Best BJJ Backpack in 2020

5/5

The longer you spend grappling, the more gear you accumulate. It’s just the way it is. While you can probably get by with your normal gym outfit at the beginning, that’s not going to cut it for long. Eventually, you’ll need a Gi (or two), headgear, a mouthguard, knee pads, and other accessories. And once the gear starts to pile up, you’re going to need the best BJJ backpack you can find to tote it around. Especially when it’s soaked in sweat. But your BJJ bag will end up carrying more than just your stinky gear because you’ll also need a towel, soap, water, NSAIDs, Band-Aids and more. To save you the time, money and hassle, I brought together my selections for the best Jiu-Jitsu backpack.

Reviewing the Best BJJ Backpacks in 2020

#1 Grips Travel Bag with Wet/Dry Storage

Review: This is a really handsome BJJ wet bag you’ll be tempted to take on your next hiking expedition. It offers 3 carry options – backpack, over the shoulder or suitcase-style – and for once the Grips marketing department didn’t overdo it with the branding. The bag itself is 22 x 12 x 12 inches, which is large enough for all your gear, a towel, and some dry underwear. And there are numerous zippered pockets along with a shock cord on the exterior that provide plenty of carrying capacity for the unexpected.

This BJJ wet bag features a sealed central compartment that keeps the sweat and water inside. Or, if you’re on your way to the gym, prevents the rain from infiltrating and spoiling your nice clean, dry stuff. The shell is crafted from 600D (Denier) ripstop polyester, and is very tough. There’s a board at the bottom that’s buttressed with vinyl to prevent seepage from the ground and to help retain structural integrity.

The zippers feature easy pull tabs and the shoulder strap can be removed when not in use. While it will cost a bit more than some simpler bags, I think plenty of people will feel like it’s worth the stretch.

Pros

  • The U-shaped opening allows for easy access.
  • The padded shoulder strap is removable.
  • Lots of large exterior pockets for accessories.
  • Rugged vinyl bottom retains shape.
  • The large wet/dry central storage compartment.

Cons

  • It’s a big bag, make no mistake.
  • The zippers are suspect.

#2 Elite Sports Jiu-Jitsu Bag

Review: You’re going to turn heads with the Elite Sports Gym Bag. There’s no doubt about that. But that’s not what earns this bag a spot on this list. Or at least it’s not the only thing. What I love about the bag is its simplicity, its build quality, and its comfort. It helps that it’s big enough to carry 2 Gis at once and a towel, and that it has a nice low center of gravity that prevents you from losing your balance when it’s full.

The bag is also very light at about a pound and a half. And the drawstring closure makes for quick, easy access. It also allows you to stack the contents of the center compartment a little higher than might be recommended and still get a nice tight closure.

The comfort though is what really separates this pack from much of the competition. You could walk a country mile with this thing stuffed to the gills and not be any worse for wear. It’s also a good choice if you want to ride your bike to the gym.

Pros

  • Big enough for 2 Gis or a Gi and a towel, plus extras.
  • The main compartment is well ventilated.
  • Because of that ventilation, wet clothes will dry pretty fast.
  • It’s very comfortable even over long distances.
  • One of the more stylish BJJ backpacks on the market.

Cons

  • The side pockets can interfere with your elbows.
  • Not great for rainy days.
  • Not a lot of pockets for peripherals.

#3 Venum Challenger Xtreme Backpack

Review: At first glance, you may think Venum has entered the realm of mountaineering equipment with their Challenger Xtreme Jiu-Jitsu backpack. And in truth, there will likely be some folks who use it for that purpose. But really it’s a gym bag at heart and designed primarily to accommodate your BJJ, MMA or other gear. No matter how much of it you see fit to tote around.

In that regard, it’s a great bag to accompany you to competitions, when you’ll likely need to bring several Gis with you along with a laundry list of peripherals. But even if you’re not heading to an out-of-town competition, I think you’ll find plenty to like here. I was impressed by the fact that if you don’t have a lot to carry the bag can be compressed.

There’s a zipper that extends around the mid-section that allows you to gather up the loose fabric and zip it up. Thereby shortening the bag by about a foot. On top of that, there are plenty of zippered pockets for peripherals and a compact cooler on the side to keep your cold drinks cold.

Pros

  • Water-resistant polyester shell.
  • Can be carried as a backpack or duffle bag.
  • Has a dedicated fleece-lined pocket for your tech.
  • And an insulated cooler pocket on the side to keep your drinks cold.
  • Height can be easily adjusted.

