All gym bags are not created equal, and that goes double for swimmers, who have to contend with chlorinated water, soggy suits and towels, and all manner of gear from goggles to dive masks and flippers. The best swim bags are constructed from quick-drying synthetic materials that are safe to bring poolside, with dedicated wet compartments and the overall capacity you need to haul your equipment with ease.
Swim bags usually indicate their capacity in liters, with an average gym bag sized between 30 to 40 liters. If you plan on shoving the bag in a gym locker or bringing it in on a plane, you'll also want to be mindful of its overall dimensions. If your swim bag will double as your carry-on, it's always a good idea to check the carry-on restrictions of the airline you're flying.
Since a swim bag is likely to see its fair share of abuse, look for materials like polyester or nylon that will be water-resistant and durable. You may also want the bag to have a sturdy, reinforced bottom, for keeping the items inside protected and your bag upright.
In terms of the design of your bag, options abound. Swim backpacks are ideal for multifunctional, hands-free hauling. They can be either a full-sized pack with all the typical features, like padded straps and a laptop sleeve, or a lightweight mesh version. Duffles, meanwhile, are the ultimate multitasker for workouts and swimming. You'll need at least one wet compartment, although some souped-up options come with several. If you’re after something less obviously athletic, a sleek tote with a dedicated wet compartment is both cute and functional. Look for versions with padded handles and shoulder straps because you'll likely be carrying a bit more than you would in a standard shoulder bag.
Ahead, a deep dive into the six best sim bags that can go the distance with every type of swimmer.
1. A Best-Selling Swim Backpack That Laps The Competition
- Capacity: 35 liters
- Dimensions: 17.3 x 8.3 x 20.5 inches (width x depth x height)
Speedo’s Teamster swim bag is a full-featured backpack with plenty of bells and whistles for the dedicated swimmer — not surprisingly, it's amassed a near-perfect 4.9-star rating on Amazon after more than 3,000 reviews. It comes with a dedicated wet bag, a thick water-resistant base, and tons of exterior storage, with six zippered pockets including breathable mesh pouches for holding wet goods and four D-rings so you can hook on whatever you need. Made from ultra-durable, 900-denier polyester, this pack features a main compartment that zips open wide and makes it easy to access everything. Inside is a padded raised laptop sleeve and two small carabiners for things like keys — and there's even a bleacher seat if you’ll be sitting between rounds. The adjustable padded straps include a sternum and waist belt for comfort and stability on the go. Choose from nearly 30 different colors.
A helpful review: "I grew frustrated with my last gym bag when I was frantically digging around for my, presumably, lost keys. The keys were there, just buried deep in a pocket that held *everything*. [...] I opted for this upgrade from Speedo. And what an upgrade! Primarily, I wanted--you guessed it--pockets! Now I have a pocket for my keys and wallet, another for my headphones and a protein bar, plus pockets for wet clothes and another for dirty clothes and another for clean clothes and even, like, this bonus pocket for my swim goggles and buffing rag. [...]It holds everything I could need for a trip to the gym or pool, but doesn't feel too big at all."
2. And This Extra-Large Swim Bag For Packing *Everything*
- Capacity: 45 liters
- Dimensions: 20.44 x 13.76 x 10.61 inches (length x width x height)
This super-sized bag has plenty of room for your gear both in and out of the water. The Arena swim bag offers a massive carrying capacity (45 liters) in durable 100% polyamide with a solidly waterproof, reinforced bottom, and heaps of storage to keep everything organized. There's a large mesh exterior compartment flanked by two pairs of zippered pockets on each side as well as double mesh pouches. A couple of carabiners hold on to the extras. Unzip the wide-mouth opening when you need something stashed inside, where you'll find a separate waterproof compartment for your suit so the rest of your stuff stays dry. The back and straps are lined with breathable mesh so no matter how much you cram in, it's easy to carry and cuts down on breaking a sweat. It's available in 45 different styles, from Wonder Woman to neon lights.
A helpful review: "Huge bag with enormous capacity without a large silhouette when worm, durable and well-made, convenient compartments, and everything else I could possibly want in a swim/gym bag."
3. This Double-Sided Swim Bag That Looks Like A Tote
- Capacity: approximately 14.75 liters
- Dimensions: 15.75 x 5.51 x 10.24 inches (length x width x height)
This small swim bag provides ample space for wet and dry storage in a streamlined package. It zips down the middle to reveal one half that's a full-length wet pocket, while the other side carries everyday essentials for dry land. Both are accessed via their own zipper so you can find what you need without scanning what you don’t, and there’s a decently sized zip pocket on the outside for quickly accessing must-haves. Its shorter handles include a soft Velcro wrap to secure them together for a comfortable carry, and the optional adjustable shoulder strap features a soft pad for the same reason. It's crafted from waterproof EVA on the wet side and quality polyester on the dry, but note, it doesn't feature a reinforced bottom.
For a roomier workout tote, consider this gym bag with a 28 liter capacity.
A helpful review: "This is a lightweight, attractive gym bag that will easily hold a change of clothes etc [.] There are two inner sides to the bag, one of which is good for wet items. The bag is made of a tough nylon feeling material that should hold up well. THe zipper also works well without any hang ups. I have used it for my workout bag and appreciate the somewhat smaller size and light weight, as well as the capacity."
