best gym bags

Gym Bag: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

The sporty drawstring bag has hardly changed since it was invented. However, some gym bags have been expanded to include an extra shoe compartment or a zip pocket and gym bags are also available in waterproof and a large selection of designs. The models that you see in our comparison table are all available in other colors. We have selected the gym bags that have convinced most users, both in external tests and according to customer reviews. It is gratifying that there are also many Fairtrade gym bags on the market as organic materials.

In our gym bag test 2020 we deal with the original means of transport for school sports but also with the trendy models in hipster style. The large number of sports bags differs in their design, as well as in other points. In addition to the classic bags with only one main compartment, there are also variants with additional compartments or with a special locking system.

A characteristic feature of the gym bags is the drawstring, which often serves as a closure and as a suspension at the same time. Most of them have cords attached to both sides that are carried over the shoulders like a backpack. So the gym bag can be transported relaxed on the back. The small versions for elementary school students can also be attached to the school bag, from which they dangle loosely without touching the ground.

Questions to Consider Before Buying A Gym Bag

What is a Gym Bag?

The original gym bag is part of the school equipment. It is also known as a sports bag, sports bag, gym bag or gym sack. In earlier decades, the younger students carried their sports gear to school in it. Thanks to light and foldable materials such as cotton, polyester or nylon, the pack size of the classic gym bag is very small. So when not in use, it can be folded flat. When unfolded to its size, however, it offers enough storage space for the utensils and possibly the clothing that is needed for sport.

The gym bags that we describe in the test are now not only used in school sports. They are used, for example, for impulse purchases or are a trendy alternative to the simple carrier bag. Since most sports bags are carried on the back, they can also replace a small backpack. The cords, which also keep the bag closed, serve as shoulder straps.

The practical and adaptable bags are very functional, regardless of whether they are used by students or whether adults use them as a transport bag. With their material made of cotton or synthetic fiber, they are easy to clean. The cords on the top pull the opening together and are also connected to the bottom edge of the bag. So they can be used perfectly as shoulder straps. The test winners of the gym bags often have additional pockets that create a little more order with or without a closure. These additional pockets are either on the outside or inside the bag. Depending on the style and design, the various gym bags not only present themselves as a supplement to the school bag, but they are also suitable for leisure time.

In short, the gym bag is the small version of the sports bag. However, due to its special flexibility and light weight, a direct comparison is hardly possible. The demands on the gym bags are, however, completely different from the demands placed on a larger sports bag.

With their trendy look, today’s gym bags are reminiscent of the 1980s. This means that the older generation also feels transported back to childhood. In general, it is the children who use these bags, but the practical, handy format also makes the gym bags popular everyday items. Depending on the size, weight, personal preferences and area of ​​application, you can take the sports bag casually over one shoulder or put it on correctly so that it sits in the middle of your back. For this, a cord is placed over one shoulder.

How does a gym bag work?

The task of the gym bag is to hold the various gym equipment and protect it from dirt, moisture and other external influences. Depending on the size, it is not only suitable for light gym shorts and training shirts, but also for sports shoes. The gym bags in our test are typically made of soft cotton, somewhat firmer jute or synthetic fibers. At the top, the opening is closed by pulling the pull cord together. Some sports bags also have a different locking system or an additional cover that is secured by a push button.

With the simple closure and the low weight, the gym bags are predestined for use in kindergarten and elementary school. The bag can either be attached to the school bag, where it dangles back and forth, or it can be put on like a backpack. The children simply slide their arms through the large loops of the drawstring.

In the meantime, elementary school students often use their gym bags, but their size leads to them packing too much. Especially in the first years of school you don’t need to take so many things with you. In contrast to the school satchel or the sports bag used later, the gym bags cannot be placed upright. They need at least a wall to lean against so they don’t tip over. They can easily be hung on the cord, be it on the coat hook or on the corner of the cupboard.

The changes in gym bags indicate how school and physical education has changed in recent decades. The name of the gym bag was used for the first time in the 1950s, but these carrier bags had been around for much longer. From the middle of the 20th century until today, a lot has changed in the functionality of these sports bags. It is no longer just about the most important basic hygienic rules that were in the foreground at the beginning. In addition to clean sportswear and the often exaggerated drill in school, the focus today is increasingly on the best possible ergonomics and the individuality of children.

