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Gym Bag Essentials to Lighten Your Load

The Featherweight Gym Bag

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First things first: lose the bulky duffle and choose a sleek, lighter-than-air gym bag that can double as your purse. MZ Wallace's Medium Tote does the job, with a barely-there feel on your shoulder and a padded strap. The nylon exterior is water- and stain-resistant, so it can hold up to any locker room mishaps. Six interior pockets and a detachable pouch give you room to organize the essentials. ($215; (These 15 Gym Bags for the Sweaty But Stylish also do double-duty.)

Photo: MZ Wallace

The Collapsible Water Bottle

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Fill the Stash bottle from Hydrapak when you get to the gym, then empty it and collapse it down into a small pod before you leave. The bottle becomes one-fifth the size, freeing up space in your bag for everything else. Plus, it's 50 percent lighter than a regular hard bottle. ($23;

Photo: Hydrapak

The Quick Drying Towel

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Stop carrying a hulking bath towel to the gym and get creative by swapping it out for a yoga mat towel. Look for one without the grippy bottom, like Manduka's eQua microfiber towel, which will take up less space in your bag and start to dry before you even pack it up. ($38;

Photo: Manduka

The Foldable Flip-Flops

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Replace your usual flip-flops with the space-saving FoldFlops. Fold them in half and wrap the included band around them, then stash them in their pouch to keep them away from your other duds. ($20;

Photo: FoldFlops

The Solid Shampoo

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Lush's Shampoo Bars save you the trouble of refilling a travel-size bottle or toting around a full-size one, not to mention they can last two to three times the time of the average shampoo bottle (that's up to 80 washes!). Each bar comes with its own tin to keep suds at bay when you're ready to pack up, and with 12 different formulas, there's a bar for any hair type. ($10-13;

Photo: LUSH

The Makeup Palette

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This tiny travel case from Laura Mercier does the job of almost your entire makeup bag (you'll still need to pack your fave mascara; we've got The Best Waterproof Mascara to Prevent a Makeup Meltdown.) With four neutral eye shadows, blush, bronzer, a lip gloss, and mirror all in one, this palette is a total game-changer. ($55;

Photo: Laura Mercier

The Pocket-Sized Hairbrush

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Drybar's Lil' Lemon Drop Travel Detangler Brush works through knots in wet hair like a dream, despite it's tiny size. And the bright color makes it easy to spot on days your bag is extra crowded. ($10;

Photo: Nordstrom

The On-the-Go Perfume

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Load up Travalo's Milano atomizer with your favorite scent and leave your full-size spray at home. The easy to fill pump holds up to 65 spritzes. ($50;

Photo: Travalo

The Traveling Straightener

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Touch up sweaty ends on days you need to skip the shampoo with Sephora's Mini Flat Iron. The pint-sized player comes with its own travel case so you don't need to wait for it to cool down before popping it in your bag. ($21;

Photo: Sephora

The Slender Sneaks

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Foldable trainers? Yes, please! Nike's Juvenate sneakers were made to be stashed, packed, and crushed. The flexible, lightweight sole has enough cushioning for tough gym workouts without overloading your bag on the way to and from the gym. ($85;

Photo: Nike

Bathroom Bag

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Store everything else in Lululemon's super functional travel case. A sturdy metal frames keeps the top open when unzipped so you can easily grab things when you're getting ready. Removable clear pouches (including one for your toothbrush) keep things organized and easy to see, and elastic bands keep makeup brushes in place. ($58;

Photo: Lululemon


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