Best Gym Backpacks
If there is little time to touch base at home throughout the course of your busy day, you might need to invest in a gym that is more suited to your needs. The classic duffel bag is great at holding a lot of gear, but it can sometimes be a little too cumbersome and doesn’t have enough separate compartments to carry anything other than basic workout gear. If you need to carry something that will allow you to sling it over your shoulders to keep your hands free and can organize not only your gym gear but also things that you will need for work, you might want to ditch the duffel and pick up a gym backpack. Many of these designs have multiple compartments to keep work and training gear separated, and offer a lower profile design to fit neatly into smaller spaces.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Separated compartments keep dirty socks away from other clean gear
Easy to clean
Many color options to choose from
HeatGear shoulder straps are incredibly comfortable
- Under Armour Hustle 3.0
- Nike Club Team Swoosh
- Speedo Large Teamster
- Targus Work and Play
- Adidas YOLA
- PUMA Evercat Contender 3.0
- Sky tree
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Gym Backpacks
1. Under Armour Hustle 3.0
Separated compartments keep dirty socks away from other clean gear
Easy to clean
Many color options to choose from
HeatGear shoulder straps are incredibly comfortable
This is our favorite pick because it is designed to be used to carry all of your gear for your work out, but it also has separate compartments so that you can also bring along your lunch and laptop in the same pack. It is made from tough and resistant materials that are perfect for hot sunny days or rainy cold days as well.Read more
Everyone’s favorite feature about this one is that it has multiple compartments that are designed for very specific purposes. The laptop portion is long and narrow for your computer, and the bottom is a separated zipper compartment so that your sweaty clothes from a great workout do not have to intermingle your gear with your lunch. Users can select from a ton of different color options and designs such as solid black pink and gray, red, lime twist, or graphite gray as well as a host of other options.
This option is made from 100 perfect polyesters. This means that it will be able to wick away water if you happen to be caught in the rain, but it isn’t going to be completely waterproof. It also means that it will be a cinch to wipe down or throw into the washing machine when the scent of your used workout shorts have started to bleed into the material. It also sports abrasion-resistant bottom panel so that you can toss this or shove it where ever you like and the bottom panel won’t lose strength.
Under Armour is a brand you are probably very familiar with, and you might even have a piece of their gear or clothing already in your closet. Due to their brand recognition for making superior gear, this option comes at just a slightly higher price tag than most. This will cost you slightly higher than a basic Jansport, but we feel that this great design is well worth the slightly padded price tag.
For those that want something that will be able to transition with them as they move about their day, this is an excellent option. It has soft and curved shoulder straps to ensure that even if you really load it down with heavy gear, it will take a lot of pressure off of your back.
2. Nike Club Team Swoosh
Shoe pocket is well ventilated and offers a lot of extra room
High-quality nylon can withstand heavy loads without tearing at the seams
It wouldn’t be a party if Nike didn’t make an appearance just once. What we liked most about this option is that it has that classic and sleek design that can only come from a brand such as Nike that has been making great quality gear since 1964. It’s big enough to hold all of your gear, but it is one of the smaller options out there on the market.Read more
Users can only select from one color option- black. Each unit has a large Nike swoosh on the front that is 4 inches high and 6 inches long. There is a small zippered compartment on the front, and one mesh bottle holder on the side. The interior has sections that are separated by zippers that will be able to keep sweaty clothes and muddy cleats away from the clean gear.
This unit is made from 100 percent polyester which means that it is rain resistant but not waterproof. However, there are a few features that make this option a little more prepared for bad weather than most. The bottom of this pack is made from a completely waterproof material, so you can place it on wet, dewy grass without worrying that is it soaking through to your gear. There is also a rain flap inside that you can pull down if you find yourself suddenly caught in the rain.
Just like with any other Nike product, be prepared to pay a little bit more than many other brands. However, that higher price tag is due in part because there was a lot of attention to detail that went into the design of this one, and it will be able to hold up to whatever you can throw at it while still keeping your gear safe and secure. Due to this factor, we find this option is offered at a great deal.
If you are in the market for something that you know will stick it out for the long haul without losing strength, you can’t go wrong with a Nike product. Users love that this option is great at separating gear, and it is large enough to hold all of the gear that will need for a great workout- but nothing more.
