I’ve been on a search for the perfect gym/workout bag for far too long. Last year, I was gifted this Gaiam yoga bag for Christmas. It proved to be too small for my two-a-day run//yoga//run//club necessities; the shoe pouch was also too small for my Size 9.5 sneakers. And once I upgraded my yoga mat to a Manduka, I could no longer use the straps underneath to carry under the bag (the Manduka mats are, like, 10x heavier than those everyday, cheapie mats). Then, I received another bag this year courtesy of Chelsea Collective preview party. I really wanted to like this bag — my shoes fit after a little Tetris-ing, there was plenty of storage, and the straps were the right size — but I missed having an exterior pocket to hold a water bottle, of all things. Plus, the zippers seemed overly difficult to move and the bag overall feels a little cheaply made.

On Black Friday I saw a tweet about Apera Bags and a 20% sale, so I finally decided to make the Big Purchase (I consider dropping $100+ on a workout bag a Big Purchase). I landed on the Apera Performance Duffel.

apera bag review 30something therapy

Few things that I outwardly LOVE about it: It fits everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. The bag has great organization for my needs and can hold a LOT of gear — it fit TWO PAIRS of Size 9.5 sneakers on both ends (this bag has two separate shoe pockets) while also holding a freaking laptop. It’s a NICE looking bag, and it is obvious that it’s well-made. Bonus: SO MANY POCKETS with/without zippers, some with mesh for airing stuff out! The bag came with its own interior wet bag too. I can even fit my yoga mat inside (and peek the top out) if I want.

Some mehs: it’s actually quite large — while not totally a breaking point for me since I needed a bigger bag, it kind of overwhelms my frame and was awkward to carry with all of my stuff in it. This purchase continues my streak of being completely unaware of dimensions when purchasing items online.

30something therapy apera bag review

You like my “workout” pants? :P

POO: The strap is WAY too long for my body — even when pulled all the way tight from both ends — and not all that comfortable to carry when walking the mile+ to work with all my stuff. It hits just below my butt and even pulled up my skirt (!!!). And after using the Nike bag from Chelsea Collective, I kind of missed the option of carrying like a tote (the Apera bag has two small handles at the top to lift but I can’t carry at any length with them).

So, I’m a little disappointed because I *really* need a commuter-style workout bag and I really love this bag, BUT I think I might keep this to replace my roller derby bag: 1) because my derby bag really needs to be replaced and 2) because this bag is so huge that it might actually fit all my gear. I’m not sure about how it will handle the weight, though; would be an interesting test.

30something therapy workout roller derby bag review

This bag is seriously, like, 20 years old. If it ain’t broke, right? Wait…

Completely off-topic tangent on my current derby bag: One of the zippers of the outside side pocket broke off when a piece of my gear got stuck in it (at an away game in Columbus, Ohio; hilarious that I remember it because I was pretty mad that night and I obviously have brute strength). The long strap is being held on by mustache-printed duct tape (seriously). I bought this as part of my FIRST luggage set (yes, I used to have an entire set in this color scheme) at a Super Kmart when I was a freaking teenager. But, hey, the colors match my team’s uniforms, so that’s fun!

Here’s some benefits (and a tl;dr), if you’re looking at Apera bags:

  • Sanitized-Infused antimicrobial product protection resists the formation of bacterial odor, inside and out.
  • Two flexible exterior water bottle pockets.
  • Padded shoulder strap and two top carry handles.
  • Exterior pocket for a laptop and tablet storage.
  • Immense capacity features 43 litres of storage volume.
  • Water-resistant base protects the interior from moisture.
  • Laser-cut venting for your bag to breathe, ventilate, and stay healthy.
  • Large exterior pocket on each end holds a pair of men’s size 12 shoes.
  • Comes with a Fit Pocket washable insert.

I could probably use this Apera bag for race-cations and other travel weekends too. There’s a possibility that I may exchange for a smaller bag but I haven’t completely decided on that yet (and tbh, I am the worst with actually returning things; for the record: Apera has an amazing no-hassle return policy and free shipping). I even tossed the idea of getting the strap taken in at the luggage repair place but that seems ridiculous to spend even MORE money on a bag that was already over $100.

The search for my “perfect” workout bag, however, continues.

Note: I purchased this Apera Performance Duffel for my own needs, and did not receive any compensation for reviewing and/or this post.

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