Cons

  • Fully extended and loaded the bag is going to get heavy.
  • Fairly expensive for a gym bag.

#4 Elite Sports Mesh Ventilated Training Gym Duffel Bag

Review: In my humble opinion, this is the best looking BJJ bag on the market today. That’s the good news. The even better news is that it’s way more than just another pretty face. The shell is fashioned from ultra-tough 1200D polyester and is available in 5 different colors. None of which ever veers into the tacky. And the branding is restrained and tasteful.

You have the option of carrying the bag either at your side as a duffle or as a backpack. Either way, it’s comfortable, well-balanced and the straps don’t punish your all-too-human flesh. The exterior is covered by smartly considered zippered pockets that can be locked to protect your valuables. And those zippers feature smooth, dependable action.

I tried hard to find some significant fault with this Jiu-Jitsu bag, but came up short. Maybe there’s some hidden weakness that will rear its head after 6 months, but I don’t think so. It’s just a tough, attractive, highly-functional and 100% machine washable BJJ bag. ‘Nuf said.

Pros

  • Sharp looking mid-sized dual carry bag.
  • Ultra-durable 1200D polyester shell.
  • The central compartment is lined with breathable mesh.
  • There are plenty of zippered exterior pockets.
  • The bag is available in 5 attractive colors.
  • It’s 100% machine washable.

Cons

  • Hard to find fault with this bag other than the price.

#5 Venum Trainer Lite Sport BJJ Bag

Review: Venum is back for a curtain call on our list with their Trainer Lite Sport Bag. This is a duffle-style BJJ bag that’s light on the aesthetics and heavy on the practicality. The central compartment is big enough for a Gi (or two), a towel (or tow), boxing gloves, knee pads or just about anything else you want to bring along to the gym. It’s available in black with white lettering, black with red lettering or black with black lettering (my particular favorite).

There’s a large zippered compartment on the side and bookend zippered pockets at the ends. The shoulder strap is padded and removable, so you can stash it inside the bag when carrying it beside you. It features mesh strips that allow moisture to vent. Which is great for the inside of the bag, but not so great for the people sitting next to you on the subway.

The Trainer Lite Sport Bag won’t win any beauty contests, but it’s a very serviceable bag that will enable you to tote everything you need to the gym or the competition. It’s also reasonably priced and weighs just over 2 pounds empty.

Pros

  • The central compartment is large enough for 2 Gis and a towel.
  • The zippers are dependable and water-resistant.
  • There are plenty of zippered exterior pockets.
  • Overall the bag is very breathable, which lets sweaty clothes dry out.

Cons

  • A plain but functional profile.
  • The shoulder strap can dig a bit when the bag is stuffed.

#6 Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu Backpack

Review: With the Gold BJJ Jiu Jitsu backpack, we switch gears from the mundane to the stylish. You just might win a beauty contest with this. But thankfully you get more than a pretty face for your investment. At 14 x 9 x 3, the bag itself is not very big. But it is large enough to stow a Gi, a hand towel, your headgear, mouthpiece, and a few other essentials. Oh, and a water bottle too.

There’s no denying the designers here burned a bit of midnight oil working on this backpack. No matter which angle you regard it from, it comes up spades. There are several zippered pockets, a belt pouch and a velvet-lined tech pouch inside. The shoulder straps are ergonomically designed to contour to your body and there’s a rugged faux-leather carry strap at the top.

This would undoubtedly be my favorite BJJ backpack if it were a little bigger. As it is – size restraints and all – I’d still take it over most of the competition. And not just because it looks so good. Although that doesn’t hurt.

Pros

  • A very sharp-looking BJJ backpack.
  • A well thought out design with lots of pockets.
  • The waterproof compartment for your sweaty Gi.
  • High-quality zippers and reinforced stitching.
  • Designed specifically to meet the needs of grapplers.
  • Comes with a 100% money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • Placing a folded gi inside can be a challenge.
  • Stitching needs reinforcement in a few places.

#7 Hayabusa Ryoko Mesh Duffel Gear Bag

Review: This is a curious Jiu-Jitsu bag that earns a place on my list simply because it’s big and really well-made. There’s nothing spectacular going on here. Nothing revolutionary. It’s a reasonably good looking duffle bag that provides plenty of storage space inside and out. It has a couple of mesh sleeves for water bottles so you can stay adequately hydrated. And it’s well ventilated to allow your nasty sweaty Gi to dry out inside.

