Choosing the right tennis bag can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not a gearhead by nature. Whether you’re shopping at a traditional sporting goods store or paralyzed by the selection from an online mega-retailer, it can be hard to know what all of those technical terms mean.
3 pack? 6 pack? 12 pack? Are we talking boxer briefs or racquets here, guys? And, why would I ever need 12 racquets in my bag?
Photo credit: AdobeIn our opinion, taking a look at your own lifestyle and understanding your own needs is far more important than defining tennis bag terms. We talked to a group of players about their priorities when buying a new tennis bag, and it boiled down to three basic things.
Making it all Fit
The number one consideration when shopping for a tennis tote or bag is going to be its carrying capacity. How much space does it have, and how much stuff do you really need to pack? If you’re playing at a competitive level, you may opt to bring several different racquets to the court, but for most of us, one or two will do.
As for the 6 pack and 12 pack tennis bags, you’re not obligated to fill all of that space with racquets. However, the cavities available for storage of water bottles, clothing, and post match essentials will generally follow the shape of the racquet compartment.
Several of the players we spoke with mentioned that size does indeed matter, but not in the way you might think. A bag designed to carry a bunch of racquets might be great courtside, but they don’t make sense for everyday life. Cyclists and public transportation commuters find some of the largest tennis bags ungainly and difficult to maneuver - you may as well have a suitcase on the train.
Weight is another factor to consider as you narrow your search for the perfect tennis bag. How heavy is the bag itself, and how well does it distribute the load you’re about to weigh it down with? Some of the largest bags are +4 lbs... empty! If you plan on biking to the club after work, or simply prefer to let both shoulders handle the load, a tennis backpack might be a good fit for you. If having a hands-free commute isn’t a priority, consider a shoulder carry or cross body bag with a comfortable strap.
Keeping It Organized
So now that you’ve narrowed down how much space you’re going to need for your stuff and how you’re going to carry it, the next step is going to be finding your gear. Organizational needs tend to vary, but most of the players we chatted with want to find and access their items with ease. The old school “black hole” bags were notorious for their huge, unstructured compartments, but thankfully for the organization obsessed among us, there are a lot of alternatives on the market.
Many of today’s modern tennis bags come equipped with pockets for cell phones, water bottles, and more. We like a bag with varying sizes and types of pockets so items fit snugly and are easier to find. Some newer bags have interior pockets specifically designed for small stuff and outer stash pockets to keep keys, balls or hydration handy. Most will have at least one large cavity for shoes and clothes. Several of the folks we talked to suggested looking for a bag with some kind of racquet protection or separation from your other items to prevent damage.
Another consideration is how the bag handles on the sidelines. A bag’s balance and point of entry make a difference in how easy it is to access your stuff. Will the bag flop over when you set it down, or will it stand up on its own? How deeply can you see into the compartments? Do the zippers open wide enough to retrieve things with ease? Are frequently used items readily available, or will locating them require some digging?
Photo credit: Adobe
Finally, it’s time to answer the eternal question: do you care more about form or function? Or are you an idealist in search of an ample amount of both?
If looks are your top priority, you’ll be happy to find fashion brands getting into the tennis bag game. Chic tennis totes and handbags are increasingly more common, and they’re especially popular among resort and occasional players.
Newer performance fabrics provide a comparable alternative to heavy duty vinyl bags, resist fading, and are easy to clean. Some brands are moving entirely to fashion fabrics altogether. You can find tennis bags with wild prints, and some that can even pass off as a funky diaper bag or large designer purse.
The forms of contemporary tennis bags are changing too, and newer styles are becoming more and more streamlined. Many of the tote type bags and backpacks are designed to let the racquet handle stick out - which cuts down on overall bag bulk and weight.
For those who want to look good, but are hard on their gear (or simply prefer a workhorse), lucky you. You don’t have to look like a walking billboard to find a functional tennis bag anymore. With the influx of smaller, independent tennis bag companies, there are an increasing number of bags on the market that are durable and discreet.
At the end of the day, no matter your taste, finding something that compliments your lifestyle is key. Look for a bag that gets you from point A to point B stress free, and gets you in the game.
While you’re on your search for the perfect tennis bag, check out our line of stylish tennis totes and backpacks.
Have a suggestion for choosing the best tennis bag? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your advice.