3. Speedo Large Teamster
Removable section for dirty laundry
Built in laptop sleeve
A little expensive
Speedo is another name in the athletic world that is synonymous with good quality and innovative design, so it is no surprise that they are coming in at the top of our list. What users love about this option is that it has a ton of separated compartments on the inside as well as the outside so you can keep all of your gear organized, and separate the dirty gear from the rest. It also comes in a ton of color options so you can pick a color or design that matches your personal style.Read more
This is designed for serious athletes that need to tote around a lot of gear. It is offered in a wide range of colors and patterns that will match pretty much everyone’s personal taste. What we like most about this design is something that isn’t really found on many other options. Instead of having a zippered compartment to store your dirty clothes away from your other gear, this has a zippered compartment that can actually be removed from. This means that you can carry this small section completely separately from the rest of your gear, and simply wash it after every use to ensure that no longer odors bleed into your gear upon your next use.
The Speedo Large Teamster is made up of 91 percent polyester, and 9 percent nylon. The material found at the bottom is coated with a waterproof material, which means that you can place it on a wet surface and you won’t have to worry about your contents inside becoming wet. This polyester is super easy to care for and will wick away water if you happen to get caught in the rain.
The cost of this unit is a little more affordable than the Nike or Under Armour option, but only slightly. If you were looking to buy one of the name brand options, this one is considered to be a little on the more affordable side of things.
For those that are in the market for one of the name brand options but want to save just a little bit of money, this is an excellent option. It has a lot of room for a multitude of gear, and users love that the dirty laundry comparate can be removed completely.
Separate bottom compartment for sneakers and dirty laundry
Compartment for a small laptop or tablet
Is a little on the small side
What we love most about the UTO option is that it doesn’t add a lot of extra bulk when you are trying to keep it simple and easy, but it still has enough high-quality pockets and compartments to keep all of your gear for the day compact and organized, and it comes in at a very affordable price point.Read more
The best part about the UTO design is that while it doesn’t have a myriad of pockets at every turn, the pockets that it does have are expertly placed. On the outside of this design, there aren’t any additional small compartments for sorting gear- which is a great idea if theft is a concern for you. The bottom unzips all the way around like a lunch pail to provide a place for muddy sneakers and sweaty clothes. The top of this unit unzips like a typical backpack and reveals a large space for gear as well as a mesh compartment for documents, books, or laptops. It is offered in four neutral tones that include black, gray, burgundy, and royal blue.
What this pack lacks in pockets and space it makes up for in ruggedness. Unlike many of the polyester designs, this option is made from 100 percent nylon. This nylon is extremely lightweight, waterproof, and scratch resistant. It is very small and compact, so if you are looking for something that offers a ton of room- this might not be the right fit for you.
This style runs about in the middle of the road in terms of price. It isn’t the most expensive unit out there on the market, but it isn’t the least expensive either. This will set you back about the same amount that you spent on a monthly membership at your training center.
If you don’t need something that can carry a lot of gear, and you want to opt for something that is a little bit more on the affordable side, the UTO option is going to be your best bet.
Many color options offered
Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to the AmazonBasics design. This option is large enough to get all of your gear packed and ready for a great workout, but it doesn’t have a lot of the convenient compartments that some of the other options have. What it does offer users, however, is a price tag that cannot be beaten.Read more
The exterior design is about as basic as you can get. Users can select from color options that include black, blue, light blue, red, and white. Each color option is punctuated with black zippers that run along with the main compartment as well as a small front zippered pocket as well. This unit also boasts a small uncovered pocket along the side that is perfect for storing your water bottle.
The exterior material is made from a sturdy polyester that is considered to be water resistant but not waterproof. Users have the option of throwing it right into the washing machine with a little detergent when it needs to be washed, and then hang it up in a well-ventilated area to dry overnight.
Our favorite feature about this design is that it comes in at one of the most affordable price points of any of the other options out there on the market. Keep in mind, however, that it doesn’t have a lot of the smart pocket design as many of the others out there on the market, and it might not be big enough to hold some of your gear (but it is still big enough to carry sneakers and a change of clothes)
If you want to save a little bit of money and opt for something a little more affordable- this is going to be the best option for you. Just keep in mind that it won’t be able to carry as much as some of the other options out there on the market.
