I take a ton of stuff with me when I head to the gym. I’ve got all my respective supports, resistance bands, my workout shoes, chalk, training diary, lifting straps, a mini first aid kit, my post-training snacks and, of course, plenty of rehydrating fluids. I’ve also got my shower gear, towels and a change of clothes with me too.

Needless to say, my gym bag is pretty big but it’s so much more than that too!

Big gym bags are easy to find but biggest doesn’t necessarily mean best does it?!

In addition to being big enough for your needs, a good gym bag should also have the following characteristics…

Tough material – the last thing you want is your gym bag to split and spill your possessions all over the floor. That means your bag needs to be made of some kind of tough material that is strong enough to be able to hold your gym possessions. Lightweight nylon might be cheaper but it’ll rip all too easily so it’s worth spending a little more on something more durable. Cordura is one such material – it’s what the military use for their backpacks.

Well-made – tough material is one thing but it needs to be put together properly if your bag is going to be strong enough to be long lasting. Seams, handles and fastenings should be double of not triple stitched and areas of wear such as the corners and bottom of the bag really ought to be reinforced too. Look inside the bag as well as outside for evidence of it being well made.

Strong zips – unless you want to have your gym bag contents on show, you’ll need to be able to close it up and if your bag is as full as mine, you’ll need a strong zip to contain all your belongings. Look for zips with big teeth and a robust zipper pull. It’s also useful if the zip is covered by a flap of material as this makes the bag more weather proof.

Lots of compartments – there is nothing worse than knowing your training diary is in your gym bag but being unable to find it because it’s gotten mixed up with all your other stuff. A single compartment bag might well be able to hold all your gym clobber but if you can’t find what you want when you want it, things can get a little frustrating.

Look for bags that have several internal compartments so you can keep your shower gear separate to your chalk. Not only does this make finding your stuff easier, it’ll save you no end of frustration should your post-workout snack explode inside your bag. No one wants a protein bar in their clean underwear!

Plenty of pockets – big compartments are great for big things but if you want to easily find your locker key, mobile phone, wallet or whatever, lots of small pockets are also useful. Gym bags have a habit of swallowing your important possessions just when you need them the most and knowing that your spare change is in a designated pocket can make life somewhat easier.

Strong handles and straps – unless you have a butler or valet in your employ, you are going to have to carry your gym bag from time to time so it had better have strong and preferably padded handles fit for the purpose. A shoulder strap may also be useful so you can leave your hands free for opening doors or fist-bumping your lifting bros. A back pack can be useful if you have to carry your gear a long way but most have a single compartment and are not really big enough to make for a suitable gym bag.

My gym bag is only used for my gym gear. That way, most of what I need is always packed and I never end up arriving at the gym missing some piece of vital equipment. I use it almost every day of the week and so, while it cost me more than a regular sports bag, the investment has paid off big time.