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We love an endless Mary Poppins duffel as much as the next gal, but sometimes the thought of carrying yet another giant bag makes us want to skip the gym (and maybe the rest of the day too). Here are eight perfectly proportioned small gym bag options that have room for all the essentials—sneakers, clothes, water bottle and headphones—but absolutely no superfluous junk. That means you can jet to the gym, get your workout done and rush home without a sore shoulder.

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1. Reebok Enhanced Active Imagiro Bag

The adjustable strap and super-flexible pouch allow you to carry this bag multiple ways. There is an inner mesh pocket for small essentials like headphones or car keys, but this bag is really best for those who prefer to just toss everything in and rush out the door.

Buy it ($45)

Dagne dover


This mini is recommended by PureWow editor Brianna Lapolla, who can’t get over how many handy compartments are inside. There are slots for your water bottle, wallet and phone, plus a dedicated home for your tablet (if you’re a fan of reading or Netflix bingeing on the treadmill). Plus, the neoprene fabric is super durable and easy to hand wash.

Buy it ($125)


3. Kuston Sports Gym Bag with Shoe Compartment

If you’re the kind of person who can’t live without a separate compartment for sweaty leggings and stinky sneakers, then this is the tote for you. It also features a waterproof outside pocket for wet bathing suits or swim caps, a mesh slot for easy access to your car keys and a zippered side pocket for the valuables you don’t want rolling around in the large main compartment. Plus, you can choose from 15 fun prints and colors.

$33 at Amazon


4. Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack Mini

This handy backpack is one of the most compact on this list. Although we assumed the zippered bottom pouch would be a great place to stick our sneakers, they didn’t really fit (and probably wouldn’t unless you have really tiny feet). That said, the main pouch absolutely has room for our kicks and clothes, leaving the bottom section free to stow ear buds or some post-workout face wipes. There’s also a quick-access phone pocket at the back, so you never have to dig through a pile of spandex to answer that urgent text.

Buy it ($98)


5. Caraa Athena Duffel Small

Those sporty straps don’t just look cool, they’re practical too. The vertical sections on both the front and the back stretch so you can easily slide a yoga mat, extra sweatshirt or workout towel through. There are also dedicated slots for your water bottle and shoes, as well as, you guessed it, a zippered pocket for valuables, plus a removable pouch. The cozy sweatshirt material is machine washable, so you don’t have to worry about any lingering odors that tend to come with every Barry’s Bootcamp class.

Buy it ($185)

Vera Bradley

6. Vera Bradley Sling Backpack

You likely know Vera Bradley as the destination for the pretty printed duffels and totes carried by all the college-age gals in your life. But this one-shoulder backpack actually makes for an unexpected gym bag. The soft design comes in six colorful prints and has two outside compartments that keep your wallet, keys or jewelry safely tucked away from your leggings and sneakers. Oh, and did we mention it’s machine washable too?

Buy it ($50)

Think Royln

7. Think Royln Junior Wingman Tote

Water, sneakers and extra clothes may not sound like much, but once you put them all into one bag, it can feel heavier than you expected. This tote from Think Royln is made from super-lightweight polyester and stuffed with down feathers so you won’t feel bogged down.

Buy it ($148)

New Balance

8. New Balance Drawstring Training Backpack

The drawstring closure on this backpack may not be for everyone (you do have to manually knot it in order to keep the bag closed), but the simplistic silhouette is super-chic, so you won’t mind carrying it into the office. Two zippered outer pockets keep small essentials separate from the main compartment, and although the bag can’t be thrown into the washing machine, the fabric has been treated with microbes to help fight odors and stay fresh no matter how often you hit the gym.

Buy it ($65) 

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