The 10 Best Sports Duffle Bags
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Whether you're just starting a regular fitness routine or are an athlete who needs a replacement for worn-out gear, check out these sports duffle bags. Coming in a range of sizes capable of holding towels, uniforms, yoga mats, and other equipment, they can also serve double-duty as carry-on luggage for short trips. We've selected various designs and colors to accommodate all tastes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 25, 2020:
Whether you are heading to a weekly basketball game, a yoga class, or just hitting the gym, any one of these sports duffle bags will help you get there with all your gear. We looked for attractive, durable items, ultimately removing the Everest Gear due to weak metal pieces and the Meister MMA Breathable, which has occasional zipper issues. But many athletes won't be surprised to see that bags from Adidas and Under Armour still come out on top.
From the former, we like the Adidas Team Issue and the Adidas Squad. The Team Issue comes in several sizes and a rainbow of colors, and has a water-resistant base that helps protect your gear. The Squad also has plenty of great features, including a handy expandable mesh pocket, but it doesn't have padding on the shoulder strap. If you have to haul your gear over a long distance, it may not be your best bet. As for UA, the Under Armour Undeniable 4.0 is an excellent choice. It represents a good value for the cost, as long as you don't have exceptionally large feet, as the shoe compartment is on the small side.
For choices that are more budget-friendly, consider the Travel Inspira and the Gonex Foldable. They both come in big sizes that can hold plenty, but they don't have the ultra-rugged construction of some of the more well-known names. They'll both work as gym bags or light gear haulers if you don't want to invest in pricier, more heavy duty models, like the King Kong Junior Kong or the Cobra Grips Large.
Aer Gym Duffel 2 Although the Aer Gym Duffel 2 is relatively large with its 37.4-liter capacity, it has more attractive styling than most similar, usually boxy, choices. It's made for durability down to the smallest details, boasting YKK zippers, rugged Duraflex hardware, ballistic nylon fabric, and more. aersf.com
Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 The Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 is all about options, perfect for carrying as a backpack, over the shoulder, or with the simple grab handles. Its name references the 45-liter carrying capacity, so feel free to pack it full of everything you need for playing sports and hitting the gym. tombihn.com
Lululemon Dash All Day A stylish duffel that won't weigh you down, the Lululemon Dash All Day is an excellent choice for comfortably carrying a small amount of sports gear. An interior padded pocket will accommodate your laptop, while the drawstring closure ensures that nothing falls out or is lost. shop.lululemon.com
An Athlete’s Best Friend
Many are sized to fit carry-on specifications, as well, making them suitable for air travel.
Ask any highly successful professional athlete about preparation, and that person will likely offer a response that somewhat resembles the following: the more prepared you are, the greater your performance.
Can an athlete or workout enthusiast get by without a quality sports duffel bag? Probably. But consider this: where a simple string bag provides zero organizational qualities and a backpack affords limited capacity, a sports duffel allows you to transport hordes of workout gear and sports equipment in an efficient, organized manner.
So, instead of trying to fish a pair of shoes out of the trunk of your car or digging through a jumble of random items before a competition, you can focus all your energy on performing to the best of your abilities, without distraction or nagging worries.
The sports duffel’s long, cylindrical design is ideal for accommodating oddly-shaped items, making it a huge asset to athletes who often tote bulky equipment from place to place. While attempting to jam a baseball bat or football helmet into a standard bag may prove quite troublesome, a sports duffel makes it a quick and easy task.
Though ideal for sporty types, these duffels are true multipurpose accessories. They typically feature multiple compartments, which simplify packing clothing and toiletries for a weekend getaway. Many even have a vented pouch for storing dirty laundry, which is sure to come in handy if you exercise frequently on your trips.
Many are sized to fit carry-on specifications, as well, making them suitable for air travel. Those that are constructed with water-resistant or waterproof materials are a nice option for beachgoers and campers, as they’ll protect their contents from splashing water and sudden rainstorms.
Your Bag Does The Work So You Don’t Have To
As a general rule, you won’t see a ton of variation among different brands of sports duffels. Most often, they’re made from nylon or cotton and contain one large compartment, a smattering of smaller pockets, and a shoulder strap for hauling it to and from activities.
You’ll be basing your decision on the details — subtle attributes that will impact its level of convenience, its durability, and how you’ll organize your gear. For many of you, price will factor in, as well.
If it’s simplicity you seek, a basic, mid-sized cotton bag with one main compartment and one zipper will probably suffice. It will be inexpensive, easy to use, and — thanks to its lack of extra handles, zippers, fasteners, and seams — you’ll probably be able to throw it in the washing machine.
A bag with reinforced sides will hold its shape well and be more effective in preventing its contents from tumbling around inside and incurring potential damage.
Particularly active people who are looking for something a bit more sophisticated will have to take a more judicious approach. How much protection does your gear require? A bag with reinforced sides will hold its shape well and be more effective in preventing its contents from tumbling around inside and incurring potential damage.
If you need a multitude of pockets and sections of various sizes for separating your accessories and equipment, you’ll want to make sure it’s designed with high-quality zippers that are easy to pull and resistant to jamming. Since you’ll likely need to wash it by hand, an easy-to-clean material that’s able to fight off foul odors is important, as well.
Leather is not one of those materials, as it tends to absorb sweat and become pungent pretty quickly. A bag with a nylon base (highly resistant to tears and abrasions) and a thick canvas body (durable and impervious to water) would be a wise investment.
Mixing sweaty, smelly workout gear with fresh clothes is a serious no-no. If this is a concern, go with a bag that features a well-ventilated laundry compartment. A dedicated water bottle pocket is always a useful component, too.
When it comes to sports duffels, bigger is not always better. You’ll want to select a model that will comfortably hold your equipment without becoming overly bulky while you’re transporting it. Therefore, someone who plans to tote their gym clothes on the subway will be looking at different options than a hockey player who is hauling gear to and from the rink in the trunk of the car.
The Sports Enthusiast’s Essentials
Okay, you’ve purchased the perfect duffel — now you must determine what you’re going to load into it.
Clothing — exercise clothes if you’re visiting the gym, sports gear if you’re headed to practice or a game — is a no-brainer. This also includes head bands, hats, hair ties, and shoes.
Depending on your sport, you’ll need space for various add-ons and accessories. A swimmer will need somewhere to stash a pair or two of goggles, a football player will need room to store a plethora of pads, and a boxer will feel pretty helpless without those all-important gloves.
Whether you plan on showering following your activity or not, it never hurts to have a case full of toiletries and personal hygiene items on hand.
Few things irk frequent gym-goers like forgetting their audio devices at home — iPods and earbuds are a must, especially if you belong to one of those fitness centers that blares loud, offensive music that overpowers the senses. Speaking of electronics, heart rate monitors and fitness trackers are handy items to get in the habit of using.
Maintaining a healthy energy level is important, especially for athletes. It’s always smart to keep snacks, such as protein bars or bananas, in your bag in case you need a quick power-up. If you’re a believer in protein shakes, you’ll want to pack mix and a shaker bottle for your post-workout recovery.
Whether you plan on showering following your activity or not, it never hurts to have a case full of toiletries and personal hygiene items on hand. Soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a comb are a few key things that should become mainstays in your bag.
Do yourself a favor and throw in a towel as well, especially if you’re someone who tends to perspire excessively. You never know, at some point you may find yourself in a situation where you desperately want to look dry, composed, and relatively professional — even if you smell faintly like the bottom of an old sports duffel bag.