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Does anyone have any recommendations for a solidly dependable (and, dare I say, nice-looking?) gym bag that doesn’t look like I’m headed to soccer team tryouts? Or even a non-gym, large-ish duffel that I can take to work? I’ve recently become a person who wakes up early in the morning to go work out, which is tremendous for my overall well-being but SUCKS to have to swing around a large shopper and a New Yorker tote bag with all my stuff in it. —Iva
This question was actually asked (and answered) in our Facebook group before the holidays, but since it’s quite evergreen (and I could personally use some motivation to work out — especially in the morning, like you!), I’m going to tackle it here, too.
There are two types of gym bags in this world: actual gym bags and could-be gym bags. Actual gym bags should have all the functional bells and whistles, like interior and exterior compartments and — this is crucial! — a separate (and ideally ventilated) space for sneakers and sweaty workout clothes. Could-be gym bags will just get you and your gear to and fro.
Okay! Let’s start.
The actual gym bags
One of our readers recommended this Reebok x Face Stockholm duffel ($75), and I’d also add Nike’s Legend Club Training Bag ($75) to the list. (If black’s too boring for you, there’s also a similar style in a print for $80). All three of these have inner laundry/sneaker compartments and are big enough to carry a change of clothes, a water bottle, and some light gear.
Two trendier-looking picks are Sweaty Betty’s From Barre to Bar Bag ($145) and Carbon 38’s Gym Bag ($125). Both come with a few caveats, though. Sweaty Betty’s bag has a satin exterior, which is kind of a lot for, you know, a gym bag. And while it looks really nice, the Carbon 38 bag doesn’t have a dedicated laundry space inside, so this one would be a lot better for yoga or Pilates, or any workout where you’re not sweating buckets.
And then there are the Dagne Dover bags, which one of our readers recommended on the original post and are one of my personal favorites because they’re just really good-looking. They’re pricey ($155 for the medium size) but come in a few unexpected colors like taupe, navy, and teal. They’re also neoprene, which doesn’t scream “gym bag” the way that nylon does.
The could-be gym bags
Since this duffel is canvas and leather, I’m putting Tracksmith’s Club Duffel ($125) under the “could-be” list even though it’s from an athletic apparel brand — because let’s face it, there’s not much ventilation for sweaty workout clothes, and canvas doesn’t really improve the smell situation. (Ever get a pair of Converse wet?)
When it comes to cheap-but-still-cute totes, you really can’t beat Baggu. The brand’s canvas duffel is $45, the weekend bag is $74, and the safari bag is on sale right now for $58. If you don’t have a ton of stuff, you could also go crazy-simple with the Duck Bag ($30) — it has a snap closure and a long strap for easy schlepping.
Herschel is another safe if not super obvious bet: The Sutton Duffle ($80) is great if you don’t have a ton of stuff and comes in a fun wine and pale pink color scheme. Incase (yes, the laptop sleeve brand) also makes a really nice duffel bag ($69.95) that’s coated, so the outside will stay nice despite all that swinging you’re doing.