The gym bags in the 2020 test therefore catch the eye due to their improved functionality. On the one hand, they serve the purpose of a sports bag and, on the other hand, present themselves in the current look. As a carrying bag for sports equipment, they have a volume of ten liters, for example. The material is often water-repellent so that the contents do not get soaked in the rain. In leisure time, somewhat larger gym bags that hold at least 12 liters are often used. They are suitable for a festival or for the afternoon in the city.

As a backpack version, these bags look trendy and cannot be confused with their special color combinations or prints. Whether they are made of cotton or synthetic fiber, the gym bags should be as tear-resistant as possible and withstand daily use without being damaged. Anyone who uses such a sports bag is relying on a varied appearance and a demonstrative retro look.

Advantages & areas of application

One of the important advantages of the gym bags is their light weight, even if they are slightly larger. The pack size is extremely small, so that you can take the bag with you in your suitcase, for example, as an additional bag that shows its talent at the holiday destination. After unfolding, the gym bag is ready to use and serves as a shopping bag or as a practical rucksack for swimwear or sports equipment.

In our gym bag test 2020 we would like to put together all useful and worth knowing information for potential buyers. These include, for example, the advantages over sports bags or the specific features of the respective materials.

Typically the bags are made of cotton fabric, polyester or another synthetic fiber. Cotton is considered to be of high quality and environmentally friendly, but like jute, it is not water-repellent. In contrast, the gym bags made of impregnated polyester and comparable materials are waterproof, so that even heavier rain rolls off and does not penetrate. The processed material also influences the look: the gym bags made of polyester or nylon often have a slightly glossy look, while the cotton bags attract attention due to their woven structure.

Compared to the larger sports bags, the gym bags are significantly lighter. Although they offer less space, especially in elementary school, children do not need a lot of storage space. When the students shoulder the gym bag, they hardly feel it. More importantly, they can use their hands freely and not feel restricted. With a sports bag there is also the risk that the weight will pull the back to one side. Therefore, the gym bags, which can be carried like a backpack, are clearly the better choice for elementary school students.

The light, practical and safe sports bags are also suitable for cycling. In no time at all, you can pull the cord together so that nothing can fall out. An additional lock can optimize security. In general, however, it is particularly advantageous for children if the bag can be opened quickly. You simply pull the tape apart and you have access to the content.

After the sport lesson, when the clothes and / or utensils have been packed up again, pull the cord hard so that it closes again. With these simple and convenient functions, the gym bag clearly scores over the complicated closures of the special bags.

What types of gym bags are available?

We don’t want to name a gym bag test winner here, but rather point out the different types of these accessories and explain the advantages and disadvantages in detail. The main differences between the numerous gym bags can be seen in the nature of the material. There are variants made from jute and cotton, from polyester and even from leather. In addition to the materials, the space available also shows whether it is a gym bag for schoolchildren or whether the bag is more suitable for the city.

Furthermore, we would like to show that some bags are designed very simply, while others are equipped with additional pockets. The simple models are similar to a carrier bag, but they are equipped with the tried and tested cord lock that characterizes them as a gym bag. City bags, on the other hand, often have an interior division and exterior pockets that offer space for a cell phone and wallet.

There are only minor differences in the basic design. Some gym bags from the test are significantly wider at the bottom than at the top, while others have better protection thanks to stiff elements.

The cotton gym bags are mainly available in the classic colors natural, white and black. They are used more in leisure than in sports. If you want, you can paint your own cotton bag or sew on applications. Some of the shops also offer printing on these gym bags. The problem with cotton and also with jute is that they are water permeable. That means the contents can get wet if it rains. These cotton bags are also unsuitable for swimwear. They are mainly used in dry weather and can be converted into an individual lifestyle bag. Depending on the processing and the imprint, the cotton bags can be washed in the washing machine if necessary.

The advantage of plastic gym bags is their water-repellent or even waterproof properties. Polyester and nylon have particularly proven themselves here. The sportswear stays dry when it rains. These plastic bags are also more suitable for placing on the floor than the cotton models. In general, they are considered to be particularly easy to care for, as the material is less sensitive and acts as a dirt brake, so to speak. When used in everyday life, however, the plastic bags don’t look as cool as the original cotton models.

