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What's the Best Gym Bag?

Priscilla Greene |

Want to hit the gym after work? Doubling your work bag as a gym bag is not such a good idea with all the stench and moisture possibly soiling your favorite carry-all. That’s why getting a gym bag for the job is a must, especially if you are more or less of a gym rat. Picking either a gym duffel bag or a drawstring bag largely depends on your style, type of fitness activity, and amount of gym gear you plan to routinely haul around. So, let’s see what the best gym bag might be for you by comparing the two.

Gym Duffel Bags vs. Gym Drawstring Bags


The Gym Drawstring Bag

Nowadays, drawstring bags, or “sack bags”, are very popular with the gym-going crowd. A drawstring bag can accommodate a change of gym clothes, running shoes, and other essentials, while weighing close to nothing when empty. This type of bag is very versatile as it can double as a school bag, impromptu day pack, and beach bag like very few other bags can.

If the drawstring bag comes with extra compartments, like side mesh pocket(s), and a front pocket, there’s not much a fitness buff may desire. You can seamlessly store your reusable water bottle in the side mesh compartment, your keys, wallet, and paper in the front pocket, and the bulk of the gym gear in the roomy main compartment.

You may not be able to lug around heavy loads with a drawstring bag like you would with a classic gym duffel (those straps can cut deep into your shoulders), but you can easily throw it on your back and get moving to the workout place.
The gym drawstring bag is for those gym bag guys that aren’t very keen on hauling around an over-the-shoulder, bulky but classic gym duffel.

The Gym Duffel Bag

If you feel like your gear is too heavy to fit a drawstring bag, then a gym duffel bag is what you’re after. It makes no sense to put additional strain on (both) your shoulders, when you can use an over-the-shoulder option that has been tried and tested by generations of hard-working fitness buffs.

A crossbody gym bag is more friendly to your back than a backpack or drawstring bag because the load gets evenly distributed across your torso. What’s more a duffel bag enables you to cool off aster after a workout than a drawstring bag as it doesn’t hang close to your back ad leaves plenty of room for ventilation. 

A great gym duffel bag has multiple compartments, padded shoulder straps, and a laundry/shoe compartment to keep dirty clothing and footwear separated from the rest of your gym arsenal. But even though a duffel bag can carry larger loads than a drawstring bag, remove the stuff that is non-essential for your workout.

Gym Essentials You Should Not Leave Home Without


This one is a no-brainer. A gym outfit has the upper hand over your everyday clothing for several reasons. Or once, a quality gym outfit is made of sweat wicking and breathable materials. You might think of cotton right now, but that is not the best options. Cotton tend to absorb more than 2 dozen times its weight in water. So, it tends to get heavy, wet, and incredibly hard to dry out after a strenuous workout. Go for performance breathable fabrics that keep sweat at bay while keeping you cool and fresh, such as merino wool. This relatively new fabric is growing in popularity among the fitness crowd due to its antibacterial moisture-wicking properties and ability to keep you fresh in summer and cozy and warm in winter. It also dries out in an instant. Merino wool is more expensive than regular fabrics, but it is a worthwhile investment. You can drive test its prowess with a pair of merino socks and work your way up from there.


Shoes are as important as a gym outfit when working out. Don’t cut corners in this department, as a pair of trainers can make or break your mood to train. It is vital to use the appropriate type of gym shoe for the fitness activity you usually get engaged in. If you are into running (even on a treadmill, opt for a pair of good running shoes– your back and joints will later thank you for it. For HIIT classes, sneakers are enough, but for deadlifting you’ll need a pair of flat soled shoes.

Also, don’t forget to pack a pair or two of socks when hitting the gym as many fitness facilities charge an arm and a leg for socks or towels.


A clean towel can be handy when sweating really hard or need an extra towel to the gym towel after a shower. Choose a light gym towel made of microfiber, as those are the best at keeping unwanted moisture at bay. Also, you can place your towel on a workout machine for sanitary purposes when planning to use that piece of gear.


Drinking enough water both pre- and post-workout is not a part of gym etiquette but an extremely healthy habit that can keep your organs and body functioning normally. Get a lightweight stainless-steel reusable water bottle with a BPA-free plastic lid if you care about your health and the environment. Also, reusable water bottles are more pocket-friendly than their single-use counterparts in te long run even if they are pricier.


Don’t forget the shampoo, your favorite body wash, deodorant, and comb if you’re looking forward to a quick shower after the workout. The deodorant can be used post-shower or during your workout depending on the potency of your body odor. We recommend using an aluminum free deodorant as the ingredient has been linked to a host of nasty health risks, including Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.


For those on the run, a pack of cleansing wipes can get rid you of sweat, dirt, and odor-causing bacteria almost as efficiently as a shower. For hair, a quality dry shampoo can offer it a clean look in a couple of minutes. However, don’t abuse dry shampoos as they can irritate the scalp, cause your hair to fall, or stunt its growth permanently.


A protein bar, dried fruit, a bag of nuts can help restore the nutrients you have lost during your workout session. Steer clear of highly processed post-workout foods and drinks, with a laundry list of harmful ingredients. Better prepare your post-workout snacks at home. Here’s a list to draw inspiration from.


For some of you, this one should have been put at the top of the list. Good music can help you work out better, get you inspired, and help you relax after a stressful day at work or school. Scientists have found that people who exercise while listening to their favorite tracks work out harder without even noticing. The sound of music is highly motivating especially when you’re engaged in repetitive actions such as running on the treadmill or other endurance activities.

