best sports bags

Sports Bag: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

The sports bag is indispensable for athletes, offering space for drinks, clothing and shoes. For our list of the best, our team of experts examined various comparisons and tests on the Internet and included ratings for volume, material, straps and much more.

Questions to Consider Before Buying A Gym Bag

What is a Sports bag?

A sports bag is a product that can hardly be surpassed in terms of versatility. Basically, however, the focus is primarily on one function, namely the storage of sportswear and shoes as well as accessories. In each case in an orderly form and in the appropriate compartments.

A sports bag can consist of different materials, such as a plastic mesh, leather, nylon etc. There are almost no limits to the creativity of the manufacturer in this context. Which material you choose when choosing a sports bag mostly depends on different factors.

In this context, there is talk, among other things, of whether the sports bag is intended exclusively for taking with you to sport – for example club sport, competitive sport, fitness studio, swimming training or the like – or whether it should also be used for other activities.

There are also differences in the size of a sports bag. Certainly today it is for the most part customary to divide the size of the bags into the categories XS to XXL, as is the case with regard to the breakdown of the sizes for clothing. Which sports bag size the consumer chooses in each case depends primarily on individual taste and the intended use.

A well thought-out layout

A sports bag is also characterized by the way it is divided up on the inside. In the well-stocked online trade, on the one hand, sports bags are available whose inner workings are very simple and, for example, designed with just one additional compartment for the wallet.

Then, in turn, you can opt for models whose compartments are designed so that you can stow a wide variety of utensils as you wish. All of this against the background of preventing chaos when packing and unpacking the sports equipment and finding each individual part as quickly as possible. In view of the fact that when changing clothes – casual clothes for sportswear – you also take off your underwear and socks, it makes sense to stow them in a separate compartment.

Fresh laundry that you put on after exercising or training is in turn in a different compartment. Consequently, the more extensive the selection of compartments and the more different they are in terms of their size, the more flexibility the owner of the sports bag offers.

They thought about everything

Modern, high-quality sports bags usually have one to three wide compartments, a spacious main compartment, which is usually located in the middle of the bag, and a few narrow compartments. Depending on the size and nature of the bag, it is also possible that there is another compartment underneath the bottom of the bag – for example for dirty laundry or for sports shoes.

There are also often additional compartments on the sides in which you can stow shower items or soft drinks, among other things. Sports bags are often equipped with belts or straps that can be individually adjusted.

After all, anyone who goes to training by bike wants to be able to carry their sports bag just as easily with them as someone who goes to work out with a sports backpack. These straps can usually be adjusted individually and play a very important role in terms of comfort. In general, the comfort of a sports bag is very important. In this respect, modern sports bags or rucksacks are ergonomically shaped or they have special elements that are intended to offer maximum comfort and safety when being carried or transported.

How does a Sports bag work?

What is remarkable about a sports bag is that most models are extremely functional and very complex with a view to individual use. For example, if you look at the material properties, you will notice that functional sports bags are usually made of breathable, easy-to-wash and hard-wearing materials. All of these aspects are fundamental when it comes to ensuring comprehensive functionality from the start.

A sports bag is by no means primarily used for visual reasons, for example because it looks particularly good and scores with a high-quality style, but rather it is worth taking a look behind the scenes when looking at the materials. The use of breathable and moisture-absorbing materials is of fundamental importance for a sports bag. In view of the fact that clothing, but also shoes, sometimes secrete a great deal of moisture, a high level of moisture absorption is indeed elementary.

Sweaty clothing and sports shoes as well as towels that have absorbed moisture from drying after showering, as well as other utensils, separate moisture when they are packed in the sports bag.

If the sports bag were made of non-moisture-resistant or non-breathable materials, sooner or later mold could form inside the bag. Because the fact is that in view of the numerous compartments inside a sports bag, it can often be difficult to dry the bag in the shortest possible time. In this respect, you would do well to choose a product made from breathable materials when choosing a sports bag.

