A good gym bag will marry two features: functionality and aesthetics. But what constitutes a "best" gym bag is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. People's styles differ, and some like their accessories to have a casual look, while others prefer a classical style, and some like them to be off-beat. You have good choices that fit into those different categories.
Banana Republic Striped Gym Bag
This bag comes in either navy blue or brown cotton. The design consists of two faded blue stripes running parallel to the handles' brown leather trim. The 47 inch canvas strap can be detached. Two zip pockets in the front and one in the back will allow you to stow smaller items like cell phones or a pocket camera. The bag measures 11 inches by 22 inches by 9, and features antique brass hardware. It is imported and retailed at Banana Republic for $198 in early 2011.
Aston Gym 3
This gym bag is made of full grain leather, and the website suggests that, in the manner of real leather, this bag's looks will only improve with age. The design is classic in a retro way, sporting a zipper on the side and two large leather handles that will allow the bag to dangle snugly against your torso. It is described as a gym bag, but can easily be used as a carry-on. The bag is both scratch-resistant and water-repellent. It comes in three basic colors, brown, black and tan. The dimensions are 24 inches by 15 inches by 10 inches and it is American-made. In early 2011, Shoebuy.com featured this bag for $368.95.
Cheyenne Vapor from Nike
This bag can fully function as a gym bag-but it doesn't have to. You can sling it over your shoulder like a knapsack and stow whatever you want in it, and it is so stylish that no one will know whether you are on your way to the gym or a night about town. The color is a stunning lemony yellow in the front, with the rest of the bag a deep black. The main compartment is capacious, with a bottom wet-dry pocket that can accommodate damp clothing or shoes and mesh pockets to keep track of small items. The lightly padded shoulder straps -- fully adjustable -- feature a detachable media pouch for your cell phone or some other small item. The shell is made of nylon and polyester. The dimensions interestingly vary from bottom to the top: at the bottom the bag is 13 inches wide, in the middle 11.5 inches, and across the top 8.5 inches. It is 5 inches deep and 20 inches high. A rain cover for the bag is included in the price, which was $90 at Zappos in the beginning of 2011.
Duffle Bag for Men
This bag is big enough to hold gym clothes and a towel, but at the same time is stylish, like a tote, and with the added benefit of being made of 100 percent recycled rice bags. But that's not all; it is also a Fair Trade item handmade by artisans in Cambodia who are disabled due to polio or landmines. The bag is a light blue, with faded blue, almost white lettering on the outer pocket and Velcro pocket flab. A second pocket, this one zippered, is on the other side of the bag. The bag closes with a zipper, the handles are just right to be carried by hand, and the strap, which is re-enforced with nylon, can be removed. The bag measures 20 inches by 11 inches by 7 inches. Global Goods Partners, a website that features gift items that support women, sold this bag in 2011 for $48.