Friday, October 08, 2010

Fitness Fun: Gym Bags and Water Bottles

Gym bags

I recently had to get rid of my old Nike gym bag, which was nearly 15 years old (!).  What to replace it with?  I picked--and love--the Ogio Crunch.  Why?

Gym Bag Brands: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, and Ogio

The two kings of gym bag manufacture are Nike and AdidasUnder Armour, famous for its eponymous undershirts, also makes bags.  Ogio, a company that specializes in "gear bags," is famous for their hard-shell Locker Bag (which, as the name suggests, is designed to fit in a locker).  So, off I went to a Sport Chalet to try the bags in person...

The Competition

I considered the following specific gym bags; prices are MSRP for each size.
  • Nike Brasilia IV XS $20, S $25, M $30, L $35 - bare-bones duffle bag, XS/S sizes' strap doesn't have any cushion
  • Nike Team Training S $35, M $45,  L $55, XL $60 - has a large zip-off "swoosh" on the side which can be customized, side pocket for shoes, and Max Air Cushioned Strap
  • Adidas Defender S $25, M $30 - like Nike Brasilia, S size doesn't have a cushioned strap
  • Adidas Striker S $30, M $35, L $45 - middle-of-the road option
  • Adidas Formotion S $35, M $40 - very nice, "springy" strap, feels quality
  • Under Armour Team Duffle S $35, M $40, L $50, XL $60 - bulky, expensive, has a huge "UNDER ARMOUR" logo, seems relatively cheaply made...not for me
  • Ogio Crunch $35 (one size--equivalent to S/M Nike/Adidas) - review below
Nike also makes a deluxe "Ultimatum" bag (S $60, M $70), which includes an insulated cooler, but I couldn't find a store selling it.

The Testing

I did a thorough test of all the bags, examining all their pockets, size, construction, feel, etc.  I quickly whittled my choices down to three: Nike Team Training, Adidas Formotion, and Ogio Crunch.  All three have comfortable straps and nice pockets.  Both the Nike and Adidas bags have mesh pockets (for stuff like wet swimsuits so they can dry out), something the Ogio lacks.  The Ogio has an interesting plastic interlocking handle, visible's YouTube video review of the Ogio also features all-metal hardware.

The kicker came when I decided to do a weight test: I put a 20-pound plastic dumbbell in each bag to see how they handled weight.  Both the Nike and Adidas bags nearly collapsed, as their shape is dependent on a cheap plastic insert...the Ogio, by contrast, kept its shape beautifully and was comfortable to carry even with the weight.  Although it lacked some of the bells and whistles of its competitors, the Ogio Crunch's superior construction won the day.  Since then, I've been very pleased.

Gym Bag Purchasing Options

While I got my bag at a brick-and-mortar store and the links in this review are mostly to Amazon's gym bag pages, (who also have an Amazon Storefront) and also seem to have good selection and prices.  Usually you can find these bags for $5-10 off MSRP.

Water Bottles

"Buzzbait" has posted an excellent guide to reusable water bottles, and agrees that the humanGear capCAP is the best wide-mouth bottle attachment: it allows for easy filling and cleaning while providing a convenient, mouth-sized opening for drinking without hitting your nose.  Backpackgeartest also has two reviews, both extremely in depth and almost completely positive.  You can get the capCAP on Amazon, among other sites (and brick-and-mortar stores like REI).

On Buzzbait's advice, I got a couple of the wide-mouth Kleen Kanteen products, which are great: sturdy, well-made, and much easier to keep clean than Nalgene's Tritan bottles.  One problem, though: I can't get the capCAP to make a good seal with the Kleen Kanteen leaks a little bit of water when shaken.  So, maybe Guyot?