Is that $3 canvas tote from Whole Foods not quite cutting it as a gym bag anymore? When it comes to the bag you use to carry your entire life each day, it’s not only important that it works well, but you should probably also like it. By Greatist standards, if a bag can carry our laptop, sweaty clothes, and half a dozen skin care products, all while making us look relatively cool… well, that’s a winner.
On top of being Greatist’s associate fitness editor, I’m also a cycling instructor and yoga teacher, so I’ve gone through my fair share of gym bags. A little research goes a long way when it comes to making a purchase that goes the distance, and if you’re ready to graduate to a bag that’s going to work as hard as you do, I’m here to help.
Before you head off to your nearest sporting goods store, peep some of my favorite brands (that you may or may not know yet) that make really freaking great gym bags.
You know when you hear about something new and suddenly you see it everywhere? The Landon carryall bag from Dagne Dover was one of those things for me. It makes sense now—this is easily the best bag I’ve ever owned.
The scuba material is soft but holds its form (even when someone jams in next to me on the train during my commute). It’s spacious enough to be a weekender, but it’s small enough to carry my laptop and workout clothes to work.
There’s a small tethered zip bag inside for keys and lose-able things, a good-size dirty clothes bag, and pockets galore. I get so many compliments on my heather gray version it’s almost annoying—so if you hate compliments, definitely don’t get this bag.
On numerous occasions, I’ve heard my boyfriend tell his friends about this backpack like he’s leading tourists through midtown Manhattan: “If you look to your left, you’ll see a shoe pocket that stores your sneakers underneath. And look up! There’s a pocket at the tippy-top for easy yet safe key access!”
Yes, he’s adorable, but it’s also pretty legit—Hudson Sutler makes the kind of bags you’d want your friends to know about, and they do it right here in the US of A. The Hill Country daypack is the perfect bag for gym-to-work, as there’s a padded laptop sleeve and flat storage for any documents you don’t want to get squished (or sweat on).
If backpacks aren’t your thing, check out the Heritage commuter duffel—it has all the same great features plus a snazzy canvas and leather vibe.
I don’t know if Vooray rhymes with ‘hooray’ on purpose (if not, someone at Vooray get on that?), but this brand is worth celebrating. Not just because it’s thoughtfully designed and cute—although that’s true!—but because Vooray makes premium bags without charging an arm and a leg. I mean it, the price is right.
The Roadie duffel is super lightweight and perfect for sliding under an airplane seat. The larger bags have magnetic handles so they don’t slip and slide all over your shoulder, and there are so many pockets, I dare you to try to fill them all. Added perk: The exterior pocket is lined with plush, fur-like fabric for extra care of your precious phone. And did I mention that they’re super affordable?
Sometimes it feels like lugging a yoga mat around with you erases all the lovely benefits of practicing in the first place. Luckily, bags like the Infinity bag from Go Dash Dot have a designated space for said yoga mat, lessening your chances of whacking someone in the face on the bus (unless, of course, you want to whack them).
My favorite thing about Go Dash Dot’s bags, aside from being moisture-wicking with pockets a-plenty, is that they come with removable, adjustable straps. There’s a laptop compartment, a snap-in-snap-out pouch for extra storage, and a machine-washable laundry bag, making this a great bag to travel with too.
Sure, the Franklin duffel from State might look like any other well-made duffel bag—but there’s so much more to this Brooklyn-based brand than meets the eye. State’s mission is ‘to make beautiful, well-made, inclusively cool products while using the power of business to give back and shift narratives around social injustices.’
Translation: For every purchase, the company hand-delivers a backpack filled with school supplies to a kid in need. It also continuously partners with organizations that are making a positive impact on society.
If that isn’t enough to make you fall in love with the company that calls itself the ‘give back pack,’ maybe its range of cute patterns and functional styles will do the trick.
I got the skinny on the San Francisco brand Dsptch from Cassandra Sethi at Next Level Wardrobe and discovered The Gym/Work pack. This bag means business; it’s on the larger side, includes a padded laptop compartment, and can hold up to a men’s size 13 shoe (in a ventilated compartment, of course, because ew).
Speaking of ‘ew,’ Dsptch was thoughtful enough to use moisture-resistant nylon for the bag’s interior lining and add ventilated panels to keep the air flowing—so even if you stuff it with workout clothes on the reg, your bag will stay fresh. Best of all, it comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you can finally have that long-term relationship you’ve always wanted.
Every editorial product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through one of our links, we may earn a commission. But don’t worry, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, and we wouldn’t recommend a product if we didn’t love it as much as we love puppies.
Jamey Powell is Greatist’s associate fitness editor, as well as a cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.