Everything you need to know about gym bags

Packing a gym bag is a routine procedure for gym-goers. You might keep a pre-packed gym bag that you can pick up and go, or you might have multiple gym bags for different types of workouts. What should be in a gym bag? And if you plan to have separate bags for each workout option, what is the best gym bag?

By knowing how to pick out and pack a perfect gym bag, you take your gym routine to the next level. So, below are the ten must-have items you need to get ready pre or post workouts and what to look out for when selecting a gym bag.

What should be in a gym bag?

From style and design to features and accessibility, items you need to help you sweat comfortably and quickly freshening up should be in your gym bag. Workout basics and often-forgotten essentials are worth thinking about as you weigh how to pick a workout bag.

Shampoo, conditioner and soap

Getting sweaty should not stop you from getting in your daily workout. You can have a quick rinse after your workout, so be sure to pack shower essentials that you need to feel clean from head to toe, such as strengthening shampoos and body wash. Be sure to pack some hand sanitizer, too – it is ideal for keeping clean on the gym floor.

Dry shampoo

No time or energy to shower after your workout? We know your feelings. Bring a bottle of your favorite dry shampoo. It will help keep your hair from sweating out at the gym while adding volume and texture to your roots.

Sneakers and flip flops

There is nothing worse than getting to the gym and realizing that you forgot your sneakers. How are you supposed to get through a spinning class with no shoes? So make sure your sneakers are in your gym bag. And pack flip flops when assembling your gym bag, so you don’t have to go barefoot in the locker room shower.

Reusable Water Bottle and snacks

Staying hydrated is essential during workouts, and nobody likes waiting in line for a water fountain, so make sure to keep a bottle of water close-by. Pick up a reusable bottle, as they can keep your water colder and are better for the environment. Be sure to pack some healthy snacks, like protein bars or fruit, to help you recharge after a heavy workout.


Deodorant may seem obvious for any gym bag – you need it before, after, and during your workout. Whether you choose a vegan formula or a clinical strength option, make sure your deodorant is always on hand.

Compact microfiber towel

Gyms do provide towels free of charge, but sometimes gym towels don’t get the job done. Always ensure that you have a clean, fresh towel after your workout by bringing your own from home.

Tunes and Earbuds

Nothing can more quickly ruin a workout than a low-quality pair of earbuds. A good pair of headphones and motivating music can make a difference in your workout, so ensure your favorite pair of earbuds in your bag before you head out of the door.

Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is a nice-to-have item for your workout routine. It’s not necessary for working out, but it can be nice to have. It is especially useful for knowing what intensity your weight lifting was and when you're pushing yourself into the anaerobic zone.

Workout Clothes

A missing pair of socks can turn an otherwise productive workout into a recipe for blisters and chafing, so don’t forget to bring these essential clothes:

  • Clean underwear
  • Fresh pair of gym socks
  • Swimsuit and goggles
  • Workout tops and bottoms

Gym Lock

It's always best to leave your valuables at home when you head to the gym, but you still need to bring your cell phone, headphones, and other things you need to get your workout done, so bring a lock, even though many gyms have self-locking combination lockers.

What is the best gym bag?

A good gym bag is one that combines high functionality with a sleek aesthetic. The best gym bags are designed to make your workouts more enjoyable. You want a bag that is spacious, durable, and functional for your lifestyle.

What to look out for when selecting a gym bag?

It makes no sense to lug around a bag that's too big or try to cram everything into a bag that is too small. Ask yourself these questions when selecting a gym bag:

  • Can it hold everything you need for your workout?
  • What do you need to look presentable afterward?
  • Does it have space for a water bottle or sweaty gym clothes?
  • Does it fit your needs for your activities?

Whether you’re training for a marathon or just tackling your daily gym routine, a good gym bag can make the difference between an average and exceptional gym session.

What are some examples of the best gym bags?

A duffel bag is a vintage classic that has never gone out of fashion. It suits a range of preferences and tastes for both men and women. The Kipling Bori is perfect for gym sessions and long weekends, with bright colors and water repellent fabric to keep you going in dreary conditions - internal or external.

RELATED: Discover our multifunctional Bori Duffle Bag

Most gym bags are duffle-style bags. However, backpacks, shoulder bags, messenger bags, as well as classic totes can all function as gym bags. Treat yourself to an iconic Kipling favorite that you can take it straight from work to the gym. The key feature of the Art Medium is the handy trolley sleeve making it the perfect companion on your travels.

RELATED: Get to know the multi-use ARTMedium Tote

The best gym bag should be durable and hard-wearing and is comfortable to carry around. Kipling gym bags blend fashion with function and have the perfect size for transporting all your workout gear as you prepare to hit the locker rooms.

With a selection ranging from backpacks and totes to larger duffles, you will find everything you need to store your workout gear and equipment while you're on the go.

RELATED: Explore our full range of gym and sports bags

What size is a gym bag?

Gym bags can range in size from small gym duffels to large bags made for the long-haul. When choosing what size works for you, it’s important to consider your lifestyle and needs.

If you’re a minimalist at heart who keeps it simple, a small gym bag is the way to go and super easy to clean. Go for one that’s roughly 14 inches long with just enough space to store a change of clothes.

Do you need to head to work after your workout? Opt for a medium-size, stylish gym bag that can transition to the office. If you’re catching a morning flight after your training session, definitely choose a large size bag with a laptop sleeve to tote your tech (and double as a carry-on).

What is a good size gym bag?

The ultimate gym bag should have plenty of space to store your workout essentials. Generally, a medium-size gym duffel bag is a great option. A bag that’s approximately 20 inches long is large enough to cover all the bases yet can fit into your gym locker.

You should buy a heavy-duty bag with enough smart storage for your dirty clothes in one section, and sneakers in a separate shoe compartment.

The best part? Many high-quality gym bags for men and women come with a lifetime warranty, so if you don’t quite find the right fit the first go-around, you can always take a second look.

Keep an eye out for key features such as separate shoe compartments, a laptop sleeve, and storage pockets with a water-resistant lining.

Can I use a backpack as a gym bag?

Yes. A backpack is a great option for a gym bag because they are comfortable, sturdy, and distribute weight evenly on your shoulders. If you tend to travel with everything you need 24/7, you can’t go wrong with a backpack to carry you through your day.

Workout gear can get heavy. The main benefit of a Kipling backpack? It won’t drag you down when you’re on the go. Functional straps help hug your gear to your body, making your backpack feel lighter.