There’s one thing they didn’t tell you before you started training – just how much gear you need to carry around when you train BJJ or MMA.
It’s far too much to carry in a regular backpack. If you don’t invest in a quality BJJ bag, you’re going to end up leaving vital pieces of equipment at home, or even worse, choosing not to go and train because of the hassle.
If you’ve only just started to train, you can get away with a regular backpack and just a pair of shorts, rashguard, towel and water bottle. But if you want to get serious, you’ll need a serious bag.
Continue reading for our personal recommendations on BJJ backpacks and gym bags for grapplers, fighters, and all kinds of martial artists.
What to Look For in a BJJ Bag
There are a few important characteristics that separate a decent Jiu Jitsu bag from a great one. Keep these in mind when shopping for your next bag (or skip ahead to our recommendations!)
Size & capacity
Your BJJ bag needs to be able to fit all of your gear. It feels pretty stupid when you have to carry half of your stuff because it didn’t fit in your bag.
The size you need depends on what kind of training you’re doing. For example, if you only do No-Gi, size is not so much of a priority. Your Gi, however, takes up a lot of space. Add boxing gloves, shin guards to the mix if you train Muay Thay and/or MMA. Now you need a bag that can carry a lot.
Getting a bag that’s big enough means you won’t have to make any sacrifices when buying gear, in order to get gloves or other gear small enough to fit in your bag.
Personally, since I usually train in a bigger commercial gym, there’s not a lot of room around the mats for my bag and gear. I keep my main gear bag in the lockers and bring along a drawstring “sackpack” like this to the mats with my water bottle, towel, etc.
A big plus is if your backpack has separate compartments, to keep all your gear organized.
With a regular bag, you have one big compartment and everything is lumped together. But when you’re training, you’re going to have all kinds of sweaty things, flip flops that you used to walk to the bathroom, a water bottle, and more.
Ideally you want to separate all these things, or else sweat and bacteria from your used gear will mesh with everything, and you’re going to have a bad time. Especially if you have a gap between classes (say, a morning class and an evening class).
Take it from me, regular backpacks don’t hold up well to carrying a heavy Gi and a bunch of MMA gear. Straps and zips start to come apart, and soon enough you’re shopping for a new Jiu Jitsu bag.
You’ve also got to take into account water protection, both internal and external. You want to be able to take a little punishment if the weather turns on your way to training, and you also need to consider that there will be moisture inside the bag from your sweaty Gi and rashguard.
Stock backpacks will degrade pretty quickly from prolonged moisture. MMA and BJJ backpacks are designed so they don’t pick up so much water, and the best bags have built-in airflow so bacteria won’t cultivate so easily in moist conditions.
A lot of us are out the whole day, spending the day at work or school and going to training right after. This often means you’ve got to lug your gear around everywhere you go.
That’s why you need a BJJ gear bag that’s comfortable. A poorly-designed bag is going to make you exhausted, physically and mentally, and you’ll be running out of gas before training even starts.
Some cheap bags may even end up doing damage to your back or shoulders. As if you don’t have enough injury worries as it is!
Duffle Bag or Backpack?
There are two types of bags you’ll see in this list – duffle bags and traditional backpacks.
Backpacks are a better fit if you don’t have quite so much gear, and prefer something that is comfortable and easier to carry around all day. Backpacks are best if you’re only carrying gear for BJJ – most of the backpacks we’ll list are big enough to carry a Gi, No-Gi gear, and a bunch of miscellaneous items.
Backpacks tend to have a lot more little compartments to keep small items like mouthguards, tape and keys.
If space is your top priority, you want to go for a duffle bag. These give you a ton of capacity, generally more than enough to carry all the gear you need for striking, such as gloves, shin guards, and sometimes even striking pads – awesome if you’re a teacher as well.
The downside is they take a little more effort to carry around than a backpack.
7 Best MMA & BJJ Bags
Here are the best options money can buy for BJJ backpacks and duffle bags.
This bag is a duffle-backpack hybrid. It’s super convenient, being able to expand or contract depending on how much space you need that day. Great for those casual No-Gi days where you don’t want to bring a massive duffle bag. Yet at 16” x 9” x 27.5” fully expanded, it’s big enough to fit a Gi or two.
The bag features several pockets, with a big enough main compartment for your larger gear as well as a few outer compartments for the small things, or to separate your work/school gear.
A great feature of this is the mesh outer pocket, which is perfect for keeping your dirty gear separate from the rest of the bag.