The leather sports bags are something special. These are accessories for the city, in which gym equipment is rarely transported. Instead, they are used for other things like tablets, books, and wallets. Even if this noble variant is similar to the classic gym bag, the focus here is on aesthetics. At the same time, you don’t have to forego the comfort that is guaranteed by the shoulder straps.

The advantages of all types of gym bags:

  • Low dead weight
  • minimal pack size
  • practical to open and close
  • versatile use (kindergarten, school sports, leisure time)

The disadvantages of the gym bags:

  • Relatively little storage space
  • cannot be set up because of their flexibility
  • not ergonomic depending on the weight of the content

How are gym bags tested?

Our gym bag test should serve as an aid to find your way around the diversity of the offer. That is why we are dealing here with the specific features that should be considered when making a personal selection. This is primarily about the coordination of the gym bag to the main area of application. Furthermore, some information is necessary to explain possible alternatives.

Last but not least, we would like to present the gym bags as all-rounders that, depending on their shape and material, can be used for many other purposes. From kindergarten to adolescence and adulthood, the users of the practical and beautiful gym bags are always happy about the solid processing and easy handling as well as the interesting designs.

The basic form
The characteristic basic shape of the gym bag is a rectangle. When at the top, the cord is passed through a tunnel and pulls the fabric together. This creates the typical sack that can be handled practically. The original rectangular shape can only be seen when you lie down flat and can be easily folded up. Often, however, the pouches are rounded at the lower ends, which gives them a cozier look. Some gym bags are similar to the duffel bag and have a circular bottom at the bottom. Here, too, a sturdy cord provides the necessary hold. With other gym bags, a narrow rectangle at the bottom ensures a better stand, but these bags usually do not stop. Reinforcements on the bottom and on the side can provide a little more support, but it is best to keep the bags on the hook.

The volume
Even the smaller sports bags for children often have a capacity of ten to twelve liters. For adolescents and adults, the bags with a volume of up to 20 or 25 liters are shortlisted. In general, the gym bags with higher carrying capacity are made of plastic. Especially if you actually use the bag for sports equipment, there should be enough space. After all, you need a lot of storage space for the sneakers.

A simple gym bag consists only of a rectangular pocket that is pulled together at the top by the cord. Additional features such as outer pockets or inner compartments make it easier for users to put all their things in and have them quickly to hand when needed. Often there is a zipper for the outer pockets so that the cell phone is not lost. Reflective elements can improve safety on the road, and not just for children. Possibly. they can be retrofitted, but especially with the gym bags for schoolchildren, they ensure good visibility right from the start.

The drawstring and its attachment
Typically, the drawstring is a sturdy cord. This can be a little thicker or thinner; what is important is that it can withstand the weight of the contents. The tear resistance does not necessarily depend on the thickness of the cord. However, the wider straps or cords are somewhat more comfortable to wear because they do not cut into the skin as much. Some sports bags only have a wide cord on each side, others have two loops each. For adults it is no problem to handle two cords, but children get along better with just one cord. At the bottom and sometimes also at the top, there are often eyelets to which the drawstring is attached. These eyelets protect the fabric from excessive wear and tear and ensure that nothing tears out even with somewhat violent movements.

The material
In our test of the gym bags, we examined the properties of the materials, which are characterized by various advantages. Cotton and jute are environmentally friendly and natural, while the weave structure underlines the casual look of the bags. Polyester and nylon convince with their improved functional properties, because they are typically waterproof. In contrast to the fabric and synthetic fiber bags, the leather models are a little heavier.

The care properties
A look at the care instructions shows that they are closely linked to the material. According to the manufacturer, the cotton gym bags can often be cleaned in the washing machine at 30 degrees Celsius, while wiping and wiping the synthetic fiber items with a damp sponge is sufficient. The sports bag should be dry before reuse. The cotton bags can even be ironed if necessary so that the wrinkles disappear. In general, manufacturers recommend ironing the bags inside out and only at a low temperature. The type of cleaning also says something about the correct treatment in everyday use. Some gym bags are a bit more sensitive and should therefore not be placed on the dirty and possibly damp floor.

