simply dragging it onto your back feels like a workout in itself. With a capacity of 45L, you'll have no trouble fitting your kit and anything else into it and with two side bottles capable of holding a 750ml protein shaker and a 750ml water bottle, plus adjustable sternum and waist straps, it's a perfect bag for running, hiking and rucking. It's also good prep if you are thinking about entering SAS: Who Dares Wins. It looks cool, it looks like you mean business, but if you have to travel by train, tube or bus after your workout, it probably isn't the most practical.
Why we love it: With anything Lululemon, you can guarantee one thing: quality. And, perhaps, a punchy price tag. At 25L capacity, it’s not the biggest gym bag, but then that’s kind of the point. It doesn’t want to take centre stage. Instead, it’s designed to be subtle, to simply take your gear from gym to work without anyone battering any eyelid. With padded handles for easy carrying, a quick-access phone pocket, laptop pocket and interior and exterior compartments for your essentials and water bottle, it does all you need without needing to shout about it.
Why we love it: Ignore the fact that it could be mistaken for a kid’s suitcase, this is a pretty cool looking bag. Designed to store your shoes with more than enough space for your gym kit, the grab handle, detachable body strap, internal mesh zip pocket and interior slip pockets make this a handy addition to your gym armoury.
Why we love it: The LC may look small, but its circular design is roomier than you think. For just £25, it comes with a zip ‘wet pocket’, side panel with functional touchscreen for phone, a reinforced PU base and adjustable carry strap. Oh, and a massive matte printed Gymshark logo on the side, just in case you really want people to know where you’ve got it from.
Why we love it: Durable and with handy zip compartments to keep your wet clothes and shoes separate, this duffel bag from adidas hits just the right notes. Each bag is made in part with recycled content generated from production waste, so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment as well as improving your heart health.
Why we love it: For those of you who can’t ever seem to decide what to wear at the gym so throw it all in, this is for you. Put simply, it’s massive, but it does come with a few handy features other than just its size. With four carrying handles, water-repellent material, stowable back system and an outer compartment, this duffel bag will keep all your prized possessions safe and dry from the elements.
Why we love it: Often seen up and down the country outside suburban high schools, the drawstring doesn’t come with many fancy compartments, but it is made from a durable, water-resistant fabric, an internal divider to help keep your wet clothes separated from your laptop, and a zipped pocket for your valuables. There isn’t room for much else, but for a tenner, you get what you pay for with an added drop of nostalgia.
Why we love it: There’s something about this gym bag that just looks the part. The sleek design accompanied with a black and white drawstring lends itself not only to the gym, but your morning commute, café stop and even work meet. Featuring side slip-in pockets, inner laptop compartment and top zip valuables pockets, it’s effortlessly practical, too.
Why we love it: ‘What’s a crossfit bag?’ Well, as anyone who does crossfit will testify, it involves a hell of a lot of kit. And if you’re someone who prefers their own gear over the communal offerings, you’re going to need a suitable holdall to efficiently store it all. Enter the Bear KompleX Heavy Duty Duffel Bag. With multiple outer pockets, two side zips, a water bottle (or protein shake) holder, an inner compartment big enough to store two pairs of shoes and a larger main storage area, it’s plenty big enough to carry all of your gym kit, accessories and, well, whatever else you can squeeze in.
Why we love it: Responsible for storing kit for the likes of Novak Djokovic, it’s fair to say Head know a thing or two about sports bags. With a large main compartment for storing all your gym wear and accessories, a small zip pocket on the outside for storing valuables and padded carry handles, this is a well-built and durable holdall for lugging your gear to the gym.
Why we love it: Puma’s a brand you can trust. And trust is what you want from a good gym bag, knowing it’s not going to fall apart at the seams, can take a few knocks here and there and won’t stink the moment your sweaty gym shorts go in. Puma’s Men’s Contender comes with removable and adjustable shoulder straps, a padded bottom panel, shoe compartment and front and side pockets. It’s surprisingly spacious, too. It’s a thumbs up from us.
Why we love it: Sure, it might be something you’d see more along the side of a football pitch, but who’s to say you can’t take it to the gym? Exactly. With a large inner compartment for your weightlifting shoes and a wet and dry compartment, it’s the perfect gym bag. If you ask us, it’s a crime that this bag has to deal with dirty football boots and shin pads every weekend. It’s about time it got the upgrade it deserves.
Why we love it: Calling yourself the ultimate gym bag is one hell of a statement but on the looks of it, we’re struggling to prove Focus Gear wrong. Durable, tick; reinforced stitching at ‘key stress points’, tick; water bottle and protein shaker compartments, tick; 10 inside pockets, tick; two wet pockets, tick; shoe compartment, tick. Put it this way, think of something your gym bag needs, and this one has it.
Why we love it: For the swimmers among you, this is about as good as it gets. With a waterproof-lined wetsuit compartment and separate sections for your kit, you won’t have to worry about your speedos leaking through the lining on your way to work.
Why we love it: You won’t find many bags that look the part both at your gym, spin class or weekend retreat. It’s pretty simple in design, coming with not much more than twin handles, a two-way zip fastening and internal zip pockets, but then again, you’re not really buying it for its functionality are you?
Why we love it: This duffle bag from Under Armour screams functionality. With zips everywhere a zip could be, the UA Storm technology delivers an ‘element-battling’, highly water-resistant finish and features a tough, abrasion resistant bottom and side panels. Put it this way, if you’re stuck in the rain waiting for a bus, this bag has got your gym gear covered. A nice touch that they’ve added is a large vented pocket for your gym shoes and internal slip pockets for your smaller bits. The fact that it’s been reduced from £36 to £17.97 is a welcomed bonus.
Why we love it: If you live around the corner from the gym and you can rock up already donning your kit, a small bag may be all you really need. Large enough for storing the essentials like your phone, keys and wallet, this 2-litre unisex belt bag from Lululemon has a two-way external zipper for securing your stuff as well as interior pockets to keep your things organised. It’s also available in seven stylish colours.
Why we love it: If you cycle to the gym no matter the weather, this roll-top rucksack from Stubble & Co is a solid option. Built specifically for cyclists, it’s waterproof, has a spacious main inner compartment with one zip pocket and two mesh pockets, a waterproof zip compartment on the outside for storing valuables and two external side pockets for carrying a water bottle or d-lock. It also has a reflective base, but with nowhere to affix lights, it’s probably worth combining this rucksack with a reflective bag cover and a set of LED bike lights if you plan on cycling with it in the dark.
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