When selecting a gym bag, you need to consider several things: style, size, weight, cost and durability. Style is obviously personal preference. Is your gym bag something that will leave your house and go straight to the gym or will it go via work? Depending on your work environment, you may want to opt for something that doesn’t look as sporty.
The size and weight of the gym bag is something to consider, and what you carry in it will also play a part. Think about where the gym bag will be stored. If it’s in a locker, for example, will it be too bulky to fit in? Compartments are good for separating items out like keys, mobile phones and towels – and of course your sweaty post-training clothes. We have a family membership at our local gym, so our own gym bag carries four towels with swimming costumes, four tennis rackets and our sportswear. Let’s just say our locker bulges when we manage to fit everything in.
Like everything else, the cost can be a tricky thing. You ideally want the balance between cost and quality. This is also where durability comes in. Think about the materials when selecting your gym bag. For example, a leather look is nice but can be hard to clean. Canvas is a good material to go for, but it won’t last as long as leather.
Domyos Fitness Bag: £14.99, Decathlon
This gym bag really does have lots of bases covered. It’s well-sized to store your gym kit and easily fit in lockers. If it gets heavy, there’s a padded shoulder strap. It has plenty of additional storage, too. Outside, there are two small pockets at either end of the bag, one zipped and one net – perfect for items you need to access regularly. On one side of the bag is a large zipped pocket. Inside is a small pocket for personal items or a water bottle. Then there’s a large net zipped pocket on one side and two large open pockets on the other side. So… plenty of pockets! Its versatile look, available in eight colour variations, means this one will fit in in the gym, office or during a weekend getaway. It’s 100 per cent polyester material is sturdy without being cumbersome – exactly what you want.
Slazenger Small Holdall: £8.50, Sports Direct
For the price, this gym bag from Slazenger should not be overlooked. Available in six colours, there’s a style for everyone. It has pockets on each end and one side for storing separate items. The main compartment is large enough to carry trainers and sportswear. In addition to the handles, it has a large padded shoulder strap, meaning it will still be comfortable to carry, should the bag get heavy. This Slazenger gym bag will easily carry all of your gear and it’s a great size for lockers. The canvas material will dampen down the smells and will wipe clean, but won’t be as durable as some other materials listed below.
Kangol Antique Holdall: £19.99, Sports Direct
This Kangol holdall looks stylish if you’re going to the gym via work. It’s much bigger than the Slazenger gym bag above. It has one small internal zipped pocket and another quite small external zipped pocket. These are handy for storing keys and mobile phones. The main zipped compartment is large, so you’ll have no trouble storing your items. This would actually make a good weekend bag, too. The material is 100% PVC, it does have an odd smell at first and it may be difficult to clean but will be hard-wearing, if that’s what you’re after.
River Island Tan Brown Panel Holdall: £45, River Island
The tan outer of this bag is faux leather, which looks great and offers and great durability. It has two generously sized side pockets but these are not zipped, which may be an issue for some. As well as the side handles and detachable shoulder strap, it has a couple of comfortable top grab handles too. These were great for lugging the bag in and out of places (lockers, car boots and so on). The inside compartment is large enough to store your sportswear without the bag becoming too bulky for storage. The style of this bag makes for not only a great gym bag, but also something to take into work or use as a weekend bag. Bear in mind that this one shouldn’t be washed.
Superdry Sports Barrel Bag: £39.99, Superdry
This gym bag from Superdry has loads of space, easily catering for all your gym kit. There’s a net pocket on one end of the bag – ideal for carrying a post-workout snack, for example – and inside, there’s a smaller pocket that will do for small valuables, such as keys or a mobile phone. I personally prefer to have a few more pockets than that, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t take a great deal to the gym, this won’t be a problem. There’s a large logo on one side and the bag is covered in a dash camo pattern. The brand recommends wiping it clean with a damp cloth, and its material – nylon with a polyester lining – feels durable.
Lonsdale Barrel Bag: £11.99, Lonsdale
I personally love the retro look of this Lonsdale barrel bag, and it comes in 12 fantastic colours and styles (our personal favourite is the camouflage). It has a small zipped pocket on one end for storing personal items and then a fairly large main compartment for all the rest. The 100 per cent polyester, canvas-like material doesn’t feel as good quality as the Slazenger canvas bag above, but there is an adjustable and removable shoulder strap, which makes it comfortable and easily manoeuvrable. It’s also wipe-clean, so you can keep it looking good as new.
Adidas Originals Duffel Bag Large: £54.95, Adidas
Retro stylings are everywhere these days, and this attractive bag from Adidas’ Originals range is a great example of that. It’s more than big enough for your workout gear, and is very well organised – the large inside area is separated into compartments, which is handy to keep your fresh clothes separate from the sweat-drenched ones. There are four zip pockets alongside another specifically designed for your smartphone. The detachable carry handle is comfortable, and the TPE-enhanced polyester material is reliably durable. Available in black or royal blue.
The North Face Apex Medium Gym Duffel: £55, The North Face
The North Face is best known for its invariably reliable outdoor gear, so you know you can trust it to see you through a trip to the gym and back. It’s a decent size, with enough space for your workout gear and a change of clothes, although there isn’t much by way of organisation inside. That said, there’s a zipped pocket on the outside which is big enough for your house keys, and a soft, fleece-lined pocket for anything you don’t want getting scratched. The material is a nylon-polyester, but thanks to its TPE PVC coating, it’s one of the most durable options on our list.
The Verdict: Gym bags
When selecting the right gym bag for you, consider size, shape, weight, price and materials. With that said, and with the amount of pockets on offer, my Best Buy is the Domyos fitness bag. There are a variety of styles available and I think it’s the perfect size for the average gym goer. The River Island holdall is a stylish but still relatively inexpensive gym bag, which doubles up brilliantly as a weekend bag. The Slazenger small holdall also deserves a mention because of the price and amount of features on offer.
Paul Stainthorpe is a health and fitness writer and editor of the Father Fitness blog
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