Best Gym Backpacks

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When you first start going to the gym, one of the most surprising things can be just how much kit you need to take with you. If you go before work, you will also need to (hopefully) shower and get ready before you leave which means you will have even more stuff to cram into your bag.

Traditional gym duffle bags can be great for carrying a few items but carrying a big bag on a single strap is awkward at the best of times and more so after an intense workout.

To make sure you have the best bag to hold all your stuff whilst still being comfortable, a backpack is one of the best ways to go. 

Best Gym Backpacks

Backpacks are affordable bags that will keep all of your items in one place and stop you frantically trying to grab all your different bags in the morning. Backpacks can also be used for work or for casual settings so you can safely invest in one bag that does the job, looks smart, and can be used anywhere. 

To help you find the perfect bag, we’ve compiled a list of the best gym backpacks so that you can stop wondering how you will manage to carry your hairdryer, towel, sneakers, and work laptop about with you all day and just get on with your workout. 

Top 5 Best Gym Backpacks

OUR TOP PICK

G4Free 40L 3-Way Duffle Backpack Gym Bag for Men Women Sports Duffel Bag with Shoe Compartment Travel Backpack Luggage

Details at a glance:

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Material: Nylon
  • Size: 23” x 10” x 12”
  • Water-resistant
  • Tear-resistant
  • Reinforced handle
  • Closed by zipper and double strap buckle
  • Multiple compartments
  • Can be carried as either backpack or duffle bag
  • Can be easily folded away into a smaller travel bag

If you’re considering buying a new backpack for the gym but are struggling to decide if you should part with your beat up, but classic, old duffle bag then this is a great option.

The G4FREE 3-Way Duffle Backpack has multiple straps and compartments so can be easily carried as a backpack or as a duffle bag.

Duffle bags usually hold a lot more than a backpack, but then are difficult to carry. This bag has the best of both worlds and allows you to choose what you need most. This is one of the main reasons we have chosen this bag as our top pick of the best gym backpacks.

Available in a range of 7 colors, some of which are very bright, this backpack is a great option as you don’t have to compromise on comfort or space and also won’t break the bank. This backpack is affordable but not so cheap that it’s poorly made. 

Your gym bag carries a lot but this duffle-backpack combo is made from tear-resistant nylon and has reinforced solid stitching around areas that will take the most strain.

With this 2-in-1 bag, you get the best of both worlds and can rely on it to carry all your kit without falling apart.

Pros

  • Water-resistant
  • Extra security 
  • Can be carried as either a backpack or a traditional duffle bag
  • Can be easily folded away into a smaller travel bag
  • Separate shoe compartment
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Color options are very bright and intense

EDITORS CHOICE

King Kong Backpack II - Military Spec Nylon Gym Backpack with Expandable Pockets and Heavy Duty Buckles for Active Lifestyle - 20” x 13” x 7” - Charcoal

Details at a glance:

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Size: 20” x 13” x 7”
  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight when empty: 2.43 pounds
  • Separate compartment for sneakers
  • Water-resistant
  • Closed with a zipper

The style of the King Kong Backpack II is probably closer to a suitcase than a traditional backpack. But, if you’re carrying a lot of items, such as your kit, work clothes, and shower products to and from the gym most days this just might be what you need.

Currently at a much higher price than your average backpack, this bag is definitely an investment. Made from water-resistant, abrasion-resistant military spec Nylon, and described by King Kong as “virtually impossible to rip” this is a bag that will be able to take a lot of strain and keep your items safe.

If you find yourself regularly buying new gym bags to replace ones that have fallen apart or ripped then you should consider investing in this backpack. 

The shape of this backpack will also allow you to use it for travel and for work as it features a 15” padded laptop sleeve and easy to access compartments.

The front pock is great for keeping your sneakers separate for the gym but is also the right size for a lunch box or anything else you would want to keep separate from the main contents.