The comfort speaks for itself

Basically, a sports bag is used to transport sports clothing and shoes as well as shower stuff and other things that you need before and after training from A to B. Functional compartments help keep things tidy right from the start so that all these belongings don’t get mixed up on the go and chaos inside the bag ensues.

Depending on the purpose of the compartments, some of them, at least in the case of high-quality sports bags, have special pores that dry quickly and are characterized by particularly high breathability. Depending on the quality and the nature of the material, it would not be a problem if the damp dirty laundry was not taken out of the bag immediately after training, but rather emptied the following day.

When it comes to ensuring the most comfortable transport of sports equipment in the sports bag, it is also important that an adequate weight distribution is guaranteed. Modern sports bags have straps attached to the side or one or more straps that are stretched over the bag. With this you can either transport the bag on your back from A to B, or you can hang the good piece over your shoulder.

Interestingly, robust sports bags also have a base plate, which is intended to ensure an additional level of stability in the lower part of the product. Depending on whether balls or other heavy utensils are to be carried in the bag, this base plate can be helpful so that the floor does not bulge downwards in view of the additional load.

Advantages & areas of application

The advantages that a sports bag has to offer are obvious. Such a product is much more than just a means of transport for sports equipment of all kinds. It is more about getting the items required for training, such as jerseys, shoes, underwear, shower stuff and soft drinks, but also the dirty, sweaty laundry afterwards to stow away.

Certainly you could also use a conventional plastic bag. However, such a utensil is not only an additional burden for the environment and it also has a number of other disadvantages – not only with regard to its instability, by the way.

In this respect, it quickly becomes clear how elementary the functionality of a sports bag is today. Most of the time, the size that should be accommodated in a sports bag is quite large, although we are not even talking about balls or other sports equipment that should often enough also find space in a training bag.

A corresponding container is correspondingly heavy, so that the general question arises as to how it is even possible from the point of view of an athlete to carry all this as easily and comfortably as possible from your own four walls to the sports hall? Without suffering a herniated disc, back pain or the like.

In this aspect, too, it quickly becomes clear that a sports bag is capable of far more than just stowing various kinds of utensils inside, but rather that it is also about an adequate distribution of the weight. Only in this way is it possible to wear sports equipment without great effort and without any health consequences. The distribution of the weight through an adequate conception of the interior with a view to the individual compartments – that is a very decisive advantage that a sports bag has to offer.

The condition of the inner workings of a sports bag in terms of ensuring even weight distribution is elementary in a sports bag. Just as important, however, is the material quality of the inner part.

Air permeability, breathability and high durability play a very important role when it comes to the conception of a sports bag, because hobby and competitive athletes benefit equally from this.

When it comes to regularly taking heavier equipment with you for training, such as dumbbells or weights, you cannot get by with a sports bag without an implemented base plate. This offers a kind of counterweight and thereby enables easier transport on the one hand and preserves the quality of the bag itself on the other. This base plate reduces the overload or overstretching of the material to a minimum.

Not to forget, there are now also models in the modern world of sports bags that are similar to the principle of the trolley. The rollers attached in the lower part contribute to the fact that the transport of the sports bag together with the essential items for training can be carried out more easily and comfortably.

What types of Sports bags are available?

To date, the most diverse types of sports bags have established themselves on the market, and each of them can be adapted to the intended use. The power and size of the utensils to be transported also play a central role.

Trolleys

Trolleys are generally bags or suitcases that are equipped with small rollers on their underside and with a handle or a special, mostly extendable holder in the upper part, so that the bag can be rolled over the floor during transport. Because the rollers take up the entire weight of the sports bag and this is distributed over all four rollers at the same time, the consumer benefits from a decisive advantage: the weight he has to carry is reduced to a minimum.

This means that he saves valuable strength and energy and can then invest it all the more intensively in the upcoming training. Trolleys for the sports sector are usually available in the classic bag shape, and these too are characterized by the fact that they have a lot to offer in terms of functionality thanks to their high-quality, breathable and moisture-repellent materials.

