The gym bag is a public statement about the kind of man you are - one who works out. Actually, more than that, one who works out frequently enough and with enough seriousness to warrant buying a special bag.
The gym bag’s real starring moment is in the office, of course.
That’s where your colleagues get to meet the bag belonging to the fitness side of you they never see during interdepartmental planning catch up.
At the end of the working day, the bag is ostentatiously hoisted onto your shoulder at exactly 6.10 pm and your “Good night all!” reads as, “Goodbye my weak-willed colleagues for I am going forth to test myself to the very limits of human endurance.”
The temptation is to carry a shabby version. Your gym bag will remain a functioning container of trainers and shorts long after it’s ceased to look any good.
Any bag you carry is very much part of your look - a jacket or pair shoes are pensioned off long before they physically disintegrate – just because your bag has a job, it doesn’t mean it can bring your entire ensemble down. Face it, you probably need a new one. All of these will hold your beard oil and your boxing gloves while also
quietly letting everyone know you’re probably an amazing athlete with six-pack abs and everything.
The North Face Berkeley Duffel - £90
This is a very neat little, low-key bag. It brings The North Face mountain-hardened credibility, has good, grippy handles pretty much everywhere but best of all… the side pockets for your grooming essentials, wallet, that inspiring portrait of the young Jean-Claude Van Damme…
Nike Vapour Power Training Duffel Bag - £37.95
This is great value and comes with a side, shoe compartment – this, along with the penicillin and the wheeled suitcase, is probably man’s greatest invention. It keeps your trainers apart from the rest of your kit without the need for a planet-destroying plastic bag.
Eastpak Stand and Dickies Khaki - £56 (sale price)
Two American greats working together here. Eastpak have been making tough and beautifully formed luggage since 1952 and iconic workwear brand Dickies join with them to bring you a gym bag made from chinos – in a way. Yes, it may show the dirt but woah, it looks good…red, tartan lining!
Sandqvist Hannes - £109
This bag is made from fully recycled polyester and is a lovely example of this Swedish brand’s hard- wearing minimalism. It has inner zip compartments and is water resistant. Every Sandqvist bag makes you want to clear out all your old rubbish and live a simpler, more Nordic life.
Barbour Wax Holdall - £159
This bag is a crisp, winter morning somewhere in England. Made from the classic, waxed cotton we know from the posh person’s jacket company, it’s perfect for anyone who wears a suit to the office and isn’t comfortable with the whole athleisure revolution. It’s a great object to hold, will be extremely hardwearing and just Hugh Grant enough.
Ted Baker Patche cross grain finish holdall - £125 (sale price)
This is a Wolf of Wall Street, slick and ruthless kind of bag. Faux leather and shiny details hint at a property portfolio and a dark, private life beyond the gym. It feels very solid and comes with a big, external zip pocket capable of holding showy amounts of cash.
Patagonia black hole mini MLC briefcase backpack - £150
This is really a carry-on luggage bag from the outdoor specialists but people use it as a gym bag and frankly it has every conceivable foldy, zippy conversion – if it was a person it would be in the SAS, it can deal with anything (within the kit containing sphere).
Rains Duffel Backpack - £139
Rains is a super-fashionable waterproof specialist and their tag line is simply “Drip, drip, drip”. The matt, rubbery joy of all their products must be fondled in the shop – once tried, you will be converted. This substantial bag will protect your tracksuit from the storm but mainly it just looks very chic in a Matrix kind of a way.
Fred Perry classic barrel bag - £80
This carries hint of your Dad’s school days and has more than a little Mod history to it. The design is so simple yet works and looks amazing with a parka on an overcast day. Good value for a very practical bag that will let people know you have more in your cultural life than just back squats and burpees.