There are many reasons for owning a good gym bag, including psychological and practical benefits.
Yes, you heard me.
A gym bag isn’t just about practicality. I mean, yes, you do want to be able to fit your running shoes, maybe a change of clean clothes, and definitely some personal toiletries for the shower.
But, when motivation is running low, a cute gym bag that cries out to be used it going to help to get you out of the door. And you’ll feel good about being seen doing it too!
Having a stylish gym bag on your shoulder means you have the option of joining pals for some sneaky post-gym drinks without feeling too out of place.
And don’t worry newbies, you too can justify a nice gym bag too!
But, back to the practicalities… let’s be adults for a moment.
Gym bags should serve their purpose. All the style in the world won’t stop you from looking silly if you can’t fit everything in your bag or have to up-end the whole thing to find what you need.
However, requirements will vary from person to person depending on when you go to the gym and how much gear you need space for.
It pays to know what you want to use your gym bag for so you don’t end up with something too annoyingly large or small for your stuff.
For example, do you want something with space for work clothes or boxing gloves?
Generally speaking, you’ll want a bag that is big enough for a change of clothes, a pair of shoes, a towel and some personal items.
If you’re more into CrossFit and need something with room for a little more gear, check out our article for CrossFit gym bags.
Pockets and Compartments
Having different pockets and compartments is essential for keeping your things organized and in their place so you don’t have to rummage or risk having your phone tucked up against your damp towel.
It’s ideal if your bag has a separate shoe compartment as this will mean you can use the main compartment clothes and other items.
Water bottle pockets are always useful too, and have the extra advantage of keeping potential leaks away from the rest of your gear.
This is especially important if you’re a morning gym junky and will be leaving your used gym kit to ferment in its bag for the rest of the day while you’re at work.
Gym gear gets damp, mostly from sweat, but if you shower you’ll also have a wet towel to deal with.
Keeping everything in a bag that doesn’t breath will be a recipe for some pretty powerful odors.
This is a personal choice, but does have some practicality implications.
If you’re going to be cycling, running or walking any distance to the gym, a backpack will be your best bet.
A holdall or duffel style bag will be the best option if you have a lot of gear, and a smaller tote can be a nice compromise if you don’t have much gear.
Though there are many bags on the market that are specifically designed for the gym, for some people, a more versatile bag that can also be used as carry-on luggage or for weekends away is a great option.
The list below will provide a number of style and size options to fit all preferences.
Review: This large gym bag is ideal for people who need to carry a lot of stuff to the gym. It has space for all the gear you might need while also having multiple ventilated compartments for organization.
Ventilated shoe compartment.
Waterproof pocket keeps wet items separate.
Comfortable shoulder strap.
Some durability issues with the seams after a time, but at such a low price this is to be expected.
This is a great gym bag if you’re looking for a something big enough for lots of gear and at an affordable price. This is the best women’s gym bag with shoe compartment.
Review: This tote bag is deceptive, being lightweight mesh and yet also durable and water repellent. It makes the ideal gym bag, being big enough for your things but still compact and easy to carry, and smart enough for the office.
Storm technology outer is water repellent.
Separate carry handles and shoulder strap.
Can double as a work bag, carry-on luggage or overnight bag.
No external pockets.
Doesn’t hold its shape unless full, but this might be a pro if you want to be able to squeeze it in a locker.
This is a versatile bag that will lend itself to all areas of your life while being the ideal size for your gym things. This is the best women’s gym tote bag.
Review: It’s hard not to include this backpack as an option for a gym bag. It would likely be the bag you want to use for everything as well as the gym, but its breathable, water resistant material and good sized main compartment makes it a great choice for gym gear.
Durable water resistant material is breathable and dirt-resistant.
Ergonomic shoulder straps are comfortable.
16L capacity is large enough for gym gear.
Has a front zippered pocket and two side pockets for some smaller personal items.
No separate compartment for shoes.
This is the sort of backpack you’ll only have to buy once. It is top quality with excellent durability and a versatile design.
Review: This good quality and well-designed gym bag is surprisingly affordable and very popular. It has some great, functional pockets including a wet pouch for towels or items like body wash that might leak.
Shoe compartment with ventilation holes.
Made of durable, breathable and water resistant Oxford fabric.
Waterproof wet pouch.
No drink bottle pocket.
This could be the best women’s gym duffel bag for its balance of value, quality and gym specific features.
Review: This well designed gym bag has all the features you look for in a good gym bag while being very affordable. It is the ideal size gym kit with a separate shoe compartment and a shape that is comfortable against your body.
Shoe compartment with mesh window for ventilation.
Padded handles and adjustable, removable shoulder strap.
Zippered pockets for small items.
Some durability issues with the zip and seams.
If you’re on a budget but want a gym bag with all the features of a more expensive bag, this gym bag may fit the bill.
This is one of the best gym bags for women looking for an affordable solution.
Review: This classic Adidas backpack comes with a lifetime warranty so you can be sure that it will always be there when you need it. It is not a gym-specific bag but has enough space and extra pockets for organization.
Sleek, compact shape.
Padded shoulder straps and back panel.
Water resistant outer.
No separate shoe compartment or drink bottle holder.
This is the best women’s gym bag for die-hard classic backpack lovers, being practical, top quality and reliable.