Pros

  • Separate sneaker compartment
  • Suitcase style
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Expensive

BEST VALUE

WANDF Drawstring Backpack with Shoe Pocket, String Bag Sackpack Cinch Water Resistant Nylon for Gym Shopping Sport Yoga (Black with shoe pocket)

Details at a glance:

  • Available in 10 colors
  • Material: Nylon and polyester
  • Weight when empty: 15 ounces
  • Size: 14.1” x 6.6” x 17.7” 
  • Water-resistant
  • Hidden back pocket

The WANDF Drawstring Backpack might look more like something you would use for your high school gym kit, but it’s a great budget option. If all you need in a gym bag is something you can throw your water bottle, phone, keys, and wallet into, then this simple bag is perfect. Available in a range of 10 colors and made from water-resistant Nylon this bag will do just the job you need it to.

But don’t think because this bag is simple and affordable that it’s bad quality. Featuring a zipped front pocket and a separate compartment for shoes, this bag will give you the basic requirements you need without cutting corners on quality.

This bag does have a few drawbacks. The drawstring close is not the best for security as it is easy to open. The straps are thick and durable but won’t provide you with much support if you end up carrying a lot of items or anything heavy in this bag.

The drawstring style means that most items in the bag will settle in the center and cause strain which the placement of the straps won’t support. But this is only an issue if you take a lot of things with you to the gym. If you just need something to throw a few items in so you’re not carrying them, then this is perfect.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Separate compartment for sneakers

Cons

  • Small
  • Drawstring doesn’t provide much support or padding for shoulders

RUNNER UP

Under Armour Hustle 3.0 Hustle, Black (001)/Silver, One Size

Details at a glance:

  • Available in 17 colors

  • Material: 100% polyester

  • Weight when empty: 1.31 pounds

  • Size: 13.58” x 9.29” x 18.90”

  • Machine washable

  • Water-resistant UA storm technology

  • Closed with a zipper

  • Soft-lined inner laptop sleeve

  • Separate compartment for shoes

Under Armour are known for their good quality sports gear, but also for their high prices. Although not the most expensive option on this list, the Under Armour Hustle Backpack is not cheap either. If you need a well-made durable backpack but don’t want to pay too much then this is a good compromise.

Made from 100% polyester, this bag also has Under Armour Storm Technology which promises to keep your items safe in all weather conditions. It also features an abrasion-resistant bottom panel so that the bag won’t get worn out as you move it around all day.

One feature of this bag that is surprisingly unique is that it is machine washable. Cleaning out a bag can be awkward and tricky and getting the smell of your gym kit out is even harder. Along with a separate compartment for your sneakers, the ability to simply throw this in the laundry will save you time and keep any unpleasant smells at bay.

Pros

  • Well-known and reliable brand

  • Available in a wide range of colors

  • Separate compartment for shoes

  • Machine washable

Cons

  • Smaller than the average backpack

RUNNER UP

adidas Unisex Yola Backpack, Light Jersey/Grey/Rose Gold, ONE SIZE

Details at a glance:

  • Available in 5 colors
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Weight when empty: 1.06 pounds
  • Closed by zipper
  • Multiple compartments
  • Dedicated laptop pocket
  • Water bottle pocket

Another well-known brand name you can trust, this adidas YOLA Backpack is a great choice if you want something that will keep your items safe while still looking fashionable. This backpack has the specifications needed for a good gym bag but can also be used on an everyday basis for other activities and for work.

One downside of this backpack is that it can only be washed by hand and then line dried. If you change at the gym then a bag that is easily washable is a must. Getting the smell of a used gym kit can be difficult and having to wash a backpack by hand just adds to the difficulty.

But, if you just need to take a few items with you, or are wearing your kit to and from the gym then this backpack is great and will keep your items safe and dry with its 100% polyester fabric.

A useful feature of this bag is its opening. The roll-top backpack might be fashionable but it is also practical. The bag is closed with a zipper and is then rolled or folded down and buckled which makes it makes it difficult for anyone to get in to. 

The roll-top feature also means than you can wear it in different styles and the straps are big enough to hold a rolled-up yoga mat. This bag is great for keeping your items safe and your hands free for a quick trip to the gym.