Sports bags with base plate

It all depends on the weight of the utensils that you want to transport in the sports bag. If you have to regularly transport several heavy objects to the sports hall, sports bags with an implemented base plate are ideal.

This plate usually consists of a rectangular plastic plate, which was made with the respective material from which the bag is made. Depending on the model, a base plate is either easily removable or it is fixed in the lower part so that it cannot slip. Such a plate offers the advantage that heavier objects, such as dumbbells, cannot press down and thus damage the material of the sports bag.

Sports bags without a base plate

Sports bags without special base plates are usually simple and very light in their structure. Ideally, you only transport a few sports equipment in it so as not to overuse the workmanship, especially in the area of the seams.

Backpacks

Backpacks whose quality is designed in such a way that damp or sweaty clothes and shoes can be transported or deposited in them are definitely also suitable as sports backpacks. In general, sports backpacks score because there are two wide straps that make it possible to easily strap the product onto the back, so that the neck, spine, back and intervertebral discs are relieved.

If such a backpack is not too heavily packed, an upright gait can be made possible, and an even distribution of the weight is guaranteed. While a normal sports bag is usually only carried on one side of the body, the weight of the sports backpack is evenly distributed over the shoulder and back area.

Regular bags

Leisure bags are also suitable to take with you to training every now and then. Usually these are thin or less durable sports bags, the textile nature of which is more conditionally suitable for storing sweaty or damp objects.

This means that there is a much higher risk of mold when stored for a long time, and unpleasant odors are usually difficult to remove from an inexpensive leisure bag. In addition, there are usually no special inner compartments in which, for example, locker keys, membership cards for the fitness studio or drinks bottles can be adequately stowed. In this respect, you are definitely better off with a sports bag than with a simple leisure bag.

How are Sports bags tested?

Design

In the opinion of many consumers, the most important thing in a sports bag is design. Certainly there are almost no limits to the manufacturers’ creative imagination, but design and high quality literally go hand in hand, also with a view to the selection of the respective materials. Regardless of whether a simple or an extravagant sports bag is desired: the quality and the appealing look, which ideally also correspond to the current style of the respective favorite brand, are elementary in this regard.

Special compartments

If you are spoiled for choice, you can also decide for or against a model with special compartments when buying a new sports bag. In this regard, it is important that these fully meet the individual requirements of the users. If, for example, it is important that sports balls, dumbbells or the like can be taken along, it is essential that high-quality materials and first-class workmanship are guaranteed, especially in these areas. Accordingly, the focus of the test was particularly on these areas.

Materials

In general, a sports bag is equipped with a wide variety of sports equipment, each of which is noticeable with a not inconsiderable weight. To prevent the sports bag from tearing apart at an early stage or the seams coming loose, etc., the test also focused on visual inspection of the material properties.

Whether leather, nylon, plastic mesh or other materials: high stability, special tear resistance, moisture-repellent and breathable properties should be guaranteed as far as possible.

In addition, the material properties also relate to the quality of the straps, straps, handles and fasteners: these should also be characterized by high durability and longevity.

Comfort

The more utensils are stowed in the sports bag, the more important it is that, on the one hand, the stability of the bag does not leave something to be desired and, on the other hand, that an adequate distribution of the weight inside the bag is ensured. Because only in this way is it possible to transport your belongings without problems.

In this respect, the correct distribution of the subjects is essential. Whether narrow or wide compartments, whether small compartments for wallets or cards or additional areas that are located below the bag to take shoes or other sports equipment: everything has to be right here, and the workmanship and attachment should be of high quality.

Price - Performance Ratio

A high-quality sports bag does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a high purchase price. Various tests have shown that it is very possible to find high-quality bags that cost a moderate price. Therefore, the aspect of the pricing of modern sports bags was very important in the extensive test series.

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

Durability

First and foremost, it is important that the sports bag meets your individual requirements and the intended use. This means that you shouldn’t opt for a simple leisure bag or backpack if you do sports for several hours several times a week and need certain utensils, such as tennis or batminton rackets, balls or dumbbells.

