Stuffing your running shoes and sweaty shorts into a high-street drawstring bag might have been totally acceptable when you were in school. But as a fully-grown man, who’s hopefully graduated from Lynx Africa to cologne by this point, not so much.
A suitable gym bag is often nothing more than an afterthought for men. However, if you already struggle to haul yourself off for a workout, the last thing you need is your subpar sports sack serving as another potential excuse to stay at home.
When taking your gym gear with you to work, you should really be packing it in something at least vaguely presentable. The best gym bags don’t look like PE kit but rather another fashion accessory. They’ll have anti-odour pockets to keep your sweaty gear away from your pre-mixed protein powder, too.
A smart, stylish holdall says you take pride in looking put together. A plastic carrier bag, on the other hand, suggests you soiled yourself and had to borrow some trousers from lost property. You don’t have to be David Gandy to work out which of those is the right look to aim for.
So, keeping that in mind here’s our edit of the best gym bags for men and the reasons why they’re worth having in your locker.
The Best Gym Bag Brands
The everyday backpack was, until fairly recently, pretty uncool. However, hip Canadian luggage label Herschel managed to change its image overnight, almost single-handedly.
The brand is known for its classically styled canvas bags and brown leather detailing. Take a stroll through a city almost anywhere on Earth and you’ll no doubt encounter more than a few of them. Herschel’s holdalls are robust, subtle and stylish, making them a solid casual option when it comes to getting your gym kit from home to HIIT class.
Nike has been the one of the undisputed leaders of sportswear since the seventies, churning out everything from legendary sneakers to top shelf gym bags to carry them in.
Streamlined silhouettes, sleek branding and teched-out features have all become Nike hallmarks over the years, making it the brand of choice for everyone from clued-up sneakerheads to Olympic athletes. Its extensive range spans military-inspired backpacks with compartments for everything, to fashion-forward designs based on the Air Force 1 sub-brand.
What’s more painful than a post-office cardio session? A post-office cardio session in soggy gym gear, of course.
Whatever the weather, Danish raincoat specialist Rains will make sure you get your kit from work to workout bone dry and fresh. The brand’s bags are made from the same water-repelling fabric as their coats, meaning you’ll never have to worry about damp shorts again. Well, not before your session anyway.
German sportswear don Adidas has been in the game far longer than most. The brand entered the arena back in the 1920s and in the time that’s elapsed since has designed some of the most iconic and influential sports products in the world.
Along with Nike, Adidas is a label you can buy from in complete confidence. Pick your new gym bag up here and as well as sporting pedigree, you’ll get the choice of backpacks, holdalls, duffels, and extras like detachable shoe compartments and laptop sleeves.
Under Armour has only really been on the scene since the late nineties, which in a market like sportswear is not all that long a time. However, in a relatively short period, it grew from a one-man operation, selling sports gear out the back of a car, to a global force to be reckoned with and Dwayne Johnson’s gym kit of choice.
The reason being that this brand’s equipment and apparel is some of the best around. It’s tough, it’s techy and it’s built with active lifestyles in mind, so expect waterproofing, lots of well-considered compartments and comfortable straps from its gym bags. A reliable ally in the battle against man boobs.
In a world where fast fashion and its impact on the environment is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore, sustainable brands are more relevant than ever. Patagonia has maintained a focus on keeping things green since the beginning with innovative dying processes, along with low-key style and simplicity, has made it something of a calling card.
Because of this, the brand’s products are as popular among style-conscious city-dwellers as they are among environmentally-conscious rock climbers. And its luggage is some of the most hard-wearing and practical around. Think double-coated waterproofing and sport-specific features for hikers, climbers and trail runners.
Herschel may have repopularised the everyday pack but Eastpak was making simple, stylish bags way before it was cool. That’s not to say that Eastpak’s bags are uncool – quite the opposite in fact.
The trusted luggage brand has become the go-to for alternative lifestyles, counting everyone from extreme sports adrenaline junkies to musicians among its clientele. Its sleek backpacks are perfect for office workers who work out at lunchtime while the brand’s most technical packs carry a 30-year warranty. That’s confidence.
If you’re all about granola bars and mindfulness then Lululemon’s yoga-inspired athletics goods will be right up your street.
The brand is known for its stylish, high-quality products and, admittedly, lofty price tags too. However, if you’re main goal is to get your workout gear from A to B in style and be the envy of everyone at the pilates class when you do, there really is no other bag to choose.
When it comes to value for money, Swedish retail chain H&M is a beacon of the high street. The Scandi stalwart is always a reliable go-to whether you need cheap plain T-shirts, well-priced workout gear or a pair of bargain boots.
Ok, so a H&M gym bag may not be tricked out with the latest tech or be constructed from cutting-edge materials. However, it will do its job, it will look good and perhaps most importantly of all, it will leave you with enough money for an ill-advised post-workout pint.
The North Face
Even if you don’t live in the city it’s probably safe to assume you won’t be hauling your bag up any mountain passes to get to your local gym. However, if you did have to, The North Face is one of the only brands you could trust to get it up there in one piece.
Known for its adventure-proof outdoor clothing and accessories, TNF’s iconic holdalls are made using hardwearing, waterproof materials and built to withstand a hammering. Good to know, even if it’s just going to be spending most of its time in the locker room.
If you’re the type of guy who treats the world as a runway, you’ll known that dressing well doesn’t have to stop at the gym door. Having a luxurious bag to house your workout gear is step number one.
Carl Friedrik is a name associated with high-quality leather goods, which look nice, but aren’t all that great for storing damp, sweaty gym kit. Luckily there are some equally slick canvas options available which will keep you looking suave without trapping the moisture from your dirty socks inside. Bonus.