Pros

  • Well-known and reliable brand
  • Affordable
  • Fits a yoga mat
  • Cons
  • Handwash only

Best Gym Backpacks Buying Guide

Buying a gym back can be a surprisingly difficult and frustrating experience. Finding something that will fit everything you need and still be portable is not always easy.

Even if you’re an avid gym-goer, you’re probably tired of using your usual gym duffle bag that constantly knocks against your leg and puts a strain on your shoulder and are looking for an alternative. Whatever you’re looking for, here is our guide to finding a gym backpack that suits your needs. 

Duffle Bag vs Backpack

The style of bag people traditionally use for the gym is a duffle bag. These can be great as they can hold a lot but they are also awkward to carry. A backpack will also be better for you physically as the weight will be more evenly distributed across your shoulders which will prevent discomfort and strain, which are the last things you want after a workout.

Material

Backpack materials can vary greatly but for the gym, it’s best to try and find something waterproof. If you shower at the gym before work, then you’ll need to protect your work clothes and shoes from any bad weather. You will also have items in your backpack that might leak, such as your water bottle or shower products, and don’t want those seeping out of your bag either.

A waterproof bag will also be easy to wipe down. You might not be used to adding your backpack to your laundry, but if you’re regularly carrying a dirty gym kit and shoes around, then it’s definitely going to need a clean every once in a while.

Extra Pockets

If you have chosen to buy a backpack for the gym so that you can use it for other places too, then extra pockets and compartments are a must. Gym backpacks will usually feature a separate compartment for shoes which is super useful but versatile. These compartments can also be used for other things, such as a lunchbox or anything else you need to keep separate.

If you also want to use your backpack for work, or if you go to the gym before work, try and find something with a padded laptop pocket. Some backpacks will have a laptop pocket that is just an added piece of polyester at the back of the bag and, although this will keep it upright, it won’t protect your laptop properly. These extra compartments mean you can safely store and carry all of your stuff in one bag.

Straps and Shoulder Padding

One of the reasons a backpack is a great gym bag is due to the straps. Backpack straps spread the weight which makes them easier to carry than bags that rest only on one shoulder. Because of this, try and find a backpack with padded and adjustable straps. It’s best to wear your backpack with the bottom settled against your lower back. If you let it hang too low, it can strain your shoulders.

Durability

If you’re regularly going to the gym, your backpack will probably find itself shoved into a locker, thrown into the car, and discarded as soon as you walk through the front door, so durability is a must. Make sure you invest in a good quality backpack, potentially with a reinforced bottom and strong zippers or buckles. As well as water-resistant, tear-resistant is another quality to look out for. 

For the gym, you need something that can take the weight of your stuff and keep it safe. A good quality backpack that is waterproof and tear-resistant will not only save you money on regularly buying replacement backpacks, but will also protect your valuables so that they won’t need replacing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best kind of bag for the gym?

Traditionally, a gym bag is usually a duffle bag but these can be awkward and difficult to carry. A backpack is a great idea as it balances the weight across your back so you’re not putting a strain on just the one shoulder.

A backpack is also great if you’re going to the gym before work and need to take a laptop or work documents with you. Backpacks are a much better shape to protect your laptop and many also come with a separate, padded laptop compartment.

I shower at the gym before work, what kind of bag should I use?

Try and find something structured that also has a shoe compartment. Even if you can fit your shoes in the main compartment, having sneakers mixing with your other clothes or with your work things isn’t a great idea.

You can take a separate bag for your shower things if you want, but having a big enough waterproof backpack should do the job. If you’re worried about things getting wet in your bag, then you can always buy a waterproof laptop case or document case to ease your mind. 

Will a backpack fit everything I need?

The answer to this depends on what you need. A duffle bag can fit a lot of things but they don’t have as much variety as a backpack. The structure of a backpack means you can easily fit your laptop, work clothes, shower products, and whatever else you need, or will work just as well with only a water bottle and your wallet.

Duffle bags are one-size-fits-all bags that become misshapen and weighed down in the middle. A backpack will provide more structure so you don’t have to worry about things falling over or getting knocked about. 

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