How to find the best gym bag, according to a celebrity trainer

Megan Roup shares the qualities she looks for in her favorite gym bag.

March 19, 2024, 2:10 PM

If exercise and movement is part of your everyday routine, finding a practical, well-functioning gym bag can make all of the difference.

When shopping for a gym bag, we look for some key features: size, fabric, organization and straps. A gym bag should work well with your everyday essentials and gym gear, and you should be able to use it for other occasions, like travel or commuting. And if you tend to carry any special workout equipment, like a yoga mat, your gym bag should be able to help with that, too.

As a celebrity personal trainer, mother of two, and founder of The Sculpt Society (TSS), Megan Roup understands the importance of a multi-functioning gym bag. Roup regularly provides TSS members with new on-demand workout classes, including dance cardio workouts, sculpting exercises, medations and more. There are currently over 600 classes on the TSS app, according to TSS' website.

Roup spoke with ABC to help people find the best gym bag to suit their needs.

Megan Roup's gym bag must-haves

For Roup, this means finding a multi-use bag for the gym and beyond.

"I think your gym bag should be able to really go between different phases of life," she says. "It should be able to act as a carry-on, a gym bag, a diaper bag ... it should be your everything bag."

Roup needs a bag that's big enough to fit everything you need without being oversized. And "material matters," she says, noting that she looks for a bag that is durable and machine-washable.

Wearing your gym bag

When it comes to straps, Roup recommends finding a bag that you can carry multiple ways: "I really like a longer option strap to go across my body," she says, as well as shorter straps you can carry.

As your bag gets heavier, you may start putting too much pressure on your shoulder. Roup recommends being aware of which side you're wearing your bag and actively evening out how you carry it.

"Everyone needs to think about how they're feeling with their bag," she says. And "if you feel like you're really compromising your posture, does that over-the-body or side-body strap feel a little bit more supportive for you?"

Roup also says that she needs her bag to have pockets inside so she can "make sure that everything stays organized." Roup recommends a separate space for your shoes, too.

Your gym bag "should be able to be a color that goes with your wardrobe," Roup says. "A black bag is fine, but there are different colors and styles you can pick to freshen things up a bit."

We've narrowed down some gym bags picks to help you find the one that works for you. Continue below to shop!

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The Sport Duffle

With 4.7 stars and under $100, this BÉIS sport duffle is a great option for the gym. It features removable and adjustable shoulder straps, a side elasticized slip pocket, a front cargo zip pocket and hidden padded backpack straps on the bottom. There's also a trolley sleeve for traveling that you can zip closed to create a slip pocket. Inside, there are two large slip pockets, one large zip pocket, and two mesh zip pockets. It comes with a separate "Dirt Bag" for your dirty clothes or your shoes. 

  • $88
  • BÉIS

Luka Duffel

CALPAK's Luka Duffel is a great option for the gym (and beyond!). It currently comes in over 10 colors so you can find a bag that best suits your athletic wardrobe. It has nine pockets, including one for your shoes, and short and long strap options so you can carry it comfortably.

  • $128
Dagne Dover

Landon Air Mesh Carryall Bag

The Landon bag is Dagne Dover's "office-to-gym" bag ideal for people on the go. It has space for a change of clothes and shoes and a laptop carrier so you don't have to pack a separate work bag. There is a luggage sleeve for travelers, pockets and a separate shoe bag. It can be hand-washed with a mild detergent and cold water. 

  • $185
  • Dagne Dover

Wunderlust Weekender Bag 48L

This lululemon bag is "designed for on the move." It's made from water-repellent fabric and has external pockets for your water bottle, shoes and dirty clothes. There are interior pockets, a trolley-compatible strap, and adjustable external straps for a jacket or a yoga mat. Plus, carry it with its handles or wear it across the body with its detachable strap. 

  • $198
  • lululemon

Vuori Gym Bag

Vuori's gym bag has 4.8 stars. Some reviewers have given it 5 stars for having a lot of pockets, space to store your everyday needs and for its appearance. Vuori's website says this "deceptively durable" bag is made from water-resistant fabric. It has a zippered shoe compartment and a removable shoulder strap. 

  • $198
  • Vuori

The Outdoor Backpack 26L

If you prefer a backpack, try this one from Away. It's especially handy for people who prefer outdoor exercise because it's weather and abrasion-resistant. This bag has two water bottle side pockets that fit up to 32 oz. bottles, a front compartment for essentials, an interior slip pocket, laptop compartments, a trolley strap and it packs flat. Reviewers have given this bag a 5-star rating. 

  • $130
  • Away

Original Canvas Duffle Bag

This adidas duffle has a 5-star rating. Carry it multiple ways thanks to adjustable straps and two different types of handles. Plus, there's a separate shoe tunnel and multiple zip pockets. It's available in two neutral colors: Magic Beige and black.

  • $80
  • adidas

Under Armour Undeniable 5.0 Duffle

This Under Armour bag has a near-perfect rating. With 4.8 stars on Amazon and more than 10,000 reviews, this bar has a highly water-repellent finish, a "touch, TPU-coated and foam-lined bottom" and side panels. It also has a dual water bottle slip pocket, a large vented pocket for laundry or shoes and internal slip pockets for extra organization. Plus, shop it in 45 different colors -- so you can always match it to the rest of your workout gear. 

  • $25.79 to $86.99
  • Amazon

FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0

FocusGear's Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0 has a 4.7-star rating and more than 15,000 reviews. It's "drop and stress tested" and can fit one 32-ounce water bottle and a protein shaker. It has two hidden water-resistant pockets and a full-length shoe pocket. Shop it in one of eight colors! 

  • $29.99 to $30.99
  • Amazon

All About Duffle

This bag -- ideal for commuting, work and travel -- is made from recycled polyester with a durable water-repellent fabric finish. It has a trolley sleeve to secure to your luggage, straps for a yoga mat and pockets for your gym essentials. 

  • $119
  • Athleta

Roup's gym bag

MZ Wallace

Sculpt Society Movement Kit

The Sculpt Society and MZ Wallace recently collaborated on The Sculpt Society Movement Kit, which features an icy-blue MZ Wallace Medium Metro Tote Deluxe, a Metro Pouch and a TSS equipment bundle that includes resistance bands, a pilates ball and sliders. The interior of the bag has six pockets and its exterior has a luggage sleeve for travel, among other features. There are adjustable straps, too, and padded nylon handles. It comes in TSS' signature icy blue color. "To me, the proportions of those bags are really perfect," Roup says of her collaboration and go-to gym bag.

  • $365
  • MZ Wallace