Gym bags have certainly evolved over the years, and in the process helped many of us get to and from our workouts with real practicality. Because let’s face it, a suitcase would be more practical for the amount of stuff we can sometimes take to the gym, especially if you’re into boxercise or other combat sports.
All of the world’s biggest sports brands have a great selection of gym and sports bags to choose from. The key is getting the size right. Something too big and you’ll feel like a tennis player walking onto the Rod Laver Arena, something too small and you will be wrestling your kit into your bag post-session – not a great look.
But it doesn’t have to be all big logos and shoulder straps. Strolling up to the gym with a nice weekend bag to match your smarter work attire may make you look and feel better, so why not just do it – there are few rules!
And, if like most of us you take some real pride in your clothes, even the garments you wear for a workout, then you’ll need a bag with compartments or compression straps that help you keep everything in place and uncreased – so check that your bag has all your required features.
So, without further ado, we are going to look at the best gym bags on the market right now in 2021.
This depends on your personal style. The most widely used materials are leather, canvas and nylon. Nylon bags are durable and waterproof, while canvas bags are reusable and much lighter and easier to carry.
Duffel bags are popular for gym goers for many reasons. They have space for everything, from your water bottle and sneakers, to your extra clothes. There are even different compartments so you will not have to cram everything all together inside.
The right size for your gym bag depends on the items you plan to carry. Also, consider one that can be easily stored in a gym locker or other storage unit. For most people, a medium-sized bag is sufficient.
Like many of its major rivals, sports giant Adidas can produce standard sports gear or rare pieces that have more than an element of street cool. Take this 4ATHLTS Duffel for example. It’s a standard looking gym bag with enough room for an ice hockey player! But then Adidas go and add an eyecatching strap that features prints in varying languages, giving the bag a vintage 90s look. It’s also made from 100% recycled polyester for the more eco-conscious buyer – a bag for the future inspired by the past.
There is a reason why Nike is so successful in the sports bag market. Their designs are super practical, great value and show real attention to detail. This Vapour Power duffel is smaller and more compact than standard Nike gym bags, leaving just the right amount of room for the essentials. It has a handy compartment that separates clean and dirty gear and has multiple zip pockets to store large or small valuables. It also comes with removable padded shoulder straps for added commuter comfort.
Leaders in the world of outerwear whilst leading the way in sustainably manufactured clothing, Patagonia have become the darlings of the sportswear world since starting out in 1973. But it’s their accessories that have caught our attention here with this Black Hole Duffel Backpack. It’s made from ripstop, waterproof recycled polyester that glistens under light. There’s also a close-fitting, ventilated padded back system so that covering distance with a heavy load is made easy.
When Kevin Plank got wind that he might not make it as an American football player, he decided to create his own sports clothing brand out of his Grandmother’s basement. Now Under Armour supplies the goods for teams and players in a huge range of sports around the globe. Their Sportsyle Duffle is a classic sports bag that can also be used for short weekend breaks. It’s basic, yet stylish, and has a two-way carry option with both shoulder and crossbody straps.
If you have ever been to Scandinavia, you’ll know you’re pretty much guaranteed two things. Extremely friendly people and rain! It’s no surprise then that Rains come from this northern European region, and make great value clothes and accessories to match. This Gym Bag is a step back from other sports-orientated bags on this list, and whilst it remains highly practical, its silhouette is much more classy and simple. It holds 27 litres in one open compartment that is surrounded by fully waterproof fabrics.
Californian brand Everlane celebrates 10 years of providing simple, casual garments around the world in 2020. They’re known for those understated pieces that lay the foundations to many a look – and have also become dab hands in accessories, like this Mover Pack. This durable, water-resistant bag has a separate shoe compartment covered by a wide U-Zip opening. It has both top and bottom handles and holds up to 45 litres of your favourite gym wear.
The North Face
So, North Face needs little introduction. They have been providing solutions for outdoor enthusiasts in their San Francisco home since 1962. As well as revolutionary outerwear for subzero temperature, they also specialise in sports accessories, such as the classic Base Camp Duffel. This 50-litre bag is made from durable fabrics that offer great weather resistance, with a couple of handy small pockets for passports, smartphones or car keys.
Rob Honeycutt founded Timbuk2 in San Francisco’s renowned Mission District around 1989. His original bag designs were made for motorcyclists and motorcycle dealers. Now the brand proudly claims to be one of the richest in America’s most liberal cities and produces everyday bags such as this Quest Duffel. It’s a spacious piece with plenty of room for extras such as towels, and even has a large floating pocket for sweaty tees and trainers.
Many of you may be more familiar with Peak Design as a camera bag brand since this is how they burst onto the scene back in 2011. Since then, however, they have moved into more general, classic designs such as this 35 litre Duffel Bag. It’s made from 100% recycled Nylon finished off with waterproof zippers and liners. It also features two internal and four external pockets, along with an ID cardholder.
Baboon To The Moon
If you’re new to the wonderful world of Baboon To The Moon, then they are essentially a high-performance luggage brand for adventure travellers. They definitely have a playful side – as their Wes Anderson on acid-like website suggests – but it is their Go-Bag that set the bar for the brand when they launched in 2018. Its durable, waterproof design means you can really put it to the test when travelling around, whilst it also features some really useful compression straps to keep your clothes in place while you’re city hopping.
When you look at Herschel bags it’s easy to think that they are one of the many US heritage brands that have been around since well before the war. But the brand was actually founded in 2009, by two Canadians! They specialise in bags, particularly backpacks, but this Sutton Duffle is a step in a new direction. Its design is inspired by 1990s activewear, and features a mesh storage sleeve beneath the lid, along with a signature shoe compartment.
Founded in 1897, Filson is one of those longstanding American heritage brands that produce durable, long-lasting work clothes. They only use the best fabrics around and their designs fetch prices at the higher end of the spectrum. But forget their classics, for the team at Filson have produced a bag here for the modern man. This Duffel-Backpack hybrid is made from abrasion-resistant ballistic nylon and features a full-length 15” laptop pocket. There’s also a shoulder strap and haul handles made from solid nylon webbing.
It’s incredible to think that the team at Bennet Winch have only been around since 2014, such is the timeless quality of their bag designs. Just because you’re going to the gym doesn’t mean that you have to conform to big brand bullies. Instead, go for something of stunning beauty like this Olive Weekender bag. It’s handmade in the UK from 100% cotton and features a 15” laptop pocket. The trims, handle and base are made from full-grain leather, whilst the base studs are made from solid brass.
Montblanc is all about producing high-end luxury accessories, and the fact they have been at the top since 1927 means they must be pretty darn good at it. They first made their mark producing fountain pens, but soon moved into leather products such as wallets, and this Sartorial Jet Duffel Bag. This wonderful bag has been handmade in Italy with a black shell, finished off with cross-grain leather trims, and features a two-way zip fastening system, and can be used for weekend breaks, trips to the gym of business trips.