13 Gym Bag Essentials

Picture this: you get to the gym, find your favorite machine, get ready to start...and realize you forgot your headphones. This scenario has happened to me more often than I would like to admit. Although it might not ruin your time, it can definitely put a damper on your excitement to work out.

So let's talk about some of the must-have items that I recommend for any gym bag. I even included my favorite product for each recommendation! I hope this list encourages you to be better prepared for your time at the gym. Let's make the most of each workout!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.


Water Bottle

Hydration is one of the biggest keys to a proper workout. I feel like I practically sleep with my water bottle (that is how much I love it). Most of us do not drink as much water as we should though.

I find that having an insulated/stainless steel water bottle helps me to drink a lot more. I love being able to throw some ice in there and have it stay cold all through my workout. Invest in a good water bottle and it will last you a while!

My favorite: Yeti Tumbler. Get it here!


I cannot recommend enough to invest in some Bluetooth/wireless headphones. Headphone cords can be annoying and even dangerous depending on the exercise you are doing. Plus, there are so many types nowadays, I can guarantee you will find a great pair to fit any budget.

Studies show that when someone listens to the music of their choice during a workout, their performance improves. I certainly do better when I have my workout playlist on; keeping me focused on the exercises and minimizing distractions around me.

My favorites:

  • Most discreet/convenient: Apple Airpods. Get them here!
  • Best sound quality & minimal distractions: Beats by Dr Dre Powerbeats Pro. Get them here!
  • Affordable but still great quality: Soundcore Spirit Sports by Anker. Get them here!

Resistance Band

This is great for maximizing your workout at a crowded gym. Or if you are following a specific program that recommends using resistance bands. The Gym Guide I use often includes exercises with a resistance band. So keeping one in my gym bag assures I never miss out during my workout.

My favorite: Mari's Fitness Band (Mari Easy Fitness). Find them here!


Listen, this one should be a given. Yet more times than not there are extra smells in the gym that could be avoided. Don't be one of those people. Packing some deodorant can ensure that even after a busy day, you're still covered for your workout!

Also, I highly recommend using regular deodorants rather than antiperspirants during a workout. The last thing you need is to break out due to sweat being trapped in your pores (big yikes!)

My favorite: Secret Clinical Strength Sport Fresh Deodorant. Get it here!

Hair Ties & Headband

Although I said not having any of these items won't ruin your time at the gym, I think I was wrong. Not having a hair tie might be one of the worst things to deal with while working out. Having thick hair is already a struggle, so working out with it down is a nightmare.

Multiple times I have forgotten a hair tie, then went back out to my car, and rummaged around for anything that might work. I have used bracelets, a rubber band (ouch), or even a random sock (don't ask me how I made that work). Instead of going through all that, just be sure to keep a couple of hair ties stocked in your gym bag.

I also prefer to use a headband when working out, so I recommend throwing in an extra one too!

My favorite: Scunci No-Slip Grip hair ties. Get them here!


Maybe this is just me, but I hate working out while feeling like my lips are dry. Through drinking water and wiping your face from sweat, it is likely that your chapstick will be lost in the process.

I always pack extra chapstick in my bag for that very reason. I have even found that carrying a little container of Vaseline works great for not only chapped lips, but also dry hands, elbows, knees and so forth. Be sure to go easy on Vaseline though...you don't want to leave a greasy trail behind you.

My favorites:

  • Chapstick: Glossier Balm Dotcom. Get them here (& enjoy 10% off your first order!)
  • Vaseline: Original Unscented Petroleum Jelly. Get some here

Makeup Wipes

One thing I don't want to worry about is makeup running down my face while working out. After a long day at work, it is so refreshing to wipe all of my makeup off. I love to keep a package of makeup wipes in my bag. Then I don't have to scrub makeup off my face using a harsh paper towel or my hands.

The wipes below are my favorite because the pink grapefruit leaves my skin feeling refreshed and helps to prevent acne.

My favorite: Neutrogena Oil-Free Cleansing Wipes Pink Grapefruit. Get some here!

Healthy Snack/Protein Bar

If you are a post-work gym goer like I am, there is a weird period of being hungry but not wanting to eat a full meal before you work out. Having a healthy snack or two helps to curb that hungry (or in my case hangry) feeling you might have.