The closure
The classic closure of the gym bags from our test consists of a sturdy cord that also functions as a shoulder strap. Typically the pouch has two cords: one on each side. These can be tightened on both sides so that the opening is closed. Sometimes there is also an extra cord for the closure that is not connected to the straps. The course of the carrying cords to the lower edge of the bag enables the gym bag to be carried on the shoulder. Like a backpack, it lies on the back of the body so that you have your hands free. Not only are the students happy about this, but also the adults who have opted for a bag instead of a shoulder bag. Special locking solutions can increase the security of the contents. This is, for example, a flap that is fixed over the cord or separate zippered outer pockets.

The environmentally friendly processing
Many manufacturers rely on particularly gentle processing. In the selection of raw materials as well as in production, they are therefore correspondingly environmentally conscious. On this basis, the gym bag can also be a statement for the conservation of natural resources. Some bags have this motto printed on them, while others only recognize this responsible approach to the environment at second glance.

The design
Minimal patterns all over the fabric, a uniform shade, eye-catching prints or bright neon colors, the range of designs tempts buyers to order several gym bags at the same time. With the sports brands, the unmistakable logo is often printed in large format, other companies tend to rely on subliminal labeling. A lot has changed when it comes to gym bags for children, but many girls still like delicate colors such as pink and playful motifs such as flowers, cats and dolls, while boys tend towards science fiction figures and cars. If the parents are not sure which motif is currently popular, they should let the children choose. That way you avoid disappointment. After all, the gym bag should match school equipment and, above all, meet the child’s taste. A little admiration from classmates doesn’t hurt either. The gym bags for the city captivate with funny prints and strong contrasts, sometimes they also stand out from the crowd with a particularly natural look. Here buyers have a wide range to choose from, which makes them want a change from the start. Sporty or suitable for the city, cool or playful, weird or classic, there is the perfect gym bag for every taste.

What do I have to look out for when buying a gym bag?

The search for a gym bag starts with looking for the right size. This is especially suitable for kindergarten or the first school grades or it allows users to put in a few more items. When choosing a gym bag, optics are of course also high on the priority list. Even children have their own taste that they want to enforce. So that you actually have fun with your gym class, the sports bag should match your outfit and be adorned with your favorite motifs.

The division of the inner workings is also important. If you only want to stow a few light sports items in it, a large inner compartment is sufficient. For small items such as a drinking bottle or gym shoes, it is worth choosing a gym bag that has a separate additional compartment. This can be accessible from the outside or located inside.

The main function is fulfilled by the gym bags, which were developed for school sports. These have a volume of 12 or 15 liters, for example, and are made of water-repellent material in most cases. Such a gym bag is suitable for school sports as well as for weekend trips. Then it is used as a backpack version and contains, for example, a little provisions.
The cotton gym bags with cool prints qualify for the combination with the street style. In addition to the natural look, the focus here is on individuality. That is why many people are enthusiastic about the smart slogans or the attractive pictures with which these bags are printed. By choosing the latest sports bags, you can add more variety to your outfit, be it skating or at university. If you like it colorful, you don’t have to adapt the bag perfectly to the clothing, but can set striking contrasts. The pattern mix is ​​particularly eye-catching and underlines the casual style.

Before buying a gym bag you don’t have to get to know all the models in detail, but it is worth taking a look at the bestsellers and test winners. While a large part of the sports bag is tailored to school or sports needs, other versions focus on a cool appearance. The classic gym bags for small children, for example, often have an address field so that they can be assigned immediately in an emergency. The larger gym bags from the test, on the other hand, are a bit more stable and offer significantly more space. So in addition to the sportswear, they also take on the sunglasses and a few other things.

The optimal size of the gym bag depends mainly on what is to be put into it. However, the greater the volume, the greater the cleaning effort. Additional compartments do not necessarily make maintenance easier either, but they ensure more variability. Which material is best for individual use and how solidly it was processed, these criteria are reflected in the purchase price of the gym bags. When deciding on a model, however, buyers should keep in mind that the expensive items usually last longer.