There’s reinforced stitching in high-stress places, a couple of zippered pockets along the side for snacks and whatevers and it’s the perfect size for a carry-on. I’m not sure what to make of the look of the bag. It’s not objectionable by any means. But it’s not exactly compelling either. For most grapplers though, that’s probably not going to be an issue.

The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of restrained design, high functionality, and high build quality, you’re probably going to be smitten by the Haybusa Ryoko BJJ bag right out of the box.

Pros

  • There’s plenty of room for all your gear.
  • Several zippered pockets on the outside for accessories.
  • It’s quite breathable, which helps prevent bacterial growth.
  • Two water bottle pockets.
  • Dedicated waterproof pocket for sensitive tech items.

Cons

  • Uninspired design.
  • The shell is prone to scuffs and scratches.

Takeaway

#8 Meister Breathable Chain Mesh Duffel Gym Bag

Review: Not everybody has 80 or 100 bucks to drop on a Jiu-Jitsu backpack. Fortunately, budget-conscious grapplers don’t have to carry their stuff around in a plastic bag. The Meister Breathable Chain Mesh Duffel Bag is here to answer the call. This is a good-looking, classic duffel with long(ish) nylon mesh handles that allow the bag to be carried (albeit imperfectly) over the shoulder or at your side.

The emphasis here is on doing a few things well and leaving the bells and whistles for other bags. To that end, the bag is made of a durable, scuff-resistant and breathable chain mesh polyester. And it has reinforced stitching in the high-stress areas. There’s one zippered pocket at each end. And while that by itself isn’t great, the zippers used on the bag are first-rate and open dependably and smoothly.

Pros

  • A simple but functional bag for the budget-minded.
  • The chain mesh exterior saves on weight and increases breathability.
  • Plenty of zippered exterior pockets to keep things separate.
  • At 28 x 15 x 15 inches, it’s big enough for all your gear.
  • Surprisingly robust construction for such an affordable bag.

Cons

  • For some reason, it doesn’t have a long shoulder strap.
  • It’s a true duffle bag, so expect it to sag a lot.

#9 Grips Sport Storm Gym Bag

Review: The Grips Sport Storm Gym Bag features a unique profile with a roll-up top that can be unfurled upward to extend the storage capacity by about 50%. If you don’t need that space, just roll it back down and secure it with the buckled strap. This is another value winner ala the above-profiled Meister bag with the difference being you’ll actually score some style points with this one.

Overall this Jiu-Jitsu bag is reasonably well-built, has a reinforced bottom, a mesh water bottle sleeve on the side and is fashioned from rugged water-resistant 600D polyester. If we have a complaint, it’s that where we were expecting a pull cord closure up top, there wasn’t any. You have to just flip the top over and secure it with the strap. Not ideal, especially if it’s raining or snowing or you just don’t want everyone smelling your dirty, sweaty GI.

Pros

  • Potentially ginormous bag when fully unrolled.
  • Can be carried as a backpack or duffle bag.
  • PVC coated super-tough 600D polyester shell.
  • Innovative design will turn heads.
  • Cheap.

Cons

  • Exterior zippered pocket is pretty shallow.
  • If you don’t use the extra material up top, it starts to get gnarly.

#10 Fairtex Equipment MMA/BJJ Bag

Review: The final item on our best backpack list is the Fairtex Equipment Gym Bag. The Fairtex has an appealing profile, tons of zippered pockets on the exterior, a padded shoulder strap and high-end zippers that are a joy to play with. There’s also a dedicated wet clothes compartment inside so that your stinky stuff doesn’t wind up fouling your clean, dry stuff.

The bag is large enough to carry more than 1 Gi, along with a towel, elbow pads, headgear, water and more. It’s a well-balanced bag that rides comfortably at your side and will tuck neatly into the overhead. While designed initially for Muay Thai, it will more than suit the needs of grapplers, MMA, straight up boxers, CrossFit enthusiasts or anyone else who needs to bring lots of gear to the gym. It’s a little more than some other bags. But when I lifted it for the first time after filling it, I understood why.

Pros

  • Lots of zippered pockets on the outside.
  • Shell is fashioned from waterproof ripstop nylon.
  • The dedicated wet clothes compartment prevents the bag from stinking.
  • High-quality locking zippers.
  • Padded shoulder strap.

Cons

  • It’s going to cost more than other bags.
  • The shoulder strap could use reinforcement.

Why Do You Need a BJJ Backpack?

If you don’t mind stuffing your dirty Gi, wet towel and other gear into your regular work or school backpack, then maybe you don’t need a BJJ backpack. But who wants the bag they bring to the office every day smelling like a dirty locker room? If you said “Not me”, congratulations. There’s hope for you yet. Keep in mind too that a wet, festering bag is also going to be a breeding ground for bacteria picked up at the gym. What bacteria? Try these on for size.

