LAST UPDATED: January 12, 2021

The best gym bags to enhance your workout

Best Overall IHIM cargo duffel bag IHIM Jumbo Cargo Duffel Bag

Crafted using high-grade materials, this sports-focused duffel incorporates substantial storage and tough stitching to create a quality bag.

Pros
  • Made out of water-resistant fabric.
  • Well-ventilated to avoid mildew and odors
  • Comfortable shoulder strap
  • Includes hardware to add bag strength
Cons
  • Lacks side pockets for convenient storage
  • Somewhat small handles
  • Relatively weak base
Best Value WolfWarriorX tactical gym bag WolfWarriorX Tactical Gym Bag

Featuring multiple pockets and strong zippers, this bag holds just under 70 liters. Despite being heavy-duty it breathes well.

Pros
  • Zippers reverse for ease of use
  • Includes reinforcement in the handle
  • Several pockets for organized storage
  • Strong base for durability
Cons
  • Fabric can puncture if sharp objects are stored inside
  • Shoulder strap can be tricky to adjust
Honorable Mention Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0 Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0

Manufactured based on consumer suggestions, this gym bag includes ten compartments for optimal organization. All parts are water-resistant and highly durable.

Pros
  • Includes padded handles for comfortable towing 
  • Collapses to compact size for ideal storage
  • Includes pockets specifically for footwear
Cons
  • Comes at a moderately higher price point
  • Includes a lot of zippers which compromises overall water-resistance

You know the drill, literally: the demands of both the field and the gym require supplies that can keep up. Whether you train in the gym or by running laps, you need a gym bag that can store all your supplies. Water. Change of clothes. Shoes. Your wallet and pocket knife. A snack. The needs just keep adding up. And don’t just go with any old backpack — you need something that will let your post-workout gear breathe, but is also tough enough to support tactical gear without busting at the seams. Real fitness requires having the right tools on hand, and nothing beats a solid gym bag when it comes to keeping them all together.

It can be tricky to spot a gym bag that’s worth the investment. To lend a hand, we’ve tracked down high-quality, military-inspired gym bags so you can confidently store your workout gear in style.

If centralized storage is your primary concern, the iHIM Cargo Army-Inspired Duffel Bag is worth a look. The bag is made specifically for use when training, designed to accommodate workout gear for the gym as well as a spare change of clothes. While the material is altogether water-resistant, it still breathes well to stop odors from building up in the bag, something that also helps to prevent issues with mildew. At 30 inches across, it is capable of holding all types of gear, whether gym-focused or tactical. The strong strap for your shoulder is capable of supporting a fair amount of weight, making it easier to drag this bad boy wherever you need to. Sturdy and durable, this bag works well whether you prefer an indoor gym or doing your training outdoors.

So if you tend to pack heavy when you train, you probably want a gym bag that can support all of your needs. That’s where the WolfWarriorX Tactical Gym Bag comes in. This bag lets you store over 68 liters of contents inside the water-resistant shell and features four compartments. At the sides, reversible zippers let you quickly grab a snack or water bottle. Since the interior is padded, you can store all types of items without worrying about damage to the material, which makes it ideal for handling delicate electronics should the need arise. With a well-ventilated design, you don’t have to worry about odor buildup either. The main compartment is separated into two parts, letting you keep dirty and clean gear separate. Durable and effective, this gym bag is a solid choice for serious athletes.

One truth about military tech is that it’s constantly evolving. The Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0 keeps with the spirit of this with a high-functioning design and continuously-updated list of features. Crafted based on extensive feedback from expert sources, this bag is reinforced at all points vulnerable to damage so you don’t have to worry about it straining the sides of the bag. It also features wet pockets specifically designed to support worn gym gear and water bottles. With an additional section meant to isolate footwear, all ten components work together to optimize utility. The handles encourage easy storage along with a strap to simplify handling, making this gym bag a solid investment.

Those who prefer to stick to their tried-and-true military gear can get a lot out of the ArmyCamoUSA Duffle Bag. Like all the best tactical gear, it has a relatively innocuous appearance, but what it lacks in flair it makes up for in function. With high-grade, fine-tooth zippers at both sides and a pocket at the front, this bag offers durable compartments for organized storage. The main opening is small enough to prevent items from spilling out. Strong stitching at the seams prevents damage from tears while its sturdy polyester fabric isn’t prone to abrasion issues. Well-ventilated, supportive, and designed to accommodate 50 liters of storage, this bag is a truly heavy-duty option.

Organization not only adds convenience, but it can also actually save you time and mental stress. The Nexpak Tactical Gym Bag helps with this thanks to its multiple pockets designed to simplify storage. Made out of dense polyester material, the bag itself is highly resistant to damage and comes lined with PVC material to ensure that it is completely waterproof. The bag features a pair of strap pockets alongside the two zippered parts at the front. Extra pockets are at the side of the bag which expands when needed. The main compartment of the bag holds a fair amount of gear despite being less than two feet long. Compact and easy to handle thanks to the adjustable shoulder strap and padded handles, you can effortlessly run with this bag in tow.

