King Kong Jnr Kong Bag
Made to withstand a lifetime of abuse, this was the toughest bag we tested. Its many compartments let you keep clean clothing separate from sweaty towels and sneakers. It’s expensive but it comes with a 25-year warranty.
Few gym bags compare to the King Kong Jnr Kong Bag. During testing, the competitive lifters we interviewed all gravitated to this bag, drawn by its durability and strength. Just holding this bag, we felt a noticeable difference in quality compared with every other bag we tested. The 1,000-denier nylon is thicker and more robust than the nylon used in other sport bags: It’s like the difference between a school knapsack and a thick canvas duffle bag. (The term denier refers to the thickness of the fibers in a fabric: the higher the denier number, the stronger the fabric.) In addition to its main compartment, the Jnr Kong Bag, which has an overall capacity of 30 liters, comes with four accessory pockets (one Velcro-sealed for clumsy hands), a mesh catchall, and a shoe compartment. The sturdiness of the bag is evident in the details, from its double-stitched seams to its all-metal fasteners. The Jnr Kong is protected by a 25-year warranty for the original purchaser.
If you don’t need the separate compartments or toughness of the Jnr Kong, the Herschel Supply Co. Sutton Duffle Mid-Volume is your gym bag. It has one main compartment, a classic shape and look, and a removable shoulder strap (in addition to its two top handles). It doesn’t have a shoe pocket or clothes divider, though, so that means you may need to pair the Herschel with a dry bag (or even a plastic shopping bag) if you want to contain your dirty gear or wet towel. This bag is well made for its price but not as strong as our other picks. However, all Herschel bags are backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Aer Duffel Pack 2
This backpack offers plenty of ways to separate your computer from your clean clothing from your sweaty workout clothes or gym shoes.
Sometimes carrying a separate gym bag and laptop bag to the office isn’t ideal. In that case, we think the Aer Duffel Pack 2 is the best option. Its sleek, minimal look blends into nearly any setting. The bag itself is made of a tough, 1,680-denier Cordura ballistic nylon, similar in strength to the material used in the Jnr Kong Bag but with a finer texture. With a capacity of 24 liters, it holds less than the Jnr Kong, but we still found that it had room for what we needed to transition from work to working out. The Aer Duffel comfortably carries a 15-inch laptop in its back pocket, as well as a full change of clothes within the main compartment and a pair of shoes (up to men’s size 13) in a ventilated compartment at the bottom of the bag.
Adidas Team Issue
With three roomy sizes to choose from—including the largest-capacity bag we tested—this bag is perfect for anyone who needs extra space for their sports gear.
Some sports require more gear than others. For the price, we couldn’t find anything better for carrying that gear than the Adidas Team Issue. Made of 600-denier polyester, it comes in three sizes (the smallest is a little larger than a typical gym bag; the largest can carry a change of clothes plus three soccer balls) and 18 colors and it has a vented shoe-and-laundry pocket. It’s equipped with four outside zippered pockets (the smallest version has only three) and an internal small pocket. If you are lugging all that extra gear, the extra-wide and padded shoulder strap should relieve some of the strain.