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Which cheap gym bags are best? 

Are you heading to the gym or studio? If so, there’s a good chance you’ll need to bring a gym bag with you. Many people choose cheap gym bags over expensive ones, especially since premium athletic brands have begun carrying more affordable designs. Several of these gym bags are actually well-made and last through the rough and tumble of daily use.

To help you find a cheap gym bag to suit your needs, we’re sharing this buying guide with a few recommendations at the end. Our top choice, Puma Contender Duffel Bag, is praised for its spacious design. 

What to know before you buy a cheap gym bag

Cheap vs. expensive gym bags

There are a few differences between cheap and expensive gym bags. Expensive gym bags, including those from premium athletic brands, are often made better than cheap gym bags. They’re made with better-quality materials and usually have reinforced stitching, whereas cheap gym bags may fall short in these areas.

If you’re looking for a sport or activity-specific gym bag, you may find your search limited to expensive specialty bags. These bags often have unique construction to accommodate specific gear or equipment, like tennis rackets.  

Generally speaking, there is more design variety among cheap gym bags than expensive ones. 

They’re available in a wealth of shapes, sizes and materials. If you’re in the market for a unique or stylish gym bag, an inexpensive one might be the best choice.

What’s the difference between gym bags for men and women?

If you’ve done a preliminary search for cheap gym bags, you’ve probably noticed that results include men’s and women’s gym bags. 

For the most part, cheap men’s gym bags and cheap women’s gym bags are virtually the same, save for a few differences in colors or patterns. More often than not, it’s usually an aesthetic difference. Many manufacturers have begun scrapping the men’s or women’s designation for the gym bags altogether in recent years.

Types of gym bags

One of the best ways to narrow your options among cheap gym bags is to limit your search to suitable styles. Here are a few of the most popular options:

  • Tote bags are known for their spacious interior compartments and long shoulder straps.
  • Duffel bags, which come in several sizes, have a combination of compartments and pockets.
  • Drawstring backpacks are the smallest types of gym bags, so they’re ideal for traveling light.
  • Backpacks are a comfortable option as they distribute the bag’s weight across the back. 

Cheap gym bag sizes

Gym bags come in small, medium and large size groups. If you’re wondering how much each bag holds, here are the estimates:

  • Small gym bags, like small drawstring backpacks, usually hold a pair of athletic shoes and small essentials, such as keys or phones.
  • Mid-size gym bags, like some totes and duffels, usually hold a change of clothes, athletic shoes and a few other items.
  • Larger gym bags, namely duffels and some backpacks, may hold a combination of clothes, shoes, towels, heat styling tools and cosmetics. 

What to look for in a quality cheap gym bag 

Cheap gym bag materials

More often than not, cheap gym bag materials include inexpensive synthetic fabrics. This mostly includes polyester and nylon. Additionally, there are several designs made with cotton, canvas, plastic or vinyl.

Cheap gym bag straps

Straps in cheap gym bags are either fixed, adjustable or removable. Many designs feature more than one strap style to offer carrying versatility. 

Fixed straps are popular on tote bags, while many duffel bags and backpack styles include adjustable straps. Removable straps are relatively common, though this detail is where cheap gym bags suffer the most. Unfortunately, many designs have poor-quality hardware or weak stitching. 

Cheap gym bag pockets

Organization is one of the top features consumers examine when shopping for cheap gym bags. For some, a single spacious compartment is ideal for throwing in gym essentials. Other people prefer having a series of internal and external compartments to separate items. One of the most popular pocket styles, for example, is a separate zippered compartment to hold footwear or soiled gym clothes. 

How much you can expect to spend on cheap gym bags

Cheap gym bags cost $30 or less. Lightweight, unlined styles cost anywhere from $8-$16, whereas better-quality designs with more compartments run between $20-$30. 

Cheap gym bag FAQ

How do I clean a gym bag?

A. Most gym bags can be spot-cleaned with non-bleaching detergent or dish soap. Some gym bags are machine washable, though you’ll need to line-dry them since they’re rarely dryer-safe. 

Do gym bags fit in gym lockers?

A. Most small and mid-size gym bags fit inside gym lockers. Larger bags, including bulky duffels, may be more challenging to fit inside slender or shallow lockers.

What’s the best cheap gym bag to buy?

Top cheap gym bag

Puma Contender Duffel Bag

Puma Contender Duffel Bag

What you need to know: As a mid-size duffel, this is a perfect gym bag that holds clothes and shoes with room to spare. 

What you’ll love: Its sleek, sporty polyester construction that is large enough for boxing gloves, and it includes two side pockets and one outer pocket. It also comes with an adjustable crossbody strap.

What you should consider: Some consumers wished the design had more compartments. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cheap gym bag for the money

Adidas Alliance II Sackpack

Adidas Alliance II Sackpack

What you need to know: Appreciated for its simple, lightweight design, this drawstring Adidas bag is popular for carrying just the essentials. 

What you’ll love: It has a zipper exterior pocket for small items and side mesh pockets that can hold water bottles or small towels. It’s available in dozens of colors and the material is rip-resistant. 

What you should consider: It’s much smaller than other gym bags on the market.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Champion Signal Tote

Champion Signal Tote

What you need to know: The spacious interior of this Champion tote leaves plenty of room for a change of clothes as well as a towel. 

What you’ll love: The sturdy, reinforced bottom won’t sag when the bag is full, and the straps are wider to help distribute weight. The zipper doesn’t catch on the lining or sides.  

What you should consider: It only has one interior compartment and the style is rather plain with limited color options. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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