This BJJ backpack has ample size for BJJ gear, but you might be pressed for space if you try and add gloves and pads as well. For bigger sizes, Elite’s range also includes some great duffle bags:
Another great product from one of our favorites, Gold BJJ. This is a specially made BJJ backpack, constructed for the issues unique to Jiu Jitsu athletes. It has compartments for everything, includeing a waterproof section for your Gi, which keeps your Gi clean before training, and everything else clean after training. It even has a pouch for your belt.
This backpack is made from high-quality, heavy duty materials, made to last several belt levles. The design of the straps makes it feel extremely comfortable, for when you need to carry your gear around all day.
It’s a little small for additional gear (such as Muay Thai/MMA protection or pads), but sufficient for all your Gi and No-Gi gear.
The Hayabusa Ryoko is a top-quality duffle bag for those with a lot of gear. It will comfortably fit your Gi and striking gear, with a 21” length and 11” depth and height.
While many duffle bags have just one big section, the Hayabusa Ryoko has several convenient compartments to organize your gear, including mesh outer sections to separate dirty from clean. There are also small inner pockets for valuables such as your keys, wallet and phone.
The only downside is the price – this is a premium price for an MMA or BJJ bag. But you get the absolute best quality for your money. For serious athletes, training multiple disciplines, you’re not going to regret spending your money on this.
The Venum Challenger has backpack in the title, but make no mistake, it’s a backpack-duffle hybrid. While it has convenient shoulder straps, the size is huge, and comparable in size to a duffle bag like the Hayabusa Ryoko. The shoulder straps are foam padded, making it easy and comfortable to wear as a backpack, even when fully loaded.
The bag is big enough for all your striking gear, and BJJ gear. You can even fit a couple of Gis, easily.
The outer is made from water-resistant polyester, and it has smart mesh panels to aid airflow. Heavy duty zips are a graet addition too. All in all, the quality is what you would expect from Venum products, as is the design.
You can’t argue with the quality of Under Armour. And while that sometimes translates into a premium price, the Undeniable Gym Bag is actually great value.
One of the best things about this option is how many size options are on offer. If you only need enough space for BJJ and Gym gear, you can go with the one of the smaller sizes, which are excellent value for money and a manageable size. Yet they also have the best option for larger sized bags – the XL size is huge, and should have enough space for several sets of gear.
There are a lot of awesome design options (though not all are available in the larger sizes).
As one of Amazon’s best-selling sports duffle bags, you can be confident you’re getting top quality with this one. The product has more than 13,000 ratings on Amazon, and a total score of 4.8/5. It’s a great quality product from one of the best brands, and makes for an excellent BJJ bag.
The Meister Convertible is a great mix between a duffle bag and backpack. Its shoulder straps can be put away to go from one mode to the next really easily.
The size makes for either a generous-sized BJJ backpack, or a slightly smaller than average duffle. The length is a little shorter than the Hayabuse Ryoko, for example, but it’s actually deeper, making it a good fit for a Gi + some MMA gear.
It has a few separate compartments, though it’s mostly one large compartment – a little less convenient than some others here, in that regard. However it comes at a really attractive price point.
The price, mixed with the convenience of a backpack/duffle hybrid makes this a great value BJJ bag, for the cost-conscious.
No one said you need a backpack made specifically for MMA or BJJ. If you have one that’s as good as this, you’ll be just fine. This is a great backpack, which can double as a hiking or trekking pack for those who like the great outdoors.
The Reebow tactical backpack ticks all the boxes I look for in a BJJ backpack (outside of being endorsed by an ADCC champion). The space is huge, more than enough for your Gi & No-Gi gear. But it’s still a compact design, which makes it comfortable and easy to take on a bus, plane, etc. A great option if you’re flying to a comp and you can only take carry-on.
It’s made for hunting, trekking, or survival conditions, so it will stand up easily to muggy gym conditions or inclement weather. The small outer compartments are great for the little bits and pieces, while you can throw the big boys like your Gi and protective gear in the main compartment.
The only downside is no ventilated compartment for sweaty gear, but that really is the only thing missing. Even the price is about as good as you’ll get for a gear bag of this quality.
Best BJJ Backpack, BJJ Bag & MMA Gear Bag – In Summary
Picking the best BJJ backpack is not hard, with the number of great options out there. You don’t have to drain your savings for a BJJ bag, with some high-quality bags available in the $30-$50 range. However, if you’re a serious athlete, you might want to think about shelling out for a premium duffle bag like the Hayabusa Ryoko or the Venum Challenger Xtreme. The cost is high, but you’re getting great value for your money, and a product which will make your life easier for years to come.