Best Gym Bags

1.  Sport Gym Roll Duffel Bag

This classic gym bag is made of 600D polyester fabric for extra durability and water resistance [Check our recent blog post “Are Drawstring Bags Waterproof” for an overview of the main difference between water-resistant fabrics and waterproof fabrics]. At 18"W x 10"H, the Sport/Gym Roll Duffel is spacious enough to fit one change of clothes, sneakers, protein shake, towel, toiletries, and water bottle but compact enough for you to carry it with you wherever you need to.

This gym bag can double as a small travel bag or a beach bag thanks to its various zipper compartments and convenient shoulder strap, which can be removed if you want to turn the bag into a practical carry-on.

2. Polyester Gym Bag with Zippered Pockets

This Polyester Gym Bag is another handy duffel bag that can be taken with you to your sport practice or to your travel destinations. Unlike, most gym duffel bags, this one is unique because it sports a very rare feature in the world of gym bags: a separate compartment for your shoes or dirty gear. This bag is perfect for stowing in separate changes of clothes when you need a separate outfit when hitting up the gym later in the day. Just like the previous bag, this duffel is made of 600D polyester fabric for extra thickness and water resistance to keep your clothes bone dry.

3. Two-Tone Sport Gym Roll Duffel Bags

The Two-Tone Sport Gym Roll Duffel Bag has the classic look of a barrel duffel but it stands out through its unique, highly-contrasting design. This lightweight bag is roomy enough to accommodate all gym essentials with room to spare. The fabric (600D poly with thick vinyl lining) is extremely easy to spot clean and the overall product feels well-made. You have four color variations (black, red, navy, and royal) to choose from and an unbeatable price to make up your mind on buying it today.

4. Large Capacity Drawstring Bag

Here’s the first gym drawstring bag on our list of the best gym bags. With a zippered front pocket and a couple of zippered mesh pockets, this bag is great for keeping your gym essentials tidy and organized. The roomy main compartment (14-1/2"W x 17"H x 6"D) can fit a change of clothes and your gym shoes, while the two zippered side mesh pockets can be used to store a water bottle, car keys, wallet, and other essential items you’d want to stay secured in one place.

The zippered front packet can host a magazine or any papers you’d want to carry around. Unlike most drawstring bags, this bag comes with wide and adjustable shoulder straps for extra bonus points in the comfort department.

5. Colorblock Polyester Cinch Pack/Drawstring Bag

The Colorblock Polyester Cinch Pack is a stylish drawstring bag that is sturdy enough to serve all your gym needs. You can stash your essentials in the lined front pocket and the gym gear in the main compartment. At 17.75"h x 14.5"w, this gym bag is roomier than it seems, and weighs next to nothing when empty. It can conveniently double as a daypack, no-fuss school bag, and beach bag when not going to the gym.

6. 600 Denier Polyester Large Duffel with Zip Pockets

At this modest price point, you’ll be impressed with this gym bag’s quality finishes. The 600 Denier Polyester Large Duffel comes with a main compartment, zippered front pocket, and zippered side pockets. Plus, at 13"h x 23.75"w x 11.5"d, this particular gym bag offers more storage space than most bags that we’ve so far tested. The shoulder strap is removable and padded and the bag can be worn over the shoulder or carried by hand. This gym duffel is hands-down an impressive contender for the title of the best gym bag this year.

7. Tri Tone Polyester Mesh Drawstring Bag W/ Side Pocket

The Tri Tone Polyester Mesh Drawstring Bag may look like a basic gym bag, but the design details, such as the eye-catching tri-tone polyester design and convenient zipper side pocket, set it apart from its counterparts on our list. What’s more the mesh top adds many bonus points to the breathability department, which is a must when having to deal with damp clothing and smelly gym shoes. This gym bag can be easily folded down and stashed into your main bag when traveling or shopping. The Tri Tone Polyester Mesh Drawstring Bag is a very versatile bag that you can carry to both the gym and pool.

8. Improved Medium Contrast Duffel Bag

At 12"h x 21"w x 9.25"d, the Improved Medium Contrast Duffel Bag offers plenty of storage real estate for both the gym or an impromptu weekend trip. Our crowd pleaser here is made of 600 denier polyester for added durability, has contrasting colors, and a nice side gym pocket. You can wear it over the shoulder or by hand toss it into your car’s trunk or in your locker. This big is roomy enough to fit multiple changes of clothes, your gym shoes, and your other essentials, while being durable enough to promise you years of continuous service. And for our ToteBagFactory price, this bag is s steal.

9. Zippered Cotton Canvas Drawstring Bag

For those of us concerned about sustainability and living green, the Zippered Cotton Canvas Drawstring Bag is the perfect gym bag. It is made of 100% sustainable cotton and it comes with a drawstring closure and a convenient zippered front pocket and matching straps. This one is one of our best-selling canvas sport bags due to the natural but thick canvas fabric and low price. It can withstand heavy loads and accommodate your gym footwear, gym outfit, a towel, and other essentials. It can double as an everyday shopping bag, work bag, and even laptop bag, no questions asked.

10. Stylish Sweatshirt Cinch Pack/ Drawstring Backpack


This bag is designed for those of us looking to hitting the gym in style. Made of cotton and polyester fleece, the Stylish Sweatshirt Cinch Pack is both soft and tear and pill-resistant. It may be a bit heavy, but the quality of the finishes and details has landed this bag on our list here. So, if you are looking for something soft but durable that can perfectly match your favorite sweatshirt, then this cute drawstring bag is the one.