Gym bags are not usually given much sartorial consideration, but we’re changing that today. I have a theory that people would be much more likely to go to the gym if they had a cute sports bag. After all, isn’t overwhelming utilitarianism one of the greatest deterrents to exercise? Okay, maybe I’m making excuses for my personal shortcomings here, but the fact of the matter is that life is happier when all of those items with a purpose are also aesthetically pleasing.
That’s why we’ve selected the 17 cutest gym bags for women, from a mixture of athletic wear brands and high fashion ones. If looking at all these photos isn’t making things easy, we’ve included a guide that’ll help you choose the right sports bag for you.
Gym bags have a reputation for getting a little smelly, but we’re not about that, so I’ve added some tips and tricks for keeping your gym bag fresh at all times.
Workout Gym Bags for Women: Contents
- 17 Best Gym Bags for Women to Get
- How to Choose the Perfect Gym Bag for Your Workouts
- How to Keep Your Sports Bag Smelling Fresh
17 Best Gym Bags for Women to Get
From duffel bags to backpacks, find the coolest selection of gym bags for the fashion savvy.
1. Rose and Tan Duffel Gym Bag
This Herschel Supply Co. gym bag for women has a bit of a vintage vibe, but it is made with a modern lifestyle in mind. It is made of a rose-colored fabric with a matching cross body strap, complemented by tan handles. It is large, with a side zip compartment and a dedicated shoe compartment that keeps your sneakers separate from your clothes. Get it from Shopbop!
2. Eco-Friendly Gym Backpack
Backpacks can be excellent sports bags, especially if you don’t carry a ton of gear. This gym bag from Stella McCartney is made out of eco-friendly fabric with a faux leather trim, and has fully adjustable straps covered in the brand’s logo lettering. The outer pocket is printed with the label name in white. The construction is actually inspired by the iconic Falabella purse design. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
3. Sleek Black Duffle Bag
Gym bags like this one are classy enough that you can also rely on them as overnight or weekend bags. It is made of waterproof poly and PVC, which make the design interesting but will keep your gym clothes dry and protected. The all black, shiny material it is made of will look good with both your workout clothes and professional wardrobe. You can buy it from Revolve.
4. Medium Canvas Duffel Bag
This elegant Paravel duffel bag is not a dedicated gym bag, but it will definitely work. It’s a medium-sized bag made of cream-colored canvas, with a black leather trim and matching handles that wrap around the base of the bag. The shoulder straps are detachable, making it even more versatile. It is smaller than the average gym bag for women, but it’ll work beautifully if you don’t need to carry too much stuff. It is available on Net-a-Porter.
5. Square Waterproof Backpack
The square Kånken backpacks took the world by storm, with a unique shape and durable design that made them ideal school and gym bags. They have a roomie interior and multiple compartments, so they work well for a variety of purposes. This dusk-colored bag is made of trademarked, waterproof Vinylon, but you have a whole range of color choices to suit your style. Pick it up from Nordstrom!
6. Crisp White Sports Bag
Made by athletic wear brand Y-3, this gym bag is designed by Yohji Yamamoto and is even emblazoned with his first name. The black print is striking on the crisp white bag, which is made of a waterproof poly fabric. This bag is roomie but not very compartmentalized – there is one side compartment along its length. It has no handles, but comes with a removable shoulder strap. Purchase it from Farfetch!
7. Sporty Nylon Tote
Tote bags can totally work as gym bags for women, especially if they come from Prada. This black nylon tote is sporty and modern, with a spacious rectangular shape. It has a subtle leather trim as well as a leather panel on the front emblazoned with the label’s insignia in light blue. The adjustable handles attached to the bag with plastic buckles give an industrial touch. Despite being a tote, the top zips close so everything remains secure. It is sold at My Theresa.
8. ‘This Side Up’ Cylindrical Leather Sports Bag
Cylinders are not as good at staying upright, but we can’t deny their stylish, old-school charm. This cylinder bag from Off-White is made of stylish black leather with white wrap-around handles. As with other products form the funky label, it is printed with a logo that looks like an art gallery description, while the other side has arrows pointing up. This sports bag is just one large compartment, with a small inner pocket. Find it on Net-a-Porter!
9. Gray Square Gym Bag
We couldn’t contain ourselves, and had to share a few Y-3 gym bags. This rectangular polyamide bag is printed with the Y-3 logo in white. It’s large and sporty with a unisex design replete with black straps. It has both inner and outer compartments that allow for organization and make it easy to carry both large and small items. Inner polyester lining makes it easy to clean. Grab it from Farfetch!
10. Collaborative Black Gym Tote
This tote gym bag is the result of a collaboration between Stella McCartney and Adidas, so the front of the bag sports both brand logos in white. This stylish sports bag has a horizontally elongated rectangular shape, so it really combines duffel and tote conventions. It is made of a shiny poly material in black, with a printed white trim, canvas handles and detachable straps. You can order it from Shopbop.
11. Retro Modern Blue Sports Bag
This sporty tote from Marc Jacobs really combines different motifs. The structure is totally innovative, with a semi-square shape that changes based on whether the bag is carried by the handles or by the straps. It is made of dark blue nylon with a leather trim. The retro vibes come from the rounded lettering logo and from a ‘70s-style ‘Love’ charm in yellow on orange. Get it from Farfetch!
12. Voyager Duffel Bag
This medium-sized duffel gym bag could easily double as your work bag. It is made of sleek black technical weave in a solid rectangular shape that is a little reminiscent of a laptop bag (which it could easily hold). It is easily professional enough for most environments. It has multiple outer pockets in various sizes, as well as inner pockets. We can think of a variety of scenarios in which this functional design can be useful. Buy it at Shopbop!