That said, not just any old backpack will do. You’ll need a backpack or duffle that has plenty of pockets, where you can isolate different accessories and/or dirty items. You’ll want one that’s big enough to carry at least 1 Gi and a towel. Or better yet, 2 Gis and a towel, along with the rest of your gear. And it should do so without the seams splitting from the pressure. That bag should also be handsome and comfortable to tote around for long periods of time.

Backpack or Duffel Bag?

The debate about which type of bag is better for grapplers largely comes down to a matter of personal preference. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Backpack Pros

  • You can just sling it over your shoulders and forget about it.
  • They free up your hands for other things.
  • They’re easier on your arms and shoulders.
  • You don’t look like you just emerged from the gym.

Backpack Cons

  • Your back can get sweaty.
  • They can cause lower back problems over time.
  • You’ll need to take them off to pass through security checkpoints.
  • Not good on crowded subway trains.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the duffle-style BJJ bag.

Duffle Bag Pros

  • Easier to organize.
  • Usually hold more stuff.
  • Easier to access gear.
  • Often cheaper than quality backpacks.

Duffle Bag Cons

  • Can make your arm feel like it’s going to fall off.
  • They lend themselves to overloading.
  • Can make walking difficult.
  • Tend to get scrunched up.

What I personally like about the backpack is that it allows me to free up my hands in a way a duffle bag doesn’t. Sure, I could sling the duffle bag over one shoulder and free up my hands that way. And I’ve done that in the past. But have you ever tried walking and texting with a full duffle slamming against your leg every 2 seconds? I have. It’s not fun.

But the duffle bag isn’t without its upside too. For instance, it’s hard to beat them when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to methodically arrange everything in a backpack. You just do a quick unzip, stuff your things inside, zip up and go. Also, not everyone is a phone zombie who needs to have their thumbs free all the time, so they can tap out texts on their phone.

So which type of bag is right for you will depend in large part on whether or not it’s important for you to have your hands free.

Things to Look For In the Best BJJ Backpack

Hopefully, the previous section made it easier for you to decide if the backpack or duffle-style bag is right for you. Now that you have that out of the way, let’s look at some of the other things you’ll want to consider when looking for your BJJ bag.

Size

The mistake I see some grapplers make is that they purchase a Jiu-Jitsu backpack early on when their level of commitment is uncertain, and the amount of gear they have is relatively small. Months later when they’re really into it that bag just isn’t big enough anymore, and they have to shell out more money on a bigger one.

It’s probably a better idea to err on the side of caution and just pick up a nice big bag to begin with. One with plenty of space for a couple of Gis, a towel and all that other stuff we mentioned earlier.

Pockets

Pockets are important because the last thing you want is to have to mix a sweaty Gi or other items with your athletic shoes, clean t-shirts, and other things. You also don’t want to have to hunt around inside your bag for sweatbands, knee pads, bandages, mouthguard or first aid items.

You want those things to have their own pockets. Preferably pockets that zip up nice and tight. And at least one or two pockets that are inside the Jiu-Jitsu bag to protect important items from rain or sneaky hands. So having enough pockets is important whether you choose a backpack or duffle bag.

Wet/Dry

While it’s not mandatory by any means, some people prefer to have a wet/dry bag. Such a bag typically has welded seams that prevent water from wet towels – that might be mixed with sweat from dirty gear – from leaking out while you carry it.

Conversely, the BJJ wet bag and its sealed seams prevent rain from infiltrating your bag and mucking up your gear before you get to the gym. Being sealed also means any tech items you have stored inside won’t be compromised.

So now that we know why we need a BJJ backpack, and what attributes that backpack should have, let’s take a look at the 10 best Jiu-Jitsu backpack options on the market today.

Conclusion

All of the above bags are solid options for the grappler. They’re roomy, rugged and generally easy to carry around, even over long distances. For my money though, I’m going with the Elite Sports Warrior Gym Bag. And I’ll tell you why. This BJJ bag is the sharpest looking bag on the list. And it’s the only one whose functionality matches its handsome profile.

It’s incredibly tough with its 1200 Denier shell. It’s plenty big for multiple Gis, a towel, t-shirts and more. The workmanship is first-rate inside and out. And, it’s completely machine washable, which means it’s unlikely to end up smelling like a landfill. As I said, for my money it’s the best BJJ backpack on the market today.

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