The best cheap gym bag of 2021

Brett Dvoretz

Whether you’re a dedicated gym rat who brings along a lot of gear or a casual gymgoer who just does a bit of cycling and light lifting, you need a quality bag that can hold all of your stuff. Of course, not everyone can afford a fancy brand name bag just for their workout gear.

If you’ve been carrying everything to the gym in a shopping bag or old backpack just to save a bit of money, there are tons of great bags that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0 is well-made, has dedicated compartments for shoes and wet clothing and even a couple of water bottle holders, yet it probably costs about what you spent on lunch at that cafe around the corner.

What to know before you buy a cheap gym bag

Types of gym bags

LIke any other bag, gym bags come in several styles. The most popular is the duffel because these tend to offer a good amount of space, have multiple compartments and can be carried by hand or over the shoulder. That being said, some people may prefer a backpack, especially if they bike to the gym and need their hands free for holding the handlebars. Another option is a sling pack that you wear crossbody. It should be noted that, though stylish, sling bags are often severely limited in capacity.

Your activities

Your gym activities and what you do before and after should play a role in your purchase decision when choosing a gym bag. For example, if you go to the gym on your lunch break or immediately following work, you need a bag that’s large enough to hold all your gym clothes, including shoes, and any other equipment you need.

If you generally head to the gym from your home and go back home afterwards, you may only need something large enough to hold your gloves, towel and various other workout gear. If you shower at the gym or swim laps, you’ll need a bag with a dedicated compartment for wet items, and if you play basketball, then you’ll want a bag with enough capacity and a large enough opening to easily get a ball in and out. Consider what you do at the gym, both on the workout floor and in the locker room, and make sure any bag you’re thinking about buying is designed to fit those activities.


Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you need to settle for a low-quality bag that rips after a couple of uses. Choose one made from sturdy materials like high-denier polyester fabric, nylon or a rugged canvas.

Cheap gym bag features

Shoe compartment

There are no two ways about it, gym shoes get smelly. The last thing you want to do is to shove those shoes in the same compartment as the rest of your clothes and workout gear. Some bags feature separate spots specifically for shoes, which are often accessible directly from the exterior.

Wet clothing compartment

Along with a dedicated shoe compartment, some bags feature another compartment specifically for wet clothes. This is very helpful for keeping your bathing suit and towel or sweaty workout clothes from soiling the rest of the stuff in your gym bag.

Removable shoulder strap

If buying a duffel, a removable shoulder strap can be helpful. This allows you to sling it over your shoulder or crossbody when you want to leave your hands free or remove it and shove it inside the bag when carrying the duffel by the hand straps.

Water bottle holders

It’s important to stay hydrated at the gym, and that means taking along a water bottle. If focusing on building muscle, you may be taking along a protein shake too. Some gym bags feature mesh bottle holders on the exterior, so you don’t have to toss the bottle in with the rest of your gear and worry about it leaking.


Some gym bags may have a large main compartment with just one other interior pocket for small items. Others are equipped with several pockets on both the inside and outside. The more pockets a gym bag has, the easier it will be to organize your gear and keep delicate things like earbuds and your phone away from items that could harm them, like keys, lifting hooks or shoes.

Cheap gym bag cost

You can find many good-quality and affordable gym bags between $20-$35.

Cheap gym bag FAQ

How do I keep my gym bag from smelling?

A. It’s important to empty your bag of soiled items as soon as possible after the gym. This means removing sweaty clothes, damp towels, shoes and dirty gloves once you get home. You should also leave the bag open to air out between uses, and regularly wash it following the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines.

Can I use a gym bag for travel?

A. There’s no reason a gym bag has to be relegated solely for gym use. Depending on the size, they also work well as carry-ons and weekenders. Of course, make sure you wash your gym bag before using it for travel, so it doesn’t impart your clothes with any funky smells.

Which cheap gym bag should I get?

Best of the best cheap gym bag

FocusGear Ultimate Gym Bag 2.0: available at Amazon

Our take: This versatile bag is an ideal choice for gym rats who need plenty of pockets to organize their gear.

What we like: This bag comes in two sizes, is highly durable and has a large opening that allows for easy loading and unloading.  It offers a total of 10 compartments, including two mesh water bottle holders.

What we dislike: The wet stuff pocket is a bit small.

Best bang for your buck cheap gym bag

Adidas Court Lite Duffel Bag: available at Kohl's and Amazon

Our take: Though affordably priced, the Adidas Court Lite comes from a well-respected brand and is backed by a lifetime warranty.

What we like: There are many stylish colorways to choose from and at 24 inches, it offers plenty of space for gym gear.

What we dislike: It could use more pockets to keep various items separate.

Honorable mention cheap gym bag

Canway Sports Gym Bag: available at Amazon

Our take: A sleek and fashionable option, this Canway bag is perfect for those who need to bring their gym bag into work and want something that doesn’t look too sporty.

What we like: It’s packed with thoughtful features, like a keyring, an exterior loop for hanging, a soft fabric-lined pocket for valuables and more.

What we dislike: It’s very large and may be overkill for some.

Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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