5 for Friday: Gym Bags That Can Handle Real Life

I had a pink Nike duffel bag I used for several years before I got tired of having to carry it by its handles (since in uniform I can’t carry anything except a plain black bag on my shoulder) and it was looking pretty worn out.

I did some research and came out with the REI Tech Beast bag. I loved it because I could fit my entire uniform in there, even boots, my hygiene kit, and that it had a separate shoe compartment where I could put my shoes and sweaty clothes after working out. Unfortunately, it was also a two-toned green/black color so I wasn’t technically able to carry it on my shoulder.

These bags all have some sort of shoe compartment and should be big enough for my daily packing list for work, based on comparing them to my beloved REI Tech Gear bag. Those were my only true criteria, and that it be mainly black (I figure I can Sharpie out logos or dye them). I don’t like gym bags that are like oversized totes and prefer a shoulder strap, but that’s just me.


Gym Bags for Real Life



1. Lululemon Urban Warrior, $148

2,565 cubic inches and has a drawstring pouch for shoes. I like that the lining is a lighter color so you can find what you’re looking for more easily. I use black hair ties and black bobby pins so this would help find them when they’re hiding and I’m in a hurry.

2. Beast Duffel, $199.99

This one deserves its name. It’s the biggest at 3,036 cubic inches, has a shoe compartment, but also a meal compartment with portion-sized containers for meal prepping. I really like that, but I’m probably not going to wash the containers every night to use them again. I still think this would be a great option for anyone who meal preps and wants to condense the number of bags they carry.

3. DSPTCH Gym/Work Bag, $192

I think this one looks the most professional and wouldn’t look out of place in an office at all. It’s also the smallest bag at 1,720 cubic inches, and the shoe compartment looks a little smaller which likely wouldn’t work for my combat boots I have to carry.

4. King Kong Original Bag, $125.95

This is one of my favorite options and has great reviews online. It’s plenty large at 2,880 cubic inches and my favorite part is that it has separate compartments for your running and lifting shoes.

5. Datsusara Gear Bag Core, $120

I first thought this one looked too tacticool for my tastes, but it has glowing reviews online and I liked that it was made of hemp which is both breathable and antimicrobial. It’s pretty large at 3,125 cubic inches and has plenty of pockets to keep things separated. It also has a “nasty bag” to keep your stinky clothes contained in one spot.


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