Whether the sports bag has the necessary durability can be seen from a few details. The test winners of the gym bags often have stabilizing corners and eyelets, which ensure that the material is not stressed too much. A solid material on the underside provides improved protection in this context. This prevents the light textile or synthetic fiber from wearing out prematurely, even if the sports bag is thrown on the floor frequently. Small leather patches on the edges or additional, firm bag elements give the bags more support.

Information to the leading brands

The companies that produce durable and attractive gym bags often also present other sporting goods in their range. Functional and trendy models are offered by adidas and Nike, for example. Other manufacturers such as Scout come from the school article industry. Other companies such as Westford, McNeill, Converse and Deuter also have gym bags in their range that rank among the test winners in this area. Loomiloo, Quadra and Hashtagstuff are known for their durable gym bags, among other things, which are available in simple and exciting designs.

If the gym bag is to be selected for a child, their opinion must not be overlooked. After all, it carries its bag with the gym equipment in it at least once a week. Matching the school bag is not always enough when looking for the ideal design. It is better to let the child decide. There may now be new figures on the hit list that drove away the previous favorites. The Minions or Star Wars motifs, funny animals or flowers, for boys and girls there is a wide range of beautiful images that ensure a distinctive look on the gym bags.


Where is the best place to buy my gym bag?

The easy way to buy a gym bag is through the internet. Interested parties have an enormous selection here, which can be narrowed down using the filters and sorting. In this way, only those gym bags are displayed on the monitor that meet the respective requirements. In blue or in motley, with or without a print motif, as school supplies or as a city accessory, even rummaging through the various sports bags is fun. In the online shops and portals, the comparison is done in no time, so that the complete order can be carried out in a few minutes.

The shops also have a lot of gym bags available, but the range is somewhat limited due to the size of the warehouse. The sports shops but also the specialty shops for bags come into question as a contact point.

In the sports or leather goods store, customers can get direct advice on request, and it is also possible to buy your own gym bag test winner right away. A third advantage over the internet is the direct view of the articles. Here you can touch the material and test the cord fastener.

However, it is noticeable that the number of Internet orders continues to rise, while sales figures in the shops are falling. Buying online is more convenient and there is no need to pay attention to shop opening hours. Customers are happy to accept a delivery time of one to four days if the gym bags are available at a lower price. If the accessories do not appeal to you when you touch them and test them, they can be exchanged easily. All of these virtues are what make online shopping so popular today. Ultimately, consumers benefit from shorter delivery times, good discount campaigns and the convenience of ordering online.

Useful accessories

There are various accessories for the gym bags from the 2020 test that have been developed to refine ergonomics, safety and design. The gym bags can sometimes be called an accessory, especially if they are offered in a set for school beginners. In addition to the school satchel and gym bag, such a complete set often includes a pencil case. Boxes and similar containers can also be part of the school set.

With the gym bag test winners, it can be worthwhile to buy spare parts for repairs. These are, for example, drawstrings or cords that can be replaced if necessary. Additional pockets and clips can be used to upgrade the bag and make it even more functional. The panniers in particular are useful accessories, as they make it easier for children and other users to tidy up the inside of the sports bag. These extra pockets protect the various things from each other. For example, they ensure that the swimwear does not come into contact with any other objects. However, when emptying the gym bag, you have to empty and often clean all these panniers so that they are clean and dry again for the next use.

Additional accessories for the gym bags that we checked in the test relate to the area of ​​application in school. Cases and food boxes can be named as well as larger bags for transporting heavy books. Sports accessories complete the scope of delivery of the bags. These can be hairbands and sweat stoppers. Special tags or brackets can also be combined with the gym bags. A carabiner holds the house key, for example, while special protective covers for the cell phone also optimize security.

Furthermore, useful elements such as bottle holders or additional buckles are available to users of the bags. With parts like this, every bag and backpack becomes an individual and practical accessory. As with the gym bags themselves, there is also a diverse selection of color designs for these parts. This enables perfect coordination. Stickers and stickers are also available for an original look. These can be used to decorate the gym bag as desired. These applications and stickers are very popular with the bags that are used in schools as well as with the city bags.

