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9 best gym bags for women that will make you want to work out

Protect and carry your fitness gear in style with one of these practical, yet chic, holdall’s

Alice Barraclough
Tuesday 16 March 2021 17:52
<p>As gyms begin to reopen, you’re going to need a great studio-to-street gym bag to keep up with your newfound busy schedule</p>

As gyms begin to reopen, you’re going to need a great studio-to-street gym bag to keep up with your newfound busy schedule

With the days where commuting between work, gym and home are soon set to become a thing again, you’re going to need a great studio-to-street gym bag to keep up with your booked and busy schedule.

Sure, you could shove your sweaty leggings, trainers, protein shake, water bottle and entire bathroom cabinet into your favourite designer handbag, but no one likes being that person with their life’s contents falling out of an overstuffed bag.

And don’t even get us started on those flimsy freebie canvas totes (you know the ones we mean – those thin bags that are currently collecting dust under your bed). Do you really want to spend all your hard-earned cash on beautiful gym kit that makes you feel and look fabulous, only to chuck it in something that’s likely to break after a few uses? The answer is no.

We’ve tested some of the chicest gym bags on the current market, from duffles to rucksacks. Though the models vary in size, style and material, all were tested on the grounds of their appearance, durability, and value for money.

We asked the all-important questions, including: is this bag really big enough to pack all our beauty essentials for a gym-to-office pre-work dash? Is there enough room for work-appropriate shoes (read: heeled boots in the winter and platform wedges in the summer)? Is it actually comfortable to carry about and stylish enough not to be out of place during post-work cocktail’s on a Friday?

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Alo city zen duffle

With extra-stretchy straps at the front for your yoga mat, separate compartments, and easy-to-clean, sleek materials – this functional carryall appears to have it all. The neoprene zipped compartment at the bottom is probably our favourite aspect of this to-and-from duffle – it can easily fit two pairs of trainers, or you could use it for wet towels or sweaty clothes (so they’re completely separate from the rest of your belongings).

It’s pretty big, so you wouldn’t need a separate bag for work and gym – and its luxe feel means it could also double up as a smart weekend bag. It has poppers on either end, so you could make it slightly smaller if you wanted to. The straps easily fit over your shoulder, and inside the main compartment, there are two extra pockets – one with a zip and one with a popper, perfect for valuables. Plus, there’s even a designated water bottle holder to keep your bottle upright and prevent any unwanted spillages.

Andi studio backpack

Using utilitarian sporty elements such as mesh side pockets, a drawstring closure, reflective handles and nylon fabric, this fashion backpack from Andi feels immediately cool and stylish. At first, we weren’t so sure it would be big enough to suit all our gym needs, but it’s deceptively larger than you think. Easy to carry, versatile and ideal for every day, there are lots of things to love about this bag. Oh, and it’s 100 per cent vegan, and water-resistant, too.

Sweaty Betty switch up backpack

Sweaty Betty arguably makes some of the best sporty-chic backpacks out there, with its refreshingly real "gym-to-gin" mentality. And this lightweight, two-in-one commuter backpack is our new favourite. Designed with both your laptop and yoga kit in mind, it’s made from durable matte nylon fabric and features two external zip pockets, plus an internal laptop compartment. The best part? You can change it up and use it as a tote instead of a backpack by unclipping the straps and concealing them in a hidden extra section at the back. Talk about a multitasker – it’s perfect for walking, travelling and when you’re on the go

Lululemon on my level bag large

We’ve been using this large Lululemon slouchy tote for a couple of years now and the separate compartments are a godsend. The central zip divider is so useful – it even has a mesh top to air out your sweaty gear – and the extra strap is pretty handy for when you’ve got to lug around everything from your laptop and trainers to make-up essentials. Whether you’re spinning, HIIT training or aligning your chakras in yoga – this bag ticks the gym essentials, offering all the space you’ll need. Lululemon also makes a smaller (and slightly cheaper) version of this bag for those days when you don’t need to have everything on you.

Adidas by Stella McCartney print tote bag

Adidas by Stella McCartney’s designs always give us a lesson in fashion meets streetwear practicality. This simple yet fun tote is roomy enough for a towel, a change of clothes, toiletries and even a protein bar or two. It is perhaps a little less sturdy than some of the other options on this list (as it’s unlined), but what makes it stand out from the competition is the fact that it’s made with Primegreen – recycled materials – so you know you’re making both a fashion-forward and environmentally conscious decision with this on your arm.

PE Nation set shot gym bag

It’s hard not to feel immediately stylish with this perfect “sling it all in” gym tote from PE Nation. The set shot bag, with its sleek outer and a capacious inner – both lined with discrete zipped compartments – will not only elevate your day-to-day but also won’t look out of place at post-work drinks. It’s very large, so you needn’t worry about not being able to squeeze in all your fit-kit, and comes with a long detachable crossbody strap, for hands-free ease.

Nicce voyager backpack

With many of us deciding to forego public transport once offices reopen, and commit to riding to work on two wheels instead, you’ll need a well-designed and work-appropriate backpack. This gender-neutral backpack from Nicce caught our eye mainly because of its large reflective strip down the front – so you can be safe, and stylish, on the roads. There are two side pockets – perfect for a water bottle or small umbrella – and the drawstring plus utilitarian buckles mean your belongings are nice and secure.

Bamae organic cotton sports bag

From sustainable brand Bamae, this eco-friendly carrier takes things back to basics, with a simple, spacious design. There are no fancy compartments or prints here – just classic practically in 100 per cent sustainable organic cotton. The vibrant red really pops against the durable white straps – and we think this bag, with its universal, minimalist appeal will look just as good at the beach as at your yoga class.

Columbia unisex outdry ex 40l duffel bag

For the adventurers among you, you may be looking for a gym bag that can also double up as a waterproof weekend bag for hiking or camping trips. Enter Columbia’s duffel, built with their outdry extreme waterproof technology, not even the most testing of British weather can dampen your clothes in this.

Similar to the Bamae bag (£25, , there are no handy internal zipped compartments – but it does come with removable padded shoulder straps so you can switch it up from a duffle to a backpack.

The verdict: Women’s gym bags

If money were no issue, we’d recommend the Alo city zen duffle – the separate shoe compartment and yoga mat straps really sold this bag to us, and we love that it can double up for weekend getaways. Otherwise, we thought Sweaty Betty’s switch up backpack, with its functional silhouette and multitasking two-in-one style, ticks all the boxes for busy women on the go.

It’s not just women who deserve a brilliant gym bag, so we’ve also found the best gym bags for men that are durable an spacious

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