Remember packing your gym bag the night before work, or your weekender bag the day before a big race? Going down that mental checklist and making sure you didn’t forget your sports bra, your socks, your shorts, your running shoes or your water bottle was such a part of our regular routine that we could basically do it with our eyes closed. But it’s been a minute. And as studios and races start opening back up again, we want to make sure we show up fully prepared.
Having a bag that’s conveniently designed to carry all of your essentials makes it that much easier to plan for your workout and that much easier to go the extra mile when you get to the gym, track, yoga studio, or wherever else your starting line might be.
Smarter Ways to Stash Your Stuff
Don’t get us wrong—we’re definitely not against throwing your stuff into whatever basic bag you’ve got, but so many brilliant new designs are simply better suited for carting workout gear to and from the gym, with pockets that act like dry bags for sweaty clothes, separate compartments for dirty sneakers, straps that hold yoga mats perfectly in place, and more. Manufacturers are taking into consideration how bags are being used and how they can improve gym-goers’ overall experience.
Bags are lighter, cooler, more efficient and more comfortable to cart around, regardless of whether you’re walking, running, biking, driving, or flying to your next fitness destination.
How We Chose
There is no shortage of good bags out there. We looked for ones that we thought runners, in particular, would like, keeping in mind that there is no carry-on that is one size fits all. While some people won’t sport anything other than a backpack (we see you, ultrarunners), others love taking a tote bag to work or traveling everywhere with a duffel bag in tow.
Each of these 10 styles is designed to meet your needs and carry your workout gear comfortably. And we promise they won’t stink up your routine. We hope they help make the transition from home gym to in-person training (and racing!) that much smoother.
Lolë Lily Bag
This big, bright, catch-all tote is as functional as it is fun. It’s basically got the perfect pocket for everything, including your water bottle and yoga mat. It’s also got a padded laptop sleeve, a durable bottom, and zippered compartments for storing your keys, ID, cash, or anything else you really don’t want to lose. Oh, and if you ever get tired of toting it around, you can just turn this bag into a backpack.
Ultimate Direction FastpackHer 20
If you’re someone who packs light (like as light as possible), then you should be familiar with Ultimate Direction. Their packs are strategically designed to be as streamlined as possible while still providing everything you might need on a long run… or however many miles it takes to get from your house to the gym. The new FastpackHer 20 is no exception, with a large, easy-to-access, zip-down main compartment, external stretch mesh pockets, and two bottle-sized side pockets—all crafted from a durable, breathable fabric, with a uniquely comfortable, adjustable, women’s-specific fit. Its well-ventilated back panel also wicks moisture away while you run. The FastpackHer is available in 20-liter and 30-liter sizes, and if you’re looking for a larger pack, there’s a 40-liter option in the regular Fastpack line, too.
Reebok Tech Style Imagiro Bag
With adjustable shoulder straps and various handle options, this little bag is a great, no-fuss way to get all your stuff to the gym. You can hold it with one hand, put it on like a backpack, or wear it as a cross-body bag. It also has an inner mesh pocket to put all your easy-to-lose stuff, like your ear buds and ID.
Tracksmith Club Duffel
A classic travel companion, the Club Duffel may look minimalistic, but it’s built to go the distance. Its main zippered compartment is constructed from a strong, rip-resistant canvas. Beautiful leather lines its bottom and handles, offering extra support where you need it most. Inside is one big open area just waiting to be filled with whatever gear you wish, plus a small zippered pocket for anything that needs extra safekeeping.
Nathan RunLite Pack
The petite (18 x 12-inch) RunLite Pack is perfect for stashing in your suitcase so you have a run-friendly bag with you wherever you go. It offers 10 liters worth of storage, has two bottle pockets, and can fit up to a 2-liter hydration bladder inside, if needed. It’s made with a durable nylon/polyester fabric, features a moisture-wicking back panel and has adjustable straps for an always-comfortable, bounce-free fit.
Best Phone Armbands for Runners
The magical thing about the Icon Luxe is that it makes you look like a pro, no matter what’s packed inside. This large, quilted woven tote multitasks as a work bag, a gym bag, and a weekender bag all in one. It has a separate, zippered compartment for your shoes (or sweaty clothes), pockets for just about everything, including a laptop, and built-in straps on the bottom to hold your yoga mat. It’s easy to clean, durable, and big enough to hold whatever you might need post-workout.
Osprey Metron Pack
If you ride your bike to the office, studio or track, the Metron serves as an awesome sidekick. The commuter pack has a separate compartment for your dirty clothes and sneakers, a padded laptop sleeve, and conveniently placed pockets for stashing everything else safely. It also has a built-in raincover that helps keep your things dry on drizzly days, a secure spot to attach your helmet, and reflective elements that make you more visible out on the road. With adjustable, mesh-covered foam straps, it feels stable and breathable against your back.
Athleta Kinetic Gym Duffle
This duffel is pretty much everything you’d ever want in a gym bag, or any kind of pack, really. It’s really cute, roomy enough to hold all your stuff, and has separate, lined, zippered pockets for your dirty clothes, water bottle, shoes, keys, and more. It’s made with a recycled nylon fabric that’s easy to wipe clean and has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish. This beautiful bag can also be carried in a variety of ways, so you can tote it around however—and wherever—you like.
Mammut Seon Transporter 26
A climbing-inspired pack that’s ideal for the active commuter (yeah, you!), the Seon Transporter 26 is fully prepared to safely store your laptop and other work materials, but also leaves plenty of room for anything you might need to get in a good workout after hours. It’s made with a tough, 100-percent polyester fabric, with a DWR finish, and is produced in factories that are guaranteed to have fair and safe working conditions.
Helly Hansen Scout Duffel S
It’s easy to feel prepared for any adventure, near or far, with this strong duffel in tow. Designed with a super durable, PVC-free polyester fabric, it offers 30 liters of wide-open space inside its main zippered compartment, has a lined side pocket for dirty sneakers or clothes, and can convert into a backpack with padded straps whenever you need a little extra support.