Looking to adapt the traditional military duffel’s functionality with a modern aesthetic and utility? Check out the CrossLandy Canvas Gym Bag for its high-performance value. Made out of sturdy canvas for the exterior, this bag incorporates a polyester lining to offer total protection from friction and moisture. It stands out in terms of sturdiness with a strong base that supports everything from shoes to heavier-duty tactical gear. The leather accents add durability and a level of waterproof protection to the front compartment. They also protect the zippers and reinforce the handles. Able to store 30 liters, this gym bag is ideal for indoor use. It breathes well, keeps your supplies secure, and remains compact enough to bring wherever you go.

Related: 8 pieces of fitness equipment you need in your gym bag

Why you should trust us

Types of gym bag

Tactical gym bags 

Perhaps the most versatile type of gym bag, you can probably identify these bags by sight given their military inspiration. Often made out of canvas, the bag is meant to support heavier contents. While other types lend to larger main compartments, these bags usually incorporate separated pockets or the makings of a MOLLE system. In most cases, tactical bags will feature a smaller design to keep the user agile. Look for models with a quality strap and good handles so you can stay on the move and keep your gear close. 

Sports duffel bags 

Typically, this type of gym bag is  made out of polyester material due to its highly water-resistant naturel. Durable against damage from moisture, UV radiation and fading, as well as the salt in sweat, they withstand the most common issues athletes face when looking for a bag that can take as much as a beating as their bodies. Usually, these bags feature two side pockets and a main compartment, although many models include a zippered pocket at the front of the bag to add extra storage. 

Multipurpose gym bags 

The classic gym bag, this type focuses on ventilation and waterproof capabilities. Usually with a substantially-sized main compartment, these bags usually feature two side pockets and a front opening. With straps to attach other gear like water bottles and mats, they optimize storage for fitness-specific supplies. While these bags are ideal for storing workout gear like swimsuits and shoes, the material doesn’t lend itself to high tensile strength; so long as you don’t overload these bags, they can be a fine addition to your arsenal.

Key features

Storage space

This component of gym bags refers to the amount that it can actually hold onto. It is a measure of size as opposed to weight and is usually marked in litres. Often, gym bags will feature separate pockets at the side with padding to support technology. Many bags have specific waterproof storage space to keep your gear clean. Keep in mind that storage space balances against size. It’s easier to run with a smaller bag, though it lets you bring fewer supplies along. 

Closing mechanism

Just about every gym bag closes with a zipper, but not all zippers are made alike. Most use fine-tooth technology that lets you use the zipper in both directions. Modern zippers are usually fairly resistant to damage, though if one part breaks, the whole zipper must be replaced. Be sure that the zipper is reinforced to prevent tearing at the bag’s seams. Side pockets may also use velcro or a drawstring to close, but the main compartment should always use a zipper. 

Material 

The textile used is a critical feature to any gym bag. The most common options are high-density polyester and canvas. The former offers more advantages in terms of ventilation and waterproof abilities. The latter is preferred for its ability to resist damage from friction and abrasion. Often, canvas models will feature a PVC lining in at least part of the bag to protect gear from moisture. 

Handles 

In order to be able to carry the bag, you’ll want to choose something with padded handles which ideally velcro together to add ease during transport. The shoulder strap is another way to carry the bag. This part is usually adjustable and lets you hold the bag in casual settings. If hurried, however, the handles are essential to moving the bag around. Make sure they are well-stitched and able to support the weight in the bag for a prolonged period. 

Benefits of gym bags

  • Keep your supplies close. Instead of risking running low on water, missing a snack, or having to workout with wet socks, a gym bag lets you keep all your gear on hand. You can store extra items; and, thanks to the durability, can use it for both tactical and gym gear. 
  • Helps you stay prepared. Because high-quality gym bags (like the ones on this list) are so sturdy, you can count on them not to give out under the weight of your gear. As a result, you can store everything from heavy fluids to weaponry without pause. 
  • Prevents odors and mold. Workouts result in perspiration which, when sealed without ventilation, can lead to mildew, foul smells, and overall unpleasantry. Both the material and the design of gym bags lend to ventilation. Some even have separate pockets to add a level of odor protection. 
  • Protect your gear: Most gym bags are at least water-resistant, if not entirely waterproof. This way, if you get caught in the rain, neither your cell phone or running shoes will get damaged by moisture. It also helps prevent issues if your water bottle leaks inside the bag. 
  • Last for a long time. So long as your gym bag is properly structured, you should be able to get years of use out of it. Considering the high utility value and reasonable investment, it is a really handy tool to have — especially if you are a dedicated exerciser or are training towards a goal. 
  • Versatile storage. While trips to the gym provide the namesake of these items, it is far from the only use. Gym bags (especially tactical options) can perform diverse functions. You can use them everywhere from camping to the field for practice to simply keeping the bag in the trunk of your car. The possibilities are virtually endless. 

Gym bag pricing

  • Between $20 and $30: You can find gym bags of all types in this price range, including large models that let you store all your fitness gear and last over the long term. 
  • Over $30: While still tactical, models in this range lend more focus to aesthetics. If the function is your priority, then you can find a good model while spending less. 

How we chose our top picks

Picking out a gym bag is all about finding something that breathes well, is easy to carry around, and can actually support your gear. To figure out which options stood up to the test, we first looked at the design of the bag itself. The stitching and material used in construction tell you a lot. We considered all the different types of gym bags and aimed to represent each category. Factoring in personal experience and user feedback, we finalized the list. The result is a series of reliable, durable gym bags that won’t break the bank.

Related: 7 carry-on backpacks ready for any mission

Task & Purpose and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.