The fact is that a simple leisure bag sooner or later will not be able to cope with the high loads that would come with it. A high quality bag that is as durable as possible is essential in this context.

Weight distribution

Because a gym bag can generally be quite heavy in view of its contents, you should make sure that it is adequately weighted. For example, it should be possible to distribute heavier items in such a way that the bag does not cause posture problems if you carry it on your back or over your shoulder, for example.

An ergonomic design of the straps and handles also makes sense in this regard. In general, when choosing a new sports bag, your health is the focus. In the event that you already have health problems, such as back or intervertebral disc pain, then a specially padded bag is the ultimate.

A sports bag that you carry diagonally over your shoulders turns out to be extremely unsuitable, we would rather recommend a sports backpack.

Compartments

Depending on how much you have to take with you for training, the division of the subjects should also be designed. For soccer players or marathon runners, for example, there is a separate compartment for sports shoes in the lower part of the bag. This should be easily washable, moisture-repellent and breathable.

If you want to carry certain documents in the sports bag, for example for competitions or the like, narrow compartments in DIN A4 and special compartments for membership and club cards are essential. Small compartments for purses or keys should also be present in a sports bag if possible.

Features

An individual quality is always an advantage. Based on the requirements you have on your sports bag, you should therefore also make sure that there is space for special items or that functional extras are available that make handling or handling the bag easier. Among other things, there are roles in the lower part or ergonomic handles.

In general, it is therefore worthwhile to select the new sports bag in such a way that it meets your personal requirements in terms of quality, functionality and price-performance. If, on top of that, the new product succeeds in realizing individual wishes and thereby increasing the convenience of use – all the better.

Where is the best place to buy my gym bag?

It is best to buy a sports bag where you can find the most beautiful, functional, high quality and attractively priced models. If you start the search on the basis of our product reports, you will do everything right from the start, as each of our product comparisons is convincing due to its high information content, remarkable consumer orientation and absolute objectivity.

If you have discovered one or more sports bags for yourself based on our product comparisons, you can take a look at these bags in retail stores and convince yourself of their value “live and in color”. As has been shown time and again, however, the very products that immediately appear particularly interesting are often not in stock in the local trade – for whatever reason.

Of course, a good seller will immediately offer you to order the model you want so that you can take a look at it later. At the same time, however, many employees speculate that you will certainly buy the goods you have ordered in the shop in question. In this respect, the customer is sometimes forced to act because sooner or later he will feel obliged to buy the product.

Quite different in the Internet business: On the one hand, the selection of sports bags online is impressively large today, so that it is very easy and uncomplicated to look at the bags under consideration and to form an opinion. In addition, it is the case that the bags are only rarely folded or packed on the website. Again a decisive criterion for retail.

Because if you consider that many bags, provided they are actually in stock, are covered in foil and the quality of the goods is often only recognizable at a second or third glance, the preliminary research in the local retail trade again seems extremely senseless.

Simply shop online

But there is another very decisive aspect that speaks in favor of ordering the sports bags you want online: the price. It has been shown time and again that in some retail stores you pay far more for a product, such as a sports bag, than if you were to order it on the Internet.

The reasons for this are obvious: the retailer is faced with a wide variety of costs – month after month. In this regard, there is talk of the financial expenses for rent, storage, heating, personnel and the like. Depending on the region, these costs are sometimes higher, sometimes lower.

From the point of view of an online retailer, these costs are only incurred to a minor extent, if at all, since no advertising space, storage, etc. have to be made available. There is also no need to have several salespeople present to advise the customer.

All of this can be done very easily and conveniently via the PC: If you like a sports bag, click on it and, if there is a need, ask a specialist to explain the advantages and possible disadvantages. Such advice is usually given by telephone, email or online chat, which is made available free of charge on the website.

And as if these weren’t enough advantages that online retailing has to offer, it should also be taken into account that you save yourself the sometimes long journeys to the shop, the search for a parking space, the parking fees and the time-consuming waiting at the checkout lines. These are truly advantages that can be seen. In view of this, it is not surprising that more and more quality-conscious consumers are choosing to buy their sports bags online.

