A typical running routine is based out of the home. You have a place for your shoes, a drawer for your running clothes, and maybe a kitchen cabinet for your water bottles or hydration pack.
Whether your running life is portable never really comes into play. So why would you need a gym bag if you’re used to just lacing up your shoes and walking out of the house with your phone strapped to your arm and your keys in your zippered pocket?
To answer in a single word: events. Whether you’re a competitive runner, or considering becoming one, a gym bag is a must for making sure you have all the essentials with you at races. Or you might be running with a group every Tuesday at a track for your speed workouts.
Having a bag ready-to-go, and having friends and family who meet you at the finish line be familiar with its contents, is great planning for a runner. Your crew will be carrying the bag around from place to place, so the best gym bag for runners needs to be lightweight, convenient, and durable. Many have compartments to separate all your different types of gear, with room for shoes, too (using a shoe bag, of course!).
Of course, if you just want to head to the gym to run on the treadmill, run to the office and need to take a change of clothes, or meet some friends for a run and breakfast afterwards, a bag comes in handy, too.
We’ve chosen the Ultimate Direction Crew Bag V2 as our top choice. It has some of the best storage we’ve ever seen, can double up as a backpack, and has a “wet gear” compartment that we find very useful.
Here are some more of our top products:
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Ultimate Direction Crew Bag V2
Salomon Prolog 40 Bag
Focus Gear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0
1. Ultimate Direction Crew Bag V2
This cool duffel bag is designed specifically for runners and their crew members, to make life easier during races.
The first thing we like about it is that it doubles up as a duffel bag and a backpack. That makes it extremely versatile – when you aren’t racing, you can use it as a hiking backpack, travel bag, or simply sling it over your shoulder if you need your hands free.
The space is extremely well organized. Forget those duffel bags with a gaping inner in which your stuff gets thrown around! This duffel unzips fully to show off an inside containing a large compartment for bigger items like shoes or clothes, as well as three small pouches that are great for little things like keys, snack bars, socks, or rehydration packets.
There’s a clear plastic compartment on one end, in which you can store water bottles or snacks that you may need to be able to locate in a hurry.
The other end features a storage area for wet clothes. It has a mesh outer and a waterproof inner, effectively separating your dry clothes from the damp, as well as being breathable enough to prevent bad smells.
We chose this as our best gym bag for runners for its incredible versatility and unique storage capacity. It’s certainly worth the buy if you’re likely to be using a bag often!
- Convertible duffel/backpack
- We like the variety of storage pockets
- Breathable pocket for wet clothing
- Unzips fully for easier access
- Slightly uncomfortable to grip if you’re only using it as a duffel bag
Best Gym Bag with Shoe Compartment
2. adidas Santiago Duffel Bag
Having a shoe compartment on a duffel bag is a big plus. It allows the runner to separate their dirty, muddy shoes from their clothing, so nothing gets dirtier than it already is.
Even if your shoes are clean and dry, it’s useful to have a couple of separate compartments. This bag has a spacious middle compartment and two zippered partitions on either end.
Use them for your shoes, wet clothing or towels, or just smaller items to avoid losing them in the bigger area.
The hand straps have a clasp that keeps them together to make for easier carrying. It also has an adjustable shoulder strap so you can decide which way of carrying is comfortable for you.
The bag is made of polyester, which is durable and super easy to clean. Simply wipe it down with a damp cloth.
- Two zippered side compartments
- Constructed from durable polyester
- Adjustable shoulder strap
- Clasp for handles, making it easier to carry
- No storage geared towards smaller items
Most Durable Gym Bag
3. Salomon Prolog 40 Bag
Salomon is known for their rugged products, and this duffel bag meets the same tough criteria.
We love that it has a waterproof outer, particularly the bottom, so whatever is in it will stay dry no matter what the weather. It’s also thick and not easy to scrape, tear, or puncture.
In terms of space, it’s split into 2 compartments – one for dry gear and one for wet. The wet compartment features a mesh window for breathability, helping your damp clothing to dry out. The dry side has internal pockets which will help keep the little, easy-to-lose things separate and safe.