4. The Lightweight Mesh Swim Bag You Can Grab And Go
- Capacity: 33 liters
- Dimensions: 24 x 17 x 11 inches (height x width x depth)
This no-frills, 100% polyester mesh drawstring backpack combines minimalist construction with pool-worthy features for people who need a lightweight, water-friendly backpack on the affordable side. You'll be trading a contained wet bag for ventilated mesh, but what you lose in storage you gain in versatility. Open air mesh sides help your gear dry off, while a solid front and back ensures water won’t get everywhere. The drawstring top is a cinch to access, while wide backpack-style straps and a hanging loop at the top offer just enough structure to carry and stow it comfortably. There’s a solid zippered pocket on the front for valuables, and a small mesh pocket to carry your water bottle. Take it to the pool, to the gym, or toss it into your suitcase: it's that packable. Choose from more than a dozen vibrant colors so there's no mistaking which one is yours.
A helpful review: "[...] This bag though is the perfect size to use at the Y pool. It holds my swim flippers, snorkel, goggles, etc. as well as a small towel and my shower items (shampoo and washcloth, etc.)But the thing I like best about this, is because of its small size I now take it with me into the pool area itself, so I have everything I need at hand and it's convenient to just reach into the bag and grab what I want. Because of the hook at the top, this acts like a backpack and is easy to hang on the pool hooks. [...]"
5. A Wildly Popular Duffle With Two Wet Pockets
- Capacity: 37 liters
- Dimensions: 20 x 11 x 10.5 inches (length x width x height)
This gym duffle has not one but two wet pockets — one on the bottom for swimsuits and a fairly large, shoe-sized wet pocket on the side — plus eight other pockets to organize all your gear whether you’re swimming or working out. Double bottle holders on one end lets you carry water bottles and a protein shake (or an umbrella), while a wide sleeve pocket on the back keeps little essentials like combination locks and ID cards close at hand. A water-resistant bottom means you can drop it poolside, and the top and side zips completely open for easy access. Inside you'll find a small, zippered pocket for stuff you want close by, plus a super-convenient tab for your keys. Combine with a padded handle and comfy detachable shoulder strap and it's just about everything you could want in a gym bag. While the material isn't specified, reviewers noted that it was sturdy, flexible, and lightweight. Choose from several different colors and two sizes (medium featured here).
A helpful review: "Written after having this bag for two months. This bag is awesome. First I love all the pockets for storage. I use the wet pocket for my soaked gym clothes after I get out of the sauna and my flip flops. I love the shoe pocket because I usually go straight from work to the gym and can keep both pairs of my shoes separated from my clothes [...]There's a couple of zip pockets on the front that I just use for my hair ties. I can fit a towel and 2-3 pairs of clothes in the main compartment which makes this a great weekend bag. The small handles are even right enough to hold a yoga mat when I have them velcroed together. It's the gym bag I never knew I needed. I use this bag about 4-5 days a week and the mesh pockets have shown no signs of tearing at all. [...]"
6. This Oversized Mesh Tote That Can Hold Gear For Five
- Capacity: approximately 61 liters
- Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 8.7 inches (length x height x depth)
For pool parties, beach trips, and lake weekends, an affordable large mesh tote might be just what you need rather than your heavy-duty swim bag. This one can hold towels and flip flops for up to five people with a lightweight construction to minimize weight. It's built from polypropylene mesh with a solid synthetic bottom, and sturdy cotton carrying handles that promise to be soft and durable. Four roomy exterior pockets provide just enough organization, and it zips shut for peace of mind. Plus, there's a secure, waterproof storage pocket hidden inside to protect valuables. And it's machine washable, so sand and chlorine are no problem at all. For toting a lot of specialty gear, consider the brand's mesh duffle bag as well.
A helpful review: "Worked perfectly for our trip to Florida. Was able to carry multiple beach towels, sunscreen, coverups, flip flops and swimming goggles and still have room! I've been looking for a swim bag for awhile and this one is exactly what I needed."
Also Nice: A Versatile Set Of Dry Bags That Are Vetted For Swimming
This dry bag set offers plenty of options whether you're looking for something small to hold your phone or a larger bag to keep your clothes, wallet, and keys safe. The main dry bag is offered in multiple sizes with an optional window, and features a double zip lock seal, with buckles plus two D rings for securing as necessary. Depending on the size — it comes in 5-, 10-, 20-, and 35-liter sizes — you’ll get either an adjustable strap or backpack-style straps with a sternum belt. Coupled with an included waterproof cell phone bag and convenient belt bag for custom carrying, you're always totally covered with this set. Amazon shoppers consistently praised this set for keeping valuables dry; not surprisingly, its amassed nearly 3,000 perfect five-star ratings.
A helpful review: "Bought two sets for a trip to Puerto Rico to keep things dry while snorkeling and beaching. These bags are great. Fill em up- seal- roll - lock and your belongings stay bone dry. One of our stops required us to jump into water and swim about sixty yards until you could stand and walk in. [...] Bone dry. The pouch and phone cases were nice extras. I used to pouch to hold credit cards, paper money, camera and phone. It too is waterproof and worked well. Bone dry."