6. Targus Work and Play
Large design makes it perfect for carrying most types of gear and work equipment
Easy to clean and wipe down
What we really liked most about the Targus option is that is is a beast, which boasts its ability to store your entire day securely and efficiently in one place. There are tons of separated compartments to hold all different types of gear, and it even has an option available that has a place to carry tennis rackets in the front of the unit.Read more
The design of this option is just a little bit different than some of the other options out there on the market. It has a taller design that makes it great for storing even some of the more difficult to store fitness gear- such as yoga blocks. There is one compartment in the front that is dedicated to working gear such as laptops and a place for files, and then there is a separated compartment that is large enough to hold sneakers, as well as a change of clothes. The small pockets along the side are also great to hold larger water bottles. The racket option (offered at a higher price point) can hold one racket in the front, and the two pockets on the front are just big enough to hold two bottles of balls.
This polyester option has rubber accents along the corners, and it is incredibly easy to wipe down or toss into the washing machine as needed. All in all, most users feel that the zippers run smoothly even with continued use, and there are almost no complaints of zippers breaking.
The downside to this option is that it comes at a pretty steep price point, and will set you back about the same amount that you probably paid for your trainers. However, we feel that the large design, as well as smart placement of pockets and compartments, make this option well worth the slightly padded price tag.
If you need something that will be big enough to hold your entire day in place and has a sharp design that will always feel light on your back no matter how much you put inside, this is an excellent option. Just keep in mind that it runs on the expensive side of things.
7. Adidas YOLA
Perfect for yoga mats
Can carry a lot of gear
Comfortable shoulder straps
Straps that hold the top down often come unclasped according to some past users
The Adidas YOLA has a look that doesn’t quite look conventional, but its unconventional approach makes it a lot easier to use and makes it stand out from the rest. What users really love about this option is that no matter how jam-packed they fill it, the shoulder straps with always feel comfortable, and the design takes a lot of pressure off of tired and overworked spines.Read more
Users can select from a few unique color options that include mint green, jersey gray, and a basic black. Instead of utilizing a zippered compartment on the top, the YOLA has a squared top that folds over and stays secured with a buckle. This variance turns makes it feel more like a tote, and allows users to place more gear inside than they would normally be able to fit with traditionally rounded tops. Another feature that really makes this option stand out from the pack is the addition of a yoga mat strap along the bottom. Simply place your yoga mat on the bottom and secure it in place with the straps.
This unit is made from 100 percent polyester, which makes for the perfect material for these types of products. It is considered to be water resistant but not waterproof, and it is very easy to pop into the washing machine to give it a good washing. Just be sure to skip the dryer and let it air dry overnight in a well-ventilated area.
Coming from a well-known brand such as Adidas, the price tag is still pretty modest. While it isn’t the most affordable option out there on the market, it is far from being the most expensive option out there.
If you are in the market for something that runs about in the middle of the road in terms of price, and has a ton of features that will allow you to carry all of the gear you will need to train- even that impossible to tote yoga mat- this is a really great option that won’t break the bank.
Large ventilated front pocket for balls
Users love that the straps do not strain their shoulders even after prolonged use
Somes users had difficulty with the clips along the side
This design may be advertised to be able to hold a basketball, but it doesn’t mean that's its only use. Our thoughts are that if it is able to tote around a basketball, there should be enough room on the inside to tote about just about any type of gear. We like this option because it is large, has a lot of separated compartments, and it is comfortable carrying around throughout the day.Read more
Users can select from three different basic color options that include blue, black, and maroon. Each option has the MIER logo printed in large black letters along the top. The front ball compartment is ventilated so used, wet gear will be able to dry more quickly. It has a side water bottle pocket, as well as a fairly large zippered side pocket for each access to smaller gears such as cell phones and keys. Plus, it has a separate interior compartment for your laptop and your workout gear.
This unit is made from an incredibly durable polyester that is considered to be water resistant for those days that you happen to get caught in the rain. Polyester is great because you will have the ability to pop it into the washing machine for a quick clean whenever the time comes.
One of our favorite features about this option is that it is offered at a very low price point. It’s not the least expensive option out there by any means, but considering the quality of materials use, as well as all of the space you get with this option, we find that the price is an excellent deal.
If you are looking for something that is really going to be able to hold a lot for your busy and active day, but it won’t drain your wallet, the MIER option will be an excellent addition at keeping your day comfortable and organized.