13. Fuchsia Wheel Backpack
Feeling like fuchsia? This beautiful, bright backpack can be a great gym bag for women who don’t need a ton of stuff, but want to look chic at all times. You can even keep this backpack on while jogging or hiking! It is medium-sized with comfortably cushioned straps, and a wheel shell design with the Balenciaga logo on it in large, black print. It is available via Net-a-Porter.
14. Cylindrical Yellow Duffel
This is a bright and lively sports bag choice. The vintage cylinder duffel design is quirky, while the dark yellow tone is attention-grabbing but not childish. Made by Diesel, the detachable crossbody strap is printed with the message, “for successful living.” It is sold at Farfetch.
15. Lavender Backpack
The Adidas stripes on this gym backpack, combined with that specific shade of lavender, exude a bit of a vintage vibe. The design itself ends up being timelessly sporty rather than dated, with a great elongated shape that makes it quite spacious. The light color will pair beautifully with summer pastels, while copious compartments will make it very convenient for the gym or school. Pick it up at ASOS!
16. Pink-Trimmed Sports Bag
This Fila bag is made with function in mind. The style is athletic with a feminine twist, as the bag is made out of gray polyester with a vivid pink trim. This gym bag has multiple outer compartments, including a ventilated one should any of your gear get damp. It is medium-sized and lightweight, but very useful. Purchase it from eBags!
17. Red Half-Dome Bag
This sports bag has a unique domed shape that will stand out against all of the traditional duffels. It has a black, reinforced base so you can safely put it on the ground, while the top is a colorful red. It has a zipper that allows you to really get into the bag to find things, which also makes up for the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of compartments. Find it on eBags!
How to Choose the Perfect Gym Bag for Your Workouts
Before rushing to buy that fancy designer gym bag, there are a couple of aspects you need to consider for a successful shopping session.
• Size and Construction
Some of us only need a change of clothes and a bottle of water when we head to the gym, while others also need a change of shoes, a pair of flip-flops for the showers, a towel, a full toiletry and makeup kit, a notebook & pen to keep track of their workout, protein powder, and a shaker cup. For some, gym bags may also double as work bags, especially if you fit your workout in on your lunch break.
Before buying your workout bag, take into account exactly how many items you need it to hold as well as how you would like it to keep them. The more items you have, the bigger a bag you will need, obviously.
However, some items have special carrying requirements – maybe you would like a separate shoe compartment or an outer bottle holder. You might prefer a simple, large bag with a very roomie interior, or you might want a lot of compartments. Think about how you would like to pack your items into your sports bag, and choose one that will work with your needs.
• Carrying Style
Duffel bags are by far the most popular gym bags you’ll see, and for a good reason – they’re versatile, easy to reach into while carrying, and they can be very aesthetically pleasing. However, there are other options out there!
Backpacks are great sports bags, as well, because they distribute weight more evenly, although they usually won’t hold as much stuff as a duffel bag. If you spend a lot of time physically carrying your bag, then a backpack is probably the healthier choice to make.
There are two main aesthetics to choose from when it comes to gym bags for women: sporty or classic. Sporty gym bags will definitely look fitting while you wear your gym clothes, and right now they also happen to be a very stylish streetwear choice, especially if you’re a fan of athleisure.
Sporty gym bags are usually made of poly fabrics and have sporty design elements like stripes or graphic logos. These bags will likely look too casual if you carry them while wearing office clothes or if your day-to-day style is a little classier.
Thankfully, there are many sports bags that are designed to look more elegant. They come in a variety of colors and can be made of either leather or synthetic. Often they will have a smoother finish, so even if they’re not made of leather, they will look as though they are.
The logos will be kept to a minimum on classy gym bags. An elegant sports bag can actually double as your work bag, especially if it’s large enough to hold both your gym gear and daily essentials.
There are also some exceptions to the “sporty or elegant” dichotomy, which include gym bags that combine sporty and elegant elements, as well as bags with more artistic or conceptual designs (looking at you, Off-White). The super unique bags won’t always work in a professional environment, but they are definitely a memorable choice if you have a more eccentric style.
How to Keep Your Sports Bag Smelling Fresh
Fashionable gym bags are awesome up until the point that they start smelling like gym bags. Follow these tips and tricks to ensure that your sports bags are always fresh and pleasant to use so that you can stay excited about your workout.
• Clean out your gym bag as soon as you can post-exercise.
• If you bring your own protein shake cup, rinse it out in the office or gym bathroom sink before putting it back in your bag.
• No matter what, don’t leave you sweaty clothes, damp towel, or gym shoes in the bag overnight. Make sure to remove them from the bag and put them in the wash or allow them to air out.
• Keep a couple of dryer sheets or a bag of activated carbon in your bag, as they will help prevent a must from building and will ensure that everything smells fresh.
• If you keep toiletries in your bag, you can avoid spills by making sure to keep them in a well-secured toiletry bag. This will also make fishing them out much easier.
• If you really get into organizing, it’s good to have a special packing cube or even a plastic bag in which you can keep your clothes organized. It’ll also help keep any unwanted smells from spreading throughout the gym bag.
• If you shower at the gym with your own towel, definitely have a special plastic bag to hold your towel afterwards when it’s damp.
• Should the outer part of your bag get dirty, the best way to clean it is with a lightly damp cloth. If that’s not enough, a bit of soap will work as long as your bag is made of a synthetic material.
• To clean the inner part of the gym bag, disinfectant wipes will usually do the trick. They will remove bits of grime that may have built up and will also help kill any bacteria from your worn workout gear.
• Some gym bags can also be put in the washing machine for a deeper clean. Once they’re washed, leave them out to air-dry rather than putting them in the dryer.
Photos via Instagram