This hardcore duffel bag is easy to clean. If you do happen to set it down in a muddy puddle, not only will your stuff stay dry, but it’s simple to wipe down with a cloth when you get home.
Some customers have mentioned that the straps are a little long, but all in all it’s a great and extremely durable bag.
- Easy to clean
- Split into a main and a wet compartment
- Two internal pockets for storing smaller stuff
- The straps are adjustable but may still be too long for comfort
Top Small Gym Bag
4. adidas Defender III Small
Sometimes, you don’t need a fancy bag. That’s when this one is the perfect choice – it wins top spot as our best small gym bag.
Something we like about this particular one is that it’s fairly stiff, keeping its tall shape well when opened and closed. It’s not floppy, allowing you to reach in and out without having to move the bag out of your way.
A spacious main section can fit whatever you need, and two zippered side sections are great for shoe compartments or separating dirty clothes from clean ones.
There’s also a small front pocket for the little things, so they don’t get lost in between other stuff.
This duffel is extremely durable. It’s made from Ripstop material, so no matter what you put it through, it should stand the test of time.
- Stands tall, keeping its shape well
- 2 zippered end pockets
- Front pocket for small items
- Ripstop material for extra durability
- Perfect for the gym but not versatile enough for other purposes
Best Bag with Shoulder Straps
5. Under Armour Contain Duo 2.0 Backpack Duffel
This offering from Under Armour is another dual-purpose bag that can be used as a carry bag or a backpack. The straps are adjustable (to a certain degree), and feature a nice narrowed area to make for easy carrying by hand.
UA’s Storm technology makes it water resistant and offers strength against the elements. If you do get caught in heavy weather, your belongings will stay dry and safe. It’s also easy to just throw this bag in the washing machine when you get home to keep it clean.
There’s a decent-sized middle section, and two separate sections on either end. One is expandable to store shoes or clothes separately. You’ll also find a couple of small mesh areas to allow for airflow.
A waterproof front pocket gives you peace of mind that your valuables will be safe and sound. Use as you wish – it’s made for any weather.
- The shoulder straps double as easy-carry handles very nicely
- Ample storage space for both wet and dry apparel
- Machine washable
- Water resistant finish
- The lack of a sternum strap could be an issue for some who wish to use it as a backpack
Top Gym Bag for Women
6. Under Armour Undeniable Duffel-Small
Ladies, it could be that you’d like something a little more feminine and stylish than a rugged, dark-colored duffel bag. That’s why this one comes in as our top choice for women.
It comes in 8 unique, patterned, and colorful designs. But it’s practical as well as pretty! Keeping with the unique outer, the material is water-resistant and also features an abrasion-resistant bottom and sides.
There’s a variety of pockets on the outside before you even unzip the main compartment. A mesh side pouch is perfect for small items like gels or snacks. The zippered front pocket is great for things that need a bit more safety.
Inside, there’s a spacious area and three small mesh pouches to keep your belongings separate. The only thing that may not work for some is that there’s no separate pouch for wet clothes or dirty shoes.
- Stylish design available in many colors & patterns
- Water and abrasion-resistant
- Nice variety of storage options
- Shoulder strap & grab handles
- No padding for carrying fragile items
- No separate shoe/wet items pockets
Best Waterproof Gym Bag
7. The Friendly Swede Sandhamn Duffel – 30L
If you’re worried about your bag getting drenched and ruining your clothing or valuables, this is the bag you can count on to keep them dry and safe.
It’s constructed from heavy-duty tarpaulin, which repels water very effectively. It does make the duffel a touch heavier than other materials, but if you’re finicky about keeping your stuff dry in bad weather, that’s a sacrifice worth making.
You can choose from 30, 60, or 90 liter sizes, depending on your needs. There’s also a nice range of colors.
It can double as a backpack if you prefer it that way. The straps are detachable so they won’t get in your way if you go all-out duffel. Also, the two bigger sizes come with a chest strap as well to make it as stable as possible on your back.