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How to take care of your gym bag?

Most sports bags are difficult to wash. It is therefore necessary to resort to alternatives in order to maintain the material properties for as long as possible. If you carry sweaty clothes in your bag for a long time, then it is obvious that the bag will sooner or later start to smell. It is therefore important to remedy this and eliminate the unpleasant aromas.

It is advisable to empty the bag completely and to turn it upside down when it is open. Possible crumbs or smaller dirt particles are thrown out in this way and can therefore no longer give off any fragrance.

It is advisable to work on the individual compartments with a damp cloth that has been moistened with a gentle cleaning agent. With this, you wipe the inside and remove further contamination in the process. Don’t forget to use the cloth as far as possible into the corners and edges of the inner compartments, as this is where a lot of dust, dirt, germs and the like can settle. It is precisely these impurities that give off an unsightly odor, which can also settle in the fibers of your sports equipment.

If it is not easily possible with the cloth to free the edges, edges and corners from dirt – and thus also from a number of odor sources – it is worth using cotton swabs. Moisten these with a little cleaning agent and remove all kinds of deposits with these slim helpers.

We also recommend treating the inlay with a disinfectant spray once the basic cleaning with a cloth and cotton swab has been successfully carried out. Ideally, make sure that the spray also gets into the smallest corners so that possible sweat particles, dead skin cells that are deposited on sweaty shirts etc. are also eliminated. By the way, this is a very important aspect when it comes to efficiently removing dirt, germs and odors.

The interior of your sports bag is now clean, fragrant and at least largely free of bacteria and germs? Then you should also take care to adequately clean the outer covering. Bear in mind that the bag will be placed on a wide variety of, sometimes heavily soiled, surfaces and that bacteria will find it easy to settle on the material.

Therefore, you should also use a damp cloth and a disinfecting cleaner to work here. The bottom of the bag from the outside as well as the side parts and especially the straps and handles of the sports bag should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. If necessary, rub vigorously with a rough microfiber cloth. And when all dirt has been removed – inside and outside – your sports bag will literally shine in new splendor.

Useful accessories

Heating elements and cables
If you love winter sports – no matter what kind – we would like to recommend that you purchase heating elements and cables for your sports bag. These practical utensils are now available for different pocket sizes, they are very easy to use and they offer you maximum comfort in cold winter landscapes or on snow-covered ski slopes. Because of this, we can literally recommend them highly to you.

Shoulder strap
Depending on the quality, a belt or a strap does not keep what the manufacturer promises. Depending on the load and the total weight of the bag, shoulder straps or carrying straps may tear. In order to be able to counter such a mishap, the timely purchase of adequate replacement belts is a good recommendation.

Cup holders
They are often net-like structures that can be attached to various eyelets or holding devices on the sports bag with a tape or Velcro fastener: Cup holders prove to be very helpful, as it has been shown time and again that bottles or cans are simply placed inside the sports bag be transported, tip over, leak and thus stain the valuable contents of the bag. Often it is impurities that are difficult to remove. This is why additional cup holders offer many advantages and are therefore an ideal accessory that belongs to every sports bag.

Replacement pouch
Many sports bags contain such a utensil, but experience has shown that no-name bags are usually missing: tear-resistant, washable bags that can be attached to the inside of the bag with a Velcro fastener.

These little helpers are ideal for storing clothes that are wet or damp with sweat. This means that the dirty sports equipment does not come into contact with the high-quality bag, so that dirt or the spread of odors can be kept to a minimum.

Sticker
If you feel like it, you can equip the sports bag with a coat of arms of your favorite club or with the logo of your own sports club. These can be ordered from the relevant providers and then only need to be attached to the designated place on the outside of the bag with a sewing machine, flocking or with the help of an adhesive. With such an accessory, every sports bag gets a very individual, even more stylish touch.

Buckles
Depending on the quality, it may be possible that one or the other small part on the sports bag wears out or breaks. This is especially the case when fasteners or buttons are involved. We therefore recommend that you order the appropriate replacement buckles for your new sports bag in good time so that you are optimally equipped in the worst-case scenario. Usually these elements can be inserted quickly or they may have to be fixed with two or three needle sticks.

