The Perfect Gym Bag for Every Type of Gym-Goer

Carry your sweat-soaked workout gear in style

Please note: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

There’s nothing inherently sexy about a gym bag. It’s a purely functional item whose main purpose is to transport clothes and accessories that have recently become drenched in sweat or are about to become drenched in sweat. So at its core, the gym bag is a performance item. 

But in this day and age, it can also be much more, depending on what is asked of it. Just looking for a place to stash an extra pair of socks and a water bottle? In search of a bag that’ll work on your bike commute? Hoping to cram a few extra outfits and a laptop into one bag you can toss under your desk? Or are you looking for a more elegant piece you can proudly sling over your shoulder as you rush into your morning client meeting? 

The key is to determine what qualities are most important to you and make your purchasing decision accordingly. Below, we’ve made our picks for options that will suit just about every use case we can think of, while also looking great. 

Best All-Around Gym Bag: Aer Gym Duffel 2
The Gym Duffel 2 by San Francisco-based Aer may look simple enough on the outside (though we prefer to call it refined), but it’s on the inside where its brilliance becomes readily apparent. It’s as feature rich as any we’ve come across: there’s a separate, zippered shoe compartment that easily fits my size 12.5 monsters, a padded laptop sleeve, and a breathable pocket for stashing your drenched gear post-workout. Add to that tons of storage pockets for things like small electronics, notebooks, or other random junk you’re inclined to carry around. Heavy-duty zippers, a hard-wearing Cordura exterior, two elasticized water-bottle pockets, and padded shoulder straps and grip handles round things out. It’s also good looking enough that you won’t feel like a tool bringing it to the office.

BUY HERE: $150

Best Bargain Gym Bag: Nike Brasilia Training Duffel
Those of us who get really, really into shopping the best possible version of whatever it is we’re looking for at a given moment can sometimes fall prey to overcomplicating things and, as a result, overspending. Should this strike a chord as you go in search of a new gym bag, we present you this supremely affordable option from Nike. For $40, you get a perfect-sized durable nylon bag with a roomy interior, a separate space for dirty clothes, and a minimal design that adds a good amount of versatility, especially given the price.


Best Gym Bag-Lookin’ Gym Bag: North Face Apex Gym Duffel
In keeping with The North Face’s traditional design aesthetic, the Apex Gym Duffel is not going to pass as office-appropriate. It’s colorful and rugged, with different textures visible on the bag’s exterior: there’s rugged nylon, of course, but also a wide, breathable mesh surrounding a compartment for shoes or wet, stinking gym clothes. It’s affordable, efficient and durable — an option that’s going to work for an awful lot of people.


Best Non-Gym Bag Lookin’ Gym Bag: Caraa Remus 
The NYC brand’s mantra is “Designed for fashion, crafted for sport.” That’s readily apparent in the Remus, a flashy, lightweight, water-repellent duffel that looks like a slick weekender but features a lot of stealthy workout attributes — four interior mesh pockets (so you know what you’re packing), included shoe and wet pouches, eight breathing vents and a capacious main compartment.

BUY HERE: $295

Best Office Appropriate Gym Bag:  Lululemon Command the Day Duffel
As stated above, you’d do just fine — more than fine — taking the Aer Gym Duffel 2 to the office, given its good looks and ample, varied storage solutions, but the Lululemon Command the Day duffel (we don’t know) has basically the exact same set of features: A “stowable shoe garage” (we don’t know), a padded laptop sleeve, an external water bottle pocket and so on. If there’s one drawback, it’s that the padded sleeve only fits laptops up to 13”. But it’s a super handsome option that, like everything from Lululemon, is extremely well-made.

BUY HERE: $158

Best Backpack Gym Bag:  Ryu Locker Pack Lux
If you’re looking to ride your bike to the gym, say, or you’re heading to work afterward with a separate brief case, and you’d rather keep your workout gear mounted on your back, you’re going to be very pleased with the Locker Pack Lux from Ryu. With a molded internal shell, the bag maintains its shape regardless of what’s inside — and given its efficient design and wealth of various-sized pockets and compartments, you’ll be free to jam an awful lot in there, including a laptop inside a protected sleeve. 

BUY HERE: $215

Best Workhorse Gym Bag: Hudson Sutler Commuter Duffel
“I don’t ask for much from my gym bag in terms of bells and whistles — I just want something simple that I can beat the bejeezus out of on the nightmare that is an NYC commute. Hudson Sutler’s Commuter fits the bill nicely, crafted from brawny (but colorful!) canvas with room for just enough gear (including a pair of boxing gloves because I’m tough as shit) plus a couple extra pockets (both interior and exterior) for smaller stuff. Nuthin’ fancy, but it’s still getting the job done after four straight years of abuse. Oh, and it bears noting that you can now build your own custom number in any color combo you like — so feel free to get creative.” — A personal endorsement from our Creative Director, Danny Agnew


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