9. PUMA Evercat Contender 3.0
Many unique color options and designs offered
Some users had trouble with the zippers
PUMA has been in the business of bringing great gear to athletes since 1948, so it is no surprise that they are making our list eat least once. What we loved most about this option is that it has a low profile that will take the pressure off of tired spines, and it has a lot of compartments that are specifically designed to hold all of your workout gear.Read more
One of the best things about this design is that it is offered in a myriad of fun colors and designs that don’t look like anything else on the market. If you wanted something that would allow you to stand out from the crowd, the Evercat Contender 3.0 options are the way to go. It has a main interior pocket for your bigger gear, and side slip pockets along the front and back to separate dirty gear from clean. It also has a fairly large front pocket that is perfect for storing smaller items.
This option is made from 100 percent polyester, but it is a little bit different than most of the other options on the market. Due to some of the accents, users cannot simply toss this option directly in the washing machine. This design is only able to be hand washed. If you are someone that doesn’t have a lot of time to hand wash gear that has a tendency to smell a little ripe with extended use, this may be a big negative for you.
One would expect the price tag that comes from a trusted and well-known company such as PUMA would knock your socks off- but that isn’t the case with the PUMA Men's Evercat Contender 3.0. The price tag for this option is one of the most affordable options out there on the market. If you wanted the reliability of a trusted brand but didn’t want to pay the price, this is a great option.
If you are in the market for something that is made well but is also affordable, this will be a great selection to carrying around your gear. It is important to note, however, that this unit is just a little bit smaller than most and will not be able to carry the same amount of gear.
10. Sky tree
Can carry a yoga mat
Side pocket that is perfect for shoes
Some users have experiences their buckles keep breaking
What we loved about the Sky tree option is that no matter what type of physical activity you are engaging, this will be able to accommodate pretty much all of your gear. It has a ton of separate compartments for all of your muddy gear and is incredibly comfortable to carry.Read more
There aren’t any additional color options offered with this design. However, the gray pattern that runs along the front of the black exterior is unique and doesn’t look like anything else out there on the market. It has a bottom compartment that is the perfect place for storing your smelly and sweaty sneakers, and a very large main compartment for storing the rest of your gear. What we really liked about this option as well is that it has a yoga mat holder that runs along the bottom, and there is even a set of straps so that you can also mount it along the side.
This design is composed of 100 percent nylon, which makes it incredibly durable and resistant to water (but it isn’t waterproof). This material makes it a cinch to toss it into the washing machine with a little detergent to get rid of any odors, and it is also easy to wipe down for spot removal.
The cost of this unit runs about in the middle of the road. It isn’t the most expensive unit out there on the market, but it is far from being the least expensive. Users find that this price point is perfect for this design that offers a lot of pockets and features, as well as a unique and interesting design.
If you often find that you can’t seem to find the right sized bag for all of your bulky gear- such as your awkward yoga mat- the Sky tree option is a great option for busy people that need a little bit more organization in their life.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The design of these backpacks was something that we made sure to take into consideration not just because you’ll be carrying this with our on the subway every morning, but because smart design means more room to effectively carry all of your gear. However, we did tend to lean more toward brands that offered you a lot more color and design choices, because the gear is just more fun what you can find a color or pattern that matches your personality perfectly. One of the most important design choices that we felt was an absolute necessity was separated zippered compartments. Sure, you are arriving at your workout destination with a sack full of fresh laundry alongside your post-workout snack and maybe even your laptop or documents that you are going to need to take into work once you finish working out.
However, when you leave you are suddenly going to have a pile of hot, sweaty workout clothes that are going to have to go back into your pack. That’s why we made sure to select a design that would create a healthy distance between sweaty workout clothes and your lunch. Other design options that we really appreciated was pocketed on the exterior that would allow users to keep small items handy such as water bottles, car keys, chapstick and cell phones.
This was another important thing that we looked at because certain materials are just empirically better than others. A material that we found was perfect for these types of backpacks was polyester. Polyester might not be the ideal materials for campers that happen to get caught out in the rain for extended periods of time, but it is the perfect material to cart around all of your casual gear throughout the course of a typical weekday. Polyester is considered to be incredibly strong, and it is really easy to clean when your pack is starting to smell a little ripe. One of the most important reasons we were drawn to polyester is because it can simply be tossed into the washing machine with a little bit of gentle detergent to remove any stains or odors, and then hung up to dry overnight. When it comes to carting around used and sweaty workout gear- you are going to want something that is going to be easy to clean. That’s why we feel that polyester is going to be your best in this instance. We also liked options that had a lining along the bottom that was coated in a waterproof material so that users could set it down on someplace wet (like a dewy soccer field) and not have to worry about their gear getting wet.