Sports Bag Alternatives

Leisure bag
If – for whatever reason – no sports bag is available, the use of a leisure bag is a good idea. Certainly, its quality cannot always compete with the value of a functional sports bag. But if, as an exception, the only thing you need to do is to transport your sports equipment along with drinks, underwear and shower gear from home to the sports hall, a leisure bag can definitely do a good job.

Make sure, however, that the carrying capacity corresponds to your health conditions. This should ensure that the contents of the bag are distributed as evenly as possible so as not to unnecessarily stress the back, shoulders and spine.

Backpack
In contrast to a normal sports bag, a backpack is relatively small and compact. High-quality backpacks certainly have a number of inner compartments so that certain things can be stowed away quickly and easily. In this respect, a backpack can very well be an alternative to a sports bag – at least for a short time. When using a backpack, however, it is an advantage if you adapt the size to the sports equipment you are taking with you.

If the backpack is packed too full, for example because the soccer ball or volleyball should still fit in, the zipper could be damaged. Letting tennis or batminton rackets peek out from the side also proves to be unfavorable. If you carry your backpack on your back while cycling, the equipment that is too large may suddenly fall out. Caution is therefore required in any case.

Gym bag
We still know them from kindergarten and school: the good old gym bags. These are simple bags made of fabric that usually do not have additional compartments or pockets. Depending on the model, there is a maximum of one holder for a wallet.

Nevertheless, the use of a gym bag can be helpful when the gym bag is not available. One advantage of the gym bag is that it is very lightweight and easy to transport. However, it is often difficult to accommodate sports shoes in addition to clothing for sports training. Not to mention that there must also be space for shower kits and a drinks bottle.

The gym bag offers a certain flexibility. Alternatively, the practical little helper can also be used very well as an accessory bag in the sports bag. Because it is also very good for dirty ones.

Store items of laundry or sweaty socks as well as other things that would otherwise stain the interior of the sports bag. Either way: gym bags are still very practical.

Frequently Asked Questions: Sports Bags

Sports bags are not just sports bags. Rather, they differ in many ways, so that it is not always easy to find the right model right away.

Most sports bags are made of a high-quality polyester material, which is generally characterized by good durability. There are also sports bags that have been made from special mesh materials and that are therefore characterized by additional advantages. It is therefore worthwhile to compare these materials with the individually intended uses in order to find the right product.

There are things that should not be missing in a sports bag. This includes – depending on the sport and performance requirements – the appropriate sportswear and shoes as well as the matching accessories. In this regard, for example, sweatbands or similar utensils are mentioned. In addition, it is important to always have fresh laundry, deodorant, blister plasters and a water bottle filled with an isotonic thirst quencher with you. It may also make sense to have an energy bar, towels and shower gel in your luggage.

If possible, a sports bag should never be stored in a locked cupboard. For example, if you only do sports once a week and store your sports bag in the cloakroom behind a huge cupboard door during the rest of the time, you shouldn’t be surprised if unpleasant smells spread inside the cupboard when you open the cupboard.

The fact is that the sweat and moisture that has deposited on the inner walls of the bag – even after the sports equipment has long been in the wash – can have multiplied within 24 hours. The longer the bag stays in the closet, the more intense the aroma.

You can leave used or sweaty sports equipment in the sports bag for a maximum of half a day. Anything that goes beyond this period can adversely affect the quality of the bag. The activity of the bacteria that are on the surface of the sports equipment is devastating and after 12 hours it can have expanded so much that the bag begins to smell. The longer the material of the bag has to carry this moisture, the more difficult it is to get it out completely.

Current statistics show that every healthy, adult person will own 24 sports bags in the course of their entire life. Often it even happens that someone owns several sports bags at the same time. This is particularly advantageous if you are so enthusiastic about sports that you are not only satisfied with practicing a sport, but also want to do jazz dance or handball in addition to football or tennis.

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