Welcome to our 2020 guide on choosing the best backpack for gym and work. Whether you’re shopping for men’s or women’s packs or even both, we’ve got you covered in our guide below. Our #1 pick is actually so awesome for the gym and work that making a Top 10 list would have been overkill and ended up wasting your time.
Over the past several months, we’ve reviewed and investigated a vast number of new 2020 model backpacks by our favorite brands and new brands making a splash on the scene. All of this time looking at backpacks has given us a full view of what’s available. We’re confident that our guides save you and all of our visitors precious time when shopping for the pack(s) that best suits them.
Several key features we looked for when choosing our best backpack for gym and work were:
Shoe compartment/dirty laundry compartment
Laptop & tablet sleeves
A sleek, professional appearance
Anti-theft features to keep your possessions secure at the gym and while in transit
Internal organization for paperwork, pens, pencils, etc.
Expandable Thermal Insulation Quick-Access Side Pocket (Shoe Compartment) – This is the #1 feature for gym and work in this bag. The antibacterial storage compartment holds gym shoes, dirty gym clothes, and/or wet items to keep them 100% separated (Shoe Compartment Dimensions: 9.65″ Length x 5.31″ Height x 3.94″ Depth)
The only pack we’ve seen that has a built-in USB charging port with an inlet and outlet. This feature allows you to charge your power bank from outside the bag as well as charge your phone essentially turning the pack into a portable charging station.
Premium water-resistant materials
Padded laptop and tablet sleeves with velcro closure (fits up to a 15.6″ laptop)
Internal organizer pockets for holding office supplies and other personal belongings
Magnetic sternum strap (we love this feature)
Anti-Theft Features: TSA combination zipper lock at main compartment, built-in retractable cable lock that allows you to connect the bag to a fixed object (e.g. inside your gym locker), and double-layer YKK zippers
Overall, the FlexPack Pro is far and away the best backpack for gym and work currently on the market
Unlike the Korin FlexPack, the Targus Work and Play pack is specially designed for the gym with lots of thoughtful touches you’ll undoubtedly enjoy
The 180º lay-flat opening allows you to hang the Targus bag in your gym locker or on any hook to access/store your items in the internal organizer pockets
Separate shoe compartment with ventilation
Dedicated laptop & tablet compartment keeps your computer separate from your gym gear (fits up to a 15.6″ laptop)
Includes portable laundry and detachable washbag
Expandable side water bottle pockets and top zipper pocket for easy access to your phone
Overall, the Targus backpack is the best on our list for the gym, yet it lacks several anti-theft features and the convenience of an external USB port. We also think the Korin FlexPack has a more attractive appearance.
Dimensions: 12.19″ Width x 19.29″ Height x 9.44″ Depth
What we love most about this gym and work bag is the compartment arrangement. There are three main compartments: 1.) The main front compartment with vertical zipper 2.) Bottom ventilated shoe compartment 3.) Laptop compartment with internal organizer features for office supplies
Confirmed by current owners to stand the test of time: sturdy build quality, smooth zippers, and premium stitching
Padded laptop sleeve fits up to a 15.6″ computer
Ventilated shoe compartment fits up to a men’s size 13
Quick-access top pocket for storing your phone and other small items
Ventilated padded mesh back panel and adjustable sternum strap
More compact than the other bags in our Top 5 if you prefer a smaller pack
Water-resistant nylon shell
Comparable to the Aer Fit Pack 2
Dimensions: 8″ Depth x 12.5″ Width x 18.5″ Height
Weight: 1.9 lbs
Note: Video is for the Aer Fit Pack 2, not the Kah&Kee Compact
One of the most frequently asked questions when choosing a gym and work backpack is what size shoes fit?
Of the packs in our Top 5, the Targus, Under Armour, and Kah&Kee bags fit the largest shoes. Keep in mind, the larger your shoes are the more space you’ll eat up inside the bag. You may find that you overpacked if you’re using the bag to store basketball shoes or have large feet.
While we do love the Korin Design FlexPack Pro and consider it to be the best backpack for gym and work overall, the shoe compartment size is smaller. Be sure to check the dimensions in the chart above and compare them against your gym shoe dimensions to ensure they’ll fit before you buy.
Can I fit my laptop?
Depending on the type of laptop you own, you’ll have no problem sliding slimmer laptops such as a MacBook inside the designated laptop sleeves. Be sure to check the max laptop size in the chart above before you buy.
If your laptop is larger than 15″, we recommend the MarsBro backpack that fits up to a 17.3″ laptop. The other packs in our top five max out at 15.6″, which is more than enough room for most people.
Which backpack is the best for trapping the smell of my shoes and dirty gym clothes?
The FlexPack Pro antibacterial pouch is the best pocket for trapping the smell of your shoes. The Targus backpack includes a separate laundry bag that you may want to put your shoes inside.
The other packs are sealed or have ventilation. If you’re concerned about other people smelling your clothes or shoes on public transportation, we recommend our list of best smell proof backpacks. These packs use a special carbon-filter lining to completely trap odors inside the backpack.
A second option is a large odor-proof bag to store your shoes and gym clothes in after you finish your workout. Click Here to view the bag we recommend at Amazon.
We’re confident that our Top 5 Best Backpacks & Bags for Gym and Work will suit everyone’s taste. Whether you work in a casual office space or a more formal setting, there are options here to suit your needs.
By following our chart, watching the videos, and reading through the brief FAQ/buyer’s guide above, you obtain all the knowledge you need to make the best buying decision.