There’s an abundance of mesh pockets inside, including a large one on the inside of the lid. Unfortunately there are no separate partitions for shoes and clothes.
- Made of waterproof tarpaulin
- Available in 3 different sizes
- Detachable backpack straps
- Plenty of storage space inside for large and small items
- No separate compartments
Best Nike Gym Bag
8. Nike Brasilia Duffel
Nike fans, this is their best gym bag for runners in our opinion. Not only does it come in a variety of eye-catching shades, but it’s also big enough for many uses.
The downside to this bag is that it doesn’t stand up on its own when it’s not filled. It can be hard to remove items or pack when the bag is falling down. But once it’s packed, it’s fairly durable and lightweight.
The base of the duffel is waterproof, so it should stand up to wet environments well. Be careful that the bag doesn’t flop over when you set it down.
There’s a ventilated shoe pouch on one side and two mesh pockets inside. It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job admirably.
- Comes in 5 striking colors
- Ventilated shoe pouch
- Water-resistant base
- Small-item storage
- Doesn’t hold its shape well when not packed full
Top Value Gym Bag
9. Focus Gear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0
The best gym bag for runners doesn’t have to be expensive. This is our best value pick, and boy, does it pack some great features into a very nice price tag.
The zip opens completely to allow for easy reach into every corner. You’ll find two wet storage compartments on this bag – one on the side and a clear plastic one on the underside of the bag.
The side pocket can fit a large pair of shoes or towel and keeps them completely away from the clean, dry apparel in the middle area.
There’s also a hanging pocket on the inside for small items. A feature we really enjoy is the two bottle holders – perfect for a water bottle or a protein shaker. Also, the front has a zippered pocket and a slide-in pouch.
All these useful features come at a lower price than many others, making this our best value choice.
- Great value for a very decent price
- Two separate wet pockets
- Two bottle holders
- Full-zipper opening
- Not as durable as some
Best Studio Bag
10. adidas Studio 3 Duffel Bag
Ladies, this is another super option for studio use. It’s noticeably larger than others, due in part to its tall shape. This also makes it pretty easy to pack.
The bag has a good-sized exterior side pocket which is perfect for storing shoes and dirty or damp clothes. There’s also a front pocket for easy storage of other belongings.
Inside, you won’t be short on space. Whether you’re carrying around shoes, clothes, towels, books, baby stuff, or other things, they should all fit comfortably. There’s even a padded laptop or tablet pocket, so your devices can be protected too.
As an added bonus, the bag comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Exterior zippered pockets
- Tall shape for extra space
- Has a padded laptop/tablet compartment
- Lifetime warranty
- One size only – which may be too large for some
Wondering what to look for in the best gym bag for runners? Here are some questions we get often.
What is a Duffel Gym Bag?
A duffel bag is traditionally a large, drawstring bag used for travel, sports, recreation, and often by non-commissioned military personnel. It usually has a top closure and is quite lightweight.
What Material is Usually Used?
Gym bags can be made from a variety of fabrics. Commonly seen materials include canvas, denim, synthetics (polyester or nylon), twill, upholstery or drapery fabric, and outdoor fabrics.
Depending on their use, some bags can be water-resistant, moisture-wicking, or made of fabrics that are able to weather the elements. Others could be less durable but more lightweight, so it really depends on what suits you for the purpose you’ll be using it for.
What Sizes are There? What is Important?
When shopping for a duffel bag, you’ll usually be able to choose from small, medium, and large.
The size that’s right for you really depends on what you usually carry around with you. If you’re a minimalistic runner and just put on your shoes and go, maybe you don’t need a bag. But if you like to take extra shoes and a towel, for example, you might find that a small gym bag is helpful.
It also depends where you’ll be running. If you’re heading to the gym to make use of the treadmill, you’ll need somewhere to keep your house and car keys, and perhaps a full change of clothing and some toiletries. In cases like these, a medium or large may suit you better.
Some bags have a shoe compartment on the side that’s specifically designed to store shoes. This is usually important for runners. Others have various other storage pockets for looking after smaller items, like phones and keys.