Some cynics may tell you that when you purchase a name brand option, you are only paying for the recognizable logo or the name on the tag, but in our experience that just isn’t the case. These companies didn’t become as big and as popular as they are by manufacturing subpar products. We have found that familiar name brands that have been making sports apparel for decades are still around today because their gear is just made to last. We gravitated to some of the bigger names such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and Speedo not simply due to name recognition, but because the product reviews had a tendency to exceed those of the lesser-known companies. If you want to buy something that is going to hold up in the long run without suffering from ripped seams and torn shoulder straps, you are going to want to pay just a tad more for one of the big brands.
We know that as an athlete that might be working with a limited budget, you probably want to spend the majority of your money on the best sneakers, workout clothes, and beneficial accessories and supplements rather than spending a lot of money on the backpack you will be carrying around your expensive gear in. While it may be tempting to opt for the option that has the price tag that doesn’t seem all that painful- you might be in for a disappointing surprise after only a few months of use. While the more affordable options are great initially, they have a tendency to wear down and become weak at some of the key points of contact like in the shoulders or zippers. To save money in the long run, we feel that it may be in your best interest to spend just a little bit more for the higher priced options that you will likely use for years and years of workouts without dealing with broken shoulder straps or busted zippers.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
These humble products have come a long way from just hauling books from home to class. The shoulder strap design is perfect for distributing the weight evenly across your torso without adding more weight to one side or one muscle group than the next. Plus, because they are designed to contour to your back, it means that you can pack a whole day worth of gear in each little compartment without worrying about your dirty socks commingling with your peanut butter and jelly sandwich you have packed away for a post-workout meal.
Other Factors to Consider
Before you take the plunge, first consider what you are going to be carrying in this backpack and where you are taking it. If you are just using it for carrying extra sneakers and a change of clothes, you could probably get away with using one of the more affordable options- barring it won’t get a great deal of continued everyday use over the years. If you intend on buying one of these products for all of your gear- which includes pre-workout mix, a post-workout snack, your laptop for work, and possibly even your lunch, you may find that one of the larger and more expensive options will suit your needs better. One of the most important features in these types of packs is the addition of separated zippered compartments. Keeping dirty and sweaty clothes away from the rest of your gear should be a pretty high priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are they big enough to hold all of my gear?
Looks can sometimes be deceiving, but most users find that these products are actually the perfect size to hold all of their gear. Many options found on our list are considered big enough to hold a pair of cleats with an additional soccer ball, as well as a change of clothes. However, just to be on the safe side, be sure to check the product’s dimensions before picking a design that is right for you. Some companies offer users different sizing options that will accommodate various uses. We have found that even the products that are on the smaller size are still big enough to carry a pair of sneaker, a change of clothes, and some even have a sleeve for a laptop or tablet.
q: Should I pay more for a name brand?
We have mentioned it before but it is worth repeating- name brands are popular for a reason, and it is because users have found that they hold up very well over time. It may sting a little bit to pay the higher price tag for one of the big name brand options like Nike, but there is a long line of users that feel that their products simply hold up longer without suffering from worn down and broken straps, or faulty zippers. The money that you pay now for a more expensive name brand option with pale in comparison to the money you will spend over the years replacing old and broken cheap designs.
q: Will they hold my yoga gear?
Yoga gear: it is notoriously difficult to find a decent backpack that is big enough to hold all of that awkward gear that includes long and narrow mats, and big and bulky blocks. What we have discovered is that most of these options out there on the market are actually big enough to hold a basketball, and if they can hold a basketball then they should be big enough to hold a bulky yoga block. While mats will most likely not be able to fit into the main compartment of any of the options on our list, there is some design out there that have a series of straps located at the bottom of the main compartment that is perfect for affixing you almost impossible to tote yoga mat.
q: Are they easy to wash?
This may be the most important question that you ask all day- because these carriers of used gym socks can start to smell pretty ripe real fast! No one likes the thought of carrying around something that smells like a loaded up laundry basket, which is why selecting polyester is the perfect material to use for these. Polyester is great because it means that you can toss it right into the washing machine with just a little bit of detergent to get rid of any unpleasant odors as well as stains and dirt. One important thing to note, however, is that once you take it out of the washing machine you skip the drier and simply hang it up in a well-ventilated area to dry. Don’t worry- polyester dries pretty fast, so if you toss it in the washer the night before and hang it up to dry overnight, it should be good to go the following morning.
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