Gym Bag alternatives

The gym bag with its functional equipment can be replaced by a small sports backpack or a shoulder bag if necessary. However, most backpacks are heavier and have a locking system that requires a little more attention than the handy cord. Even a sturdy shoulder bag is not necessarily the best choice for physical education.

Just like the simple jute bag, the bag may be missing a closure. It can be folded up just like the classic gym bag, so it has a similarly small pack size, but you need at least one hand to carry it.

The sports bag is often mentioned as the more stable alternative to the gym bag. However, there are some clearly visible differences that indicate that these two systems cannot be compared directly. The sports bags are generally much larger and heavier. While they offer more protection for the content, they are definitely not suitable for elementary school students. Possibly. A small travel backpack can also be used instead of the gym bag. Like a school backpack, this is not as handy, but it can prove to be a reliable companion in various situations.

As an alternative to the trendy gym bag, there are the different types of handbags. A city rucksack can also be used instead of the stylish gym bag. With these bag models it is not about transporting the sports equipment, but the personal taste and the very own way of life are the focus and should be clearly visible through the accessories.

Frequently Asked Questions: Gym Bags

For what can I use a gym bag?

The real purpose of the gym bags is to transport the sports equipment. The practical bags are also suitable for many other activities. They can be used while cycling and are also an ideal shopping bag. They can also be used as a beach bag or as a practical carrier bag when on vacation. The gym bags are also very popular as a replacement for a small sports bag or as a fashionable alternative to the messenger bag

How do you wear the classic gym bag correctly: over your shoulder or on your back?

The gym bags from our test usually have a closure system with a drawstring. On both sides this cord runs to the bottom of the bag. If you push your arms through these wide loops, you can carry the gym bag loosely on your back. Since the weight is usually rather light, this backpack-like system does not need to be lashed down. The hands can move freely because the bag does not slip away.

Are there environmentally friendly gym bags?

Our test of the gym bags also includes the models made of cotton and jute. These natural materials are a sign of the environmental awareness of the wearer. Jute and similar materials have a long life and are accordingly ecological. For the green conscience, these natural and typically sustainably manufactured gym bags are the right choice.

How is the gym bag closed and opened?

In contrast to the handbag, backpack and other carrying systems, the gym bag needs neither buckles nor zippers. The main compartment is simply closed by lashing the cord. If you pull them apart again, the opening is created through which you can easily get to the contents. Some of the gym bags from the test have extra compartments. Here it makes perfect sense if zippers or buttons are available as security. So you don’t lose your little things.

Why are the gym bags now called the perfect city companion?

Due to their small format and light weight, the gym bags are very practical means of transport. At the same time, they look smart, so that more and more people are equipping themselves with them. Whether the gym bags come from well-known sports brands or from exclusive leather brands, they always look very relaxed and uncomplicated. The diverse styles and color mixes allow an individual selection so that the city outfit can be perfectly complemented. Rich in contrast or uniform, these bags provide many convincing arguments. As an interim solution, they either replace the handbag or the simple jute bag. As with a backpack, your hands do not have to carry anything, but most gym bags are much lighter than classic city backpacks.

Does the gym bag have to be waterproof?

The test winners of the gym bags are waterproof or at least water-repellent. These models score with their optimized properties and can also be used in bad weather. Even if they have to withstand a lot of rain, the sportswear stays dry inside. A cotton bag is not weatherproof, so everything gets wet when you walk through the rain. The difference between water-repellent and waterproof cannot be seen at first glance.

The water-repellent synthetic fibers allow the rain to partially roll off, but cannot withstand permanent rainfall. When it rains really hard, things only stay dry in the waterproof gym bag. With modern materials, the outer wall resembles a membrane. On the one hand, this ensures breathable properties and lets the moisture in the sportswear used outside, on the other hand, no water gets inside the bag.

How much weight can a gym bag withstand?

The simple gym bags for school shouldn’t be stressed too much, even if the material is generally considered to be relatively resistant. Usually these bags can hold up to 4 or 6 kg. The sportswear and the shoes are usually not that heavy. Problems with weight should therefore not arise. However, when packing, the manufacturers and experts recommend avoiding unnecessary things, because carrying it is a little more difficult with increased weight.