I can admit I am definitely less productive when hungry. So, snacking on some nuts, fruit, or a protein bar is perfect to hold me over before dinner!

My favorite protein bar: Verb Energy Bar. Try them here!

Combination Lock

Although most of the time I feel safe like my stuff is fine left unattended at the gym, I would rather be safe than sorry. There are horror stories of people having all of their belongings swiped while at the gym (I pray that never happens to any of y'all). That being said, I think there is great value in spending a couple of bucks to keep your stuff safe.

A generic combination lock works great for the gym. I feel this is one of the most secure options rather than carry a key around the gym while I am working out. Have the peace of mind knowing your stuff is taken care of.

My favorite: Abus 145/20 Combination Padlock. Get one here!

Sweat Towel

Listen y'all, I am not afraid to admit I get really sweaty while at the gym (especially on leg day). That being said, it is less than ideal to continually use my shirt to wipe the sweat off while I am working out. First of all, it is gross. Second of all, there is a high chance my shirt is sweaty too, so that can be pretty counter-productive for me.

I have found that carrying a small micro-fiber or terry cloth towel with me while I exercise works wonders. It helps to keep me feeling clean and sanitary while sweating my butt (literally) off. I just loop it through my water bottle handle and it is easy to carry with me to each machine I use.

My favorite: SYOURSELF Microfiber Sports & Travel Towel. Get some here!

Hand Sanitizer

Even properly cleaned gyms can still be a breeding ground for lots of bacteria...especially during flu/virus season. Many gyms offer hand sanitizer, but I like to bring my own travel-sized one that I can carry between machines or shared equipment.

I like to clip mine to my air pods carrying case which I then clip to either my water bottle or a little key-chain that I can keep with me around the gym.

My favorite: PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Gel Infused with Essential Oils. Get some here!

Feminine Products

I promise you one of the last places I want to be caught off guard by my period is at the gym. It is always a good idea to keep a couple of extra feminine products in your bag for peace of mind. Be sure to keep them in a waterproof bag, safe from any potential bacteria that might migrate into your gym bag.

No need for a favorite on this one...but I do love THIS cute bag that I use to hold any feminine products I might need!

It's LKE Marble Makeup bag. Super cute and waterproof (to keep important products safe). Get it here!

Perfect Gym Outfit

Okay confession time: I work harder at the gym when I feel confident in what I am wearing. For a while, I struggled with self-image issues. So feeling confident in what I was wearing (especially at the gym) was tough.

I have been able to work through that and develop a positive mindset of who I am, and how I feel in my own skin. One thing that truly makes me feel good is when I know I am bettering myself (by working out) and feel comfortable and confident while doing it.

Although quality gym clothes might be a bit of an investment, I highly recommend getting a few key pieces to enhance your workout. High-quality sports bras and leggings are some of the most important purchases I have made. I can promise you feeling secure while you are running on the treadmill or doing killer squats is more important than you might think.

All that being said, my favorite workout clothes are hands down from Fabletics. They are so high quality, fit many different body shapes & sizes, and last a LONG time. When you sign up for the VIP membership you can get two pairs of leggings for $24 (WHAT?!). I cannot recommend enough to try these out!!

Get 2 pair of leggings for $24 here!! I promise you won't regret it!

A Good Gym Bag

Last but not least, we have to talk about gym bags. Now that we have discussed all the important products you should have IN your gym bag, you need to make sure the bag is the best quality as well. Since you will be using this (hopefully) often, you should invest in one that you love. I have a couple of great options below. All very different, but equally as functional. I hope you are able to find the best style for you!

My favorites:

  • Duffel bag: Sportsnew Gym Bag. Get it here!

  • Backpack: Shipe Sports Backpack. Get it here!

  • Tote: Forestfish Luggage/Gym Bag. Get it here!

Now picture this: you get to the gym, have all of your essentials, and feel prepared to conquer your workout (plus the rest of the day or night after). Having your gym bag ready with your must-haves is crucial to enhancing your workout. You are able to focus on the moments spent bettering yourself, rather than stressing about what you forgot at home.

I hope this list encourages you to be better prepared for your workout! Be sure to let me know below your favorite products and the must-haves you carry in your gym bag!